SciTech

Microsoft to exhibit new products at Carnegie Science Center

by Bhas Nalabothula
Junior Staffwriter

Microsoft is bringing its Windows on Wheels demonstration, featuring the Windows XP Media Center PC experience, to the Carnegie Science Center tomorrow from 10 am to 5 pm. The Microsoft ?WoW Experience? is billed by its public relations firm as ?a glimpse of today?s modern digital home, featuring the latest modern technology that links your personal entertainment experience? The exhibit?s trailer has transparent Plexiglas walls and a 360-degree view. The technologies on display will include digital entertainment centers, tablet PCs, pocket PCs, and other Microsoft products. The trailer will be completely open, with knowledgeable staff on board to answer any questions.
Windows XP Media Center 2005 is the newest edition of the Media Center series. The software integrated into the operating system (OS) is designed to employ entertainment that will turn a single PC into a TV set, digital video recorder (DVR), DVD player, jukebox and photo album. All but the DVR functionality are readily available on most PCs, but Media Center hopes to unify and simplify them, as well as making the whole package much more practical with the addition of a remote control.
The exhibit is designed to connect directly with consumers, allowing them to have a hands-on look at all of the home entertainment benefits: recording and re-watching TV shows, collecting and presenting photos and home videos, playing PC games, listening to music and online broadcasts, planning workouts and tracking fitness progress, following sports teams? activities, and more ? all with a single remote. Comparable open source alternatives to Media Center exist, such as MythTV, but many are not nearly as user-friendly in application or setup. The Media Center OS has garnered critical support from such publications as PC Magazine, which awarded it ?best of show? at Digital Life 2004. That support is likely due to its particularly good hardware, especially with regard to the TV tuner. The TV tuner is appealing in the college environment, where space is very valuable, but it might not always be the best choice for a productive .
TiVo is established in the personal video recorder market because it is focused on usability, just like Media Center, but the monthly fee associated with TiVo can be a point of contention for many customers. Consumers deciding to upgrade their systems should consider the Media Center OS if they think the functionality it provides would be helpful, based on their regular activities.
The WoW Experience will be traveling through 30 regions in America over the next four months. Visit www.windows-experience.com for more details.