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September 27, 2007

Streaming Internet Content with Internet TV Beta to Windows Media Center

On September 28th, users of Windows Media Center for Windows Vista (in the U.S. at this time) will see a new option under “TV + Movies” – the beta version of Internet TV. Internet TV Beta streams high-quality video content from MSN Video ( which just relaunched with new features and enhancements) through the internet to Windows Media Center.  I got an opportunity to take an early look at Internet TV and want to share my experience.

When first launched – Internet TV took me to the Top Picks category. Internet TV consists of 6 main categories: Top Picks, Movies, Music, Entertainment, Sports, and News. These categories have sub-categories or “sections” in which content is divided into:

Top Picks: Top Picks are the top picks of content from all 6 categories. Top picks from movie trailers to concerts to TV shows are located here. There is some great picks here to check out like the Halo 3 “Believe” trailer (one of the coolest trailers ever) and the trailer to the upcoming Batman sequel The Dark Knight.

Movies: Here is where I was able to check out movie trailers to movies currently at the box office as well as movies that are “coming soon” and on DVD. If you are looking to head out to a movie and want to see what is at the box office – you can easily fire up Internet TV to quickly check out some trailers before heading out.

Music: Under music, I was able to check out concerts from artists like John Mayer, Maroon 5, Snoop Dogg, Chris Cornell, and Velvet Revolver. The concerts are pretty sweet. You also can watch top music videos. I’ve never seen the music video to the Bee Gees song “Stayin’ Alive” until today. I also checked out “Rockstar” by Nickelback and “Last Fight” by Velvet Revolver.

Entertainment: With the Entertainment category you get complete TV show episodes such as “Arrested Development”. I was able to view the shows by channels – with channels such as A&E, bio, The History Channel, NBC Today, Food Network, HGTV, DIY, National Geographic, Fine Living and MSN TV. Under MSN TV I discovered clips to some top TV shows like “Heroes” and the new “Bionic Woman”. It is nice to see short clips from shows – especially if you might be interested in checking out some of these shows. There is also a section called “Shorts” where you can view short videos from places such as iFilm.

Sports: Sports fans will love this section. I was able to view clips from the latest games across the board. And there are dedicated sections for NFL news and NCAA Football.

News: This section consists of news clips from the latest current events. There is a section dedicated to top news as well as the 2008 election. Those who are watching the 2008 election closely will find the dedicated election section quite nice.

All the content loaded up in high quality and looked quite nice. There was some brief time in accessing the content as it loads or buffers but once the content is playing – it’s playing in some pretty high quality. The content is designed and optimized for broadband streaming so having a broadband connection is required for the best results. I was also able to use my Xbox 360 acting as an Extender to use Internet TV as well. The new Media Center Extenders from D-Link, Linksys, HP and Niveus Media announced today all support Internet TVso you can watch the content on TV sets around your home.

Internet TV is beta and should show up in Windows Media Center for users with Windows Vista Home Premium and Ultimate on September 28th. During the beta trial, the Media Center team will experiment with the content on offer, and with advertising. At this time, Internet TV is available to users in the U.S.