Microsoft wows Windows 7 crowd with Internet TV

While most of the Windows 7 features demo'd at today's New York City launch were already known about far and wide, Microsoft surprised a lot of the crowd with Internet TV, a streaming media capability that just might some day spur consumers to ditch pricey cable TV services like Time Warner and Cablevision.

Internet TV lets you stream video and audio programming directly into Windows 7 Media Center, without the hassles of going to myriad Web sites and downloading multiple players, said Microsoft rep Brian Yee, in an interview with Betanews at the Microsoft bash.

Actually, Internet TV has been under development at Microsoft since way back in September of 2007. Netflix started showing up as a Media Center partner in January of this year, and was soon streaming some of movies into the Vista version. In May, Internet TV for Media Center officially entered beta 2. With today's release of Windows 7, though, the feature finally leaves beta testing behind.

In demos today after company CEO Steve Ballmer's keynote, Microsoft showed Internet TV working together with Play To, a new function in Windows 7 that uses the DLNA 1.5 protocol to send streaming content from a PC to other home-networked devices.

Microsoft representative Brian Yee demonstrates Internet TV for Windows Media Center in Windows 7, during the big rollout event in New York City, October 22, 2009. [Photo credit: Jacqueline Emigh, Betanews]

Sitting on a couch set up in a mock "living room," Yee clicked on icons in a Windows 7-enabled Acer laptop to beam videos from services like Netflix, MSN, and sundry CBS Audience Network properties to an HDTV from LG and two D-Link digital photo frames. He also sent tunes streamed in from Microsoft's Full Zune Podcast Library to a remote audio system a few feet further away.

As for Netflix, Internet TV only works with those movies marked as streaming-enabled.

The CBS Audience Network videos -- consisting of current TV shows, CBS Classics, short clips, and "Web originals" -- are available in the US only, whereas Sky Network content is available in the UK only, said Yee.

"But we're also really interested in Internet TV partnerships with other entertainment content providers," noted the Microsoft rep.

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