Microsoft extends Windows Media Center

Microsoft is looking to extend the reach of its Media Center Edition PCs into handheld devices, set top boxes, TVs, and even its own Xbox console. Media Center Extender devices will be able to access media files stored on networked Media Center Edition PCs, but given the slow adoption of MCE PCs, Extender devices may not have much of a market to work with. Unfortunately, it looks like Microsoft is determined to only bundle Windows XP Media Center Edition with new PCs, which effectively cuts out the DIY crowd that might want to build a home theater PC from parts, or even by adding a tuner card to an older system.

In addition to announcing out Extender devices, Microsoft also rolled out a Portable Media Center design for portable multimedia devices. Portable Media Center is built on a Windows CE core and will support Windows Media 9 audio and video playback in addition to MP3s. Creative could have a Portable Media Center device as early as next quarter, and iRiver, Samsung, Sanyo, and Viewsonic are expected to release products in the second half of the year.

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