Online Spotlight has been updated in Windows Media Center for Windows Vista

As several folks have already noted (including Ian Dixon in this blog post and Niall Ginsbourg in this blog post), systems running Windows Vista Home Premium and Ultimate now have a refreshed version of Online Spotlight available within Windows Media Center.  This new Online Spotlight includes an Explore tile in the Online Media strip on the Windows Media Center start menu, and tiles named More Pictures, More Music, More TV and More Sports on their respective strips on the start menu.

The updated look and feel for Online Spotlight is only a first step.  We hope to see new waves of partner applications that use the exciting new Windows Media Center development technologies in Windows Vista (MCML and WPF XBAPs).  Some examples of new applications implemented in MCML were introduced at CES 2007 in Bill Gates' keynote address, including applications from partners such as Showtime, Nickelodeon and Starz (the Vongo video download service shown in this photo by Ian Dixon).

I also wanted to comment about a scenario that Niall specifically mentioned in his blog post.  He reported that he only saw a few applications available in Online Spotlight on his system.  This is likely happening because the system he is using is x64, and possibly also because he is located in Australia.  As I mentioned in this previous blog post, there are several Online Spotlight applications that depend on 32-bit-only ActiveX controls such as the Flash player.  As a result, the new version of Online Spotlight contains filtering logic to not display applications that will not work correctly on an x64 version of Windows Vista.  There is additional filtering logic based on the locale of the system so that English-only or United States-only applications will not appear in other locales.

I encourage you to check out the new interface for Online Spotlight if you have access to Windows Vista Home Premium or Ultimate.  Also, keep an eye out for updated partner content within Online Spotlight on a regular basis in the future.