With the holiday buying season drawing closer, Microsoft together with its hardware partners is planning to release several media extenders that would allow users to stream content from their Vista computers to their televisions, in the same way that Apple TV does for Macs.

Linksys today unveiled two products which should hit the US market in time for the holidays. Starting at $299.99, the DMA2100 offers a dual-band Wireless-N extender for Windows Vista, whereas for an extra $50 the DMA 2200 adds an upscaling DVD player. Not to be outdone by Linksys, D-link introduced its DSM-750 MediaLounge HD Media Center Extender, which supports HD video resolutions of up to 1080i and WMV, DivX, and XVid formats for about $349.99. Although D-link's extender lacks a DVD player, it includes a USB port for viewing photos and other content stored on flash drives or hard drives.

Additionally, HP and Niveus are also gearing up to release their own extenders. For a yet undisclosed price Niveus plans to unveil its media extender model in November for home theater enthusiasts, featuring video resolutions of up to 1080p, 3 USB ports and passive cooling - which will help to keep the noise to a minimum. HP, for its part, will release the HP MediaSmart LCD HDTV, a television with built-in Media Center Extender capability and 802.11n wireless.

This is Microsoft's second attempt at launching media extenders. The company tried the same thing about two years ago with little success. While Windows Vista has been around since the start of the year, so far the only media center extender released that works with Vista has been the Xbox 360.