Microsoft is powering ahead its media center extender concept by increasing the range of video formats that PCs running its Windows software can stream to devices around the house over wired or wireless networks. The company expects Cisco Systems, Niveus, and D-Link to reveal "a wave of new cool, quiet, home-theatre-quality" extenders next month, which will come in dedicated set-top boxes.

"The new Extenders for Windows Media Center make it easy to get a wide range of personal and Internet content not only on someone's main TV but on all the TVs in the house. Whether it's a high-def show recorded from digital cable, new Internet video, or your personal library of pictures, music and videos, it's all on your television, just a remote-click away," said Microsoft general manager Dave Alles.
The new devices will allow increased functionality including Wireless-N high-speed wireless technology for HD-quality video streaming over the air and expanded support for often-downloaded audio and video formats including DivX and Xvid.

Although manufacturers and buyers have been slow to take an interest in Microsoft's Windows Media Center Extender platform, the company believes the idea has a lot of potential and hopes the extender feature will start getting bundled into other products, such as DVD players and televisions.