I know it has already been reported that Niveus are releasing Media Center Companion for free but today they formally announced it. So here is the press releases and in case you missed it checkout the video I took at CES with Niveus founder Tim Cutting where he explains the details on the announcement
NIVEUS MEDIA CENTER COMPANION BASIC – NOW AVAILABLE AS A FREE DOWNLOAD
Companion Basic enables full remote control of an unlimited number of Windows Vista Media Center zones via any network attached Windows Client.
Milpitas, CA – February 5, 2008 – Niveus Media, the leaders in ultimate entertainment solutions for the connected home, recently announced that Niveus Media Center Companion™ 3.0 and the new Niveus Media Center Companion™ Basic are now available for download. While Niveus Media Center Companion™ offers robust client control on Niveus Media Centers, Niveus Media Center Companion™ Basic offers support for Music, Pictures, and Remote control functionality of any Windows Vista-based Media Center user, Niveus or other.
Allowing installers to integrate control abilities for Media Center content to any Windows XP or Vista-based UMPC, laptop, desktop, or Tablet PC, the full version of Niveus Media Center Companion software, available only for Niveus Media Centers, is the ultimate networked remote control for all Windows Vista-based Media Centers & Media Center Extenders. Intuitive and powerful, the Niveus Media Center Companion software downloads the entire media database of music, photos, television shows, and more, displaying rich cover art and metadata on the Windows Client. The entire Media Center music catalogue can be viewed and accessed via the Windows Client, allowing users to navigate, pick, and play their favorite songs and albums without ever powering on the display.
With the touch of a button, Niveus Media Center Companion easily discovers the networked Windows Media Center system and is directly connected to the Media Center eco-system, enabling a multitude of remote control functions from anywhere within range of the wired or wireless network. Niveus Media Center Companion uses the new Niveus Control Server, a middleware software component designed to provide the necessary bi-directional feedback to develop metadata rich control templates for premier Windows Client devices. Unlike traditional remote controls, the Niveus Media Center Companion supports easy Internet updates, yielding new features and functions throughout the life of the product.
Offering similar functionality, Niveus Media Center Companion Basic supports control of Music, Pictures, and Remote functions on Windows Media Centers (currently Extender support is not offered in Basic). Due to the number of 3rd party system configurations Niveus is not able to offer official technical support on this product but through the new Niveus Media Companion Forum, users can generate discussion within the community and elicit feedback and support from fellow consumers. The Niveus Engineering team will monitor the forum to offer as much feedback as possible.
Niveus Media Companion Basic is offered free to any Windows Vista-based Media Center user while the full version is offered as a free upgrade to Niveus Media Center customers. Visit the Niveus Media Companion Forum and download the basic version via the dedicated Niveus Media Center Companion webpage!