Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) is going in a hyper-announcement mode: it is announcing its plans to help launch a new line of “media extenders”, which are TV set-top boxes which will connect wirelessly to PCs running the Home Premium or Ultimate flavors of Windows Vista and enable users to use their TV sets to watch movies, online video and other content stores on PCs. Essentially something like Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) iTV…MSFT launched a different line of extenders a few years ago for the Windows XP Media Center Edition, but it never took off.
Some companies launching these extenders are Cisco Systems (NSDQ: CSCO)’ Linksys and will cost $300. Linksys will have another model with a built-in DVD player for $350, a price matched by D-Link’s model, which lacks a DVD player but includes a USB port for viewing photos and other content stored on flash drives or hard drives, reports AP. They will go on sale in holiday season, the company said.
Also, HP plans to provide a software download early next year for its MediaSmart line of HD TV sets that will expand their capabilities to match those of the extenders, including do things like pause live TV.
In a related announcement, to push these devices, MSFT is also launching a new ad-supported video service for its Windows Media Center platform. The beta service will initially bring about 100 hours of full-screen and on-demand MSN Video content to Media Center users’ monitors and TVs (via these extenders).
More details on the extenders and the new video service are here in the release.