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Verizon Steps in to Fix Microsoft's IPTV 96

Posted by Zonk
from the well-here's-your-problem dept.
NYGiant writes "Microsoft IPTV isn't cutting it for Verizon, Ars Technica reports, so they've taken over parts of the project. Verizon is in a rush to perfect its IPTV service, which is based on Microsoft's IPTV software. The problem is that to run well, Microsoft's software needs more memory than Verizon's set top boxes ship with. From the article: 'Under the terms of that deal, Verizon would use Microsoft's Foundation Edition middleware stack. Microsoft would also supply a set of customer-facing applications. While Foundation Edition remains in use by Verizon, the development of the other applications was taken over by Verizon engineers.'"
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Verizon Steps in to Fix Microsoft's IPTV

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  • Should I laugh or cry?
  • If it's a dig at microsoft, no matter how small.... it's news on slashdot.
    • It's just so darn easy to do though. Microsoft practically writes the jokes themselves.

      And on a more serious note a major application provider deciding that an MS Solution is too
      bloated and impractical to use is hardly small. As a developer and someone who has to carefully
      help choose software and the foundation for solutions for my company I'm interested in how major
      players like Verizon fare with MS software.
      • Not enough memory? Isn't that when they should be spending that extra $5 to put in another 128MB?
        • by locnar42 (591631)
          A $5 difference in the cost of an embedded system that is being mass produced adds up to a lot of money. A change in software has a one time cost. A change in hardware is multiplied by the million or so units they plan to ship. Not to mention, reducing the memory usage may improve the overall responsiveness of the system leading to a more satisfactory user experience. In a system like this, that can go a long way to moving the units out the door.
      • Come on.....

        MFC stood for Microsoft Fucked Class. It took quite a while before people started using it. At 1.X it was complete crap.

        Many of their layers tended to be buggy, fat, and slow. Why would anyone be suprised? It is because they are a big company and the PHBs order it used. When at DTS, I had a VP that did not push Microsoft down our throats for development, but that may be because he is an MIT grad and knew the technical aspects.

    • This is pretty significant tech news, given Microsoft's push for IPTV into the living room. Verizon can't get it to run on their hardware and is having to step in.

      It's especially newsworthy in contrast to this week's Apple iTV announcement.
      • The bad thing, as history has proven, is that MS is probably going to gain from this by having access to the streamlined code that Verizon makes.

        I'm wondering if that was an aspect of their deal that MS was counting on or, now just looking forward to?

  • display the blue screen of death? It's only a joke :)
  • Shocked, I say! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by WhiteWolf666 (145211) <.sherwin. .at. .amiran.us.> on Friday September 15, 2006 @05:42PM (#16117100) Homepage Journal
    A Microsoft Product?

    Late, buggy, out of spec, and bloated?

    Who'da thunk?

    Shocked, I tell you! Shocked!

    What I don't understand is why all the major TV players are signing on with Microsoft. Every Microsoft IPTV deployment has been buggy, overbudget, late, and required significantly higher requirements than Microsoft's initial stipulations. They must be vastly underbidding everyone else on the market; I'd guess Microsoft is spending hundred of millions, if not billions, on breaking into this market.

    I'd love to see one of these Microsoft IPTV deployments flop (I'm betting on SBC's deployment). That'll drive the market away from the Vole, regardless of how cheap they're willing to do the (shoddy, useless) work.

    How much it feel to work in one of these Microsoft shops? How does it feel to know that cut-rate out-sourced contracted programmers from India with no background on the project did it better and faster than you? I know that India has a wealth of high-quality programmers, but the general rule is that in-house (especially at major programming shops in the U.S.) is better than out-sourced; just more expensive.

    In this case, it seems that with Microsoft you pay more, and get less. Given their monopoly status, I guess that is appropriate. Monopoly-sized market distortions = inefficency. It's too bad that survival of the fittest takes so long to damage a monopoly.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by sm62704 (957197)
      What I don't understand is why all the major TV players are signing on with Microsoft.

      It's the mantra. In the 1980s it was "nobody evet got fired for buying IBM", today it's "nobody ever got fired for buying Microsoft".
      • by DannyO152 (544940)
        Operating system market share is irrelevant. This is Hollywood and the media. If two people partner, one of the parties is giving money to the other. I think Microsoft is buying their alliances.
    • by sgt scrub (869860)
      What I don't understand is why all the major TV players are signing on with Microsoft.

      The same reason most gas stations don't sell diesel fuel, market share. Also, if a product is shipped with a popular OS the greater the chance stupid f'n people will assume it is the default or required software. If you have ever seen two dumb pieces of sh** argue over which icon, AOL or IE, is the internet without succumbing to the temptation to rip their... sorry.

