SAN FRANCISCO -- The day after announcing a deal to provide AT&T (T) - Get Report with interactive television software for pilot tests, Liberate Technologies (LBRT) - Get Report is patting itself on the back -- and thanking Microsoft (MSFT) - Get Report for screwing up.

"Microsoft missing their deadlines with AT&T has given us a window of opportunity," David Limp, Liberate's senior vice president of corporate development, gleefully told investors in a Q&A session at the

Banc of America Securities Investment Conference

here Friday.

Limp referred to Microsoft's repeated delays in delivering its own interactive TV software to AT&T. Last year, the Redmond, Wash.-based rival agreed to supply the software for 7.5 million of AT&T's planned 10 million interactive-TV set-top boxes, but reportedly has run into technical glitches. (Microsoft said it never had the AT&T deal on an exclusive basis and added that it has had delays because of the project's complexity.) The delays could limit the number of boxes equipped with Microsoft software.

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Liberate certainly thinks so. "Believe me, the 7.5 million are in question," said Limp, who added that he's confident that his company will elbow Microsoft out of the top spot to become AT&T's primary interactive television software provider.

Liberate's software will run "the Cadillac of set-top boxes,"


( MOT)


, and will enable email, instant messaging, video on demand and other "killer apps," the company said. Liberate wouldn't comment on the number of boxes to be tested, saying only that the trials will roll out in a major metropolitan area.