to BetaNews, they do and want to compete with Sling Media's Slingbox and Orb Networks Orb service.
According to BetaNews, "Microsoft is currently testing a Slingbox-like add-on that would allow Windows Media Center users to watch programming on their PCs from anywhere using mobile devices and laptops".
However, Microsoft's solution isn't using a set-top box, like Sling Media's solution but a piece of software (which is mostlikely the strength of Microsoft) and is therefore similar to Orb's Windows XP and Windows XP Media Center Edition solution.
Like with Orb, the stream would play through Windows Media Player.
Interesting is a comment from BetaNews where they indicates that they have seen a prototype already:
A demo viewed by BetaNews last week indicates that the service would even work over slower mobile data connections, such as EDGE.
However, current developments are not able to play live-streams as the Slingbox and Orb can do:
Unlike Slingbox, only existing content could be viewed, as there currently is no way to control the Media Center PC remotely. However, one could start recording a live broadcast, and would subsequently be able to view it through the stream.
The recorded programming would appear through a Web interface that would then launch Windows Media Player to play the stream, the demo indicated. The bitrate of the video adjusts automatically based on the bandwidth available.
No question, would makes sense for Microsoft to offer such a service but as often, I don't expect to see a fully feature-blown service but a way more stripped down. Streaming existing TV recordings is nice (I also do it pretty often myself using Orb) but I'm accessing even more often my music library to get it streamed and both - Orb (if your TV card is supported) as well as Slingmedia can stream live TV to any device (aka place-shift TV) which is a UMTS killer application for me. Watching your personal TV stations all over the world!
Cheers ~ Arne