Who's behind it: Microsoft began its quest to deliver digital content to home consumers via the media-center PC in late 2002, backed by partners such as Hewlett-Packard and Gateway. However, sales didn't take off immediately, partly because of confusion about the benefits and a lack of wireless peripherals.
Why You should care: Entertainment on a PC means more ways and places to consume content. As media PCs continue to grow in popularity, the units will become the hub for all digital content in many homes. TiVo-like experiments where long-form commercials can be accessed or Internet-service-provider models where consumers agree to watch advertising for a reduced price are likely to be the ad model.
Sales so far: By mid-2005, about 2.5 million media-center PCs were shipped, according to analyst Roger Kay of Endpoint Technology Associates, not exactly the anticipated rush to adopt predicted at launch. Still, interest is growing, especially from premium-end home buyers, and Mr. Kay said he estimates some 53 million shipments by 2009.
What's next: Windows' new operating system, Vista, set for launch in 2006, will have a media-center functionality built into its premium version of Windows Vista Home, and high definition is planned for 2007.