Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Microsoft Builds Extenders for Windows Media Center

Microsoft is previewing new Extenders for Windows Media Center platform, promising to make it easier for consumers to move audio/video between devices in various rooms of their homes. The extenders will enable photos, music, video content and live TV to stream from a PC running Windows Vista Home Premium or Windows Vista Ultimate to a big-screen TV display. The technology, which has previously been available on the Xbox 360 platform, now supports Wireless N connectivity.

New extenders will be available in a wide range of form factors, including both stand-alone set-top boxes and integration with other devices such as DVD players and televisions.

Microsoft aims to have Extenders for Windows Media Center technology in a variety of devices to be released this holiday season. This would include home-theater-quality devices from companies such as Linksys, D-Link, and Niveus Media.

Extenders for Windows Media Center are also, for the first time, enhanced to allow support for video codecs such as DivX and Xvid, along with continued support for Windows Media Video HD files.

Microsoft said these extenders will also provide the ability to send protected HD content to additional rooms, including recorded TV from over-the-air Advanced Television Systems Committee or Cable Card tuners and movies and music available from providers such as CinemaNow, MovieLink and Napster.

Extenders also support Media Center features such as Reuters news feeds, National Public Radio broadcasts, up-to-date sports reports from the FOX Sports Lounge, and subscription music from XM Radio. Parental Controls, which are built into Windows Media Center, allow parents to choose the content their children are allowed to view.