website hit counter September 2008 - Posts - Chris Lanier

September 2008 - Posts

VidaBox RoomClientHD Supports Blu-ray & DVD Streaming in Full 1080p

New VidaBox RoomClientHD™ supports Blu-ray & DVD streaming in full 1080p with HD audio support - all in a miniature, palm-sized package

Westbury, NY - September 29th - VidaBox is proud to announce the new RoomClientHD™, a 2" tall, palm-sized media extender that provides Blu-ray & DVD streaming support for full 1080p and lossless audio codecs.  Designed to be easily hidden behind any HDTV, this breakthrough extender allows any room to get instant, on-demand access to any content stored on a VidaBox media server.

"We're thrilled to finally offer an ultra-compact Blu-ray extender that dealers and customers alike have been asking for," says Steven Cheung, President of VidaBox LLC.  "Current Blu-ray players & extenders are the size of typical DVD players or set-top boxes, and may have slight unpleasantries like fan noise that stopped many installers from putting the equipment directly in the viewing area.  By combining advanced hardware design and our in-depth experience with Blu-ray streaming, we've been able to create the RoomClientHD, answering the prayers of integrators and customers alike.

Blu-ray streaming starts with a VidaBox server, such as the new RACK24 system with up to 22.0TB of storage, where thousands of DVDs and hundreds of Blu-rays can be stored.  From here, extenders like the RoomClientHD can be installed to pull the content via standard CAT5e/6 cabling.  No complicated setup needs to be done, as the extenders are preconfigured to automatically detect the VidaBox server on the network, making multizone installs a plug-n-play process.

"With only a 6" x 6" footprint, installers can cleverly hide the 2" tall RoomClientHD behind most HDTV panels," exclaims Cheung.  "With hardware support for full 1080p and new HD audio codecs like DTS-HD and Dolby TrueHD, the RoomClientHD sets a new standard for high-end media extenders that provide a full set of features without any compromises in quality or experience."

The RoomClientHD is available now, and comes with an option for a built-in Blu-ray disc drive for convenient local playback.  For more details and specifications on the RoomClientHD™ and VidaBox's comprehensive line of media servers, extenders, and complete entertainment and control solutions, please visit the company website at http://www.vidabox.com, or see them at International CES in the North Tower Suite H22-121!

About VidaBox LLC

VidaBox LLC is a digital entertainment and controls solutions company focused on manufacturing premium media centers, integrated home control & automation solutions.  VidaBox is on a mission to create user-friendly, stable high-performance Media Center systems that work right out of the box and integrate seamlessly with multizone audio and smart home technologies.  For more information, visit www.vidabox.com or call 1-516-730-7500.

Niveus Brings Unified Search To Windows Media Center

Easily search through entire media catalogues and select Internet content utilizing the unified Niveus Search tool, now available for download.

Milpitas, CA – September 26, 2008 – Niveus Media, Inc. announces beta availability of the new unified Niveus Search, which enables easy retrieval of content accessible across the local network and Internet. The patent-pending Niveus Search offers Windows Vista ® Media Center users an easy-to-use, 10’ interface that provides an all encompassing scan of both the Media Center and Internet sources.

No longer do Media Center users have to scroll through lengthy catalogues trying to locate a certain movie, TV program, song, etc. Utilizing the unified Niveus Search yields visual results of the electronic program guide, recorded TV, music, photos, videos, and web-based content, from sources such as Netflix, Flickr, and Live365 Internet radio. Additionally, for the less decisive that aren’t sure what to watch or listen to, by entering keywords of interest, Search will return a number of related results from across its sources.

Accessing and using the Niveus Search tool is simple and can be easily accomplished with the use of only a remote control. By selecting “New Search” via the Search icon on the Windows Media Center strip, users can enter keywords with the remote control (T9) or the onscreen keypad. Search then reveals results in a compelling gallery, with cover art, movie posters, icons, pictures, or other supported visual formats. The user can then click play, slideshow, or schedule a recording based on the type of result(s) returned. Previous searches can be found through a Previous Searches icon on the Media Center menu.

Now available via the Niveus Software Labs webpage, Niveus Search is being released as beta for all Windows Vista Media Center users for an undetermined amount of time to gather feedback, field results, and suggestions. Niveus will continue to release improvements to Niveus Search beta via the Niveus Software Labs and intends to release a production version of Niveus Search to the Windows Media Center community when ready. Niveus Search will be supported by the user community in the new Niveus Software Labs Forum. A gallery of screenshots can be viewed through the Niveus Software Labs by selecting the screenshots tab.

For more information, please visit www.niveusmedia.com.

About Niveus Media

Founded in 2003, Silicon Valley based Niveus Media, Inc. manufactures award-winning media server hardware and software solutions, optimized to manage all HD entertainment in multi-zone applications. With the most advanced media servers, storage servers, proprietary software and service technologies, Niveus revolutionizes the aggregation, distribution, and enjoyment of today’s digital media.

Posted by chrisl | with no comments

Cannon PC Selling Standalone Internal/External Digital Cable Tuners

For the longest time SonyStyle.com was the only place that you would buy standalone Digital Cable Tuners.  However a month or so ago Sony pulled out of the market and only started selling refurbished tuners at a discount.  However, most of those refurbs didn’t ship with a power supply, adding additional cost and headaches for buyers trying to find someone at Sony who cared or knew what CableCARD was.

With Sony’s exit Cannon PC now aims to fill the void left by Sony by offering both internal and external Digital Cable Tuners online for $300 and $315 respectfully.  The usual disclaimers apply about them only working with CableCARD-ready PCs, but this should give HP and Dell owners a nice choice for purchasing extra tuners.

Microsoft Taking Media Center to Headless Appliances’

I’ve just gotten a tip from a very reliable source that Microsoft is looking to take Media Center off the desktop and turn it into a CE appliance.  The only information that I have is that it is planned to be a headless device of some sort.  Other details are very scarce at this point with no timeline to speak of, but I’ve been assured that Microsoft is actively working on such a project.

