Ease on DVD Rec in Media Center

Microsoft Corp. announced yesterday that it is easing the DVD-copying restrictions it planned to build into new entertainment software coming out this fall, in response to consumer protests. Windows XP Media Center Edition, a variation on the Windows XP operating system, combines the functions of a television set, stereo and personal computer and marks Microsoft's most ambitious effort yet to bring the personal computer into the living room.

Media Center incorporates the sort of digital video recording that has become increasingly popular in products such as TiVo and ReplayTV. It also gives people an opportunity to burn copies of their favorite shows onto blank CDs or DVDs. Until this week, however, Microsoft's engineers had developed Media Center so that people could watch their newly minted DVDs only on one device -- the one used to make the recording.

The restrictive policy was intended to mollify Hollywood, which has protested strongly against technologies that could make it easier for consumers to make perfect digital copies of television shows or movies. But Microsoft said yesterday that it is changing the restrictions so that Media Center users will be able to play discs containing recorded content on any PC that runs the company's Windows Media 9 Series player and the latest version of Windows XP. Microsoft said it hopes to make the playback of discs possible on consumer DVD players by the end of the year.

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News source: Bink WindowsXP

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