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Yahoo! Free DVR Software Sure to Upset

CNET reports that Yahoo has released a beta version of software that turns a PC into a digital video recorder (DVR).

The software, Yahoo Go for TV, is free to download. After the software is installed, people plug their computer into their television's video and audio input connections. The computer can then record and play back shows on the TV just like with a standalone DVR. Consumers can also play DVDs, music, photos or other downloaded content.

The cost of a few cables and TV tuner card, in comparison with the hundreds of dollars being shelled out for DVD players or DVRs, could lure consumers away from DVR competitors like TiVo. And many industry leaders see TV-computer combinations as the portal for reaching consumers. Put simply, this latest announcement will surely upset the already fragile current status quo for existing players.

Microsoft said recently that its Windows XP Media Center software is outselling the standard edition of the software, and Hewlett-Packard announced last year that it is developing technology to let high-definition televisions directly access digital content from home computers.

The Yahoo software, as of yet, only runs on Windows and requires a computer with 20GB of disk space to store recorded programs, 512MB of RAM and a 1GHz processor. The DVR system also requires a TV tuner card, a remote control and connector cables.

The software works in conjunction with many of Yahoo's other Yahoo Go media products, such as Yahoo Launchcast, a radio and music subscription service, and Flickr, Yahoo's photo-sharing site. In addition, Go for TV lets people view photos from any online service and to listen to music from CDs or digital-music libraries already stored on the linked computer.

For those telcos who have partnered closely with Yahoo to launch broadband service offerings, it's yet to be determined if this announcement is good or bad news -- meaning, does it enhance the consumer's use of the Yahoo co-branded telco services, or does it actually drive consumers away from the telco walled-garden content (enabling a direct-to-consumer bypass model)?

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