Is the Home Server “Media Center UI integration” that I just said wouldn’t happen the start of this project?  Does it even have anything to do with Windows Home Server?  Might Softsled be making an appearance in this all?  Maybe that technology they got from WebGuide?  I have no idea, because clearly such a product would go against everything I’ve ever said about Media Center.

So, I’m a bit shocked that Microsoft is looking to do anything like this.  For years I have been saying that such a device would fail in the market due to its un-doubtable high cost in comparison to other CE devices like TiVo’s and the $10/month cable/satellite DVR.

Media Center’s number one problem has been failing to define itself in the market.  Enthusiasts and power users want features not currently provided by Media Center, most of which Microsoft has shown little interest in actually implementing, and they want it at the smallest price possible.  The high-end custom install channel wants the same things, but are willing to pay as much as they need to in order to get the features.  Then the rest of the world doesn’t know that Media Center exists, and even if they did they want it at a price lower than what enthusiasts and power users are willing to spend.

Thoughts and opinions?  I’m not going to ask what you would pay for such a device, rather what do you think your Mom would pay?  I’ve established in the past that enthusiasts and power users want such a device and therefore might be willing to pay for it, but what about your Mom or other “average” users?  Keep in mind that if this is a headless device, you have to factor in Extenders for each room you actually want to watch content in.

Looking at this from the outside with no information on what it planned, I still say such a product would fail to reach the mass market.  Now for the enthusiasts, power user, and custom-install channel this could be a great move.  That brings up another question, is Microsoft shifting their focus for Media Center from developing for the “mass market” to developing for enthusiasts, power users, and the custom install channel (Remember their presence at CEDIA)?

Short Bits: Zune WTV Sync, WTV Documentation

Media Center users that own Zune’s can see several places where Microsoft forgot to think things through.  Those with the TV Pack installed have a few more, including the fact that Zune 2.0 software can’t do anything with WTV files.  That has now changed with Zune 3.0 software where WTV syncing officially work.

Speaking of WTV, Microsoft has finally published some documentation on the format.  The document covers handling WTV files with DirectShow (that includes transcoding). (Via The Green Button).

Zune Brings Powerful New Entertainment Features to Every Zune Portable Media Player With Software Release

Internet access provider Wayport enables wireless music downloads for Zune customers in Wi-Fi hot spots at more than 9,800 McDonald’s restaurants.

REDMOND, Wash. — Sept. 16, 2008 — Zune, Microsoft Corp.’s end-to-end music and entertainment service, today released its much anticipated free software update that will bring new features to every Zune portable media player. Revealed last week, the new software will allow Zune users to wirelessly stream and download music from the Zune Marketplace store on the go; tag and purchase songs directly from the built-in FM radio; and tap into new, personalized music recommendations and programming. To allow customers to take full advantage of the new wireless functionality, Zune today announced that it is working with high-speed Internet access provider Wayport Inc. to deliver Zune users free, wireless access to the Zune Marketplace from more than 9,800 participating McDonald’s®restaurants across the U.S.

“Wayport is pleased to be working with Microsoft to make it easier for Zune users to access music on the go,” said Dan Lowden, vice president of business development and marketing for Wayport. “Our ability to enable and manage applications and devices over converged networks creates exciting new opportunities for our clients to attract new customers whose digital lifestyle extends beyond their home and office.”

More Colors and Custom Designs

Zune Originals, the online store designed to let consumers customize their Zune player with laser-engraved art and personal text, now also offers exclusive color combinations. In addition to the recently announced Zune 16 and Zune 120 available in black at retailers nationwide, Zune Originals (http://www.zuneoriginals.net) also will offer the Zune 16 in blue, red, pink and green as an online exclusive. In addition, Zune Originals is refreshing its collection of custom artwork with 14 eye-catching new designs from artists such as Rolito, MWM (Matt W. Moore), Ippei Gyoubu and Aya Kato to give consumers more options to personalize their Zune experience.

The Digital Content Consumers Want

In addition to launching Zune Channels, which push new music to subscribers’ collections each week, and personalized music recommendations, Zune Marketplace also offers editorial features such as the Zune School Music Masters Program and the Xbox Gamer Central pages, as well as Instant Collections playlists to help consumers explore specific themes and genres. Zune Marketplace now offers more than 4 million songs, 80 percent of which are available as digital rights management (DRM)-free MP3s; 8,500 music videos; 3,000 episodes of popular TV shows; and more than 6,000 audio and video podcasts.

Zune customers have a choice in how they acquire music — they can pay per track or choose a Zune Pass subscription. Zune Pass subscribers can download or stream music from their Zune or computer interchangeably, all for a flat rate of $14.99 (U.S.) per month. To give people a chance to experience Zune Pass subscription, Zune is offering a free, 14-day trial to all new customers. More information is available at http://www.zune.net/setup.

Zune also now supports audiobook content from leading distributors including Audible Inc. Zune users can now explore more than 50,000 books, magazines and newspapers from more than 600 publishers and content providers at audible.com and sync it to their Zune. To commemorate the addition of audiobooks, Audible is offering all new and existing Zune owners a free copy of “Black River” by bestselling writer Dean Koontz.

New Software and Firmware

The Zune PC software is a free download that provides rich discovery and media management capabilities to help consumers make the most of their existing music collections in addition to providing access to the Zune Social and Zune Marketplace so they can add to it. To experience new features such as Buy from FM, wireless music downloads, Zune Channels, Picks personal recommendations, games and more, the new Zune PC software and device firmware are available for free download at http://www.zune.net.

Estimated retail pricing for the Zune device is as follows:

  • 120 GB: $249.99 (U.S.)
  • 80 GB: $229.99 (U.S.)1
  • 16 GB: $199.00 (U.S.)
  • 8 GB: $149.99 (U.S.)
  • 4 GB: $129.99 (U.S.)1

More information on Zune and related images is available at http://www.zune.net/press.

About Zune

Zune is Microsoft’s music and entertainment brand that provides an integrated digital entertainment experience. The Zune platform includes a line of portable digital media players, elegant software, the Zune Marketplace online store, the Zune Social online music community created to help people discover music, and the ZuneOriginals.net online media player customization store. Zune is part of Microsoft’s Entertainment and Devices Division and supports the company’s software-based services vision to help drive innovation in the digital entertainment space. More information can be found online at http://www.zune.net/en-us/press.

