Microsoft has had an Indian facility doing nothing more than filing patents, but TV via IM? C’mon.
Communication networks such as the Internet have recently experienced dramatic growth in popularity and use. An advantage of the Internet that has helped to fuel this growth is the availability of quick and easy communication between widely disparate individuals and networks regarding virtually limitless topics. Thus, not only does the Internet provide for traditional communication, such as between a pair of friends, relatives or coworkers, but the Internet also facilitates communication between strangers and groups of strangers.
Chat is one of the various relatively new forms of communication provided by the Internet. Chat in this sense does not refer to audible conversation engaged in by people gathered together in one place, but rather to textual conversations between people that are connected by the Internet to the same chat room, which may be a file on a server. In this case, a participant in such a chat room types a message into his or her computer and the message virtually immediately appears on all the other computers connected to that chat room.
One of the most popular ways to chat via the Internet is called Internet Relay Chat (IRC). IRC employs special IRC servers that run the chat rooms, and special client/server software that allows client computers to send and receive chat via the IRC servers. The IRC servers may be connected together as a network. Various client computers from around the world may be connected via the Internet to these chat rooms, allowing conversations between disparate individuals who may typically never meet or know each other outside of the chat room experience.
It is common for a chat room to be related to a particular topic, with the participants attracted to that chat room by their interest in the topic. While many chat rooms exist regarding various topics, one popular theme for chat rooms is mass entertainment, such as television shows. Thus, chat rooms may exist devoted to a popular television show, such as “The SimpsonsÃƒâ€šÃ‚Â®.” Typically, viewers are forced to choose whether to watch television or to participate in a chat room, since most Internet connections are not provided by a television but rather by a separate device such as a computer that may be disposed at a separate location from the television. Moreover, both the television and the computer may be generally immobile, such as with a personal computer located on a desk in a study and a television located in a family room. Thus, many chat participants may converse in a chat room related to a television show before or after the show has played, although some fans may be connected to the chat room while the show is playing.
The advent of interactive television such as provided by WebTVÃƒâ€šÃ‚Â® Networks offers the possibility of being connected to the Internet and watching television simultaneously via a single user interface device. Thus it is possible for a user to be watching a television show and on the same television be connected to a chat room that somehow relates to that show.
Source: United States Patent: 7,036,083