Hardware

Microsoft Launches PC Entertainment Devices

In a bid to bolster its move from the office to the living room, Microsoft today said it would unveil two new hardware devices for PC entertainment.

Microsoft Hardware has developed a three-in-one control center for a Windows XP-based Media Center PC with remote, keyboard and mouse capabilities in one device designed exclusively for the living room.

For digital camera owners, Microsoft is also introducing a mouse, keyboard and digital image software suite designed to act as a virtual darkroom.

“We create hardware for how and where people use their PC,” said Tom Gibbons, general manager of the Hardware Group at Microsoft. “With this in mind, we designed two new devices to enhance the digital entertainment activities people are now enjoying, such as playing movies on their Media Center and editing digital photos.”

Remote Control

Microsoft said its Remote Keyboard for Windows XP Media Center Edition enables greater interaction and control of a Media Center PC compared with a regular remote. This three-in-one device allows users to turn up the volume, type a message, or point and click with the fully integrated remote, keyboard and mouse capabilities.

Matt Rosoff, lead analyst for the Consumer Products & Services division of Directions on Microsoft, told TechNewsWorld that a keyboard designed to work with Media Center PC is an important part of the company’s overall support for the hardware.

“Microsoft is doing a lot of things across the company to support the idea of the Media Center PC,” Rosoff said. “People want to be able to type instant messages and you can’t do that as easily with a remote control as you can with a keyboard. That’s the need that’s being served here.”

Cut, Crop, Click

Meanwhile, Microsoft’s Wireless Optical Desktop 5000 includes a wireless keyboard, mouse and photo editing software that allows users to access, edit and share digital photos on a PC.

The keyboard comes equipped with PhotoCenter, featuring one-touch access to most-used photo-editing functions and Zoom Slider to zoom into and out of photos.

The wireless optical mouse is designed to compliment the keyboard with its new Magnifier tool, which enlarges any section of the screen for easier viewing and editing. With the inclusion of new Digital Image Standard 2006 software, this integrated hardware and software solution delivers tools needed to customize photos while reducing the number of editing steps.

The products will launch in September with prices set at US$104.95.

Embracing the Digital Revolution

Rosoff said Microsoft rolled out its Media Center PC slowly, but predicts this hardware will become more ubiquitous in the next five years. In fact, he said it’s entirely possible that the Media Center will be a higher profile standard in the next version of Windows as opposed to a special purpose operating system.

“The last big [computer adoption] wave was the Internet and e-mail. Now you have people with four- and five-year-old PCs,” Rosoff said. “What’s the next scenario that’s going to get consumers to upgrade? Microsoft is betting heavily on audio and video and pictures.”

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