      My point: A perfect example is the number of people that
      • by gEvil (beta) (945888) on Friday September 15, 2006 @06:13PM (#16117300)
        A perfect example is the number of people that call Internet Explorer "the internet".

        Thankfully my kid set me straight on that one. Now I know that the internet is that cute little fox that's on fire.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Wesley Felter (138342)
        But in cable boxes, Microsoft's market share is near zero. The hardware is all made by Cisco/Scienfic Atlanta and Motorola/General Instrument, and I'd guess that they also have their own software stacks.
        • by Plutonite (999141)
          and I'd guess that they also have their own software stacks.

          Well I hope to God they do, because otherwise the internets and all their tubes will be pwned very soon.
      • by arodland (127775)
        Basically every gas station I've seen big enough to have more than, say, three pumps, had one pump with diesel fuel available. And what do you meant that the internet isn't "that blue thing"? I can see the icon right now. It says "The Internet".
    • by daeg (828071)
      Because if Verizon can push the extra cost blame onto Microsoft, they can push it back onto consumers. When the cost overrun is paid for, Verizon keeps the price hike in place so long as they have few competitors.

      Not all businesses or business models are in the business of producing the best product for the least amount of money.
    • Who'da thunk?

      That depends, is that a 16 bit thunk or one of the new windows vista 32 bit thunks?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by astrosmash (3561)

      I have a theory.

      Back in the eighties and early nineties Microsoft wasn't much of a software company. They had a (well deserved) reputation for simplistic, unsophisticated, poor quality software, and they certainly never would have survived without the truck loads of free money coming in from their MS-DOS royalties.

      Their transformation into a real software company in the early nineties is well documented, and while the quality of their software greatly improved they were still burdened with a reputation

    • MS gives the IPTV infrastructure away for free, or at least that's what I understand. That means back-end servers, software, etc.

      It's yet another failed attempt for MS to mean something outside of the Windows/Office monopoly...and they're destroying the economics of the business in the process. Too bad there isn't an anti-dumping law for domestic companies.
    • by NoMaster (142776)

      Every Microsoft IPTV deployment has been buggy, overbudget, late, and required significantly higher requirements than Microsoft's initial stipulations.

      Actually, is there even one deployment in progress or completed? Because, last I looked (18 months or so ago), there wasn't - sure, there were trials going on, but no deployment - because of pretty much the same problems Verizon have encountered.

      In fact at that time, most players were dumping MS IPTV in favour of a solution from ?Nokia?

      • by dago (25724)
        Club Internet [club-internet.fr] who is a minor ISP in France. But you're right, all MS TV deployments have been late, buggy and overbudget. In france, all major ISP have been proposing TV for something like 2 years.

        The nice marketing twist is that Club Internet propose Microsoft TV as an ... exclusivity !
        • by NoMaster (142776)
          Interesting - I didn't know about Club Internet, but I remember reading a while ago that France Telecom / Orange was planning on ditching MS in favour of something that actually worked - Nokia, or maybe Siemens.

          I'm particularly intrigued by their choice of a pink tampon as representative of the average clubinternet user... ;-)

          • by dago (25724)
            FT effectively ditched MS in favor of Siemens (IIRC). But they already had one competitor (Free) who was proposing triple-play bundles, that means they couldn't just stay and listen to microsoft's next-version-will-be-perfect-we-swear-just-waith-s ix-more-months speeches.

      • by yabos (719499)
        Bell Canada has their IPTV deployed in some condos in Toronto mostly. They're going very slow with their deployment since last year they had summer 2006 as the completion date and as far as anyone can tell they haven't really deployed much more since last year. They're upgrading their remote terminals but not installing a lot of IPTV over DSL yet. This might have to do with the MS software but I don't know.
  • by glomph (2644) on Friday September 15, 2006 @05:44PM (#16117115) Homepage Journal
    I'm as virulent a Microsoft-hater as you'll find on Slashdot, but the lesson here is not that they suck (which they do, badly). It's a lesson about company A (Verizon in this case) subbing out an important business segment to company B (Microsoft, the promise-anything, and ship whatever company). If something is THAT important to your business, dammit, get it done yourself! 9 out of 10 times something goes to shit, and you either had smart lawyers (as Verizon clearly did) that at least gives you -some- chance of inconveniently, expensively bailing the project out.

