Watch movies/TV shows instantly on your PC

Microsoft took a gigantic leap into online entertainment this week with a new partnership with Netflix, the online/mail-order movie rental service.

More than 12,000 movies and television episodes from Netflix can now be watched immediately on a PC that has Windows Media Center and runs Windows Vista Home Premium or Ultimate.

Of course, you have to be a Netflix member first, but once you are, all you have to do is launch your Windows Media Center and click on the "Netflix" tile under "TV+Movies" to start watching streaming movies and TV shows. The primary advantage, Microsoft says, is that viewers won't have to jump from Hulu to to wherever else they get their online entertainment; it's all in one spot.

WMC also will allow users to search the Netflix library, manage their instant and their DVD queues and filter their searches to include only titles available for instant viewing, as well as by the Netflix recommended category lists.

The Netflix interface also works with WMC-compatible remote controls. It's the second major entertainment addition to WMC this year - in March, Sports Channel was launched, giving users the ability to access interactive sports content from, FOX Sports and, among others.

In a press release, Craig Eisler, Microsoft's corporate vice president of entertainment client software for the TV, Video and Music Business Group, said,

We're continuing to work with the top content providers today to make watching TV on the PC a mainstream experience for the future. Consumers understand that content is the driving force when it comes to experiences, and with Netflix, we're underscoring our broader commitment to deliver a rich experience with Windows Media Center.

It's Microsoft's second collaboration with Netflix, having already made a deal to allow Xbox 360 owners to upgrade to an Xbox LIVE Gold Membership to access these movies and TV shows. So if you're a gamer and don't have Vista, you still have a way to get access to all these videos.