Microsoft and Tesco announce major new online entertainment service for UK customers

Microsoft and Tesco have been secretly collaborating to develop a next-generation interactive entertainment service on the web for UK consumers. The service will be delivered through Silverlight, the a state-of-the-art web client technology which recently notched-up to version 3.0.

The service is scheduled to be launched later this year, and will offer an exciting array of new entertainment services to UK consumers, including HD movies, music and games.

This is exciting stuff! There's a sense of gratification even just in the thought of trying-this out on a sexy little Nokia Booklet 3G hooked up to the biggest TV screen in the house via HDMI. And this is just the beginning, because Microsoft and Tesco are planning to push the boundaries further than ever before. Silverlight 4.0 is coming soon...

“Tesco is excited to be the first retailer to partner with a broad range of major movie studios to offer this next-generation movie experience,” said Rob Salter, category director for Entertainment at Tesco. “For the first time, consumers will be able to enjoy a DVD equivalent experience with digital movies, which paves the way for more advanced viewing experiences enabled through Silverlight.

“This is just the beginning. In the future we expect to offer our customers innovative digital solutions that far exceed the DVD experience and deliver exclusive content, Web events and services wherever and whenever they want them,” Salter said.

The new collaboration was announced in a press release yesterday, cementing a powerful alliance between two of the world's biggest and most successful companies. (Microsoft is the world's most successful technology company, and Tesco is one of the world's leading retailers and the UK market-leader by a very wide margin.) The announcement has great strategic significance for both companies, and the project will have a defining impact on the interactive entertainment industry world-wide.

10 September 2009

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Tim Acheson (10 Sep 09, 14:08)

Technology spotlight

Tesco's websites, which have achieved outstanding commercial success, run on Microsoft's standard web platform (so does this blog, as if anybody cares), with the web application powered by ASP.NET. Both Silverlight and ASP.NET are part of the same technology framework, ".NET", in which everything can be developed and deployed rapidly and easily, using the same tools and programming languages, by the same developers.

Gordon Brown (11 Sep 09, 08:04)

You realise that your site has started to become a parody of itself, haven't you?

Ben Sherman (11 Sep 09, 10:18)

Your question sounds clever, perhaps even philosophical, but of course it’s a cliché. You seem to be quoting a popular catch-phrase out of context. Are you sure your understanding of the word “parody” is correct? If there's parody in this web site, I find no evidence of the web site imitating its self. Perhaps you could provide a specific example of my web site parodying its self. Otherwise we may reasonably conclude that you are mistaken.

Nevertheless, what better way to spend a Friday morning than to power-up Ubuntu and engage with my web site from the comfort of your own home, consuming my content at the speed of light through Virgin's fibre optic cables? I expect you're still there now, putting all that technology to creative use.

Perhaps I've lost my blogging prowess. I was away last week at a wedding in Portugal and had no time to blog. The groom is a gentleman from Bristol. I digress.

Tony Blair (19 Sep 09, 16:14)

Tesco's websites might run on .NET today, but they won't tomorrow as they have selected ATG as their strategic web platform (

This project is a commercial deal not a technical one (from Tesco's point of view), and it really doesn't make any difference what technology they launch the service on.

In addition, it's highly unlikely that Tesco has a single team of developers and almost inconceivable that the developers working on the current website will be engaged on this specialist project.

Sorry, but this has nothing to do with .NET development.

Tim Acheson (21 Sep 09, 22:06)

May I offer the author of the previous comment some constructive criticism? I hope you won’t be offended if I correct some of the points. There are a some factual errors and misunderstandings in what you wrote.

1. You wrote: "Tesco's websites might run on .NET today, but they won't tomorrow as they have selected ATG as their strategic web platform"

You provide a link to a blog post by somebody at Tesco, yet misrepresent what was said. Allow me to clarify what is actually happening: Tesco have contracted ATG to provide their "e-commerce platform". If you have some understanding of "e-commerce", you'll be aware that the word does not have the same meaning as "web".

Extracting a quote from the blog post you cited, the Tesco insider said:-

"...our core systems have been written in Microsoft's .Net platform and we've have moved forward so very far this way. Microsoft will still continue to be our chosen partner for all the great experiences we are bringing ... They are fully aware of our decision and remain excited about the way we wish to use their technologies..."

2. You wrote "This project is a commercial deal not a technical one (from Tesco's point of view), and it really doesn't make any difference what technology they launch the service on."

Do you really believe that "it really doesn’t make any difference what technology" a company selects? For any purpose, let alone a primary, mission-critical system. [ Would you give the same advice to people at the company you work for?] I think on reflection you’ll agree that the professional staff at Tesco most certainly will not be ignoring technical considerations in this type of decision.

3. You wrote: "Sorry, but this has nothing to do with .NET development."

You’re seriously suggesting that the decision to use ASP.NET or Silverlight has "nothing to do with .Net development"?

Tim Acheson (21 Sep 09, 22:06)

P.S. I just wanted to add: thanks for sharing your thoughts on this topic! You’re always welcome on this web site, and I welcome feedback of any kind. :)

Nevertheless, your comment is typical of anti-MS comments on the web. People with vested interests in alternative technologies sometimes seem so frustrated by companies like Tesco using .Net that in their desperation to bash MS they franticly grab the wrong end of the stick.

Finally, may I offer you one final word to the wise? I can understand why you might feel it’s best to use a fake name and email address. However, if you lack the courage to stand by what you write, you lose any credibility that you may have had.

When writing online, always endeavor to make a useful, sincere contribution. Above all, check that your facts are correct, and ensure that your arguments are logical and intelligible. Then you need not be ashamed to use your real name.

Tim Acheson (22 Sep 09, 10:55)

I posted the following comment on the original techfortesco blog post. As I mention in my comment, the use of the ASP.Net web platform by Tesco continues as normal for the core business, grocery, and other projects, etc:

It's an interesting step, using ATG for Tesco Direct -- a classic e-commerce service. I’ll be interested to see how it goes; I hope it works well for the business. (I must admit, I would have loved to see this done with a UK company, but of course I do appreciate the international scope of this.)

It's great that you're continuing to build on your in-house .Net technology, with ASP.Net for the grocery offering which of course has been so successful.

I can't help but be hugely impressed by what Tesco has achieved online over the past decade, and by its continued success in the traditional bricks-and-mortar grocery business. It's a shining example of a British business. I even like to think of Tesco online as a local company as I'm born and bred in Hertfordshire, just a couple of junctions down the A414 from you guys. ;)

I'm pretty excited about the company's expansion into online entertainment, btw!

I think I can understand why, for a website like Tesco Direct, as a farily standard e-commerce shop selling electrical goods, etc, outsourcing and off-the-shelf solutions can look like a viable strategy.

Tesco's implimentation partner for the ATG project is Infosys, an outsourcing company in India (whose own corporate web site runs on Classic ASP, incidentally). They'll be hooking ATG's e-commerce sofware into other Tesco's systems.


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