XP Media Center 'Emerald' Nears the Finish Line By Deborah Rothberg Updated: Microsoft's refresh of its home-entertainment-hub operating system could go gold in August. http://www.microsoft-watch.com/article2/0,2180,1830542,00.asp Microsoft is in the final stretches of testing an update to Windows XP Media Center 2005 expected to ship this fall. ADVERTISEMENT Earlier this week, the Windows enthusiast site Neowin.net reported that Microsoft was set to release to manufacturing the product code-named "Emerald" in August. Microsoft announced in May that it was readying a free software update to Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 that would enable customers to take advantage of the Media Center Extender technologies built into Xbox 360 gaming systems. The update is currently at the Beta 2 test stage, according to Neowin.net, Neowin said the update will include the following: * Native digital cable support; * Content protection; * Improved burning (digital-rights management, network, Hi-def , DVD-RAM); * Platform security; and * Support for additional languages and locales "Adding features like native digital cable support would be useful and make the platform more compelling. The other (features) would make the user experience better," said Michael Cherry, Senior Analyst at Directions on Microsoft. "More than likely digital cable will be the primary draw, with compression and content licensing," said McLaws. "If you are able to record a purely digital show from start to finish, then I would expect they might have some DRM worked in there, too." Others felt that the Xbox 360 support will be the strongest feature of Windows XP Media Center 2005 update. "The thing that will drive people to get this version of Windows is Xbox 360, which will reportedly incorporate the capability to act as a Media Center Extender. If someone's getting a new Xbox, this will be an attractive addition," said Bott. ------------------------------------------------------ The update will support 200-disc DVD changers that will come to market this fall, and will add a provision for a second high-definition tuner card for handling high-definition video and HDTV signals. It will also add a new "Away Mode," that will allow Media Center PCs to be shut down and started back up immediatelywhereas it takes a few seconds to awake from sleep or hibernate modesat the touch of a button, the sources said. ----------------------- The next big Media Center Edition release, code-named "Diamond," will be available in the Longhorn timeframe, and also for the Tablet PC, according to sources. My comment. Great, MCE is getting better and better, AWAY mode rocks for me. It's so utterley useful.