Sees Rapid Media Center Sales (CNET) | U.S consumers bought more Windows Media
Center-equipped PCs than the standard edition of Windows XP last month and
sales of Media Center will reach 10 million by the end of March, a Microsoft
executive said Tuesday.
Joe Belfiore, corporate vice president of Microsoft's
Windows eHome Division, disclosed the sales numbers at a keynote speech here at
Mix '06, a Microsoft conference aimed at Web developers and designers.
Belfiore also demonstrated the upcoming enhancements to Media Center,
which will come out with Windows Vista at the end of this year, saying it will
"blur the line between television and interactive video content."
Sales of Media Center, a higher-end version of Windows XP for
handling multimedia content, were sluggish in the first few years of its life,
but have picked up as Microsoft has cut prices and dropped a requirement that
PCs that run Media
Center come with a
built-in TV tuner.
Belfiore said that sales of Media Center
are now running at 1 million units per month and that the company is
"highly confident" total sales will top 10 million by the end of the
Citing third-party research, he said that 59 percent of PCs
sold through retail outlets in the U.S. were Media Center PCs. On
Monday, Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates said that sales of Media Center PCs in
December of last year made up more than 40 percent of all Windows sales.
With Vista, Microsoft doesn't plan a distinct Media Center
Edition, but instead is including capabilities such as video recording in both
the Home Premium version of Vista as well as
the Ultimate Edition, which combines high-end consumer and business features.
With the Vista release of Media Center,
Belfiore said that Microsoft is planning to improve video viewing, create close
integration with its Xbox 360 game console, and significantly expand the
distribution of the product worldwide.
He said that Windows Vista Media Center PCs will have
support for digital cable, allowing people to view high-definition television from
Also, Windows Vista will take better advantage of large
screens to help people manage large libraries of photos, videos or music files.
Belfiore demonstrated a number of applications that were
written with Microsoft developer tools for Windows Vista.
He said that the Windows Presentation Foundation, the user
interface toolkit to ship with Vista, will
allow people to easily convert existing Windows or Web applications to run with
a remote control on a television or Xbox console.
"The idea is to get content out of the PC and onto the
TV and through a range of devices," Belfiore said.
One attendee who consults for a multinational media company
said that the slick user interface design enabled by Microsoft's upcoming
operating system will appeal to many people.
However, he said that some of the restrictions placed on
video content, in the form of Windows file formats and digital rights
management, could be frustrating to some people.
"If I have a video that I want to share with someone
and they can't play it except on Media
Center, people are going
to get frustrated," said the attendee who did not want to be quoted by