For those of you who, like me, use Windows XP Media Center Edition to watch and record television and who, like me, also rely on a set-top box, relief is coming. With the current version of MCE, you’re forced to use an IR blaster to allow MCE to control your STB via infrared commands. This works most of the time, but is a bit Rube Goldberg-ish for many of us and, quite frankly, shouldn’t be necessary given today’s technology. 

Microsoft has recently announced a deal with CableLabs to enable high-def programming via a cable card in future versions of MCE. You won’t need the STB, and you therefore won’t need an IR blaster to control it. Hooray! Three cheers for progress!