Microsoft said Monday that's it's revamped its IPTV software, now called MediaRoom. In a feature published Monday on CNET News.com, I've already gone into some depth about what the new software offers and what it means for the telco TV market.
But I also wanted to point out an important feature the new software doesn't offer: multiroom DVR. This service would be a dream come true for me. Even though I've got three TVs in my tiny apartment in New York City, my roommate and I still fight over the TV in the living room. Why? It's the only one with the DVR. We've each gotten so accustomed to watching recorded TV on our own schedules that neither of us even watches TV in our bedrooms, because then we'd have to watch TV live. Oh, the horror!
The situation has caused some tension between us. I refuse to watch American Idol or Dancing with the Stars, even though I know we can fast-forward through the boring parts. I also might be the only person in America who can't stand Lost. By the same token, my roommate has no interest in the latest Frontline episode or Charlie Rose interviews. We have found some common ground with shows such as The Office, 30 Rock and Grey's Anatomy. And of course we're both anxiously awaiting the new season of Project Runway.
But a multiroom DVR could end a budding war in my household. I could watch my boring PBS shows anytime I want in my room, while she could belt out bad pop songs on American Idol in hers.
Microsoft says the feature will be added in later releases. Ed Graczyk, a director of marketing for Microsoft, said the reason it wasn't in the current version of the software is that IPTV operators didn't see it as a top priority. AT&T said it's considering offering multiroom DVR functionality, but it didn't give any specific plans.
But I think AT&T and other telcos using Microsoft's software are missing a big opportunity to differentiate their services. Verizon has offered multiroom DVR for almost a year. EchoStar's Dish network also offers it. And Time Warner (my cable provider) has it in some locations. (Too bad for me Manhattan isn't one of them.)
Unfortunately, even if Microsoft had added multiroom DVR to this current version of software, it still wouldn't change my situation. I don't live in any of the 21 cities where AT&T is offering its IPTV U-verse service. (AT&T is the largest IPTV provider in the U.S. using the Microsoft MediaRoom software.)
That said, I think I'm a pretty average consumer. And the multiroom DVR function would definitely prompt me to go through the hassle of changing my service. And if I'd do it, maybe other people would too.