Windows sequel gets set to entertain

Microsoft plans to start testing a new version of its Windows XP Media Center edition, a customized operating system designed for entertainment-oriented PCs.

The software, code-named Symphony, is likely to make its way later this year onto new entertainment-oriented PCs, according to analysts. Microsoft recently sent a request seeking beta testers to put an early version of Symphony through its paces. "We are starting out (with) some initial beta testing," Megan Kidd, a product manager for Microsoft's eHome division, told CNET News.com. Kidd declined to say when the software would be made available.

Media Center and Tablet PC, the other customized version of Windows XP, are taking on added importance for Microsoft, which is still years away from shipping the next major release of Windows, code-named Longhorn. The company has said it plans this year to bring out a new version of its Tablet PC software, code-named Lonestar. By contrast, the mainstay editions of Windows XP are only due for a service pack this year, adding security enhancements and other modest changes. Jupiter Research analyst Michael Gartenberg said that he expects Media Center to play an increasingly central role in Microsoft's consumer PC efforts. "In the next 18 months some variant of the Windows Media Center OS is going to become the consumer OS," Gartenberg said.

News source: C|Net News.com

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