Now we're talking! As part of a wider press release around the CEDIA trade show this week, Microsoft announced that it was removing a particularly onerous requirement around Windows Media Center that, until now, required customers to purchase a PC with CableCARD built-in if they wanted to take advantage of that technology. Well, no more (at least in Windows 7)!

End Customers Can Now Add Digital Cable Tuners With CableCARD to Their PCs

Microsoft and CableLabs announced that customers will now be able to add digital cable tuners with CableCARD to a Windows 7-based PC with Windows Media Center. A new tool will be provided by Microsoft that assesses the PC’s ability to support the solution. This tool will analyze the customer’s PC and enable digital cable support if the PC meets requirements, opening digital cable options to Windows Media Center customers across the country. Microsoft also announced that, with Windows 7, it has increased the number of TV tuners that can be connected to the PC from two to four per tuner type, thereby allowing customers to simultaneously record or watch as many as four digital cable TV channels.

“We are excited that digital cable customers will now be able to take advantage of this new opportunity to bring great cable TV programming to the PC,” said So Vang, vice president of OpenCable at CableLabs. “We are dedicated to helping customers get the most from their cable service, and this will be a great win for both the customer and the cable operators.”

Good stuff. I'm not sure if this is enough to save Media Center, but I'm certainly eager to check this out.