Australia's first commercial Electronic Program Guide (EPG) for Microsoft's Media Centre will be widely available to consumers thanks to a distribution deal between Altech Computers and Ice TV.
Iceguide, which works on Media Centre PCs and set top box Personal Video Recorders, is an EPG that shows what is on free-to-air television channels across Australia for the next seven days. It has an easy to use interface which enables users to select programs and record them straight to the Media Centre PC's hard drive.
While Microsoft directly facilitates third party development of EPGs to run with its Media Centre in other countries, it has not done so in Australia due to copyright laws.
Ice TV is the first company to effectively work around copyright laws by having its own editorial team write the summaries and content for its "iceguide" from the ground up.
While Microsoft has not officially endorsed iceguide, it is apparently unofficially supportive of it, according to Altech's National Sales Manager Kevin Hartin.
"There have been hack versions [of Media Centre EPGs in Australia] but this is the first elegant commercial product to go to market," Hartin said.
Altech will distribute iceguide on all of its Maestro's (Media Centre PCs) through its 4000 strong reseller channel -- offering a free 30 day trial and allowing customers to either opt out after this period or pay $3 a week to continue access.
"I think it is very important that the channel at large have access to this product," Hartin said.
He hoped it would help drive take up rates of Media Centre PCs.
"There are unusually high margins for resellers with this product, and plenty of money to be made right down the chain," Hartin said.