Microsoft Corp, working with tuner manufacturer Hauppauge Computer Works Inc, today announced the launch of the first Freeview-certified, PC-based TV solution. With Windows Media Center, found on all PCs running Windows Vista Home Premium and Windows Vista Ultimate, and Windows Media Center TV Pack, Microsoft will now be able to offer UK consumers best-in-class interactive and enhanced TV paired with some of the best personal video recorder (PVR) features available on the market today.
Freeview support is one of the major Digital Video Broadcasting (DVB) enhancements of the Windows Media Center TV Pack, an update released to OEMs worldwide on 16 July 2008, with targeted optimisations for TV standards in Europe. Other enhancements of this update include support for Digital Video Broadcasting-Satellite (DVB-S), improved guide and playback experience, great PVR auto-extend support, and the flexibility of support for multiple TV standards.
"The launch of our Freeview-enabled solution is a great addition to Windows Media Center, allowing us to reach more users and add real value to TV consumers and broadcasters," said John Curran, director, Windows Client Group, Microsoft UK. "We are dedicated to improving Windows Media Center for customers worldwide, and this addition of Freeview as a platform and brand will offer a real benefit to our partners and consumers. We see this as a critical step to building awareness and setting a standard for great TV experiences on the PC."
Windows Media Center with Windows Media Center TV Pack was certified as Freeview-compliant by the Digital TV Group Ltd, the industry association for digital TV in the UK. The certification was made in coordination with Hauppauge, which certified its HVR 2200 tuner as part of the same programme. Together, the components offer a complete Freeview TV solution for the PC, joining existing manufacturers of Freeview equipment such as Humax Company Ltd, Philips, Panasonic Consumer Electronics Co, Sony Corp and many more.
The Windows Media Center TV Pack enhancements for the European market, and ultimately Freeview certification, were driven out of Microsoft's European Development Center, established in 2005 to specifically develop software tailored to the European market. This dedicated European team will continue to focus on interoperability with free-to-air European digital television as part of its commitment to European customers and DVB, the European standards organisation.
"The expansion in service of Freeview digital terrestrial TV has created consumer demand for more advanced PC-TV solutions," said Ken Plotkin, CEO, Hauppauge. "Our Freeview-certified dual tuner, WinTV-HVR-2200, provides Windows Media Center with the ability to record one Freeview digital TV programme while it displays another TV programme on the PC screen."
The Freeview logo is also a statement of the quality of Microsoft and Hauppauge solutions. The Freeview certification effectively kicks off a programme that will enable PC OEMs and additional tuner manufacturers to launch Freeview-branded PCs with Windows Media Center in the UK.
Freeview is managed by DTV Services Ltd, a company owned and run by its five shareholders -- British Broadcasting Corp, BSkyB Ltd, ITV plc and National Grid Wireless. DTV Services launched in October 2002 and provides up to 48 free-to-air digital TV channels, up to 24 radio stations and interactive services through an aerial. There is no subscription for the service.
"The addition of a Freeview-enabled PC further increases and enriches the number of ways viewers can access Freeview's subscription-free TV channels," said Cheryl Sloan, Freeview's director of strategy and new product development. "Microsoft and Hauppauge have made a great step toward connecting PCs in the home to the Freeview experience, allowing PC users to enjoy the UK's most popular TV platform. We look forward to collaborating with them both to ensure its successful entry to the UK market."
Windows Media Center TV Pack will be demonstrated at IBC2008, 12-16 Sept, at the Microsoft booth in the Topaz Lounge. Visitors to the booth will have the opportunity to experience the latest solution as well as other elements of the product such as broadcast broadband integration.