Software giant Microsoft used the International Broadcasting Convention in Amsterdam to push its Microsoft TV client-server software platform as the future of interactive digital TV.
Microsoft already has "commitments" for 15 million set-top boxes running the software from companies including NTL in the U.K,
The client software will be made available in two versions: Basic Digital (Microsoft says 1.5 million copies of the underlying software in this version have already been deployed in set-top boxes around the world) and Advanced, which is still to come.
Microsoft also announced plans to include elements of the client software, Microsoft TV Technologies, in future versions of its Windows operating system for PCs and "PC-architected entertainment appliances."
To get the Microsoft TV software into homes, Microsoft has struck a deal with Philips to incorporate its software in a new range of Philips digital television set-top boxes, available some time next year, the companies announced in a joint statement.
Under the terms of the agreement, Philips will licence Microsoft's television software platform, and the companies will collaborate on development of devices based on Philips' Nexperia hardware.
The devices will combine support for electronic programming guides, interactive TV programming, Internet access and recording of TV programs to a hard disk - all features available in products currently on the market from other manufacturers and software developers.
In addition to producing set-top boxes for the consumer market, the companies have also agreed to work with network operators to customise set-top boxes to their needs.