March 9, 2005 9:00 PM PST

Microsoft takes Media Center to more countries

Microsoft is sending its Windows XP Media Center operating system on a world tour.

The software maker plans to offer the entertainment-oriented operating system in 19 additional countries, as well as Hong Kong.

Microsoft will sell versions of Media Center in Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, India, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Singapore, Slovakia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan and Turkey. Those countries and Hong Kong will get the new operating system later in 2005.


Sony has outfitted its Vaio R series desktop
line to run Windows XP Media Center 2005.
Click here for the story.

The news will likely please consumers in those countries who want a Media Center PC, as well as computer makers that want additional places to sell their products. Still, the move is unlikely to push the needle much further in terms of overall sales of the operating system. That's because Media Center is already available in most of the largest PC-consuming countries, including the United States, Canada, China, South Korea and several European countries.

"It's not going to tremendously boost sales, to be honest, because we are working our way down the list of big markets," said Media Center product manager Tom Laemmel. At the same time, expansion is important if Media Center is to evolve from niche product to mainstream operating system.

"It shows that trend of Media Center growing up and becoming a regular version of Windows," Laemmel said.

Media Center is similar to other versions of Windows XP, but it adds a second interface where users can display pictures, play music, watch videos or record television shows using a remote control.

In January, Microsoft said it had seen a 40 percent rise in sales since the October debut of the newest version of Media Center. As of that point, Microsoft had sold 1.4 million copies of the operating system.

Laemmel said he did not have an update on sales since then.

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Microsoft fear the support problems of MCE
Microsoft cannot make up their minds on this product. On the one hand Gates talks about convergence in the home but in reality Microsoft customer support (it does exist) fears that it will be swamped by consumers asking for help on TV recording, DVD burning etc.

For example in the UK, Microsoft has been dragging its heals on marketing and supporting this product. To date there has been little or no consumer marketing effort or any budgets of worth applied.

To make matters worse there is no coordination between Microsoft USA and UK. In the US the media extender technology has been launched(not perfect but a good add on) which enables consumers to connect their home MCE PC in the study/den link to the TV or other devices. In the UK Microsoft will launch this at xmas 2005 maybe?

When asked why the delay in localising to the English speaking UK, Microsoft UK say it is because they have not seen an up sell in demand for Media PC's so no point in pushing the extender. All because they have not educated the consumer market as to what a Media PC can do? As far as consumers are concerned a Media Centre PC is more expensive version of Windows XP only PC's.

Bottom-line Gates at the top talks the talk but his foot troops do not walk the walk. Slow localisation is only because they fear the pandora's box syndrome. If they let out the media centre and it is successful they will face heavy support costs, security issues and even worse copyright issues.

So for Microsoft it is slowly slowly catchy monkey. No wonder they have so little up-take or revenue from this platform.

Like all Microsoft products I await version three (MCE 2006) this hopefully will be the product for the mass market consumer and launched worldwide simultaneously!
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Taiwan is a part of China
I have to tell the editor that Taiwan is not country,but a region of China.
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