About Microsoft

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.

1 A limited number of 80GB and 4GB devices remain in the channel, and those remaining will be available at this price.

Posted by chrisl | with no comments

About that DIRECTV Tuner

Small bits of “news” keep flowing out about the DIRECTV Tuner for Media Center.  The ever optimistic DIRECTV CSRs are promising that the tuner is good to go for a November launch, sadly that isn’t going to happen so don’t get your hopes up.

Once again this is going to be a case of a feature noting getting in your hands until the next Media Center feature release.  The bad news?  That just happens to be Windows 7.  The good news?  PDC is only a month away and I’d expect Windows 7 betas to start making appearances out before the end of the year (note there are several Media Center sessions at PDC).

Possibly a silver lining to the whole subject, Microsoft actually made a comment to someone about the tuner!  CED is reporting that DIRECTV and Microsoft "continue to look at ways" to make the tuner happen and that news will be announced at "the appropriate time.”  The title of the article was “DirecTV, Microsoft Continue Work on Media Center Product.”  DIRECTV weren't available for comment.

Windows Home Server v2 Media Center Integration? Not So Fast

Long Zheng spotted a good one last week, finding a job posting that implies several things about Windows Home Server v2 including “Time Machine compete UI for backup and restore, Windows Media Center integration UI, Live Mesh integration UI etc..”

Windows Media Center integration UI is clearly the part of it that I’m going to focus on, however I think this might end up being the opposite of what most people think (and want) it to be.  Mainly, “Windows Media Center integration UI” doesn’t have to mean “Windows Media Center UI integration.”  The placement of UI in the sentence makes a huge different.

For example “Windows Media Center integration UI” sounds like a wizard from within Home Server to integrate sharing and backup of Media Center content such as Recorded TV.  “Windows Media Center UI integration” on the other hand would imply Media Center functionality being built into Home Server.

The wording used by Microsoft is “Windows Media Center integration UI” leading me to believe that Microsoft’s focus is not on integrating Media Center directly into Home Server.

I’ve (poorly) argued in the past that while an integrated Home Server+Media Center would be the killer scenario for hardcore Media Center users and geeks, it would do nothing to give Media Center the push it needs in the marketplace.  I also question the backup functionality of Home Server when more and more roles keep getting delegated to it.  Put Media Center functionality in and mix it with backup and remote access and it is almost time for a Home Server to backup my Home Server.

I’m I overanalyzing the "Windows Media Center integration UI" wording?  You still holding out for your Home Sever with Media Center/Extender functionality?

Short Bits: Debug Menus, TV Pack OEMs, Hurricane

I survived Ike without any damage here in Katy, sadly that can’t be said for the rest of the Houston and Galveston areas.

Ever wonder which of your dozen TV tuners is being used to tune the program you are watching?  If you have the TV Pack there is a bit of a hack that you can do in order to find out.  First spotted by Dave at The Green Button, type 411 and then press More Info in order to access Microsoft’s debug menu.

image

A lot of people have been asking about the TV Pack on CableCARD PCs from Dell and HP.  While I have no inside information on the subject, I have doubts that either will be shipping the TV Pack at all.  Media Center is not HP or Dells business, and as it involves creating a new image for their machines I fall to understand why either would bother.  I might be wrong, but I wouldn’t hold out for a Dell or HP with the TV Pack.  If a TV Pack machine is what you are after, you are most likely going to want one of these OEMs.

Media Center SideShow Gadgets RC Gets Extender Support

Early this year it was confirmed that the Media Center SideShow gadgets would support control of Extenders.  However when the first public beta for the gadgets came out Extender support was missing (along with good SideShow devices).  We still really don’t have any good SideShow devices, but Extender support has been made official (hat tip Stuart) for the first time in the Media Center Gadgets for SideShow Release Candidate (RC).

The lack of true Media Center Gadgets is likely the reason Ricavision has slipped shipping their SideShow remote.  Summer 2008 has been noted as their intended release date for months, so it looks like whenever Microsoft finishes the Gadgets then Ricavision will ship.

Posted by chrisl | with no comments

Microsoft Launches New Worldwide Platform for Broadcast TV on the PC

Leading tuner and chipset providers announce support for new Microsoft platform.

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands — Sept. 12, 2008 — Today at IBC2008, Microsoft Corp. announced it has delivered in the marketplace Protected Broadcast Driver Architecture (PBDA), Microsoft’s new worldwide platform for broadcast TV on the PC. Made possible by the recent release of Windows Media Center TV Pack, the platform for the first time enables the PC-TV hardware ecosystem to integrate virtually any free or premium TV service into Windows Media Center, while satisfying the TV industry’s requirements for strong content protection in the case of pay TV. Among the leading companies rallying behind PBDA at the show are AVerMedia Inc., Buffalo, Hauppauge Computer Works Inc., I-O Data Device Inc., NEC Electronics Corp., NXP Semiconductors and ViXS Systems Inc. — all playing a critical role in driving the forward momentum for PBDA adoption.

The PBDA platform enhances and supersedes the existing Broadcast Driver Architecture (BDA), which has been Microsoft’s standard for digital video capture on Windows operating systems for many years. Now, PC OEMs and tuner-makers no longer need to rely heavily on Microsoft to specifically enable and support the ability to output broadcast services on a one-off basis; they can develop and ship TV tuners for Windows Media Center to target a broader set of TV standards and markets. For broadcast service providers, the flexibility of one consistent platform that supports multiple TV standards specifically for protected content opens the door for more consumer options to be made available.

“For the first time, we’re enabling those in the PC-TV community to build tuners and integrate almost any broadcast service into Windows Media Center themselves regardless of geographic location or television standard — we’ve removed a major roadblock by delivering one consistent platform for the industry,” said Geoff Robertson, general manager for Windows Media Center at Microsoft. “The tremendous response we’re already seeing for the platform means PC OEMs, broadcast service providers and tuner-makers can now collaborate and embrace the PC as a first-class citizen for delivering more high-quality free or pay content to consumers in their local markets. This is a major milestone for us and our partners as we continue our efforts to deliver the highest-quality, personalized TV-watching experiences available to people everywhere.”

