Microsoft has strengthened a number of industry alliances as part of its strategy for internet protocol television services, and confirmed that T-Online in France has selected the Microsoft IPTV Edition software solution for a trial.

At the Supercomm show in Chicago, Microsoft announced partnerships with leading video encoder vendors Tandberg, Harmonic and Scientific Atlanta, together with plans by Motorola to integrate Microsoft IPTV software in a future range of set-top boxes.

Microsoft has been working closely with all these companies for some time, but this reinforces the determination with which the software company is addressing the video market.

The French subsidiary of T-Online has selected the Microsoft TV IPTV Edition software platform to run trials of next-generation television for its pilot project of triple-play services in France. The German internet access provider is planning to invest up to a billion euros in rolling out its own network infrastructure in France and Spain to capture rising demand for broadband services.

“Microsoft is experiencing incredible momentum in the nascent IPTV market, from the addition of T-Online France to our significant roster of leading network operators to the continued expansion of our world-class ecosystem of technology partners,” said Moshe Lichtman, who heads the Microsoft TV division.

“As a result of this continued progress, we expect to bring on a new wave of video innovation for the telecommunications industry that enables service providers not only to offer the video component of the triple play to their customers, but also to deliver a much better digital TV experience than conventional distribution platforms.”

The Microsoft IPTV platform has been selected by US telcos SBC and Verizon for their next generation video services. However, Swisscom recently postponed the launch of its Bluewin broadband television service, suggesting that there were still issues with the Microsoft solution.

Microsoft IPTV Edition was being demonstrated at the Supercomm show, with integrated solutions from multiple partners, including its preferred access equipment supplier and systems integrator, Alcatel.

Enhanced functionality demonstrated included support for new games, multiple picture-in-picture services, customised channel lineups, parental control and photo sharing.

Tandberg says it will incorporate the generation of picture-in-picture streams within its video encoders. Enabling picture-in-picture views without requiring additional hardware-based tuners in the set-top box is a heavily promoted feature of the Microsoft solution. The Tandberg encoder will simultaneously generate the picture-in-picture stream from the same video source at a lower resolution and lower bit-rate than the main stream.

Harmonic also announced plans to include features such as the generation of mosaic programme guide and picture-in-picture views in their head-end equipment.

IPTV has been the talk of the show at Supercomm, as network operators shape up their plans for next generation networks to deliver the convergence of video, voice and data services over integrated networks based on internet protocols.