Microsoft: Xbox 360 IPTV still coming--eventually

Software giant says Mediaroom functionality won't be in fall update, but service providers will receive software by year's end.

The Xbox 360 fall update is just around the corner and speculation is rife about what features it will introduce.

Among the more talked-about but still unconfirmed features is a tool that would allow parents to limit the amount of time their children can play. Another rumor claimed the fall update would finally give the 360s the IPTV functionality Microsoft promised it would have back in January at the Consumer Electronics Show.

On Tuesday, Microsoft confirmed one feature would not be included in the fall update. Following the discovery of some IPTV functionalities in a recently serviced 360 by site Xbox 360 Fanboy, Microsoft said the functionality would be excluded from the console's looming firmware update.

"This was an isolated incident where these features were inadvertently exposed while the customer's console was being serviced and is unrelated to the fall update," the company said in a statement e-mailed to CNET sister site GameSpot.

Microsoft did not comment on the specific functionalities unveiled in the leak, which included onscreen chat while viewing live TV, recorded television, and on-demand movies. However, Microsoft did confirm that the 360's IPTV functionality will be a version of its Microsoft Mediaroom software, which was unveiled in June.

Microsoft's statement also raised the possibility that IPTV won't make it into 360 owners' living rooms this year. At CES, Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates said his company was planning a holiday 2007 launch for 360 IPTV. Now, Microsoft says the functionality will be in the hands of IPTV service providers by year's end--and not necessarily those of consumers.

" features will only be available from the Xbox 360 through a service provider who has deployed Xbox 360 with Microsoft Mediaroom (IPTV) services," read the Microsoft statement. "Xbox 360 with Microsoft Mediaroom (IPTV) will be available to service providers by the end of the year. Microsoft's IPTV service providers will ultimately determine the timing of Xbox 360 with Microsoft Mediaroom deployments."

Tor Thorsen of GameSpot reported from San Francisco.
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