Microsoft has announced an update to its Media Centre Edition of Windows, enabling customers to stream music, videos, movies, television and photos to any television set or device via the Xbox 360 console.
Will Poole, senior vice president of the Windows Client Business at Microsoft stated: "We introduced Windows XP Media Centre Edition three years ago with a vision to simplify the way people experience digital entertainment on their PC using something as familiar as a remote control. Now, Media Centre Edition and Xbox 360, together with offerings from hundreds of industry partners, are providing fantastic interactive entertainment experiences that can be experienced throughout the home."
The free update will be available to existing Media Centre Edition users via the Microsoft update website, and will be available shortly on new Media Centre PCs at retail. In addition to enabling high definition digital media streaming fro the first time, the update includes a number of functionality enhancements and new features for the Media Centre, as part of Microsoft's ongoing development of the digital media entertainment sector.
The new features include support for external DVD changers, enabling the management of up to 200 DVD selections from within the MC interface, displaying media information and cover art for all loaded DVDS. Away Mode will improve the power-saving features, enabling television recording, streaming and system tasks to be undertaken in a low-power mode, with support for the feature coming from hardware partners including Acer, Shuttle, HP, Gateway and more.
As the roll-out of High Definition Television begins to take shape, supported by the Xbox 360, Media Centre updates will include an HDTV tuner support, in addition to enhanced DVD burning features to convert HDTV to standard definition and burn media in one simple step.
The company now has over 75 content partners delivering dedicated content for Media Centre PCs, with further agreements from companies including MTV Overdrive, AOL and more committing to the content streaming service. Microsoft's next generation console has long been touted by the firm as the next step in multi-media functionality, providing a much broader service than simple gameplay and, hopefully, encouraging a more mainstream audience with its music, video and digital media features. The Media Centre update further reinforces Microsoft's commitment to connecting the content, and platforms for its next generation technology.
Brad Brookes, senior director of product management at Microsoft's Windows Client division commented: "The strategy here is quite simple. We want to create an environment based on Windows that will give consumers the ability to take their content to any device that was connected back to a Windows PC. The Xbox 360 us just the next evolution of that vision."