The momentum behind this new platform from Microsoft is already being evidenced by the launch of PBDA-based tuner solutions in Japan, Germany and the U.K., including Hauppauge’s first-ever Freeview-certified PC-TV tuner solution and AVerMedia’s tuner solution for protected digital terrestrial television in Japan.

In addition, leading chipset providers NEC Electronics, NXP and ViXS Systems are announcing that they have all completed their implementations of PBDA and are now ready to support their PC-TV tuner partners in taking PBDA-based solutions to multiple markets around the world.

“We are excited to be a launch partner for Microsoft’s PBDA platform,” said Allan Yang, Ph.D., president of AVerMedia. “PBDA has enabled us to quickly and cost-effectively bring to market A320, a PC-TV tuner solution for Windows Media Center that meets the Japanese broadcasting industry’s requirements for strong content protection. The resulting system performance delivers a surprisingly responsive user experience, and the response from our customers, who are some of the most demanding PC OEMs in Japan, has been phenomenal. We are looking forward to building on the very successful launch of our PBDA-based solution beyond Japan.”

“Microsoft’s new digital TV software architecture, PBDA, enabled Hauppauge to deliver the first-ever Freeview-certified TV tuner for PCs,” said Ken Potkin, CEO of Hauppauge. “We look forward to 2009, when PBDA will allow us to deliver advanced digital PC-TV tuner products, including PC solutions for pay TV.”

“The extended capabilities, which Microsoft’s worldwide PBDA platform for pay TV and free-to-air TV brings to Windows Media Center, mirror NXP’s commitment to power the TV-viewing experience by enabling access to more content with ever better picture quality anytime, anywhere, in the home and on the go,” said Bert van de Wakker, general manager, PC Systems, NXP Semiconductors. “Specifically, PBDA support combined with our new-generation three-in-one PCTV SOC SAA7231 product line, enables PC OEMs to offer 30 million European households the ability to record and view hundreds of free-to-air digital satellite channels on their PC, complementing SAA7231DE’s established DVB-T, analog terrestrial and cable support. In addition, PBDA has enabled us to provide a highly integrated, secure and cost-effective solution for protected digital terrestrial television in Japan using our secure Integrated Services Digital Broadcasting (ISDB)-analog reception, SAA7164E SOC.”

The PBDA platform is a key component of the Windows Media Center TV Pack, an update released to OEMs worldwide on July 16, 2008, with targeted optimizations for Europe in particular. Some of the other features of this update include native Windows Media Center experiences for digital terrestrial television in Japan (based on the Integrated Services Digital Television-Terrestrial standard), free-to-air satellites services in Europe (based on the Digital Video Broadcasting-Satellite standard), improved guide and playback experience, great personal video recorder auto-extend support, and the flexibility of support for multiple TV standards.

Windows Media Center TV Pack will be demonstrated at IBC2008 at the Microsoft stand in the Topaz Lounge. Visitors to the stand will have the opportunity to experience the latest Windows Media Center functionality delivered in combination with some of the latest PBDA-based tuner products from partners.

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.

Microsoft IPTV Press Releases from IBC2008

Microsoft Mediaroom Unveils Next-Generation Advertising Platform for IPTV Services

New adjunct offering enables targeted and measurable advertisement insertion for Mediaroom service providers from one complete platform.

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands — Sept. 12, 2008 — Microsoft Corp. today unveiled the Microsoft Mediaroom Advertising Platform at the IBC2008 conference. The new adjunct offering lets broadband service providers deploying the Microsoft Mediaroom Internet Protocol television (IPTV) software platform offer targeted, measurable and interactive advertising spots all from one comprehensive platform. Service providers will benefit from operational flexibility and simplification with an end-to-end solution that enables integrated, cross-platform advertisement deployments.

Marking the first instance of Microsoft advertisement investments focused on TV services, the Mediaroom Advertising Platform brings together in one cohesive offering the addressability offered by IPTV technology with state-of-the-art tools for campaign and decision management powered by Microsoft Advertising. Now the interactivity, audience addressability and true measurement found in online advertising models can be applied to the world of IP-powered television, opening new revenue opportunities for broadband service providers and more effective campaigns for advertisers. The Mediaroom Advertising Platform will support advertisement insertion into all TV content formats, including traditional linear television, video on demand (VOD), third-party interactive TV applications, as well as service-provider-owned assets including the electronic program guide.

Read Full Press Release

Microsoft Launches New Program to Help IPTV Operators Migrate to Mediaroom From First-Generation Platforms

Microsoft Mediaroom Migration Program provides guidelines and solutions for service providers considering upgrading their IPTV platforms.

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands — Sept. 12, 2008 — Microsoft Corp. has launched a new program to ease the transition for Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) service providers using other platforms to migrate to its solution. Called Microsoft Mediaroom Migration Program and unveiled at the IBC2008 conference, the program provides guidelines and solutions for service providers considering upgrading their IPTV platform. The Microsoft Mediaroom Migration Program delivers a structured assessment process and analytical tools for migration, including business and technical workshops to review set-top-box portability, network compatibility and audio-visual head-end interoperability. The program also includes risk-benefit tools to compare lifetime customer value and build the business case for executive management.

Ben Huang, director of product management for Microsoft Mediaroom, said, “As the IPTV market matures, we’re seeing interest from operators on first-generation platforms and homegrown solutions to migrate to Microsoft Mediaroom. These service providers need to add high-definition and advanced digital video recording (DVR) and video-on-demand features that are now fundamental to any competitive TV offering, and they want to remain competitive by being able to easily deploy advanced interactive applications. We are currently engaged in assessing migration opportunities with a number of customers and have been approached by many more. Platform migrations are complex, so this program has been developed to assist with business and technical planning, and reduce the cost and pain of migration.”

Read Full Press Release

Microsoft Gives Liftoff to Next Generation of Interactive TV at IBC2008

Broadcaster application shows what audiences can expect from interactive TV.

