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Microsoft Freestyle transforms into: a consumer XP version

On Thursday Microsoft is expected to officially announce the version of Windows XP for consumer electronics, combining features of a TV, digital VCR, audiocenter, and a media player with a desktop PC. The system, previously codenamed Freestyle, will be officially called Windows XP Media Center Edition.

As you know, only three OEM makers supported this idea first. Hewlett-Packard and Samsung Electronics will start to sell their MS Freestyle-based PCs in fall in USA and Korea, respectively. NEC will start selling its systems in Japan next year. By the way, the new OS won´t be shipped to users as a standalone product.

Note the design of such a PC from Hewlett-Packard: HP Media Center PC features a stylish minitower, IEEE 1394 and USB 2.0 are on the front panel. It also features S-Video, 6-in-1 card reader. Inside: 2GHz and higher Pentium 4, NVIDIA GeForce4 graphics, Klipsch acoustics, DVD-RW, various software. Such system will cost $1500 — $2000.

On Thursday Microsoft is also expected to officially announce a beta of its next-generation Windows Media. Windows Media 9, previously codenamed MS Corona, will include a new video codec (supporting 720x1280, 24 fps, four times better compression comparing to MPEG-2), a new Windows Media Professional audio codec (5.1-channel 24-bit / 96 kHz sound over IP). Other details are to follow tomorrow.

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