UPC threatens to drop Microsoft unless it delivers software on time

Alerted that Microsoft Corporation will likely miss the deadline to deliver Windows-based software for its Internet-enabled set-top boxes, United Pan-European Communications (UPC) announced this week that it may drop Microsoft if the company doesn't deliver the software on time. UPC CEO Mark Schneider said that UPC would begin trials with Microsoft rivals Liberate and Excite/AtHome when it launches its digital Internet service in Europe this October. The company says it's a simple matter of giving customers the capabilities they've been promised.

"If Microsoft \[doesn't\] get their software prepared we'll use those other ones," Schneider said, noting that UPC will not suffer any delays in introducing its digital services. "It is true that Microsoft is slow, but that doesn't mean we are going to be slow. "If \[Microsoft\] can't show up at the right time to deliver, frankly, \[it doesn't\] have any rights."

UPC, which is Europe's second-largest cable operator, recently reported a net loss of $335.5 million, less than expected. The company says that a growing subscriber base and improved efficiencies led to the better-than-expected quarterly results. The company expects to deliver 30,000 Internet-enabled set-top boxes to its customers by the end of the year, with or without Microsoft. The boxes will enable video-on-demand, which includes movies, sports, news, and educational programming. It will be the first offering of its kind anywhere in the world

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