Sky Interactive has announced the availability of a range of products to support its new interactive TV portal on satellite television in the UK.

Scheduled to launch later this year, the portal will provide a cost-effective means for web publishers and service providers to reach users via interactive television.

A number of technical partners will offer a range of services to facilitate the end-to-end process of developing and hosting content on the portal.

Sky has collaborated with software development company Azoth to bring to market a full desktop development suite and editor for sites in WTVML, the XML-based mark-up language that was developed by Sky and subsequently made available as a public standard. The new product, WTVStudio, will be available in Lite and Professional versions, enabling site operators to choose between templated content formats and a more sophisticated editor with full preview and simulation capabilities.

Microsoft has partnered with Sky and ArtemisCorp to enable to provide the ArtemisCorp CMS.RAPID content management solution, based on the Microsoft Content Management Server.

Tamblin is to launch a new software tool for developing and publishing content on the portal. A special i-ZoneTV On-Demand for e-business product will offer pre-tested templates and an on-demand pricing model, enabling website operators to launch services quickly and at low cost.

A deal with Demon will also provide low cost hosting services that are pre-integrated with the Sky portal platform.

“Sky’s new e-business portal will make it easier than ever before to launch an interactive TV service,” said Ian Valentine, technical alliances director at Sky Interactive. “We welcome the industry’s support for the portal and we look forward to working with our partners to introduce mass market, industry strength tooling and content management systems to help website operators realise the potential of service delivery to interactive TV.”

Services on the portal will be accessed using conventional URLs or via the portal’s listings pages and online search engine. Personalisation features will enable viewers to save their favourite links and access a history of services visited previously. Each person in a household will be able to create an individual profile where he or she can enter personal information to facilitate online transactions, using features such as auto-complete and auto-logon.

For website operators, registration, testing and validation services will be available online at Website operators will be able to adapt their existing services using WTVML technology.

There will be no up-front charge to register and launch a site to the new portal and website operators will be able to choose from a range of optional marketing features to promote their content to Sky viewers. These will include the ability to register a ‘shortcode’, called a SkyKey, that will allow viewers to jump directly to their site from the portal’s home page.

Sky is creating a beta programme for website owners interested in developing a presence in interactive TV. Organisations that register for the programme will be able to receive detailed information about the portal, review relevant products and services and take part in online forums where they can ask specific questions to a dedicated team from Sky.

Sky Interactive will provide further details of the new portal at a free conference to be held at BAFTA in London on 28 July 2005.