Microsoft releases Windows XP Media Center 2004
Microsoft today announces the launch of its new Windows XP Media Center 2004 operating system, providing the home computer with an integrated multimedia environment that the user can enjoy whenever they want. To demonstrate the growth that this sector is experiencing, Microsoft revealed the plans of Dell and Sony to incorporate this system in their computers. But these two companies are not the only ones that have shown interest in this system, but also HP, Toshiba, Gateway Inc., etc. are working on multiple Media Center computer designs starting at around US$1,000. In addition, Microsoft also announced its intention to include third-party programs such as CinemaNow, Movielink or Napster to offer its users online content such as music, movies, etc. In addition, we can easily control our computer using a remote control. On the other hand, current Media Center PC users can easily upgrade to Media Center 2004 Edition and enjoy the new features of this system just by ordering an upgrade CD.
The inclusion of CinemaNow, Movielink and Napster in the Media Center 2004 system allows the user to download and enjoy music and videos downloaded from the Internet through specially designed web pages and then easily view or listen to them from the Windows Media Player 9 Series with just a few clicks on our remote control. Media Center 2004 system users will also be able to burn their favorite television shows to DVD or Video CD with Sonic’s PrimeTime Media Center software. All the services offered by this system. All the new services included in Media Center 2004 can be found in the Online Spotlight, a new online guide created specifically for this system that will allow its users to find current music, movie trailers, updates, etc.
Just by pressing a button on your remote control, the user can access the following applications:
– CinemaNow: From its website, users will have access to more than 1,200 films that they can purchase and view.
– movielink: Movielink offers thousands of videos and movies that the user can easily select, download and watch from the remote control.
– napster: Thanks to this application, the user will be able to download any type of music from anywhere in the world.
– WildTangent: WildTangent offers various games that can be played with the remote control.
– Sonic Prime Time Deluxe: This application will allow us to easily save our personal videos or television programs on a DVD or a Video CD.
– music brigade: Musicbrigade offers hundreds of music videos of all kinds: from the latest hits to the all-time classics.
– Live365: Live365 makes more than 5,000 radio stations available to the user throughout the world.
– MSNTV: This service allows the user to know the latest news, the weather forecast or the state of finances quickly.
On the other hand, the Online Spotlight service informs the user of all available services and the latest news on topics such as music, movies, updates,…
Among the most outstanding features of Media Center 2004 we can find:
– FM Radio: Users will be able to listen to their favorite FM station just by pressing a button on the remote control, allowing them to pause listening and resume listening at the same point later.
– CD Copy: Users will be able to copy the content of a CD to the digital library using the remote control. When you insert a music CD, it will automatically be copied and that library will be displayed.
– Image display: Users will be able to see the photos of their last vacations just by inserting a memory card or the CD that contains said photos.
– Monitor Calibration Wizard: This feature allows users to configure their CRT or LCD monitor for the best image quality.
In addition, Microsoft has released a Software Development Kit (SDK) that will allow developers to create a large number of programs that will allow users to enjoy their system even more. Because Windows XP Media Center 2004 is based on Windows XP, developers will find common tools like Visual Studio .NET 2003 or Frontpage and can use code used in other versions of Windows.
This year, more than 40 manufacturers will include Media Center 2004 in their equipment configurations in Asia, Canada, Europe and the United States. Among these manufacturers we can highlight companies such as Dell, Fujitsu, Gateway, Gericom AG, Hitachi, HP, NEC, Samsung, Sony, SOTEC, Toshiba, Trigem,…
NVIDIA will offer a suite of programs for the Media Center, including programs to record television programs, play DVDs, view photos, edit our videos,… All these functions can be easily controlled from the remote control included in the Media Center computer.
ATI, NVIDIA’s main competitor for graphics chips, has also released its own software suite for the Media Center 2004 system, offering video encoding tools that take advantage of the RADEON 9000 series graphics card hardware. For users who do not have a card with video encoding and decoding capabilities, ATI offers the eHOME WONDER, a PCI card that takes care of this function.
ViewSonic for its part presents its new series of multimedia systems M2100 that incorporates the Windows XP Media Center 2004 operating system, offering FM radio, wide screen, DVD player, DVD recorder, ability to record our programs directly from television to a DVD , etc. It also incorporates an NVIDIA GeForce FX5X00 series graphics card, which ensures capacity for multiple monitors and great performance for any game. For the old M series, ViewSonic provides the user with an update CD. The M2100 is already available for around US$1,500.
Sony will incorporate this operating system in its VAIO RZ series of desktop computers, which will also incorporate Sony’s Giga Pocket multimedia suite. This suite offers numerous options to the user, such as converting their analog videos (VHS tape for example) to a digital format, encoding video, watching television and recording our favorite programs, etc. Sony VAIO RZs are available now for a starting price of $1,600.
With this operating system, Microsoft intends to satisfy the growing demand for multimedia systems and offer the user an easy and comfortable system to use without compromising numerous advanced functions that until now could only be carried out by advanced users.