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands — Sept. 12, 2008 — Today at IBC2008, Microsoft Corp. unveiled technology that makes it easy for service providers and content owners to develop a new generation of groundbreaking interactive TV services. Microsoft is showcasing interactive applications that point the way to how people could experience TV in the future.

The demonstrations on display at IBC include the first public viewing of an interactive application developed for the Microsoft Mediaroom platform by emuse technologies using content from the BBC. The application shows how the broadcaster’s original journalistic content, including news, sports and weather, could look in the future. Building on the success of Red Button and BBC iPlayer, the application provides interactive access to a huge breadth and depth of the broadcaster’s content and services via an intuitive and easy-to-use interface.

Read Full Press Release

Microsoft Demonstrates an End-to-End Solution Portfolio for the Digital Content Life Cycle at IBC2008

Microsoft announces new customer for Interactive Media manager; details new Silverlight adoption and previews H.264 playback; introduces new Mediaroom IPTV platform developments; and highlights new industry-specific solutions for digital content creation, management, delivery and monetization.

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands — Sept. 12, 2008 — This week at the IBC2008 conference held at the Amsterdam RAI conference center, Microsoft Corp. will showcase the advanced media platform technologies and partner ecosystem that enable organizations to create, manage, deliver and monetize an endless variety of engaging digital entertainment experiences. Microsoft and its partners provide solutions to support the full content life cycle, including content creation and management, media business management and monetization, and digital content delivery.

Microsoft is making several announcements at the show, including new customer adoption for the Microsoft Interactive Media Manager (IMM) solution with Abertis Telecom; adoption of Microsoft Silverlight by European broadcasters and the upcoming inclusion of additional codecs such as H.264 and Advanced Audio Coding (AAC) in the Silverlight plug-in; and developments for the Microsoft Mediaroom Internet Protocol television (IPTV) and multimedia software platform including the Microsoft Mediaroom Advertising Platform (MAP), Mediaroom Migration Program and an interactive TV application developed by emuse technologies using British Broadcasting Corp. (BBC) content, which will be demonstrated for the first time at the show.

Read Full Press Release

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Short Bits: CableCARD, Media Center Show

Ed Bott has a great post on why CableCARD will never be mainstream.   Not only is the process of getting a CableCARD and having it paired a problem, but the lack of troubleshooting information (or rather the need for troubleshooting at all) on the PC side of things means CableCARD is likely to never to mainstream.  Ed’s suggestion to fix this is transition Media Center to a standalone STB type system (which is everyones solution to everything).  I’m not sure that would fix the issues with CableCARD, but the transition away from the standard PC is a whole different topic.

On this week’s Media Center Show Ian Dixon has Microsoft’s Kevin Collins talking about all the news from CEDIA, and Intel's Greg Schlechter who serves as a director of the newly announced Media Center Integrators Alliance.

Hurricane on the way!

Microsoft and Hauppauge First to Bring Freeview-Certified PC Solution to U.K. Viewers

Windows Media Center meets requirements for Freeview certification to deliver enhanced TV content to the PC.

READING, U.K. — Sept. 10, 2008 — Microsoft Corp., working with tuner manufacturer Hauppauge Computer Works Inc., today announced the launch of the first Freeview-certified, PC-based TV solution. With Windows Media Center, found on all PCs running Windows Vista Home Premium and Windows Vista Ultimate, and Windows Media Center TV Pack, Microsoft will now be able to offer U.K. consumers best-in-class interactive and enhanced TV paired with some of the best personal video recorder (PVR) features available on the market today.

Freeview support is one of the major Digital Video Broadcasting (DVB) enhancements of the Windows Media Center TV Pack, an update released to OEMs worldwide on July 16, 2008, with targeted optimizations for TV standards in Europe. Other enhancements of this update include support for Digital Video Broadcasting-Satellite (DVB-S), improved guide and playback experience, great PVR auto-extend support, and the flexibility of support for multiple TV standards.

“The launch of our Freeview-enabled solution is a great addition to Windows Media Center, allowing us to reach more users and add real value to TV consumers and broadcasters,” said John Curran, director, Windows Client Group, Microsoft UK. “We are dedicated to improving Windows Media Center for customers worldwide, and this addition of Freeview as a platform and brand will offer a real benefit to our partners and consumers. We see this as a critical step to building awareness and setting a standard for great TV experiences on the PC.”

Windows Media Center with Windows Media Center TV Pack was certified as Freeview-compliant by the Digital TV Group Ltd., the industry association for digital TV in the U.K. The certification was made in coordination with Hauppauge, which certified its HVR 2200 tuner as part of the same program. Together, the components offer a complete Freeview TV solution for the PC, joining existing manufacturers of Freeview equipment such as Humax Company Ltd., Philips, Panasonic Consumer Electronics Co., Sony Corp. and many more.

The Windows Media Center TV Pack enhancements for the European market, and ultimately Freeview certification, were driven out of Microsoft’s European Development Center, established in 2005 to specifically develop software tailored to the European market. This dedicated European team will continue to focus on interoperability with free-to-air European digital television as part of its commitment to European customers and DVB, the European standards organization.

“The expansion in service of Freeview digital terrestrial TV has created consumer demand for more advanced PC-TV solutions,” said Ken Plotkin, CEO, Hauppauge. “Our Freeview-certified dual tuner, WinTV-HVR-2200, provides Windows Media Center with the ability to record one Freeview digital TV program while it displays another TV program on the PC screen.”

The Freeview logo is also a statement of the quality of Microsoft and Hauppauge solutions. The Freeview certification effectively kicks off a program that will enable PC OEMs and additional tuner manufacturers to launch Freeview-branded PCs with Windows Media Center in the U.K.

Freeview is managed by DTV Services Ltd., a company owned and run by its five shareholders — British Broadcasting Corp., BSkyB Ltd., ITV plc and National Grid Wireless. DTV Services launched in October 2002 and provides up to 48 free-to-air digital TV channels, up to 24 radio stations and interactive services through an aerial. There is no subscription for the service.

