Media Center PCs Pushed For Custom Installs

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Six companies have banded to 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 multi-room A/V systems.

The Media Center Integrator Alliance (MCIA), which launched at the CEDIA Expo earlier this month, 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.

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.

The newly formed group will raise awareness with its Web site,

The group will also recruit more manufacturers, sign up installers 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.

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


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