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Sirius taps Microsoft for mobile video

Satellite radio company taps Windows Media software to power its upcoming on-the-road video service.

Sirius Satellite Radio will use Microsoft's Windows Media Video 9 software to help create and broadcast future video services, the companies said Wednesday.

Making the announcement in Las Vegas before this week's , the two companies said that Sirius will build its video applications using the Microsoft tools and work with the software maker to develop programming. Sirius' initial plans are focused on creating satellite video services that can be viewed both in homes and cars, and the company cited Windows Media's compression technology as key to its efforts.

As in-car entertainment systems become more popular, Sirius said, its automotive industry partners such as BMW, Ford and Toyota are hungry for satellite video services. The automakers already offer Sirius' satellite radio services in some of their vehicles or are planning to do so.

The satellite company said that it hopes to launch the video service in the second half of 2006 and plans to devote several channels of the network to children's programming. Many auto manufacturers have begun offering optional video systems in vehicles such as minivans to entertain kids.

The Microsoft announcement marks the second major automotive initiative unveiled by Sirius in conjunction with CES. The company also this week detailed an expansion in its partnership with Ford.

Under that deal, more than three-fourths of the autos rolling off Ford's assembly lines will have factory-installed Sirius satellite radios as an option by 2007.

Sirius did not immediately indicate whether it plans to feature shock jock Howard Stern as part of its video service. In October, Stern announced plans to move his popular radio show to Sirius in 2006 after his contract with Viacom expires. Stern has created a companion television program that is currently broadcast by E! Entertainment Television.