Microsoft connects Windows PCs, TVs with Xbox 360 console

New York (NY) - Microsoft today released the Update Rollup 2 for its Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 system, which enables users to stream digital content - including high-definition video - to any TV the console is connected to. The update is available as a free download.

Microsoft is following through with promises to take its next-generation gaming console beyond the functionality of a gaming device. The update enable consumers for the first time to wirelessly stream digital music, videos, photos, and standard and high-definition content from Media Center PCs to TVs - provided they are connected to the new game console and the content's digital rights management (DRM) settings allow such a transfer.

Microsoft said that the technology will enable consumers to a get "instant access to thousands of on-demand movies, music and videos available on the Media Center PC." Such access to digital content is believed to spur the next wave of growth for technology companies and content providers. However, access to content is still limited as content and IT industry have not yet published a general DRM technology foundation that can be implemented industry-wide. For example, the "Coral Consortium," considered to be the leading industry body to develop a common DRM standard, announced the creation of a DRM spec 1.0 in February of this year - but details mave not been made available to the public until today.

While content owners typically try to lock down the use of content as much as possible, technology firms need to open access as much as possible to create a reason for consumers to adopt new entertainment hardware and software. DRM already is in place in various flavors - such as HDCP, which prevents high-definition content from being copied.

Besides the interface to the Xbox 360, Microsoft's Update Rollup 2 comes with a few features, such as DVD changer support that allows access to up to 200 DVDs, an "away mode" that brings "instant on/off functionality," improved DVD burning capabilities and support for a second HDTV tuner, according to the company.

The update can be downloaded via