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The first Media Center PCs are from HP

The first Media Center PCs are from HP

New York (USA) – Using cleverly an event organized ad hoc in New York, Microsoft and HP have launched the first family of PCs on the North American market with great pomp that adopt the new Windows XP Media Center Edition presented by Microsoft last September.

It is a variant of Windows XP which can be controlled via a remote control, and which allows users to use their PCs as “multimedia centers”. Through a special interface, which can also be read from several meters away, it is possible to select and start playing music and films, watch and record TV, view images and digital photo slide shows.

HP’s Media Center PCs are the first to be certified to run Microsoft’s new system and will therefore be the first to field-test public interest in this new form of living room computing.

The typical configuration of these systems includes: video cards powerful enough to play, such as the GeForce4 MX420; hard disk with a capacity of at least 80 GB; Pentium 4 processors of at least 2.4 GHz; 512 MB of memory; CD and / or DVD burner; USB and FireWire ports. Their price starts at $ 1,350 but can go up to $ 2,000.

“The introduction of Windows XP Media Center Edition and the new HP Media Center PCs is the result of our common goal of making technology an integral part of people’s lives,” recalled Carly Fiorina, chairman and CEO of HP.

Microsoft claims that most people already use their PC as their main source of entertainment: research conducted by Forrester Research shows that among American users, 60% would use the PC to listen to music, 65% to manage their photos. , 63% for ripping or writing audio CDs, and 44% for watching DVD movies. It is not clear whether this happens “to the detriment” of other devices traditionally dedicated to carrying out these functions.

Although the basic functionality of Windows XP MCE has been included in Service Pack 1, the complete operating system will only be sold in bundles with PCs certified to run it: this is because, Microsoft claims, Windows XP MCE “is closely related to the hardware “.

What immediately raised controversy is the fact that in Windows XP Media Center Microsoft has integrated cryptographic and digital rights management (DRM) functions to protect content, technologies already widely included in the standard version of Windows XP, kept up-to-date. through the latest service pack and updates downloaded from the Windows Media Player, as well as at the heart of the Palladium project.

One of the protections most criticized by users, the one that prevented the copying of TV program recordings, has been partially eliminated, even if, as explained in more detail in this article, Microsoft has seen fit to use a semi-proprietary format that places however some limitations in the use of these files.

Windows XP Media Center also supports a new Hollywood-backed anti-copy system called CGMS / A which, although currently only used by a few American television channels, may become standard in the future.