At the CeBIT trade show in Hanover, Germany this week, Microsoft announced that it would be expanding the availability of PCs based on Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 to 20 additional countries by the end of 2005. That expansion means that the premium consumer version of Windows will be available to consumers in over 30 countries and in 17 language, not a far cry from the 49 international versions of Windows XP Home and Professional Editions that the software giant now sells.

"We're continuing to see unprecedented demand for Windows XP Media Center Edition worldwide," says Microsoft senior vice president Will Poole, who heads up the Windows Client Business at the company. "Now, together with our partners, we are answering that demand by delivering our best version of Windows ever with new ways to experience digital photos, music, TV and more." Microsoft notes that over 90 of the top PC makers and over 7,000 system builders now ship Media Center PCs in over 13 countries worldwide. Additionally, over 30 content partners provide online spotlight services for Media Center users.

Currently, Media Center PCs are available in Australia, Austria, Canada, China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Korea, Netherlands, Switzerland, the UK, and the United States. By the end of 2005, Microsoft will ship localized versions of XP Media Center 2005 for Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Hong Kong, India, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Singapore, Slovakia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, and Turkey.

Initially off to a slow start, sales of Media Center PCs have exploded since Microsoft shipped XP Media Center Edition 2005 last October. The company now expects PC makers to sell 20 million Media Center PCs by 2007. You can find out more about this innovative XP version in my XP Media Center 2005 review on the SuperSite for Windows.