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Software giant Microsofttoday announced alliances with 10 companies -- including phone giant U S West and Germany's Deutsche Telekom, the world's largest cable company -- to test and deploy itsworldwide interactive TV. Part of the deals: Hewlett-Packard and NEC will join General Instrument in developing TV set-top boxes compatible with the Microsoft's Tiger TV software system. Some industry analysts think Microsoft, seen as lagging behind similar interactive projects from Time Warner, Viacom,Bell Atlanticand others, might now be poised to pull ahead. The company's chief, Bill Gates, predicts a mass market for interactive television in five to eight years, but in January he'll be testing his system in Seattle.Post your opinion on theNew Mediabulletin board.