Microsoft Edging into Digital Signage

David Keene -- A press release yesterday from Broadcast International, announcing a “partnership” with Microsoft, could easily fall into the routine category. The BI solution described in the release below, is a one-off, showcase type of installation. And it could be interpreted as a typical “partnership” between one of the PC/IT giants, and a network management provider, the most typical of which are attempts by a major IT or PC company to create a placemarker in the digital signage arena, while they are busy winning market share in their core market.

But I think this announcement bears watching. Broadcast International has done some interesting things in the digital signage arena lately. And they are going to the place– enterprise wide digital signage– that has been the Waterloo of larger companies than they are. And if Microsoft can hone a more content-nimble management system that is both easy to install and offers some form of sophisticated scheduling, reporting, dayparting, etc. features, they might be a legitimate contender in digital signage.

This is the press release from yesterday:

The BI Network to extend its Managed Media Services Platform across the Redmond Campus

Salt Lake City, UT--Broadcast International (BCST:OB) announced at NAB 2011 that they have extended their partnership with Microsoft by joining the Microsoft Partner Solutions Center (MPSC) on the campus in Redmond. The BI Network, is a Managed Media Services network solution designed to drive digital signage, eLearning, and live business television services through the Microsoft Cloud. These new services will direct the flow of rich-media content throughout the MPSC.

The Microsoft Partner Solutions Center (MPSC) is one of the hallmark showcases for Microsoft's Software and Solutions. The world's largest companies are hosted at the MPSC as they are introduced to the latest advances in Microsoft's products and its partner ecosystem. Microsoft leads the industry in advancing rich-media applications and the diverse nature of devices that access those applications and their content.

This new digital signage network is driven through the Microsoft cloud and is built exclusively on Microsoft Cloud technologies including Microsoft SQL Azure, Windows 7 for embedded devices such as smartphones and digital signage displays, and Xbox. The managed services platform, which is powered by Broadcast International's flagship product, CodecSys™, can be virtualized and distributed across any cloud-based network architecture. The solution will showcase these technologies as video content is published to an Xbox which broadcasts video content to a digital display or interacts with any user's Windows 7 smartphone. This turns anyone's Windows 7 smartphone into an interactive digital sign; revolutionizing the digital signage industry.

"We are very pleased to have Broadcast International as a partner and to enable their cloud-based offering in our Private Cloud datacenter. We look forward to BI showcasing and delivering rich media content to the MPSC displays and extending that showcase capability to Windows Phone 7 devices. With BI we now have a cutting edge digital signage system that can showcase the best of what both companies can offer," said David Hayes, Director, Microsoft Partner Solutions Center.

David Keene is a publishing executive and editorial leader with extensive business development and content marketing experience for top industry players on all sides of the media divide: publishers, brands, and service providers. Keene is the former content director of Digital Signage Magazine.