Microsoft Corp.'s decade-long push into television is notable for false starts, bold promises and failed investments, but the company hopes to finally move into the living room this year with a service delivered over high-speed Internet networks.

The success or failure of Microsoft's Internet Protocol TV (IPTV) initiative could determine the fortunes of a number of telephone companies betting billions that the company can help them encroach on cable television operators' home turf.

Unlike the video clips uploaded to Web sites like YouTube, which depend on normal consumer Internet connections, IPTV gets priority from phone companies, using the main highways or backbone of the Web to deliver television programs with nearly all the features available from cable or satellite TV.

Microsoft sees a future when its IPTV platform will make a television set not linked into an IP network seem as obsolete as a personal computer today without access to the Internet.

"Microsoft's been successful signing up customers to date," said Michelle Abraham, principal analyst at research firm In-Stat. "But the large-sized, commercial deployments haven't happened so there is a lot that is unknown."

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