“The traveling ‘Windows on Wheels’ exhibition, parked at dusk outside the Micro Center electronics palace on Memorial Drive, is jam-packed with wary Christmas shoppers checking out Microsoft Corp.’s lit-up vision of their entertainment future,” Robert Weisman reports for The Boston Globe. “At the center of this multimedia extravaganza is… a Windows XP Media Center personal computer built by Hewlett-Packard Development Co. but powered by Microsoft’s ubiquitous operating system. It controls the action on the 50-inch Panasonic screen in the family room and, through a set-top box ‘extension,’ a screen in the kitchen. In a third room, set up as an office, another multimedia screen works off an Xbox console serving as a second extension.”
“‘It’s too early,’ said Erez Leshem, a Somerville business consultant who thinks computer-based entertainment eventually will gain traction. ‘The way I go is to wait a year. I’m not an early adopter.’ ‘The idea is great, but it’s still a little rough around the edges,’ said Jonathan Birge, an MIT graduate student from Cambridge who clicked on a selection of broadcasts from MSN Radio. ‘And it makes me nervous that it’s Microsoft. They’re already choosing stuff for you,'” Weisman reports.
“While more consumers already are using PCs to view video, and many are embracing the ‘anything, any time, anywhere’ mantra, Microsoft’s computer-centric entertainment vision is by no means a sure bet… ‘It’s premature to know which (if any) device will become the centerpiece of the digital family room of the future,’ Steven Milunovich, a Merrill Lynch analyst in New York, wrote in the report. ‘Still, we doubt that PCs (even Media Center PCs) will win because they are too complex and unstable. It strikes us as more likely that either the game console will move up-market to become the leading entertainment device or a new system we dub the entertainment server will be created,'” Weisman reports.
“Microsoft, which has bet heavily on the PC model, nonetheless could capitalize on the gaming console scenario through its Xbox 2, which is scheduled to be introduced next year. But it’s just as likely Sony could get the edge with its Playstation 3 console, or that Apple Computer Inc. could develop an entertainment server. However it evolves, the future of the entertainment center will have implications for everyone from microprocessor and data storage providers to software developers to consumers trying to make sense of the dizzying options,” Weisman reports.
Full article here.