Both services will be available free of charge to Media Center owners. “It’s a good example of how the Media Center platform keeps evolving,” says Scott Evans, group manager in the Entertainment and Devices eHome Division at Microsoft. “It adds value for people who bought Media Center.”
The new Internet TV feature—accessible through a tab on the Media Center home page next to “Recorded TV”—is supported by advertising. Internet-based content such as TV reruns and sporting events can be accessed just like any other show available through Media Center.
ITV should not be confused with Microsoft’s IPTV service, now called Mediaroom. Available through broadband providers, Mediaroom is an IP-based alternative to traditional cable and satellite content delivery. It is a non-PC solution that delivers programming guides, content and other services directly through the TV via a proprietary settop box. The ITV offering, on the other hand, is a simply a way to push some IP-based content to Media Center PCs.
The other new feature, called WebGuide, is a third-party application that does what Slingbox does, and a whole lot more. Like Slingbox, it is a time-shifting, place-shifting TV viewing solution, but it also lets users schedule TV recordings, access music collections, and in short do pretty much everything you can do with a Media Center … via any Web browser, whether inside the home or from a hotel room halfway around the world. A labor of love by founder Doug Berrett, Web Guide has been highly lauded in Media Center circles, and practically free at $18 for a download. Now it is actually free. Just download it onto your Media Center, and begin accessing it from anything that has a Web browser, from a PC to a cell phone.
In fact, WebGuide does a few things that Media Center alone doesn’t do. For example, you can set up an RSS feed for your recorded TV shows, and access them with one click from a Sidebar gadget on your PC desktop. The service is just one more reason to dump Slingbox and TiVo for that matter. TiVo’s remote access service is slow and laborious. Web Guide is almost as fast as being there. Berrett has now joined Microsoft full time.
Microsoft, Windows Vista, Media Center, ITV, Slingbox, eHome, Digital Service, Digital Media, Media Center PC, Internet TV