Microsoft offers 'SlingBox'-type features for free

Webguide Users of Microsoft’s Windows Media Center Edition will be delighted to know that they can now stream content from their PC’s anywhere in the world, for free.

Though not quite a true substitute for Sling Media’s family of remote-media access devices, two new applications for Windows Media Center Edition (MCE) is bound to put a dent in sales of SlingBoxes, Sony’s LocationFree products and possibly Apple’s AppleTV.

The first app is known as "WebGuide". Many MCE users will be familiar with this program as it has been widely available as an online download for $18. However Microsoft recently bought the product from creator Doug Berret and is now offering it free of charge.

Referred to as a time-shifting, place-shifting application, WebGuide gives users complete remote control over their media including the ability to schedule recordings, make changes and of course view all media types that MCE offers users when they are at home.

Where the SlingBox still maintains an advantage is in being able to control more than one device. For now at least, WebGuide can’t let you stream content from your DVD, satellite receiver (directly) or ahem, VCR.

The second free add-on to MCE is ITV (Internet TV). ITV is an ad-supported line up of TV content that can be streamed on-demand over the net.