Microsoft's UltimateTV unit gets a makeover
By Matt Berger
(IDG) -- Microsoft said on Tuesday it will eliminate its UltimateTV unit, sending the set-top box service and about two-thirds of the employees working on it to other parts of the company.
UltimateTV is Microsoft's subscription-based service that offers access to e-mail and the Internet through a television set, as well as provides functions like the ability to pause and rewind live television. The company said it will roll the service into its MSN group, which last year established the MSN TV unit after taking over Microsoft's WebTV project.
Microsoft will continue to upgrade and offer the UltimateTV service despite the changes, says Ed Graczyk, director of marketing for Microsoft TV. He calls the changes "the next step in the alignment of Microsoft's TV activities."
Sitting on the set top
In addition to UltimateTV and MSN TV, Microsoft's efforts in the space include Microsoft TV, a software platform pitched at cable and network operators. Microsoft TV includes software for both servers and set-top boxes, and supports video-on-demand and other Internet-based services.
About two-thirds of the 400 or more employees who work on UltimateTV at Microsoft's Mountain View, California, campus, will be moved to MSN TV and Microsoft TV, and to the division developing Microsoft's Xbox video game console. The remaining employees will have three months to find jobs elsewhere at the company, Graczyk says.
Included in the shuffle are Jon DeVaan, senior vice president of Microsoft's TV efforts, who will take a sabbatical and return to Microsoft in a yet-to-be-named position. Moshe Lichtman, a longtime Microsoft executive, will lead the Microsoft TV unit. Bruce Leak, the cofounder of WebTV, a company Microsoft acquired for its software, will head the MSN TV group.
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