Why did it seemingly take us so long to get Emerald (aka 'Update Rollup 2 for Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005') in your hands (after all RTM was a couple of months ago)...?

Well, for starters....

• Check out the official press release at http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/press/2005/oct05/10-14DigitalLifePR.mspx.

• Remember a few months ago when we announced over 2 million sold? Joe Belfiore, in a 'Happy Birthday' open letter to Media Center users, customers and partners, tells us there have been 4 Million Media Center PCs shipped to date!  Four major releases in as many years -- who says Microsoft can't ship software?!?!

• Emerald brings several new features to Media Center.

• Emerald sets the stage for you to enjoy a Media Center Extender experience as it should be...

  • Every Xbox 360 that ships will have Windows Media Center Extender functionality built in, allowing seamless access to all the digital entertainment stored on a media center PC in any room of the home.
  • Xbox 360 will be provide the richest, most hi-fidelity Media Center Extender experience to date (all that groovy, swoopy, 3D goodness).
  • We will get high definition content playback on the XBox 360!

• There are four new online resources launching today...

http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/mediacenter/default.mspx has gotten a much needed facelift.

• We added a new Games category (including two partners) for the US version of Online Spotlight.

• Our friends in Denmark, Norway and Sweden have their very own Online Spotlight.  Our international designers and developers are coming on strong: The Norway Online Spotlight is launching with at least nine (9!) partners and Sweden with at least twelve (12!).  By contrast, US Online Spotlight originally launched with only three.

• The following partners launched today in the US version of Online Spotlight...

  • MTV Overdrive. Overdrive is MTV’s broadband network, delivering the hottest video content to Media Center PCs. Overdrive provides access to live performances, music videos, artist interviews, never-before-seen footage of MTV shows, the latest news, movie trailers and more. It’s all online and all on demand, now at the touch of a remote control button.
  • DISCover. Designed exclusively for Media Center PCs, DISCover’s My Games gives customers access to a wide range of PC games that they can digitally demo, buy and stream. Customers can view an in-depth game guide with screen shots, box art and descriptions for thousands of top games, and can purchase “boxed” games via top online retailers with the ease of a Media Center Edition remote control.
  • Game xStream. Game xStream’s now-live gaming-on-demand service for Online Spotlight connects users to its extensive catalog of video game titles from leading game developers, from which they can buy and stream games instantly. Within minutes of pressing the Buy button from a Media Center Edition remote control, gamers can begin playing graphic-intensive games from publishers including Merscom LLC, Global Star Software and Encore Inc.

And several more new experiences will launch later this year or early next...

  • mtvU. Through nonstop streaming service that can be watched continuously, or by using unique on-demand capabilities empowering visitors to customize their experience, mtvU’s broadband platform showcases a powerful lineup of original programming serving as a gateway to the latest new music, as well as a source for one-of-a-kind student produced content that will drive and direct the network.
  • VH1 VSpot. VSpot is VH1’s new broadband entertainment network that delivers the best video programming on demand to Media Center PCs. VSpot offers thousands of music videos, exclusive performances, artist interviews, live event coverage and behind-the-scenes access. Customers may also watch VH1 shows, movie clips and trailers, and VSpot originals on demand at VSpot.
  • Comedy Central. Windows XP Media Center Edition will optimize a soon-to-be-launched broadband channel by providing users with a variety of gateways to access Comedy Central content whether it’s short- and long-form video, audio or text.
  • Akimbo. The Akimbo Service will offer Media Center customers more than 5,000 programs from more than 75 partners, including British Broadcasting Corp., National Geographic Society, Discovery Communications Inc. and the Hallmark Channel, as well as hard-to-find specialty offerings such as independent films from IFILM Corp. and Undergroundfilm.org — all available through the Media Center interface. At DigitalLife, Akimbo will be showing for the first time Major League Baseball playoff games delivered the next morning to Akimbo subscribers in a 10-minute condensed version.
  • (More) AOL. Building on the availability of its AOL Music on Demand service, AOL will extend additional features to the Media Center PC, including its AOL Pictures digital photo service and AOL Radio Featuring XM.

• Lots more partners announcing stuff over at http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/presskits/2002/winxpmediacenter/partner.mspx.

• More countries are getting Media Center starting today: Belgium, Turkey, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Hong Kong, India, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Singapore, Slovakia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden and Taiwan.

• More countries will get a genuine, official Electronic Programming Guide (EPG) by the end of the year (meaning they won't have to hack one in): Belgium, Czech Republic/Slovakia, Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Mexico, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Spain and Sweden.
• We published a revised Software Development Kit available online and offline.  You can instantly drill down into the Important Changes to Media Center Edition for the details on the new stuff.  Want to be ready for developing in Media Center for Windows Vista? Start here and here.  We also published a higher level overview of the SDK (PowerPoint Presentation) which can introduce you to developing for Media Center.

...and that's only a partial list.  Listen for all of the news from Digital Life in New York (Matt Goyer is there).

And we aren't slowing down resting on our laurels either: The entire team is now squarely focused on delivering even more goodness in Media Center for Windows Vista.  Stay tuned!

Categories: Media Center | Comments [7] | # | Posted on Friday, October 14, 2005 4:40:29 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)   
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