DENVER — Sept. 4, 2008 — At CEDIA EXPO 2008, Microsoft Corp. announced expansive growth of the Windows Media Center ecosystem, the formation of an exciting new industry alliance composed of some of the custom channel’s top brands, the winner of the 2008 Windows Media Center Ultimate Install Contest, and numerous partner innovations supporting the Windows Media Center in the custom installation channel. CEDIA EXPO 2008 is an annual show for the residential electronic systems industry put on by the Custom Electronic Design and Installation Association.
“In the wake of Microsoft’s increased engagement with the custom installation channel, a broader ecosystem has developed based on Windows Media Center,” said Kevin Collins, director of the Custom Installer Channel in the Connected TV Business, Entertainment and Devices Division at Microsoft. “We are thrilled with the level of innovation on the Windows Media Center platform that hardware and software companies are showcasing at CEDIA EXPO.”
The merit of Windows Media Center as a custom installation solution is stronger than ever, as illustrated through announcements from multiple channel partners highlighting support for up to eight CableCARD tuners and up to 10 Extender for Windows Media Center devices. This increased capacity allows Windows Media Center technologies to address the demands of more sophisticated projects. With the wide range of products and custom configurations that use standard interfaces, integrators can delight their customers with unique installations while using familiar components and subsystems. Adding to the growing demand for centralized home storage, multiple OEMs are previewing new hardware based on Windows Home Server that provides integrators with a solid whole-house solution to store and access their clients’ music, photos and videos from either an entertainment server running Windows Media Center or Extender for Windows Media Center devices.
“Our channel partners are driving compelling new entertainment and control solutions to maximize the success of custom integrators,” Collins said. “The collaboration of some of the most forward-thinking companies in the consumer electronics category and their implementations of media center technologies are fulfilling the long-standing vision of the connected home.”
Among this week’s significant partner announcements are the following:
Autonomic Controls Inc. will introduce new control modules enabling two-way integration of Windows Media Center and iTunes into Remote Technologies Inc. T4 and K4 remote controls.
Fluid Digital will promote the integration of Microsoft’s Windows Media Center TV Pack to enable an enhanced TV viewing experience, native support for four digital cable tuners, an enhanced electronic program guide, and the ability to share nonprotected digital cable content across Microsoft PlayReady technology-enabled PCs and portable media devices.
Exceptional Innovation will preview its new High Density TV initiative that introduces exciting new ways to distribute entertainment and control around the home. The new Life|media 810 digital entertainment server features eight TV tuners and supports 10 extenders while providing 12 terabytes of hard disk storage to deliver consumers a robust solution for storing, managing and viewing high-definition (HD) content throughout their home. Exceptional Innovation will preview the new Life|ware Digital Media Manager for simple, seamless content sharing from one media center device to another. Exceptional Innovation will also announce support for the Windows Media Center TV Pack in several Life|media media servers; on-board digital amplification through Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (AMD) in the new LMS-170 series; and Blu-ray support on multiple LMS units.
NiveusMedia will unveil the Niveus Storage Server – Cargo Edition. Based on the Windows Home Server platform, it offers up to 16 terabytes of scalable storage. In addition, Niveus will announce support for up to 10 Extender for Windows Media Center devices and eight CableCARDs when using the most powerful Niveus media server, the Pro Series n9. Niveus will also introduce upgrades to both the Niveus media server line and the Niveus Movie Library movie management tool.
S1Digital LLC plans to launch its new P500 Media Centers, which include advanced features such as up to four digital cable tuners (for use with CableCARD) and a QAM/ATSC tuner to give customers the capability of watching and recording up to five simultaneous cable TV channels including HDTV and premium content, Blu-ray playback with Profile 2 capabilities, and up to 3 terabytes of internal storage. All S1Digital media center solutions include the Windows Media Center TV Pack to provide customers with an enhanced entertainment experience. S1Digital also plans to launch the WHS500, a one-rack Windows Home Server, designed specifically for the custom installation channel. The WHS500 is a powerful network storage device with 4-terabyte capacity for storing movies, music, photos, home videos and other media, providing centralized access of content.
Inteset LLC will unveil its new TeraRAID XV-NAS, which will offer 15 terabytes of enterprise-level, A/V-style storage and automatically replicate the Inteset Media Library across multiple homes with access from the Web. Inteset will also be demonstrating the addition of full Blu-ray to its popular, proprietary Movie Collection, which has the ability to store, search and play back movies seamlessly within the Windows Media Center interface. The system will scan the inserted DVD or Blu-ray disc to identify and retrieve full profile information from Inteset’s all-new movie database.
Samsung Electronics America Inc. will showcase the new Samsung MediaLive Extender for Windows Media Center, which delivers digital entertainment including HD content, photos, music, feature films, home movies, and live and recorded TV, from any hardware running Windows Media Center to the big screen of a Samsung HDTV via a wireless or wired home network. With distribution that includes the custom installation channel, MediaLive is a powerful solution in the offerings for Extender for Windows Media Center devices.
Cannon PC announced that it will begin shipping the Windows Media Center TV Pack, which adds native support for up to four TV tuners (including digital cable tuners), ClearQAM (unencrypted digital cable) tuners, sharing of unprotected digital content via Microsoft PlayReady technology-enabled PCs and more, with its line of Media Center PCs beginning in early September. Cannon PC also announced that it will offer integrators two form factors of the popular Windows Home Server to provide homeowners with a new solution for centralized storage, remote access and much more.
2008 Windows Media Center Ultimate Install Contest
Microsoft will announce the 2008 Windows Media Center Ultimate Install Contest winner at a special event on Saturday, Sept. 6, 2008, at 5:30 p.m. MDT. This year’s contest saw a significant increase in the number of submissions as well as the design quality and level of integration delivered through the Windows Media Center platform. Now in its second year, the Windows Media Center Ultimate Install Contest encourages integrators to show off their talents by presenting their most unique and creative installations that leverage Windows Media Center technologies. More information on the winning install will be available at http://www.microsoft.com/ultimateinstall.
Media Center Integrator Alliance
Announced yesterday, Microsoft has joined Intel Corporation, HP, Life|ware, NiveusMedia, AMD and Crestron Electronics Inc. in the foundation of the Media Center Integrator Alliance (MCIA), a nonprofit organization dedicated to driving the adoption and awareness of the media center ecosystem in the custom installation channel. MCIA members will share best practices, establish standards, and develop education and certification tools for technologies using Windows Media Center. The new alliance hopes to attract the interest, acceptance and participation of many more companies to contribute to a unified industry-based voice within the ecosystem.
“We’re excited to see how channel awareness has grown and the implementation of Windows Media Center technologies in product offerings has expanded over the past 12 months,” Collins said. “We expect the momentum to continue to drive adoption of the ecosystem and build a network of enthused, satisfied consumers.”
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