Introducing Windows Media Center

About three months ago, I purchased a computer running a relatively new version of Windows, called Media Center (the US spelling is deliberate). Media Center is actually just a program that sits on top of Windows XP, yet its features are incredible. It now acts as a photo album, jukebox, fishtank, DVD player, games console and digital TV with built-in recorder.

It is this last point that promises to be the most disruptive and revolutionary force in media. If you compare how many CDs you buy (or used to buy before you could download the music via Napster or iTunes) to how many TV shows you watch (in most cases much more TV), you gain a perspective of the wide-ranging effects the internet could bring to 'big media'. Commercially, Australian TV advertising (free to air only) is valued at $3.2bn per year, compared to music sales of just over $500m. If the internet had a big effect on the music business, it is understandable why TV companies worry about the internet encroaching on their turf.

How will this technology mess with television media? There are two main aspects at play - time-shifting and content sharing (or downloading).

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