    The deal-making pinheads will never figure this out however, their retinas, and the brains behind them, are all fatigued from staring at Powerpoint slides and Blackberry thingies.
    • by udderly (890305)
      Microsoft, the promise-anything, and ship whatever company

      That's funny--good one. That's one of the things I like about /., there's always a few good sayings floating around. My all time /. favorite is still "asshat." I don't understand what it means, but it just sounds funny.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by WhiteWolf666 (145211)
      Did you read the article????

      This is most CERTAINLY not about the ills of out-sourcing.

      How did Verizon get the job done?

      Hint: They did it in India/Texas.
      Hint2: They didn't use Verizon employees.

      This is most certainly a lesson in how Microsoft sucks.
      • by sgt scrub (869860)
        India/Texas.

        India, Texas, What is the difference? High tech people from both our countries get low salaries and no respect from the US.
      • by evilviper (135110)

        This is most CERTAINLY not about the ills of out-sourcing.

        Did you read what he wrote???

        He explained it very clearly: "If something is THAT important to your business, dammit, get it done yourself!"

        Having your business depending on an unfinished piece of software, from a company outside your control, is quite simply, stupid. And Verizon got to find that out the kinda-hard-way... it could have been much worse.

        This is most certainly a lesson in how Microsoft sucks.

        Microsoft sucks, but Verizon was stupid to d

    • by bigpat (158134)
      t's a lesson about company A (Verizon in this case) subbing out an important business segment to company B (Microsoft, the promise-anything, and ship whatever company). If something is THAT important to your business, dammit, get it done yourself!

      It is very common for a software project to fail the first time around. Often a combination of uncertain requirements, inexperienced developers and bad management combine to make it nearly impossible to succeed the first time around. As long as Verizon learned th
  • by mpapet (761907) on Friday September 15, 2006 @05:54PM (#16117192) Homepage
    They have Verizon backed so far into a corner that it appears verizon can't walk away. MS is laughing all the way to the bank on this one.

    The license costs that one monopoly is paying the other will, no doubt, lead to a -really- expensive set top box.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by redphive (175243)
      Having worked in the cable television industry for the past 15 or so years, I am going to have to highlight the fact that IPTV is far from a monopoly. Moreover, Verizon could hardly be called a monopoly, with emerging technologies such as VoIP, Cellular and Cable based Digital Phone service (yes it is just VoIP but is typically handled across a fully managed network) as well as other ISP options, they are set to face customer erosion in the near future.
      • by mpapet (761907) on Friday September 15, 2006 @06:29PM (#16117399) Homepage
        IPTV is far from a monopoly
        Yeah, and that's because the bill giving them the "national overlay" monopoly is still wending it's way through the system. http://telephonyonline.com/regulatory/news/congres s_cable_franchise_030906/ [telephonyonline.com]
        First-movers and whatever is left for cable companies in the States are dead as soon as this one passes.

        And then there's:
        VOIP Regulated away to the telcos/cable co's. Proverbial toll roads on the internet will be the final nail in the coffin.
        CellularIs my service better or cheaper than it was 5 years ago? No. Please explain how they would jam -so- many bits down the average phone connection?
        Digital Phone ServiceIs this service better or cheaper than my POTS service? As a former subscriber no. Emphatically no.

        I agree they are set to see erosion of their customer base, but I would argue that they aren't meeting competitors in the marketplace, they are meeting them in Washington DC, where they have the money to raise barriers to entry. The average quickie-mart economicthink doesn't apply.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Ucklak (755284)
      I wonder if this could be one of those Embrace - Extend - Extinguish type of deals where Verizon, with all the assets Microsoft wants, ends up having to raise money by selling assets or getting bought out or sold.

      Didn't the pinheads at Verizon read into their coporate history of dealing with this company?
      There has been very few if any successful partnerships with Microsoft.

      I think the only successful ones are the hardware related where Microsoft is basically a customer.
  • a business plan? (Score:4, Informative)

    by geoff lane (93738) on Friday September 15, 2006 @05:57PM (#16117204)
    "The real goal is to figure out a way to get an 'operating system'
    royalty per TV. 10's of millions of TV's per year at $10-$20 per TV
    is a nice little 'operating system' business." -- Jeff Raikes of Microsoft
    • by ptbarnett (159784)
      Microsoft tried to do this with Dish Network.

      Dish's first PVRs (the DishPlayer 7100 and 7200) ran Windows software (CE, I think). Microsoft got a monthly royalty for every one of them, so Dish refused to waive the PVR fee, even though they were doing so for later PVRs.

