Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer has revealed that the company in talks with UK cable television operators to start trials of Microsoft TV set-top boxes.

“We’ve seen surge of interest from the telcos, as everyone is looking for a triple play – voice, video, data,” said Ballmer. Microsoft is currently testing internet protocol based set-top box devices with Telecom Italia and Swisscom.

At a press briefing in London on the eve of the launch of the company’s latest Media Player, Ballmer said consumers would soon see Microsoft not simply as a personal computer software company but the provider of their personal entertainment and communications technology.

He said that consumer take-up of digital technology in the home is at a ‘tipping point’ that will lead to “an explosion in demand” for converged devices that integrate audio, video and computer technology.

“We have had media technology built for years — Apple, Sony, RealNetworks, have been there for years. What’s changed is that now you have the format, the player, the device, and the service, and that’s what we will have with the launch of Microsoft Media Player 10, the official launch of the Microsoft Network, and Microsoft’s Portable Media Center.”

Meanwhile, executives from Comcast, the largest cable company in the US, have been visiting Seattle where they are testing Microsoft software to provide an on-screen guide for video on demand services. If all goes well, they plan to roll out a service in the Seattle area by the end of the year.