“The addition of a Freeview-enabled PC further increases and enriches the number of ways viewers can access Freeview’s subscription-free TV channels,” said Cheryl Sloan, Freeview’s director of strategy and new product development. “Microsoft and Hauppauge have made a great step toward connecting PCs in the home to the Freeview experience, allowing PC users to enjoy the U.K.’s most popular TV platform. We look forward to collaborating with them both to ensure its successful entry to the U.K. market.”

Windows Media Center TV Pack will be demonstrated at IBC2008, Sept. 12–16, at the Microsoft booth in the Topaz Lounge. Visitors to the booth will have the opportunity to experience the latest solution as well as other elements of the product such as broadcast broadband integration.

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.

Zune Takes Music Discovery to the Next Level With New Ways to Find and Access Digital Music

Software update will enable Zune users to tag songs and buy music directly from FM radio and download and stream music on the go beginning Sept. 16.

REDMOND, Wash. — Sept. 8, 2008 — Zune, Microsoft Corp.’s end-to-end music and entertainment service, again revolutionizes how customers discover and connect to the music they love, where and how they want it. Starting next week, every Zune portable media player will let consumers wirelessly download or stream millions of songs on the go from thousands of wireless hot spots around the country. Free, powerful software and firmware updates will give Zune owners the ability to discover, tag and purchase songs directly from the built-in FM radio, wirelessly access the Zune Marketplace store on the go, and tap into interactive, personalized music recommendations that add even more value to the Zune Pass subscription. Zune is also expanding its device lineup with new 16GB and 120GB capacities as well as shiny new blue-on-silver and sleek all-black color schemes. The new features will begin rolling out on Sept. 16, 2008.

“Digital music services really come alive when they help people find not only the music they know they like, but the music they didn’t know they would love,” said Chris Stephenson, general manager of Global Marketing for Zune at Microsoft. “With the combination of subscription, wireless access to millions of tracks, and powerful discovery features like personal recommendations and the ability to buy music from FM radio, Zune is taking the digital music experience to the next level.”

Wireless Connections

More than 61 percent of people say they discover new music by listening to the radio. (1) With that in mind, Zune is taking advantage of the wireless connection and the built-in FM tuner to deliver a new feature called Buy from FM, which lets customers tag and purchase songs they hear on FM radio stations (2) directly from the Zune device. When the customer is in a Wi-Fi hot spot, the song can be immediately downloaded to the Zune device. If Wi-Fi is not available, the device will have a queue of songs ready to download when connected to a home computer or in a hot spot. Buy from FM uses Radio Data System and RT+ data feeds within the FM broadcast frequencies that identify song and artist data and enable the Zune service to identify and deliver the track to the customer.

In addition, users can now access the Zune Marketplace music store directly from their device when they are in a recognized Wi-Fi hot spot, or through a home wireless network. To make it easy to discover music on the go, customers can browse lists of featured new releases and top songs and albums sorted by genre, or use the on-screen keypad to type in the song of their choice. Once they have picked a track or album, they can either download it or stream it directly to the Zune device.

Zune customers have a choice in how they acquire music: They can pay per track or choose a Zune Pass subscription. Zune Pass subscribers can download or stream music to the device or their computer interchangeably, all for a flat rate of $14.99 per month. So whether a device has 4 GB or 120 GB of storage, Zune Pass customers can access and stream millions of songs directly to their Zune.

More Ways to Discover Music: Channels and Picks

The new Zune software update taps expert sources, recommendations from the Zune service and online music community, and the user’s own play data to create a dynamic, digital music experience where discovering music is easy and seamless.

  • Channels. Channels are an exciting new tool for music discovery. Customers can explore channels programmed by experts from the music industry such as the Billboard Top 100, The FADER magazine and KEXP radio, in addition to workout-themed channels tailored for high, medium and low impact, and top chart channels from all genres and subgenres. The powerful Zune software will even create custom channels for each user, based on favorite artists and genres. Channels are included with a monthly Zune Pass subscription and can be synced to the device for playback on the go. For non-Zune Pass subscribers, the Channels are available for a la carte purchase.
  • Personal Picks. Now the Zune software learns what kind of music users like and makes personal recommendations. When users log onto Zune Marketplace, they’ll find a new area called Picks where the Zune recommendation algorithm will suggest artists, albums and tracks based on the music they have been listening to, as well as channels they might like and listeners like them in the Zune Social.
  • The Zune Social online music community. Customers can connect with millions of like-minded fans and share music via the Zune Card, a real-time playlist of each user’s favorite and recently played tracks that can be accessed on the Web or within the Zune software, or synced to the Zune device. Zune Pass subscribers can play full tracks from Zune Cards synced to their device while on the go, and now the playlists will even automatically update with the most recently played tracks when Zune connects to a wireless hot spot. It’s like subscribing to a free feed of music from the sources people trust most — their friends.

Powerful Software

The Zune PC software is a free download at http://www.zune.net that provides rich discovery and media management capabilities to help consumers make the most of their existing music collections, in addition to providing access to the Zune Social and Zune Marketplace so they can add to it.

  • Mixview. Customers can select an artist, album or Zune Card to activate a dynamic, visual mosaic of related music and listeners. With each click users can take the view in a new direction, creating a fun, graphical way to discover new music. Mixview works with users’ current collection of music, in addition to tracks and albums from across the Zune Marketplace.
  • Now Playing. The improved Now Playing view is more interactive and cinematic. Users can sit back and enjoy the combination of great artist imagery, colorful effects, bio information and data from the Zune online music community, all combined in a full-screen view. They can also click to dive deeper into the music behind the picture, providing another great way to interact with their collection.

A new firmware update will also improve the experience on the Zune device. In addition to the new wireless functionality, Zune will bring new features customers have been asking for:

  • Games on the go. Two free games, “Hexic” and “Texas Hold ’Em,” will keep users entertained on the go.
  • Audiobooks. All Zune devices will feature support for audiobooks this fall from industry leaders in the digital distribution of audiobook content.
  • Audible. Customers can visit audible.com to download and sync favorite books from the 50,000 titles available from over 600 publishers and content providers.
  • OverDrive. They can download content from sites powered by overdrive.com, including 7,500 libraries’ Web sites worldwide. (http://search.overdrive.com)

Device Pricing Information Effective Sept. 16

120 GB: $249.99

80 GB: $229.99 (3)

16 GB: $199.00

8 GB: $149.99

4 GB: $129.99 (3)

More information on Zune and related images is available at http://www.zune.net/press.

