Netflix Launches on Microsoft Windows Media Center

Microsoft announced Wednesday that movie rental company, Netflix, has launched its streaming service on the Windows Media Center platform (which, while formerly a standalone OS, is now part of Windows Vista Home Premium and Ultimate). The service offers around 12,000 movies and TV episodes. Microsoft--which is billing the launch of the service on Windows Media Center as meaning that "consumers no longer need to jump from Web site to Web site to find" the programming content they want to watch (note: Netflix subscribers can also access its streaming service through the Netflix Web site)--says that Windows Vista customers who are also Netflix subscribers can now simply launch Windows Media Center on their PC, and then select a new Netflix "tile" under the service's "TV+Movies" area, in order to begin streaming Netflix movies and TV episodes instantly. The Windows Media Center Netflix service also allows users to search the Netflix library, manage their instant and DVD queues, and filter searches by titles that are available to watch immediately, Microsoft says. According to the company, Windows Media Center takes advantage of the Netflix recommended category lists to make it "even easier" for users to quickly find the movies and TV shows they want to watch. It says that Netflix in Windows Media Center is also designed to work with any Windows Media Center-compatible remote control.

According to Microsoft, the ability to instantly watch Netflix content on the Windows Media Center platform is enabled by its Silverlight platform. Microsoft has offered instant viewing of Netflix titles to "Gold" subscribers of its Xbox 360 games console's content service, Xbox LIVE, for some time now. "We're continuing to work with the top content providers today to make watching TV on the PC a mainstream experience for the future," Craig Eisler corporate VP of entertainment client software for Microsoft's TV, Video and Music Business Group, said in a prepared statement. "Consumers understand that content is the driving force when it comes to experiences, and with Netflix, we're underscoring our broader commitment to deliver a rich experience with Windows Media Center." The launch of Netflix on Windows Media Center represents the second major content launch for the platform this year: in March, Microsoft launched a Windows Media Center service called Sports Channel that offers a range of interactive sports content from CBSSports.com, Fox Sports, MSNBC.com and other providers.

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