Portuguese cabler delays Microsoft TV

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The Portuguese cable company that launched the first interactive TV
service using Microsoft's advanced software has put plans for mass expansion on
hold because of technological snags, its chairman reportedly said Tuesday.

Abilio Anca Henriques, chairman of PT Multimedia, told Reuters the number of clients for the interactive TV service, which was launched with fanfare in June, remains at only a sliver of the 100,000 initially forecast for the end of 2001.

PT Multimedia, a unit of Portugal Telecom, had not made interactive TV installations a priority 'because there has to be an improvement on the software level as well as the hardware level,' Henriques told Reuters.

He said the technological problems had to be solved before the company tries to expand the effort.

The interactive service lets subscribers get e-mail, bank, shop, play games and place bets through a set-top box. Microsoft's advanced digital TV software includes such features such as the ability to record live programs or to display them frame by frame.

The delay in PT Multimedia's expansion plans comes less than two weeks after Charter Communications, the No. 4 U.S. cable company, said it would deploy Microsoft's interactive software in a million homes.

It throws some doubt on Microsoft's ability to
successfully apply its sophisticated software expertise to an interactive TV
platform.

But it's certainly not the first time the initial iteration of a Microsoft
software creation revealed technical problems.

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