Microsoft is poised to announce it will use Predictive Networks’ viewer profiling software in its interactive television set-top boxes.

The software profiles TV watchers’ viewing patterns (without recording their names), allowing advertisers to use the information to target commercial messages.

Interactive TV, in which Microsoft is one of a number of players, gives subscribers access to features such as games and polls, and allows viewers to request information on particular topics. Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Predictive has developed software which registers what features viewers use and what information they request to create a ‘digital silhouette’.

Microsoft’s move is bound to cause a stir among privacy groups, though the software giant and Predictive vowed that no names would be recorded and that profiles would be held in set-top boxes, not central computers.

News source: (US)