Internet TV and Media Centerâ€™s and WebGuide were released for Media Center today.
Both services will be available free of charge to Media Center owners. â€œItâ€™s a good example of how the Media Center platform keeps evolving,â€ says Scott Evans, group manager in the Entertainment and Devices eHome Division at Microsoft. â€œIt adds value for people who bought Media Center.â€
The new Internet TV featureâ€”accessible through a tab on the Media Center home page next to â€œRecorded TVâ€â€”is supported by advertising. Internet-based content such as TV reruns and sporting events can be accessed just like any other show available through Media Center.
ITV should not be confused with Microsoftâ€™s IPTV service, now called Mediaroom. Available through broadband providers, Mediaroom is an IP-based alternative to traditional cable and satellite content delivery. It is a non-PC solution that delivers programming guides, content and other services directly through the TV via a proprietary settop box.
The ITV offering, on the other hand, is a simply a way to push some IP-based content to Media Center PCs.
The other new feature, called WebGuide, is a third-party application that does what Slingbox does, and a whole lot more. Like Slingbox, it is a time-shifting, place-shifting TV viewing solution, but it also lets users schedule TV recordings, access music collections, and in short do pretty much everything you can do with a Media Center â€¦ via any Web browser, whether inside the home or from a hotel room halfway around the world.
A labor of love by founder Doug Berrett, Web Guide has been highly lauded in Media Center circles, and practically free at $18 for a download. Now it is actually free. Just download it onto your Media Center, and begin accessing it from anything that has a Web browser, from a PC to a cell phone.
In fact, WebGuide does a few things that Media Center alone doesnâ€™t do. For example, you can set up an RSS feed for your recorded TV shows, and access them with one click from a Sidebar gadget on your PC desktop.
The service is just one more reason to dump Slingbox and TiVo for that matter. TiVoâ€™s remote access service is slow and laborious. Web Guide is almost as fast as being there.