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Microsoft mobilizes on wireless video

The company teams up with digital-media specialists to launch MobileVision, a system for delivering streaming video to portable devices.

Software giant Microsoft said Thursday that it is launching a wireless video delivery system for mobile devices in partnership with a pair of digital media content and applications makers.

The software, called MobileVision, is meant to provide a complete streaming-video services framework for wireless network operators and digital media and applications providers. Microsoft worked with wireless media software makers Vidiator Technology and TWI Interactive to create the system. The package will be marketed through TWI, which specializes in content creation and management applications. It will also be sold as a hosted service.

Microsoft said MobileVision offers wireless operators and content providers all the tools necessary to build and support new mobile video services, including content management and streaming media applications. The package also includes billing and customer care systems.

MobileVision is designed to run on Microsoft's Windows Media 9 software and was built around the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) industry standard for mobile communications. Vidiator, whose software helps deliver mobile services to handsets that use Microsoft Windows operating systems, developed the 3GPP portion of the system.

Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft retooled its wireless software division last month, bringing onboard a new marketing chief and an executive in charge of development for mobile and embedded devices. The unit has traditionally been unprofitable, but sales have been growing lately, as Windows Mobile 2003 Pocket PC-based devices have gained ground in the handheld market.

One of the major thrusts of MobileVision is its promise to help wireless operators launch new mobile video services in a relatively short time. The companies estimate that MobileVision will enable service providers to create and introduce content delivery services in just four weeks. The wireless system can also acquire video from multiple sources, present content in customizable "video portals," report return-on-investment figures and support multiple video formats, mobile handsets and network technologies.

In addition to providing Windows and .Net software expertise for the package, Microsoft said its telecommunications team will help market and deliver MobileVision to wireless operators. TWI will offer service infrastructure, integration capabilities, and content management and billing software. Vidiator is providing the media delivery technology that serves as the core of the package.