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Whatever happened: DirecTV-Microsoft

In the first of an occasional series,'s Ina Fried looks at past announcements and what became of that big deal. First up: a partnership between Redmond and DirecTV announced in January 2006.

It happens all the time.

Company X and Company Y get together and announce a broad partnership to do a whole bunch of things. Executives smile, shake hands, and talk about all the great things they are going to do together.

Then they go back to their respective cities, little comes of the deal, and everyone forgets it ever happened. Well, in our immense spare time, we're going to look back at some of those deals and try to figure out where things stand.

First up is a deal that Microsoft and DirecTV announced two years ago at the Consumer Electronics Show. According to the press release, the two companies were forming a long-term agreement that would allow digital content to flow between Windows-based PCs, DirecTV set-top boxes, Xbox consoles, and portable media players.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer offered a glowing forecast of what the arrangement would mean for consumers. "This agreement is a significant milestone for consumers and content owners, since it will greatly extend the reach and flexibility of digital entertainment in the home," Ballmer said in a statement at the time. "By integrating our Windows Media platform technologies with the DirecTV service, we have created a pipeline for an incredible variety of premium digital entertainment to move seamlessly and securely throughout the home to anywhere a DirecTV customer wants to enjoy it."

So what has come to market? Absolutely nothing.

In fairness, Microsoft has been working even longer to try to get CableCard support into Vista PCs.

Asked about the DirecTV deal, a Microsoft representative said the two companies are still actively working together but declined further comment on what the two might be doing or when anyone might be able to get their hands on it. Does anyone in Microsoftland want to share more?

Also, give us your thoughts on what deal should be featured in the next edition of "Whatever happened." There are a lot of deals that come to mind: Sun Microsystems' big partnership with Google. Sun's partnership with Microsoft. Heck, even Sun's deal with Enron--or maybe we should pick on someone other than Sun.

Update: Well, in this case my readers know more than I do. See the comments section for what DirecTV is apparently up to. I'll check into it and post more info when I get it.