'Freestyle' Named Windows XP Media Center Edition

Microsoft today formally unveiled the fifth version of Windows XP, dubbed Media Center Edition. Previously code-named Freestyle, Windows XP MCE is designed to turn a standard PC into a full-fledged entertainment center integrating digital music and video, photos, DVD playback, live television and PVR capability - all accessed via remote control.

"The PC has evolved from a tool for productivity to a device capable of entertainment, communications and so much more," said Microsoft's vice president of the Windows eHome Division, Michael Toutonghi.

"Consumers desire more fun and enjoyment from their PC and want it to contribute to their lives even more creatively than it does today. The time is right for Windows XP Media Center Edition; it maps to our vision of realizing potential with technology in ways people may not have thought possible," Toutonghi said.

While Media Center Edition is simply Windows XP at its core, it adds an integrated application logically called Media Center. "Designed to be viewed from across the room, Media Center will provide users with the freedom to enjoy television, entertainment and digital media experiences from their couch, chair, bed or kitchen table. The sleek visual design will offer a clean and familiar look with a consistent navigation and playback experience, making accessing entertainment easier and more convenient," according to Microsoft.

Currently in beta testing, Media Center Edition is scheduled ship to OEMs by the holiday season for bundling with new PCs, although it will not be made available directly to consumers. Windows XP Service Pack 1 -- slated to be available for download in early September -- will contain some of the underlying technology found in MCE, but Windows users must upgrade if they wish to use Media Center.

Microsoft has put together a video showing Windows XP Media Center in action, along with screenshots of the Media Center application.

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