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MS to ship Media Center ‘special edition’ of XP in Q4

It's that remote control unit called Freestyle really...

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Ah, the perils of automation. At 0512 GMT this morning a Reuters story headlined "Microsoft to release new multimedia edition Windows XP" winged its way to the company's customers. And then about 30 minutes later a bulletin from Reuters headlined "TECH-MICROSOFT-XP ADVISORY" seems to have headed to the same customers, saying, er, the story "is embargoed for publication until 1100 GMT on Tuesday July 16."

The original story had of course already escaped, and currently graces the pages of Forbes and the Hindustan Times. We expect the good Reuters customers at ZD-CNET will be poised to join in just as soon as they're up, but remember, good customers at ZD-CNET, you're embargoed until 1100 GMT.

We at The Register are not Reuters customers, so are not subject to even a scintilla of an embargo. How do we know about the embargo bit then? Well, the bots/nightshift at Forbes seem to have reacted to its issuance by just publishing it, here. Strewth, this sort of stuff doesn't half cheer you up first thing in the morning.

You've all been very patient, sorry, you want to know about the XP story, don't you? Well, basically Microsoft has rechristened Freestyle Windows XP Media Center and proposes to ship it as a special edition of XP in time for this year's holiday season. It won't be sold separately, allegedly because it's "closely tied to the hardware." We do not, however, altogether understand this because although XP Media Center PCs come with a special remote control and all the hardware you'd need to make them audio-video media centres, it would surely not be beyond the wit of Microsoft to sell it bundled with a remote. But then it wouldn't be giving its special friends in the PC industry a clear run at this compelling package aimed at the youth market, and priced from $1,000-$2,000.

The remote unit has a start button on it, and this gives you a special control display on the screen. This may well turn out to be the new UI originally promised for Freestyle. Yes, we fear it must be. HP, NEC and Samsung get the name checks in the Reuters piece, which also claims the 'new OS' will "debut in stores in the United States, Canada and South Korea in time for this year's US holiday season."

So what did the rest of the world do wrong? We've no idea. Unless plans have changed XP Media Center software will also be bundled into XP SP1, so it'll be possible to have it without the new PC if you don't mind not having the special remote that produces the control display. So what is it, if you take these two away? We've very little idea of this either. XP with SP1 applied? ®

Related stories:
WinXP SP1 to combine new goodies with the fixes
Gates pitches Mira and 'Freestyle' XP extensions in home

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