Buy direct from the telecommunications companyBritish Telecom will be the first company to offer their customers Xbox 360 set-top box capabilities when the IPTV service is launched later this year.
The news was revealed at Microsoft's keynote speech at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, where Microsoft executive Robbie Bach said that the move will mean that the Xbox Live Marketplace will have "more than twice as much HD content as any cable provider."
This means that BT customers will be able to buy IPTV-ready Xbox 360s direct from the telecommunications company, eliminating the need for gamers to have a separate set-top box.
In the Microsoft keynote speech at last year's CES, Microsoft promised that IPTV would feature "instant channel zapping, a rich and responsive user interface, video on demand with branded video-on-demand storefronts, digital video recording and high-definition television". A launch date has yet to be announced.
Check out the full press release:
Microsoft Corp. and telecommunications leader BT announced they are bringing together the next-generation TV service BT Vision with Microsoft’s Xbox 360 games and entertainment system. All BT broadband customers will have the unique opportunity to receive the best in high-definition gaming, television and movies through an Xbox 360 console, in a powerful, all-in-one entertainment experience. BT Vision, which is powered by the Microsoft Mediaroom Internet Protocol TV (IPTV) platform, plans to make this first-of-its-kind device and service offering available to customers in the middle of 2008. The announcement was made during the keynote address by Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates and Microsoft President Robbie Bach of the Entertainment & Devices Division at 2008 International CES on Jan. 6.
The groundbreaking partnership will enable any BT Broadband customer to use an Xbox 360 console to access the BT Vision service and its extensive library of on-demand content, giving instant access to hundreds of movies and thousands of hours of sporting events, television programming, music videos and other digital content, such as BT Vision Sport’s 242 “near-live” FA Premier League football matches.
BT Vision customers with an Xbox 360 console will gain the option of accessing BT Vision from either the Xbox 360 console or a set-top-box. The service will be available to existing and future Xbox 360 console owners.
BT Vision on Xbox will combine the richness of the Microsoft Mediaroom-enabled TV service with the benefits of next-generation gaming, as well as unique new capabilities that the integrated solution brings. Xbox LIVE, the largest online social network in the living room, will be seamlessly integrated into the experience, providing consumers with a wide range of community-based features, such as voice chat, sending and receiving text and voice messages, and accessing Xbox LIVE Marketplace, all while watching TV. For example, while a TV viewer is enjoying his favorite football game, he can receive a message from a friend inviting him to join a voice chat, or they could play a game of their own with EA SPORTS™ “FIFA Soccer.”
“We are pleased to partner with Microsoft to deliver a truly compelling connected entertainment experience to our customers,” said Dan Marks, CEO of BT Vision. “For the first time consumers in the U.K. will be able to experience the advantages of an advanced TV service together with the benefits of next-generation gaming. Our aim is to provide BT Vision on multiple platforms — giving customers greater convenience, control and flexibility over what they watch, when they watch and how they watch TV. It also means that we are able to potentially expand our BT Vision customer base by tapping into the popularity of Xbox 360.”
“This is an exciting moment in home entertainment,” said Enrique Rodriguez, corporate vice president of the Connected Television Division at Microsoft. “Last year at CES, we announced Xbox 360 on Microsoft Mediaroom as a powerful platform capable of enabling new entertainment experiences for consumers, and we are pleased to team with BT to bring this service to market. Together we are enabling BT Vision customers to be the first in the world to enjoy this next-generation TV and gaming entertainment experience.”