About Zune

Zune is Microsoft’s music and entertainment brand that provides an integrated digital entertainment experience. The Zune platform includes a line of portable digital media players, elegant software, the Zune Marketplace online store, and the Zune Social online music community, created to help people discover music. Zune is part of Microsoft’s Entertainment and Devices Division and supports the company’s software-based services vision to help drive innovation in the digital entertainment space. More information can be found online at http://www.zune.net/en-us/press.

About Microsoft

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.

(1) According to a Kelton Research study sponsored by Zune (April 2008)

(2) The song needs to be available in Zune Marketplace for consumers to purchase it. If it is not available, but the radio station is broadcasting the song’s meta data, consumers can tag the song (so they can remember the name and artist), but will not be able to purchase it.

(3) There are a limited number of 80GB and 4GB devices remaining in the channel, and those that are will be available at this price.

cyberManor Named 2008 Windows Media Center Ultimate Install Contest Winner

With a stunning implementation of Windows Media Center technologies in an eco-friendly Northern California home, cyberManor captures this year’s title.

DENVER — Sept. 8, 2008 — Microsoft Corp. announced the winner of the 2008 Windows Media Center Ultimate Install Contest at CEDIA EXPO 2008 in Denver. CEDIA EXPO 2008 is an annual show for the residential electronic systems industry put on by the Custom Electronic Design and Installation Association. The winning installation for the design contest was submitted by Gordon Van Zuiden, president of cyberManor and noted innovator in the custom installation channel.

Founded in 1999 and based in Los Gatos, Calif., cyberManor specializes in the design, installation and integration of Internet-connected home electronic solutions that enhance the entertainment, communications, comfort and safety of their clients’ homes in the San Francisco Bay area. Its contest-winning project was created for a family in Sunnyvale, Calif., that desired a centralized, user-friendly entertainment and automation system. The result was a complete integration solution with Windows Media Center at the helm.

“We couldn’t be prouder of this accomplishment,” Van Zuiden said. “Winning the Ultimate Install Contest is a testament to the phenomenal efforts of the cyberManor employees who worked so diligently to make this installation one of the greatest integration projects in our company’s 10-year history.”

The Windows Media Center Ultimate Install Contest, now in its second year, encourages integrators to show off their talents by presenting their most unique and creative installations that leverage Windows Media Center technologies. cyberManor’s solution uses numerous industry-renowned products from the Windows Media Center ecosystem, including NiveusMedia Inc.’s n9 media server with four CableCARD tuners, multiple Niveus EDGE and Xbox 360 extenders that distribute live and prerecorded digital high-definition (HD) content, and a Niveus Ice Vault, storing the family’s DVD movie collection. Also integrated into the entertainment solution were the family’s music library and digital photos.

The home features Exceptional Innovation’s Life|ware software for whole home control of thermostats, lighting, audio distribution, surveillance cameras and an Internet protocol (IP)-based door strike at the front gate with the touch of a button. Deriving power from solar panels on the roof, the family strived to make their home as environmentally friendly as possible, using only LED and fluorescent lighting and settings on their Lutron lighting system that automatically turned off power at certain times of day.

“The goal of this project was to centralize the digital entertainment and automation of the home in a simple and effective system that had one consistent user interface,” said Jim Kohl, project manager at cyberManor. “Two of the homeowner’s main objectives were the distribution of high-definition personal video recordings to multiple HD video zones throughout the home simultaneously and the ability to centralize all A/V sources in a single rack mount computer. The seamless integration of these Windows Media Center products and technologies enabled us to accomplish those tasks while staying consistent with the sleek and clean design the homeowner desired.”

The cyberManor team used Windows Media Center as the central platform to control numerous aspects of the family’s digital lifestyle, including 12 zones of Russound distributed audio, Lutron lighting and shade control, individual room climate controls automated by time of day and air temperature outside, and surveillance technology. All home automation is provided by Life|ware software, including unique features such as fountain control from all areas of the home. Via Life|ware, family members in various rooms, including the outdoor patio and cabana, can dim the lights, lower the shades, turn on the television, enjoy the distributed audio system or perform numerous other tasks at the touch of a button.

“Microsoft is pleased to recognize cyberManor as the 2008 Windows Media Center Ultimate Install Contest winner,” said Kevin Collins, director of the Custom Installer Channel in the Connected TV Business, Entertainment and Devices Division at Microsoft. “Its use of Windows Media Center in this home provided the homeowner with an easy-to-use solution for all of the family’s digital needs and home automation. cyberManor’s incredible work is an excellent example of how high-level integration combined with the Windows Media Center scalable entertainment and automation platform can delight the most discerning customer.”

This year’s edition of the contest saw an increase in both the number of submissions and the overall quality of the technology design projects. With more options from hardware manufacturers and the additional support of Microsoft, Windows Media Center has seen enormous growth in the custom integration channel over the past year.

In addition to cyberManor’s winning installation, Microsoft named Wireless Home of Naples, Fla., and Simple Digital Home of Salem, Ore., as this year’s finalists. Both installations featured Windows Media Center as the basis of truly unique solutions, and both are recognized for their achievements.

More information about the Ultimate Install Contest is available at http://www.microsoft.com/ultimateinstall. More information on cyberManor is available at http://www.cybermanor.com.

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.

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Inteset's New Pricing Model Provides Dealers Annuity-based Revenue

Hanover MA, Aug 15, 2008, Inteset's new insightful pricing model keeps dealers in the black and gives them an annuity-based revenue stream.

AV dealers are looking for new ways to cope with a slumping economy. One recommended method is for installers to offer service contracts to their customers. Doing so keeps customers long-term, results in steadier monthly sales figures, and provides a lucrative annuity-based revenue stream. Inteset has always adapted its products and services to the changing needs of dealers. Now it's continuing this effort with its new pricing model.