      The Microsoft PVR software was a piece of crap. It would regularly do the equivalent of a "BSOD", turning the screen to a shade of pink. Dish developed their own PVR and dumped the DishPlayer as fast as they could. They offered me a s

  • Not IPTV! (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 15, 2006 @06:05PM (#16117259)
    Just for the record, FIOS TV is not IPTV. IPTV is delivery of television over the internet. Verizon's FIOS delivers TV over fiber, than to coax--exactly as cable systems do. The difference is that the termination of the fiber in FIOS is at the side of the house, while in a traditional cable environment, the fiber is terminated further upstream (at a central office of sorts).
    • Re:Not IPTV! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by chrisbtoo (41029) on Friday September 15, 2006 @06:43PM (#16117491) Homepage Journal

      IPTV is delivery of television over the internet.


      Nope, IPTV is delivery of television over the Internet Protocol. It doesn't necessarily have to involve "The Internet", and could just as easily be run over these fibre lines as over DSL, which is also common.
      • by R.Mo_Robert (737913) on Friday September 15, 2006 @08:53PM (#16118139)

        You're both wrong, IPTV is Iowa Public Television and has been for over 25 years. :) (And even longer under various other names.)

        Mwuhahaha, just kidding. That really is what it's called, though (yes, I'm an Iowan), and every time I read about the "new" IPTV I have to force myself to think that it's not what my first reaction tells me.

  • Well (Score:5, Funny)

    by DAldredge (2353) <SlashdotEmail@GMail.Com> on Friday September 15, 2006 @06:06PM (#16117266) Journal
    I guess that the Microsoft apps were not up to the level of suck that Verizon likes so they had to add the suck themselves.
  • rolls their own client-side application. At least they have what MICROSOFT engineers think of as *standard* quality client-side software. Pretty clearcut specification failure to omit memory footprint of the client.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Software development project just like every other software development project! Microsoft beleived to be involed! Slashdot closes in!
  • Verizon is _fixing_ something? That is disturbing news, even if they are fixing Microsoft...

    [rant]

    A couple of weeks ago, I tried to order DSL from Verizon. Well, twice in fact.

    My first order? As it turns out, they somehow lost it after I waited for a week for a response from them. So I had to reorder, via phone...

    So the agent told me that DSL _was_ available for my area. Nice! I reordered it.

    I waited for two weeks. After two weeks, I wrote a complaint letter (about me waiting for two weeks). Lo and

  • MS only lets itself look completely inept like this to downplay the accusation of being a domineering monopoly.

    If Verizon had hired some headz and gone MythTV, then we could be impressed.

    Don't be fooled by the Rove-fu.
  • Microsoft is going at IPTV with the windows attitude: they are so infatuated with themselves that they think they will be the standard.

    I had the chance of seeing a test deployment of MS's IPTV "solution" in a testing environment for evaluation and its basically sucks. The system is buggy, server intensive -- one of the engineers who demoed it to me refered to it as a 'Server Per Customer' solution. and in good MS tradition, cool features get dropped from version to version, as they are considered too buggy.
  • Why in gods' names would this device need a full-fledged OS, much less one with as much crap attached as a Microsoft product?

    How could the project designers not spec a more appropriate OS? There are literally *dozens* of alternatives that would make more sense.

    Mind, it is Verizon. From all I've read, they typically can't find their arse with both hands and a copy of Grey's Anatomy.
    • Even a rudimentary digital STB needs features for which a simple OS is probably the easiest solution. For example, a hardware abstraction layer, to allow a single version of the application software to run on the dozen different hardware variants of the STB design that the cable company will have deployed. A multitasking executive because the box will run multiple processes: one for the UI, one that monitors data downloads (eg, data for the program guide), one that receives and stores new versions of the U

  • Because the STB software is TERRIBLE. It makes my old buggy/blue screen a week WMC seem like a finely tuned machine. Its a good thing the picture quality is absolutely fantastic because that box is a MESS.
  • ... because this is a world-class WTF.

    The problem is that to run well, Microsoft's software needs more memory than Verizon's set top boxes ship with.

    So, what happened? Did Verizon just not tell Microsoft how much memory they were shipping with? Did they give MS the spec, then reduce the memory on the production units? Or maybe they pulled a NASA, and gave MS a memory capacity in HD marketing MB (where 1MB=1000*1000) and MS assumed it was in real-world MB (where 1MB=1024x1024).

    Nathan

  • Here in Washington the Microsoft Enhanced software running on the STB is utter garbage. Funny thing about it is that there recently was an update sent out to fix problems of sluggishness and unresponsiveness, and now I'm suffering from daily reboots. The sluggishness and unresponsiveness is still there.

    I swear Comcast made a deal with TIVO, please for the love of all that is good switch to TIVO.

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