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PC gamer, WorthPlaying EIC, globe-trotting couch potato, patriot, '80s headbanger, movie watcher, music lover, foodie and man in black -- squirrel!

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Microsoft Reveals 'Windows Media Center Extender Technology'

by Rainier on Jan. 8, 2004 @ 1:25 a.m. PST

This evening during his keynote address at the 2004 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES), Microsoft Corp. Chairman and Chief Software Architect Bill Gates unveiled Windows Media Center Extender Technology. The software will power a new generation of products that will extend the Media Center Edition PC experience allowing consumers to access their favorite digital entertainment, such as live and recorded television, photos, movies, and music that reside on their Windows XP Media Center Edition PC, from any room in the home - regardless of where the PC is located. Media Center Extender Technology will not only provide access to rich content and services, but will enable devices throughout the home to utilize the full processing and storage capabilities of the PC creating new opportunities for services and providing unprecedented choice and access to content for consumers

Alienware Corp., Dell Inc., Gateway Inc., HP, Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., Tatung Co. and Wistron Corp. are among the industry-leading original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and original design manufacturers (ODMs) working with Microsoft to bring these products to market in a variety of hardware form factors, including set-top boxes and televisions, by the 2004 holiday season. Consumers can enjoy the benefits of Media Center Extender technology through a set-top box connected to their television or can purchase a new television with this technology fully integrated. In addition, Microsoft announced the Xbox® Media Center Extender Kit, which will combine an Xbox DVD title with a dedicated remote control, allowing consumers to extend their Windows XP Media Center Edition experience around the home using their Xbox game console.

"Consumers are telling us that they don't want to be tied to the room where their PC lives to look at their digital pictures or view a program recorded on their Media Center PC," said Joe Belfiore, a general manager in the Windows eHome Division at Microsoft. "With industry partners, we are meeting this demand by developing innovative products that give consumers the freedom to enjoy their digital entertainment experiences anywhere in the home."

Unprecedented Choices for Enjoying Entertainment in the Home

Media Center Extender technology will enable the distribution of rich digital content and experiences that reside on a Windows Media Center PC to television displays in any room in the home. With a Media Center Extender product, consumers who are using a Media Center PC to listen to music, record television programs, watch photo slide shows and home videos, or download movies on demand can enjoy these experiences on a television in one room even if their Media Center PC is being used at the same time by a family member in another room.

By combining the simplicity of a unified digital media library on the Media Center PC with the power of multiple Media Center Extender products that access the Media Center PC simultaneously, Microsoft and industry partners are delivering the most comprehensive, integrated and easy-to-use digital home entertainment solution to consumers.

"Of the products that are expected for the fourth-quarter holiday season in 2004, devices that allow you to distribute your recorded television programs, movies, digital music and photos throughout the home and on the go appear to have the greatest potential for the hit of the season," said Rob Enderle, principal analyst for the Enderle Group. "What will make the difference is a high level of integration between the PC and displays throughout the home as is evident with Microsoft's Windows XP Media Center Edition and Windows Media Center Extender technology. This integration translates into extreme ease of use, and extreme ease of use remains the one critical aspect for products targeted at the general consumer."

Entertainment That Tunes Into the Consumer

In addition to providing consumers with a choice of 40 Media Center Edition PCs in a wide range of styles and prices, Microsoft in September released the Media Center Edition 2004 Software Development Kit, which has received overwhelming interest. More than 8,500 developers have downloaded the kit, enabling them to begin building innovative applications and services for use with a Media Center PC. For example, ESPN is offering a way for users of Media Center PCs to download directly from the Internet instant, high-quality, full-screen ESPN Motion video and watch it on their television or PC screen. ESPN Motion videos include game highlights, interviews, breaking news, classic moments in sports and more. Microsoft also is working with Kodak's wholly owned subsidiary, Ofoto, to develop a photo-imaging application that will let Ofoto customers access and view their digital images and share those images to their Ofoto account at any time from their television or PC display through the convenience of a remote control.

Extending content choices for consumers, Microsoft today also announced 16 new films in Windows Media® High-Definition Video (WMVHD) from Artisan Entertainment, IMAX Corp., National Geographic Society and others, bringing users of Media Center Edition a home-theaterlike experience with 5.1 channel surround sound and video - up to six times the resolution of a standard DVD.

Throughout CES, Microsoft will demonstrate the latest products built around Windows XP Media Center Edition 2004 in a specially constructed NextGen 04 Demonstration Home outside the Las Vegas Convention Center. Show attendees can tour this seven-room facility through Sunday, Jan. 11, to see the latest in connected home technology and meet with Microsoft representatives.

Media: Here, There and Everywhere

In addition to enabling consumers to take advantage of rich digital content throughout the home, leading consumer electronics partners are working with Microsoft to develop Portable Media Center devices, which will make it easy for people on the go to enjoy their digital videos, home movies, recorded television shows, photos, music and album art from their Windows XP computer. At CES Microsoft announced that Gateway has been added to the growing list of partners that includes Creative Labs Inc., iRiver International, Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., SANYO Electric Co. Ltd. and ViewSonic Corp. Microsoft also announced that leading digital entertainment companies CinemaNow and Napster LLC will support the Portable Media Center platform. Portable Media Center devices support Windows Media Audio and Video 9 Series to ensure the highest possible audio and video quality and to maximize the amount of content that can be stored on the device.

About Windows XP Media Center Edition

Microsoft® Windows XP Media Center Edition evolves the home PC with easy-to-use integrated digital entertainment that consumers can enjoy when and how they want. It combines the functionality of traditional PC applications such as Microsoft Word and Excel with the ability to enjoy music, television, personal video recording, pictures, digital video and DVD with remote-control access. Windows XP Media Center Edition 2004 features the quality and compression of Windows Media 9 Series, which helps users create, manage and enjoy more high-quality digital music and video than before.

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