Beyond the standard dealer pricing, Inteset is now offering a "pay-portion-now, pay-rest-later" model on its servers and extenders. The balance is paid over a two year period (or less) with a small finance fee. "Dealers can pass this payment structure on to their clients, say half upfront for the equipment, then monthly payments for one year (instead of two) with a finance charge. Dealers can purchase an Inteset server for as little as $1,000 down," explains David Hirsh, Director of Business Development. "This can be a very attractive offer for the dealer's customers who don't want to pay so much upfront. A dealer can also charge the full retail price upfront to retain all the cash of their sale. This creates a great cash flow situation," continues Hirsh.

"This is just good business," says Jeff Lloyd, president and CEO of Inteset. "Since we work directly with our dealers, we are in a great position to offer this innovative pricing structure."

For more detail regarding Inteset's new pricing, contact David Hirsh at 781-826-1560 ext: 203. To learn about Inteset products and services, go to www.inteset.com. Dealers can visit Inteset at CEDIA 2008, Denver, CO, booth 452.

About Inteset

Inteset, LLC has been creating high-end home entertainment products since 2003. Inteset offers four categories of products: media servers, media extenders, high-capacity storage devices, and exclusive software for its systems. The near silent media servers come with up to 8TB of internal, 15TB external, protected storage. The advanced media extenders are independent systems as well as A/V distribution clients. All systems are shipped with an enriched Microsoft Windows Media Center interface that includes a movie management module and a multi-zone music module among other exclusive software offerings. These systems appeal to A/V dealers and integrators domestically and internationally for their high-integrity construction, reliability, ease-of-use, unique entertainment modules and services, price point, and interoperability with advanced control systems.

Microsoft Showcases Windows Media Center Momentum at CEDIA EXPO 2008

From distributed HD entertainment to automation and control, Windows Media Center is at the center of an ever-expanding ecosystem within the custom installation channel.

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.”

Hardware Expansion

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.”

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.

CEDIA Press Releases

I'll be at CEDIA Fri/Sat, if you have press releases please send them to me today with embargo times zones and dates.

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Niveus Media @ CEDIA: Movie Library, 8 CableCARD, 10 Extenders, Home Server

Niveus Movie Library Goes Primetime!

Version 1.5 is enriched to offer high-res cover art (including Blu-ray) and support for a wider catalogue of movie sources, such as disc-in-drive… and more!

Denver, CO – CEDIA Expo 2008 – September 4-7 – Booth #850 – Designed exclusively for Niveus Media customers, the Niveus Movie Library is a robust movie management tool that aggregates an entire movie collection into one distinct and intelligent interface. Upgraded to accommodate a growing number of movie sources, Niveus Movie Library 1.5 now features: disc-in-drive support; a 10’ interface for backing up movies to the Niveus Media Server; and expanded metadata with high resolution cover art (including Blu-ray!).

“Niveus Movie Library 1.5 represents the original vision of this product,” states Tim Cutting, CEO and Co-Founder, Niveus Media. “Coupling our new storage server, Cargo, with the enhanced Niveus Movie Library, our customers can now back up, download, store, and access their entire movie collection through the easy-to-use Niveus interface.”

Read Full Press Release

Niveus Supports Ten Extenders and Eight CableCARDs From One Niveus Media Server

Simultaneous HDTV viewing, recording, and distribution in up to eleven zones!

Denver, CO – CEDIA Expo 2008 – September 4-7 – Booth #850 Niveus Media is invigorating the whole-home TV viewing experience by announcing that select Niveus media servers will simultaneously support up to eight digital cable (CableCARD) tuners and ten Media Center Extenders. Announcing availability concurrently with the introduction of the 2009 Niveus media server line, boasting impressive enhancements in processing and performance, Niveus now doubles the capabilities of the Niveus Entertainment System.

“Niveus has nurtured the digital cable functionality and compatibility since early 2007 and is proud to be one of the first to support both eight CableCARDS and ten extenders,” states Tim Cutting, Niveus CEO and Co-Founder. “By doubling the performance of the Niveus Media Server, we can now support even the largest installations.” 

Read Full Press Release

Niveus Media’s 2009 Media Servers Boast Progressive Processing Power and Enhanced Multi-Zone Capabilities

Featuring HDMI 1.3, next-generation Intel processing, specialized Seagate hard drives, and upgraded cooling solutions for impressive multi-zone performance.

Denver, CO – CEDIA Expo 2008 – September 4-7 – Booth #850 – Niveus Media unveils its 2009 line of media servers, enhanced to provide an incredibly robust entertainment experience in as many as eleven independent zones. All Niveus media servers, including the passively cooled Summit Series’ Rainier and Denali Limited Edition and the rack mountable Pro Series, have been upgraded to incorporate bleeding-edge technologies for the most powerful Media Center performance.

 “To accommodate the variety of installation applications and performance demands, we’ve upgraded all of our media servers to offer Niveus Authorized Dealers the preferred range of configurations,” states Brian Paper, Vice President Operations and Co-Founder of Niveus Media. “With a selection of form factors, processing power, audio and video solutions, and storage capacities, Niveus has a superior solution for today’s multi-zone scenarios.”

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Introducing The Niveus Storage Server – Cargo Edition,   Powered By Windows Home Server

Store and protect unlimited HD content with up to 16TB of scalable storage, remote accessibility, and seamless integration with the Niveus Movie Library.

Denver, CO – CEDIA Expo 2008 – September 4-7 – Booth #850 – Niveus Media introduces the Niveus Storage Server – Cargo Edition, a powerful storage device based on the Microsoft Windows Home Server platform, designed for the custom install channel. Featuring up to 16TB of scalable storage, Cargo provides a seamlessly integrated and flexible storage solution for the perpetually growing HD digital content market.

As Niveus continues to enhance movie integration with the increasing functionality of the Niveus Movie Library movie management interface and availability of VideoGiants Collections premium movie packages, it has become essential to offer a robust storage solution that can house a user’s expansive HD movie collection. Cargo is the ultimate add-on to the Niveus Movie Library, enabling secure storage of thousands of movies, complete with expanded metadata and high-resolution cover art.

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