Microsoft and Hewlett Packard have showed off their Windows Home Concept at the Windows Hardware Engineering Conference in Seattle.
The device features all the functionalities of a PC, plus a digital video recorder. Instead of a monitor, it hooks up to a television set.
Unveiled during the keynote presentation by chairman and chief software architect Bill Gates, the Windows Home Concept fits into Microsoft's vision of seamless computing that Gates presented last November at Comdex in Las Vegas.
The company sees seamless computing as a way of providing users with access to data regardless of the device it resides on.
"Will people think it's advantageous to organise their music on many devices? Probably not. Bringing worlds together is a real theme for us," Gates told the Seattle audience.
The Windows Home Concept includes a PC, Tablet PC and remote control (used in place of a keyboard and mouse).
The PC looks more like a DVD player or VCR than a computer. By adopting this approach to design, Microsoft hopes to erode the commonly held perception that PCs are too ugly to be part of the living room furniture.
As an example of how different devices work together, individual users will be able to log on to their accounts using a fingerprint scanner on the remote control.
The system will use that information to bring up a customised portal containing messages and calendar events that reside on a desktop computer, as well as provide access to the user's media such as photos, music and recorded TV shows.
Gates said the ability to deploy applications across devices would be "the next frontier".
He is aiming to cross that frontier by using Webservices for Devices, a new standard developed by Microsoft.
"These ad hoc connections are pretty exciting. But we have to manage them in a straightforward way. The webservices extension has a lot to do with that," said Gates.
Microsoft has submitted the new standard for inclusion into the upcoming 2.0 version of the Universal Plug and Play architecture.
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