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To prove the Microsoft relationship is more than skin deep, News Corp’s UK subsidiary, BSkyB - the leading satellite broadcaster with eight-million customers - has also signed up with Microsoft.

This deal is to bring broadband-served content directly into the existing Sky homes. Sky really launched this service last year and is just re-launching it. Essentially, if you are a Sky customer you can also download the same programmes to a Media Center PC to play on the PC or other device (like your TV or portable player).

This is just PR for the sake of it. A version already exists for non-Media Center PCs, so this is mostly whitewash. However, it does show that the two are working together across the world.

Bill Gates, in his keynote CES address, waxed lyrical about the Media Center, but that’s his job - to push the products that Microsoft are having trouble selling.

As if to underline NDS' annoyance at the apparently close links with Microsoft, it showed its own Xspace software at CES, describing it as an entertainment server that can stream HD content to three different rooms at once - in effect, it is a multi-room DVR.

NDS showed the prototype, called the Home AV Center II, in partnership with both Samsung and Broadcom with five tuners, a 300 GB hard drive, IP connectivity, two USB 2.0 ports, router capabilities and VoIP.

The new server can handle multi-room High Definition programming transfer video, music, games and photos between the DVR and portable devices, and can control a range of peripheral devices, such as printers and security cameras, and looks every bit a competitor to the Microsoft Media Center. Go figure.

Copyright © 2006, Faultline

Faultline is published by Rethink Research, a London-based publishing and consulting firm. This weekly newsletter is an assessment of the impact of the week's events in the world of digital media. Faultline is where media meets technology. Subscription details here.

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