This morning, Microsoft announced the completion of Windows XP Media Center Edition, which--beginning next month--will power new Media Center PCs from companies such as Hewlett-Packard (HP) and Samsung. XP Media Center is the latest Windows version and one of several products that relies on Windows XP Service Pack 1 (SP1), which Microsoft will release publicly September 9 (see the story below). XP Media Center adds a friendly interface to XP SP1 that lets consumers access multimedia experiences--such as digital music, photos and videos, DVD movies, TV, and digital video recording (DVR)--using a remote control and, optionally, a TV set.

In addition to the PC makers that will deliver Media Center PCs, Microsoft worked with several third-party hardware manufacturers that created supporting technology, including microprocessor makers AMD and Intel, Dolby Laboratories, video-card makers ATI and NVIDIA, DVD- and MPEG-2-decoder makers Cyberlink and Intervideo, and TV-capture tuner-card makers eMuzed and Hauppauge.

"Every digital-media enthusiast, every college student, every teenager, every apartment dweller will love this technology," said Jim Allchin, group vice president of the Platforms Products Group. "Windows XP Media Center Edition takes the great photo, music, and video experiences introduced last fall with Windows XP to the next level and adds a new TV experience that only the power of the PC can deliver. It's an example of how innovation continues to make the PC even more central to people's lives. We're thrilled that industry leaders and partners share Microsoft's vision and enthusiasm for Media Center PCs."

"We wanted to make it simple, easy to use, convenient, and friendly, and make the Media Center \[interface\] feel as good as any consumer electronics device," Joe Belfiore, general manager of User Experience at Microsoft's Windows eHome Division, told me last week in an exclusive interview. "We were very disciplined about simplicity. It was a key focus for us when we designed the Media Center interface." Later today, my complete interview with Joe Belfiore will be available on the SuperSite for Windows.