Microsoft has released an update to its Media Center Edition of Windows, which the company claims will make it possible to stream digital media from Media Center PCs to any television or device via the Xbox 360.

The move could help promote sales of both Xbox and Media Center PCs, as Microsoft continues to link its products in to a larger home entertainment plan, which still relies on the PC--and the company's Windows franchise--as its center of gravity. Competitors include Apple Computer, which continues to build a franchise around its iPod lineup; Sony, the longtime consumer electronics heavyweight; and others.

"The strategy here is quite simple. We want to create an environment based on Windows that will give consumers ... the ability to take their content to any device that was connected back to a Windows PC. (Adding) the Xbox 360 is just the next evolution of that vision," Brooks said.

Microsoft’s Update Rollup 2 for Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 supports DVD changers, as well as a new feature called Away Mode, which adds a consumer electronics-like on-off function to Media Center PCs.