Intel and Microsoft in the Living Room

WSJ writes about their efforts to position themselves the PC as an entertainment hub, and the battle ahead with the TV manufacturers:

The two giants will detail their latest assault at this week’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. There they plan to discuss a series of products that they say will make it easier to use PCs to organize movies, music and television shows while shuttling that media around the home. The announcements should also serve as a stepping stone in the two companies’ decade-long quest to embed Microsoft software and Intel microchips directly into televisions.

Traditional makers of everything from stereos to DVD players are fighting to defend their turf. What they fear most is the rise of a single PC, rather than gadgets designed by these companies, as the hub for controlling how consumers view photos, channel-surf or listen to music.

These companies believe their own devices will be easier and more enjoyable to use than the PC, which they view as a business tool that is prone to suffer from bugs, viruses and crashes.

The PC leaders are gaining momentum from the rapid transformation of music, photographs and movies into digital formats, which consumers are using computers to manage and manipulate. Hardware makers have already developed dozens of products to help transfer digital media from PCs to TVs and other devices around the home, often using wireless networks. The trend creates a new opportunity for versions of Microsoft Windows to become a navigation tool on TV screens.

A sidebar details the specific efforts made by the two companies:

Media Center PCs: Computers, such as Gateway’s 610, that can play and record TV programming and let consumers manage music, photos and videos with a remote control.

Wireless networking: New technology helps transfer digital content from PCs to TVs and other devices in the living room.

TV chips: Intel is introducing its first chips for making large-screen TVs that use rear-projection technology.

Windows media: Microsoft is promoting a format for compressing high-definition video images for use in DVDs, PCs and other products.

Content protection: Intel is trying to convince movie studios and other media companies to adopt a technology for preventing unauthorized copying of digital images.

Portable media centers: Forthcoming gadgets based on a version of Microsoft Windows that can display digital photos and videos as well as play music.

The promised world of convergence is finally coming, and both Intel and Microsoft are in search of new markets.

Published by

Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.