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Culture

Deal to bring Windows to cable boxes

If Israel-based Peach Networks has its way, you'll soon be able to tune your television set to the Microsoft Encarta channel for a small monthly fee.

    CHICAGO--If Israel-based Peach Networks has its way, you'll soon be able to tune your television set to the Microsoft Encarta channel for a small monthly fee.

    Scientific-Atlanta and Peach Networks are teaming up to integrate Peach's technology for use on S-A's cable TV set-top boxes, allowing consumers to use whatever Windows-based application they want, be it a multimedia encyclopedia or games, email, or the Web.

    Peach expects to offer the service through cable operators starting at $10 per month, the company said.

    The system works by running the Windows operating system on a server situated at the cable operator's office and then translating the graphics transmission that normally goes to a PC into display on a TV. View actions, such as a mouse click or character inputs, are sent back through the cable pipe to the server.

    The service is being demonstrated here at the National Cable Television Association trade show and will be tested by cable operators this summer, Peach representatives said.

    The announcement is another shot across the bow of PC desktop applications. Internet services such as Yahoo now offer traditional desktop applications such as calendars, address books, and email on their Web sites. In August, FusionOne plans to launch another service that will allow consumers to get files from their hard drives through a Web site.

    Unlike software that originates on a PC, applications run on Web servers are accessible from any computer with an Internet connection. Peach's service is different from such Web-based services, however, because it is designed only for use when connected to a cable network.

    So far, Peach has demonstrated the use of games using its system. The company is negotiating with companies such as Microsoft for application licenses, said Dave Brown, general manager of Peach Networks, but he expects that companies such as AT&T Broadband and Internet, formerly known as Tele-Communications Incorporated, also could negotiate with software companies for licenses.

    "There's a lot of Windows content, virtually all of which can run this way. We won't know which ones people will really want until we try," Brown said.