Striving to reignite interest in Windows XP, Microsoft plans to unveil the latest version of its Windows XP Media Center Edition operating system today.
At a launch event in Los Angeles, Microsoft will position Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 as its best operating system for consumers. The company is set to announce that it has sold over 1 million copies of the product to date and that it expects to sell at least 19 million more by 2007.
"Media Center 2005 is going to catapult the operating system much more to a mainstream status," said Dave Fester, general manager of Microsoft's Windows Consumer group. "If you look at the massive interest and demand by consumers for digital entertainment in music, photos, TV, this is the version of Windows you want."
The update to Windows XP Media Center Edition, code-named Symphony, has been in beta testing since early this year. The update includes a host of new features, including support for two TV tuners, DVD burning, over-the-air high-definition television and satellite in addition to cable TV. The software also offers improved support for mobile devices and a refreshed user interface.
A key new feature is support for wireless technology and in particular Media Center Extender, a new technology that lets users wirelessly connect up to five TVs to the Media Center PC. Also, users can now exchange MSN instant messages through their TV and remotely program their Media Center 2005 system through a service offered by MSN.
Microsoft has hosted events in September or October for the past two years to introduce new Media Center products for the December shopping season. In 2002, the software maker announced the first version of Windows XP Media Center Edition, followed by an update, Windows XP Media Center Edition 2004, last year.
With the 2005 version, Windows XP Media Center is finally a finished product, said Enderle, principal analyst with The Enderle Group. "This is a significant step. Last year's product was interesting, but this year's product feels mature and where we go from here will be minor enhancements."
Windows XP Media Center Edition is a premium version of Windows XP, designed to make the PC the media and entertainment hub for the home. In addition to traditional PC tasks, the system can serve music, pictures, video and live television to portable devices, stereos and TVs while also enforcing digital rights set by content owners. Users can access the Media Center PC with a remote control through a special user interface on their TV.
Along with the release of the updated Media Center operating system, Microsoft and hardware makers are set to announce the first devices that use Media Center Extender technology, new Media Center PCs and new digital audio receivers for an audio-only experience.