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Microsoft has had its first success in the digital TV market in a supply deal with Charter Communications - the US' fourth biggest cable company.

Charter will use Microsoft TV's software platform for its interactive TV services, running a field trial in St Louis before launching early next year. The deal will eventually provide one million people across the States with Internet-based streaming audio/video and Flash animation.

Charter will develop the services on top of an all-Microsoft system - Microsoft TV software on Motorola digital set-top boxes with Microsoft TV Server.

The announcement comes the day after Microsoft released the latest version of its platform - Advanced 1.5. Both events tie in with its developer conference in Amsterdam, running today and yesterday.

The deal comes with no price tag, raising the very real possibility that Microsoft is giving it away for free in order to break into the market. Despite its best efforts, the company has only managed to get its software in one cable operator in Portugal and perhaps another in Brazil. Its attempt to crack America - a satellite service called UltimateTV, launched in February - has not been a great success, so far. ®

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