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Skype pimps pro-level broadcast service

Playing Cat and Mouse with the media

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TV journalists weary of trying to gather acceptable audio from Skype, your time to celebrate is now: Microsoft is rolling out a high-quality service designed for the broadcast market.

If it does what it says on the box, Skype TX (transmitter, geddit?) will stick Microsoft's elbows in the ribs of the expensive platforms that the broadcast industry now uses. The company claims it's offering an “integrated production-grade system” for pro audio and video.

Skype TX is a hardware/software combo, with a box offered to broadcasters for integration with their existing systems, handling I/O in HD-SDI video and balanced audio, with automatic aspect ratio conversion.

By sending feeds to the switching suite, Skype TX will let the operator handle the calls, including multi-channel calls.

The system is based on technology from Cat and Mouse, recently acquired by Microsoft. C&M developed a Skype video/audio routing system called CatCall, which offered call quality optimisation, and took care of video resizing and adjustment without scan converters.

Microsoft hasn't yet announced pricing for the system, but is promising that Skype TX calls not have any intrusions like pop-ups or notifications. Redmond's announcement is here.

Skype TX gives Microsoft the chance to get lots of "talking to us live over Skype" plugs, which will be nice if only because the likes of Twitter are so often featured by media. But if this is anything other than a very niche example of Redmond's devices-and-services strategy, there's clearly a lot more for Satya Nadella to do in terms of articulating Microsoft's future vision and cloudified business model. ®

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