Irish company DigiSoft has signed a partnership agreement with Sun Microsystems to provide an open Java based middleware platform for internet protocol television services. DigiSoft says that it has sold over 1.5 million set-top box middleware licences worldwide. The company is promising to announce further new customers at the NAB Show in Las Vegas.

The agreement with Sun Microsystems covers distribution of a Java Platform Micro Edition based software stack for set-top boxes. DigiSoft says this means service providers can exploit the large community of Java developers to create applications. It claims the solution offers service providers the most open, cost-effective and flexible IPTV middleware solution on the market.

John Allen, the chief executive of DigiSoft, said the company had worked with Sun to develop the platform because they were “frustrated by the quality of existing IPTV set-top box middlewares”.

“Service providers are now seeking more open and scalable middleware platforms that enable them to launch high-quality high-definition applications and services to meet customer demand across large client bases,” he said. “The combination of Sun’s Java client technology and DigiSoft’s middleware means that they can now scale their TV service rollout and achieve a much faster return on investment while having more control of their middleware and applications than ever before.”

“We are very pleased to be working with a company with DigiSoft’s global experience and track record in delivering IPTV technology, and look forward to extending the presence of Java technology in the DTV marketplace with DigiSoft’s middleware solution.”

There is now growing momentum behind Tru2way, previously known as the Open Cable Applications Platform or OCAP, derived from the European DVB MHP standard, also based on Java.

The apparent victory of the Sony backed Blu-ray standard for the next generation of high-definition disc players, which will support interactivity based on Java technologies in the form of Blu-ray Disc Java or BD-J, could also provide a significant boost for the adoption of the language for interactive video applications.

The Java language was originally developed by Sun Microsystems specifically for interactive television but has found wider application in many software applications.

The use of Java technology in theory enables the creation of converged multi-platform applications for set-top boxes and high-definition disc players, as well as mobile handsets and personal computers, while requiring minimal re-authoring, simplifying application and service deployment.

“For over 10 years, Sun has been working with standards bodies, operators and vendors to define a family of specifications for digital television applications and services such as OCAP/Tru2way and BD-J, and we are now seeing great momentum in the deployment of products based on these open standards,” said Jeet Kaul, head of the client software group at Sun.

Founded in 2000, DigiSoft is a privately held company based in Ireland, with offices in the UK, USA, Singapore and New Zealand.