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Group Promotes Media Center PCs

CEDIA News Denver — Six companies have banded together to create a trade group that will promote awareness and use of Media Center PCs as the hub of custom-installed home-control and multiroom-A/V systems.

The Media Center Integrator Alliance (MCIA), launching here at the CEDIA Expo, will promote the Media Center PC platform to the custom channel for commercial as well as residential installations. It will also develop programs for training and certifying individuals in Media Center installations and will develop best-practices documents, which will encourage installers to embrace the platform without having to “learn by fire,” said Kevin Collins, MCIA chairman/president and Microsoft’s custom-installation channel director.

In raising awareness, the group wants to “make installers comfortable that the technology is sound and robust,” Collins said. Another message will be that the open Media Center platform delivers a more affordable option with good margins compared to the installation of proprietary systems, he said.

At last year’s CEDIA Expo, Collins noted, “very few integrators had heard that Media Center could be an option in a custom solution, and fewer than that thought of even doing installations [with a Media Center PC.]” This year, the newly formed group will raise awareness by exhibiting within California Audio Technologies booth 469 and launching a Web site,,  on Sept. 3.

 The group will also recruit more manufacturer members, sign up installer members and invite additional companies to join Microsoft, Intel, AMD, Hewlett-Packard, Niveus, Exceptional Innovations and Crestron on the board of directors. Niveus and Exceptional Innovations are among more than a dozen companies offering Media Center-based A/V servers or home-control systems. Crestron offers lighting-control systems that can be controlled from a Media Center PC, and AMD’s ATI subsidiary makes digital CableCARDs for Media Center servers.

After the Expo, MCIA will continue to recruit members as well as create working groups for marketing, public relations, developing training and certification programs, and creating best-practices documents, Collins said. For training, MCIA wants to work closely with CEDIA, and for certification, MCIA will require closed-book tests to be taken at a test facility, Collins said.

The group’s vice chairman is Brian Paper, cofounder and operations VP of Niveus. The group’s management company is VTM of Portland, Ore.