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High Viiv: Intel Targets the Digital Home

At its annual developer conference yesterday, microprocessor giant Intel announced a new initiative to brand digital home-oriented PCs with dual-core processors, chipsets, networking features, and software. The new branding, called ViiV (pronounced "vive" and rhymes with "five") will identify these new machines, which will typically run Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 and are designed to work with high-definition displays, surround sound systems, remote controls, and, optionally, TV tuner cards.

PC makers such as Dell, Gateway, and HP will offer Viiv PCs in the market starting in early 2006, which indicates that the products will likely be launched at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in January. The PCs will feature non-traditional form factors and will be designed to work in living rooms and other non-office scenarios.

Intel's use of the Viiv branding is an attempt to replicate the overwhelming success of its Centrino brand, which denotes mobile computers that utilize an Intel Pentium M microprocessor, a specially designed Intel chipset, and an Intel wireless solution. These three components work together to provide the best experience for mobile users, Intel says. With Viiv, Intel is providing a similar promise. But this time, it's for the digital home.

"Intel Viiv technology is our first platform designed from the ground up for the digital home, where consumers are passionate about the idea of accessing their content anytime, anywhere in their home on a number of devices," says Intel Digital Home head Don MacDonald. "We have to get it right."

If this sounds suspiciously like the mantra that Microsoft has been preaching for its Media Center systems for quite some time, you're not alone. "When Microsoft launched Windows XP Media Center Edition three years ago, we wanted to utilize the power of the PC to fundamentally change the way people experienced digital entertainment," says -Rick Thompson, the corporate vice president for the Windows Client Extended Platforms Division at Microsoft. "Now with millions sold, we're thrilled that Intel has made the decision to utilize Windows XP Media Center Edition as the default OS for Intel's new platform."

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