Demonstratingthe growing industry excitement around this new class of home PCs, Microsoft unveiled plans by Dell and Sony to deliver Media Center 2004 PCs. These new manufacturing partners joinexisting Media Center PC manufacturers, including Gateway Inc., HP and Toshiba Corp., in making a broad range of affordable Media Center PC designs starting at below $1,000 available to consumerstoday. Microsoft also announced that through working with key content providers, including CinemaNow, Movielink and Napster, consumers will be able to enjoy remote control access to exciting newonline digital content such as on-demand music and movie subscription services. Finally, consumers currently enjoying the benefits of a Media Center PC will be able to obtain an upgrade to MediaCenter Edition 2004, allowing them to experience the latest advances in PC entertainment.
“Windows XP Media Center Edition 2004 is a great example of integrating software, hardware and services to create simple and compelling experiences that enhance people’s lives,” said Jim Allchin, group vice president of the Platforms Group at Microsoft. “We’ve moved from designing feature by feature to designing complete scenarios that influence not just software, but also hardware and services requirements. We’re entering the era of eXPerience Computing — Media Center Edition 2004, which gives customers easy access to great entertainment experiences, is the first in a long line of product releases that will benefit from this holistic approach.”
A New Way to Enjoy Music and Movies
Microsoft is enabling key content providers to deliver a new level in entertainment options for consumers to enjoy on their Media Center 2004 PCs — all with the convenience of a remote control. For example Microsoft has worked with CinemaNow, Movielink and Napster to offer consumers using Media Center 2004 PCs in the United States an easier way to order and enjoy movies and music downloaded from the Internet through Web pages specially designed to be viewed from a distance. These services offer the unmatched audio and video quality of Windows Media 9 Series and allow consumers to order a movie or a song with a few touches of the Media Center PC remote control. Consumers can also use their Media Center PC to easily record their favorite television show and, using Sonic’s PrimeTime Media Center application, burn it onto DVDs or video CDs with just a few clicks of the remote control. These new services and others can be found in Online Spotlight, a new online guide created specifically for Media Center Edition PC customers that offers a central location for consumers to find the latest music, movie trailers, news updates and more.
Industry-Leading PC Manufacturers Expand Media Center PCs to New Markets
This year more than 40 original equipment manufacturers around the world will begin shipping Media Center Edition 2004 PCs to consumers in Asia, Canada, Europe and the United States. The following are among these PC manufacturers:
- Dell: United States
- Fujitsu Ltd.: Japan
- Fujitsu Siemens Computers: Germany
- Gateway: United States
- Gericom AG: Germany
- Hitachi Ltd.: Japan
- HP: United States, China, France, Germany, Korea, United Kingdom
- NEC: Japan
- NEC CI/Packard Bell: France, United Kingdom
- Samsung: Korea
- Sony: United States, Canada
- SOTEC: Japan
- Toshiba: United States, Japan, United Kingdom, France and Germany
- TriGem: Korea
Enhanced Entertainment Experiences at Your Fingertips
Consumers are demanding more of their home PCs, and, according to a recent report issued by Jupiter Research (“Consumer PCs and Digital Entertainment”), entertainment has now evolved to become a mainstream consumer PC activity: “In the past, consumers bought PCs for connectivity and productivity applications — e-mail, Web browsing, word processing, doing taxes, etc. Microsoft’s second-generation Windows XP Media Center Edition will become the standard OS offering for midlevel PCs and some desktop replacement notebooks over the next 12 to 18 months.”
Microsoft is responding to this demand by providing key feature enhancements including the following:
- Radio (FM). Consumers can listen to their favorite FM radio stations with one-button access from the remote control. Listening to NPR and missing an interview with a favorite author is no longer a problem: Listeners can simply press Replay and jump back seven seconds in the broadcast or Pause the interview if they need to step away.
- CD-copying capability. Consumers can copy CDs to the Media Library using the remote control: When they insert a music CD, it will automatically copy and show up in their music library.
- Enhanced photo features. Consumers can play slide shows from their summer vacation from the comfort of the couch by simply inserting a smart media or CompactFlash card or a CD to access photos. They can rotate, zoom, print and even remove red-eye with the touch of one button.
- Calibration Wizard. This feature helps consumers customize the best picture for a variety of monitors, including CRT (standard), flat panel (LCD, Plasma), rear projection and front projection displays.
- Enhanced 16 x 9 support. Users can take full advantage of wide-screen displays by using more of the screen for Media Center content.
Simple Upgrade Solutions and Broad Selection of New Media Center PCs
Microsoft has worked with PC manufacturers to provide low-cost upgrade options for consumers currently using a Media Center PC. For a minimal cost*, customers can order a CD from their Media Center PC computer manufacturer that will allow them to take advantage of the Media Center Edition 2004 enhancements. Additional information on upgrading Media Center PCs can be found at http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/mediacenter/upgrade/default.asp