Potential Game-Changer: TV Recommendations on Live.com

In what can be described as a potential game-changing piece of software, the Live.com team at Microsoft has demoed a new widget gadget that allows users to get personalized TV show recommendations and then record them remotely with the click of a button…on their home PC Media Center. The demo occurred at the annual Search Champs Conference held in Redmond.

Here’s a screenshot…

In what can be described as a potential game-changing piece of software, the Live.com team at Microsoft has demoed a new widget gadget that allows users to get personalized TV show recommendations and then record them remotely with the click of a button…on their home PC Media Center. The demo occurred at the annual Search Champs Conference held in Redmond.

Here’s a screenshot:

TV Recommendations

From the short demo given by Sanaz Ahari at Search Champs, the initial functionality appears to be a recommendation tool, whereby people can rate TV shows on a 1-5 star scale. After users rate a show, their recommendations are updated appropriately to a new, more personalized set. This is not unlike the powerful recommendation system for movies on sites such as Netflix.com, which I wrote about extensively here: Which Movie to Watch? An Overview of Recommendation Systems. In addition, Sanaz showed another feature whereby you can with a few clicks of the mouse actually remotely schedule the recording of a TV show on your media center box at home.

There are three reasons why this feature could be a game-changer:

  1. A Showcase Application for the Platform
    This feature is a great example of the possible value of the platform that Microsoft is creating. Up until now, the widgets weren’t that exciting, and basically replicated the widgets of other portals. This widget, however, shows the real value of platform that other developers can get excited about. It takes what was previously an uninspired platform into new territory.
  2. Solves a Real, Unsolved Problem
    Recommendations are nothing new, but recommendations for TV shows are few. So this effectively helps to solve a previous unsolved problem, and a potentially powerful way to get adoption by people who don’t see the value of live.com. (if you’ve read me at all, you know that I think recommendation systems are the future of the Web)
  3. Leverages Microsoft’s Media Center Platform
    By allowing communication between remote users and their home computer, this feature leverages the Media Center platform, functionality that can’t be readily provided by Google, Yahoo, or Apple. Recent rumors suggest that Apple is working on a DVR-type device incorporated into their Mac Mini desktop, however.

I’m really interested to see how this widget is adopted. If it’s easy to use, quick to set up, and provides valuable recommendations, then it could be a big boost to the nascent live.com site. However, we’ll undoubtedly soon see something from other companies, most particularly Apple. Any Dashboard widget developers working on something similar?

Published: January 26th, 2006

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