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Microsoft Announces New Home Extender

The PC and home entertainment center have been growing inexorably closer over the last several years – we play music, watch videos, TV programs and DVDs on our computers. But Microsoft wants more, which is why they’ve come up with several devices to connect your PC to your home entertainment center.   Known as Extenders forWindows Media Center, these are different from the similarly-named Windows Media Extenders, debuted in late 2004. Those put a version of the Media Center interface on your television, using your homenetwork. It didn’t catch on, but it did spark more research, and more successful work with the Xbox360.   This new version, for Vista Premium and Ultimate (sorry, all you XP fans), usesthird-party Wi-Fi hardware devices to connect your broadband-connected PC to your TV, meaning you can send video, HDTV, music and more to your television, and do things such as pause the stream inone room, then start again in another.   So will this one catch on? Initially, it seems so. Linksys, D-Link and Niveus are all offering units to make this work, and the HP MediaSmart LCD HDTV will support this through an optional softwaredownload that Microsoft expects to roll out early in the new year. All other devices, which include DVD players will be out just in time for your Christmas shopping pleasure.   At present, lessthan 10% of US households have extender devices connecting the PC and TV. Whether this can stir excitement remains to be seen, but Microsoft is obviously hopeful.   “We are excited toreveal the first series of totally quiet, cool and sleek-looking Media Center Extender devices designed to deliver the ultimate entertainment experience to every TV set in your home," JoeBelfiore, Microsoft’s corporate vice president of the company’s entertainment and devices eHome division, told TechNewsWorld.