Microsoft looks to broaden Media Center reach

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Microsoft looks to broaden Media Center reach

Microsoft is hoping that a line of new products from third-party vendors will help push its Windows Media Center platform during the holiday season.

The company touted upcoming set-top boxes from companies such as Linksys, D-Link and Niveus Media labelled Extenders for Windows Media Center.

The devices will allow for streaming of media content to TV sets from Windows Vista Home Premium and Ultimate PCs.

"The new Extenders for Windows Media Center make it easy to get a wide range of personal and internet content not only on the main TV but on all the TVs in the house," said David Alles, general manager of Microsoft's eHome programme.

Media Center Edition users can currently link their PCs to a TV only via the Xbox 360 gaming console.

Microsoft claimed that the new devices will improve on the Xbox's Extender capabilities by running quietly and supplying a higher quality picture, as well as supporting DivX and Xvid formats.

Microsoft also hopes to partner with manufacturers to build the Extender platform into DVD players and TV sets.

Originally positioned as an operating system for entertainment centre PCs, Microsoft hopes that the new devices will also allow Windows Media Center to function as a link between the TV and PC, rather than a replacement for both devices.

Other vendors have rolled out similar products with mixed results. Apple launched the AppleTV earlier this year offering wireless connections to PCs running iTunes.

The device has yet to take off as Apple has focused its attention on other products, such as the iPhone and a range of new iPod media players.
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