John G. Spooner and Mary Jo Foley at eWeek:
The Redmond, Wash., software giant is expected to unveil on Friday an update for its Windows XP Media Center Edition operating system that will boost the computers’ abilities to tap online entertainment such as movies, access e-mail and even let users go shopping via the special user interface, designed to allow easy access to multimedia.
The new features, which will come as part of a rollup or collection of updates dubbed Update Rollup 2 for Windows XP Media Center Edition, will expand the capabilities of Media Center PCs and shift their focus from showing photos and videos to on-demand online entertainment and content services, provided by big-name outlets such as MTV.
The only problem is that it’s not clear what these new capabilities are, based on the article which has a fairly mundane list of updates. (Ed Bott notices the same thing and speculates on possible surprises.)
Even the least expensive desktop Media Center models, which sell for as little as $599 and come without TV tuners or high-end graphics, are expected to be able to tap the new features.
Price has played a major role in the increase in shipments of Media Center PCs seen of late. Manufacturers began offering the operating system in under-$1,000 desktops earlier this year, leading to huge year-over-year leaps in Media Center sales at retail in the United States, analysts said.
If there is any buzz about Media Center, surely that is it. Folks will apparently take the feature set if the price hit is small, but that’s hardly a surprise.
But, despite the expected update, Kay said he believes Microsoft could hold over its best Media Center features for a Media Center-enabled version of Vista Home.
“My guess is Microsoft’s trying to save as much splash as it can for Vista,” Kay said.
Additions such as instant wake-up might “make sense as maintenance release elements. But to create a lot of new features, particularly when [Microsoft] has to come up with another splash for a year from now, doesn’t seem like the thing to do,” he said, adding that Microsoft should “save as much juice as possible for its long awaited premier operating system.”
More speculation on the Vista SKU puzzle in relation to Media Center by following the link.