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Microsoft has squared my life

Microsoft's Life2 event, an "exclusive showcase of the latest digital lifestyle technology", is a bit like the Orange Home project we wrote about over three years ago. Except with more Microsoft kit.

Microsoft has taken over an old art school in deepest darkest Chelsea for three months before it's knocked down and replaced by (yet another) block of luxury flats.

The most interesting thing on show was MSTV - Microsoft's IPTV service, which will be launching in late summer next year. Microsoft will be offering the service to broadband suppliers, who can then offer it to their customers - BT is currently signed up for launch.

For around a hundred quid you'll get a box to access the service, which also provides PVR functionality such as pause/rewind live broadcasts. The basic service, which will have a comparable line-up to FTA (free to air) digital TV, will be free. There'll also be additional on-demand content, priced on a pay-as-you-go basis.

There's the ability to create a channel from your own content (like home videos), and then share it with your friends. Similar to instant messaging applications, you can keep a buddy list of contacts and chat with them as you're both watching telly.

Microsoft also had a working Xbox 360 on show (no games, though). Since the 360 includes all the necessary gubbins to function as a Media Center Extender it looks like Microsoft isn't going to introduce standalone Extenders (like the one we reviewed in the Mar 05 issue) into the UK market, and just go with the 360 instead. Apparently, a standalone Extender and a 360 would work out at about the same price anyway.

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