Microsoft is powering ahead with its plan for for you to stream more content from your PC to your TV by backing support for oft-downloaded formats such as DivX and XviD. Windows Media Center Extenders (opens in new tab) are boxes - like the Xbox 360 - that enable you to watch content on your TV streamed from your Windows XP Media Center or Windows Vista PC.
Microsoft had mediocre success with the Extender concept Stateside and, apart from through the 360, decided not to pursue it in the UK. Now it has designed a new platform for the boxes to operate. The most interesting bits of the new system are support for 802.11n Wi-Fi and extra format support.
DivX and XviD
Unlike previous extenders, the new models will contain support for protected HD content, meaning DRM can restrict the movements of files to prevent them from being copied.
Microsoft cities Linksys (Cisco) and D-Link as development partners for the new Extender system, and says a "wave of new cool, quiet, home-theatre-quality devices" will launch. Whether they will appear in the UK remains to be seen, but Microsoft cites worldwide Media Center figures in connection with the project:
"With more than 60 million Windows Vista Media Center PCs in use worldwide, there are many customers eager to bring the simple and elegant Media Center experience to the televisions in their homes," said Dave Alles, general manager for eHome at Microsoft.
"The new Extenders for Windows Media Center 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".
To use a Media Center Extender such as the Xbox 360 with Windows Vista, you'll need to have either the Home Premium or Ultimate editions as these include the Media Center component.
Microsoft is currently demoing new prototype Extenders from Linksys (Cisco) and D-Link at the CEDIA show taking place now in Denver, Colorado.