Microsoft today announced at the DigitalLife conference in New York City the availability of a new software update for Microsoft Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 that will provide new entertainment experiences for Media Center Edition customers around the world. Update Rollup 2 for Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 will enable customers to stream digital music, videos, photos, and standard and high-definition television and movies from Media Center PCs to any television in their home via the Xbox 360? gaming system. Windows XP Media Center 2005 customers can obtain Update Rollup 2 free of charge via the Windows Update download site as of today. The software update is also available on new Media Center PCs.
Using the built-in Media Center Extender technology of Xbox 360, planned for availability Nov. 22 in North America, Update Rollup 2 will connect Xbox 360 to a Media Center Edition PC, offering instant access to thousands of on-demand movies, music and videos available on the Media Center PC, and enabling users for the first time ever to stream high-definition content from Media Center PCs. Update Rollup 2 further builds on the Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 experience by delivering a set of performance improvements and new features that enhance Media Center, including the following:
? DVD changer support. New integrated support for external DVD changers will enable consumers to watch movies and manage up to 200 DVD selections from the Media Center interface. Media Center will display information and cover art for each movie loaded in the DVD changer. Media Center-supported DVD changers will be available beginning this year.
? Away Mode. Away Mode will bring the convenience, quiet performance and instant on/off functionality of consumer electronics to Media Center PCs. Away Mode improves upon current PC power-management systems by enabling the system to silently perform unattended tasks ? such as recording TV shows and streaming content to Media Center Extenders ? in a low-power mode that makes the PC appear off. Away Mode will be available on select new Media Center PCs in upcoming months from partners Acer Co. Ltd., Fujitsu Siemens Computers, Gateway Inc., HP, Phillips Consumer Electronics, Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. and Shuttle Inc.
? DVD-burning improvements. Updates to the Sonic Solutions DVD burning engine will improve the performance and capabilities of DVD burning in Media Center Edition. Consumers will be able to convert high-definition TV shows to standard definition and burn to a DVD all in one step, as well as burn to a DVD from other PCs on their home network.
? Additional HDTV tuner support. Update Rollup 2 adds support for one more HDTV tuner, meaning it will support up to four tuners: two analog and two ATSC high definition. U.S. customers will be able to use two NTSC (analog) capture boards and two ATSC (digital) capture boards. This will enable personal video recording of two shows at the same time, broadcast as either ATSC digital TV (480p) or high-definition TV (720p/1080i).
Unprecedented Industry Support
Microsoft today announced it has sold more than 4 million Media Center PC licenses and that more than 130 PC manufacturers are now offering Media Center PCs around the world in a variety of sleek designs and prices. According to Current Analysis Inc., for the month of September Media Center PCs accounted for 46 percent of the U.S. retail desktop PC market. A number of new Media Center services from industry partners are also now available. MTV Overdrive today joins the more than 75 content providers currently delivering customized entertainment options through Media Center?s Online Spotlight feature. Online Spotlight provides customers with convenient access to thousands of high-quality songs, games, news stories and movies on demand ? all from the comfort of their sofa. MTV Networks also revealed plans to launch similar MCE-optimized services from mtvU, VH1 and the soon-to- launch Comedy Central broadband service, while AOL announced plans to expand its Online Spotlight service to include AOL Pictures and AOL Radio Featuring XM. New Online Spotlight services that are now live or coming soon include these:
? Akimbo Systems Inc. The Akimbo Service will offer Media Center customers more than 5,000 programs from more than 75 partners, including British Broadcasting Corp., National Geographic Society, Discovery Communications Inc. and the Hallmark Channel, as well as hard-to-find specialty offerings such as independent films from IFILM Corp. and Undergroundfilm.org ? all available through the Media Center interface. At DigitalLife, Akimbo will be showing for the first time Major League Baseball playoff games delivered the next morning to Akimbo subscribers in a 10-minute condensed version.
? AOL. Building on the availability of its AOL Music on Demand service, AOL will extend additional features to the Media Center PC, including its AOL Pictures digital photo service and AOL Radio Featuring XM.
? Digital Interactive Systems Corp. (DISCover). Designed exclusively for Media Center PCs, DISCover?s My Games gives customers access to a wide range of PC games that they can digitally demo, buy and stream. Customers can view an in-depth game guide with screen shots, box art and descriptions for thousands of top games, and can purchase ?boxed? games via top online retailers with the ease of a Media Center Edition remote control.
? Game xStream. Game xStream?s now-live gaming-on-demand service for Online Spotlight connects users to its extensive catalog of video game titles from leading game developers, from which they can buy and stream games instantly. Within minutes of pressing the Buy button from a Media Center Edition remote control, gamers can begin playing graphic-intensive games from publishers including Merscom LLC, Global Star Software and Encore Inc.
? MTV Overdrive. Overdrive is MTV?s broadband network, delivering the hottest video content to Media Center PCs. Overdrive provides access to live performances, music videos, artist interviews, never-before-seen footage of MTV shows, the latest news, movie trailers and more. It?s all online and all on demand, now at the touch of a remote control button.
? mtvU. Through nonstop streaming service that can be watched continuously, or by using unique on-demand capabilities empowering visitors to customize their experience, mtvU?s broadband platform showcases a powerful lineup of original programming serving as a gateway to the latest new music, as well as a source for one-of-a-kind student produced content that will drive and direct the network.
? VH1 VSpot. VSpot is VH1?s new broadband entertainment network that delivers the best video programming on demand to Media Center PCs. VSpot offers thousands of music videos, exclusive performances, artist interviews, live event coverage and behind-the-scenes access. Customers may also watch VH1 shows, movie clips and trailers, and VSpot originals on demand at VSpot.
? Comedy Central. Windows XP Media Center Edition will optimize a soon-to-be-launched broadband channel by providing users with a variety of gateways to access Comedy Central content whether it?s short- and long-form video, audio or text.
?Our audience wants to connect with our content on every platform it interacts with ? television, online, on-demand, radio and now through Microsoft Media Center,? said Van Toffler, president of the Music, Films & Logo Group at MTV. ?Today?s announcement about our industry partnership helps further fulfill our multiplatform promise to our audience, taking its entire entertainment experience to new interactive levels.?
New Site for Media Center Opened on Windows Marketplace
In conjunction with today?s announcement, Microsoft launched the new Windows XP Media Center Edition site on Windows Marketplace. Media Center on Windows Marketplace allows customers to shop for Media Center PCs, find the components they need to upgrade their current Media Center PC, get cool peripherals and remote controls, or find software programs created specifically for Media Center Edition. The site can be found at http://www.windowsmarketplace.com/mediacenter.
Availability of Update Rollup 2 for Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005
Media Center PCs preloaded with Update Rollup 2 are now available from dozens of computer manufacturers through various retailers and direct sellers. Later this year, Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the world?s largest retailer, will join outlets such as Amazon.com, Best Buy, Circuit City, CompUSA, Costco, Dell.com, Fry?s Electronics, hpshopping.com, Sam?s Club and Sony Style Stores in offering Media Center PCs. More information about buying a Media Center PC can be found online at http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/mediacenter/howtobuy/default.mspx. Current Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 customers can obtain Update Rollup 2 by visiting http://www.windowsupdate.com.