Microsoft invests in WebTV, partners on development

Microsoft has taken a minority share in Web TV Networks and the two companies will work together on television-based Web browsers and standards.

Microsoft has taken a minority share in Web TV Networks and the two companies will work together on television-based Web browsers and standards, company officials have announced.

Under the deal, WebTV Networks will integrate parts of that technology into future releases of WebTV Network's browser, officials say. Microsoft will adapt its Internet Explorer technology for television browsing, officials say. The companies will also work with standards bodies and other third parties to promote Internet standards based on their collaborative work, say the officials.

A WebTV Networks spokeswoman won't reveal how big an equity stake Microsoft has taken in the privately-held company. Several other companies have also announced investments in WebTV Networks, she says, including Citicorp, VeriFone, Times Mirror, Lauder Partners, Brentwood Venture Capital and Paul Allen Vulcan Ventures. Asia Pacific Ventures has expanded its initial financial commitment to the company.

WebTV has already licensed Web browsing set top box technology to Sony and Philips, which is available now in US consumer electronic stores, officials say. WebTV Network also has launched an online service that can be accessed via television sets.

Microsoft is on the World Wide Web at http://www.microsoft.com. WebTV Networks is on the Web at http://webtv.net.

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