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Microsoft Outlines Plans For Media Center Extenders

Denver — Microsoft outlined the capabilities of its next-generation Extenders for Windows Media Center PCs and demonstrated models from Cisco/Linksys, D-Link and Niveus Media, here at the CEDIA Expo.

The first of the new Extender devices will be available for the holiday selling season, joining Extender-enabled Xbox 360s in streaming media and live TV to a connected TV and stereo system from networked PCs running the Windows Vista Home Premium or Windows Vista Ultimate operating systems. Details of individual companies’ Extenders will be revealed later this month, Microsoft said.

Microsoft also said it will expand the Extender platform to other companies whose implementations will include standalone set-top boxes, DVD players and TVs.

New Extender features will include high-speed wireless 802.11n to stream HD video to up to six rooms simultaneously. Extenders will also for the first time support the DivX and Xvid video codecs and will continue to support Windows Media Video HD files.

The Extenders will also support the ability to send protected HD content to additional rooms, including TV programs recorded from over-the-air ATSC or Cable Card tuners as well as movies and music downloaded from such providers CinemaNow, MovieLink and Napster.

The new devices will also support such Media Center features as Reuters news feeds, National Public Radio broadcasts, up-to-date sports reports from the FOX Sports Lounge, and subscription music from XM Radio. The devices also offer parental controls.

The new Extenders “make it easy to get a wide range of personal and Internet content not only on someone’s main TV but on all the TVs in the house,” said Dave Alles, Microsoft’s eHome general manager. “Whether it’s a high-def show recorded from digital cable, new Internet video, or your personal library of pictures, music and videos, it’s all on your television [and] just a remote-click away.” With the Extenders, consumers will be able to watch a live TV broadcast in the living room, pause it and then resume the program from where it left off in the bedroom or kitchen, he added.