Wired Editor in Chief Chris Anderson on XBox 360 as a Media Center Extender

The Long Tail: First take: XBox 360 Media Center extender The Media Center Extender functionality of the new XBox 360 is to me the most exciting feature of all. As a non gamer (perhaps not for long) I plan on picking several of these up for my home shortly. Chris Anderson just got his and has a write up about the new box and also reflects on what this might mean for Microsoft’s chances to become the leader in in-home media distribution:

“I never thought I’d say this, but by the standards in this industry Microsoft is actually looking relatively innovative (Apple is playing catch-up with Front Row, but until it comes up with its own version of the extender concept to distribute content easily to TVs around the house, it won’t have broad appeal).

What’s important about the Media Center is that it takes the DVR concept and extends it to all forms of content, whether broadcast or downloaded from the Web. By having a broadband-connected PC at its core, it’s by nature a full-featured connected device that can keep up with the pace of innovation in digital media online. If the Xbox 360 and the new content marketplaces of its associated Xbox Live service continue to take off, we really could have the beginnings of a Long Tail platform that could challenge broadcast TV.”

Combined with CableCARD HDTV support in 2006, enhanced digital photography capabilities and indexing in Vista (tagging, photo sharing, faster music libraries, etc.), larger cheaper hard drives and 64 bit computing, the extender functionality (along with the ability to stream high def), and an open development platform for new and exciting internet based content, Microsoft finally has the killer home entertainment PC. There will probably still be bugs to work out and ways to fine tune this platform, but by next year we should be 98% of the way there and ready for mainstream Media Center adoption — exciting indeed.