Many people are buying new computers with Windows XP Media Center Edition – it’s the version pre-installed on most consumer PCs these days. Its most visible feature is essentially a program named “Media Center” that takes over the screen to provide an oversized interface for photos, music, TV and movies.

Windows XP Media Center Edition is designed for the living room, to be used with a high-definition screen and a remote control, but almost no one has taken that step yet. It’s not obvious why you’d use an interface designed for a living room couch while you’re sitting at your desk but it doesn’t hurt and Windows is otherwise identical.

Intel is marketing a collection of hardware and services under the brand name “Viiv” (rhymes with “five”), and promising that it will be the center of your digital media world. This article in the Washington Post debunks the marketing pretty thoroughly.

In essence, “Viiv” is a short list of hardware requirements from Intel for manufacturing a living room computer. The requirements don’t vary much from what any manufacturer would choose for itself. And the operating system for Viiv is – Windows XP Media Center. From your perspective, there’s nothing that will distinguish a Viiv computer from any other computer running Windows XP Media Center.

Windows XP Media Center is fascinating technology and might well wind up in your living room someday. (I’ll be writing up my experiences with a true Media Center PC, the HP Z558 Digital Entertainment Center.)

Intel’s Viiv is nice but it doesn’t add anything interesting. There’s no reason to avoid it, but no reason to search for it.

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