updated 11:55 am EST, Mon January 8, 2007
MS caters to living room
Microsoft at its CES keynote unveiled two new technologies to bolster the company's offerings in the living room, effectively ramping up its competition with Apple's forthcoming iTV wireless media streaming device -- which could debut as soon as tomorrow at Macworld 2007. Leading the effort is Windows Home Server, a new software platform designed to share content from multiple computers in one location, even when those computers are shut off. The software automatically backs up and stores files from systems on a local network, according to Electronista, and can perform a remote backup through a special Windows Live address. Microsoft says users will share music, photos, and videos to any attached Windows Media Center device.
The technology is expected to make its debut in HP's new MediaSmart Server, a dedicated hub that will serve up to 10 separate users simultaneously. The server is driven by a 1.8GHz AMD Sempron processor with both four internal SATA drive bays and four USB 2.0 ports for storage, providing potential room for up to 6TB of storage. In addition to supporting the inherent file and media sharing of Windows Home Server, HP's device also allows Mac and Linux file sharing as well as remote program and system control through any internet-connected PC. HP expects to ship the completed MediaSmart Server in the fall for an unspecified price.
Microsoft also confirmed that it will add IPTV functions to its Xbox 360 console, incorporating a live component to the system's existing movie and TV downloads. Dubbed Microsoft TV IPTV Edition, the software add-on will allow Xbox 360 owners to watch and record live internet-based TV while utilizing the existing functions of Xbox Live. Microsoft says viewers could participate in conference voice chats while watching the same show, or accept game invites while recording TV programming in the background. The IPTV link will be available by late 2007 through a large number of North American cable and phone providers.