Microsoft’s Windows Media Center Embedded Strategy

My final day at CES and I had the pleasure of interviewing Mark Pendergrast from the Windows Embedded team talking about their strategy for Window Media Center in Windows Embedded. You can here the interview with Mark on the podcast soon but for now I thought I would do a short post about Microsoft’s plans.

Media Center’s development has been shifted to the Embedded team and they have a lot more freedom to do custom modifcations than the Windows team had. This means that each OEM can customise the look and feel of Media Center to suit their needs. Microsoft are pitching Windows Embedded Standard 7 with Windows Media Center as a complete solutions for OEMS who can develop their own set top boxes and media devices using Microsoft technology and with it being based on Windows 7 it integrates with the rest of our Windows products. They have high end media devices from Evolve Media right down to low cost Acer boxes and set top box IPTV devices.  The Acer devices had a network aware 6 tuner CableCARD adapter in for form factor of a Media Player, this prototype should eventualy be a retail product and would make a great solution for the home. It doesn’t look like a PC and you will not find a Windows UI but what you will see is a customised version of Windows Media Center running on it and having network TV tuners on it means other Windows 7 PCs can use the tuners via the network. Mark also showed me a TV with Media Center built in and again there is no Windows UI just Media Center.  There are already boxes coming out from Reycom that are Media Devices with a customised version of Media Center running on it and I think we are going to see a lot more of this category coming out. There was also a set top IPTV box from a european cable company that is powered by Media Center.

So with Windows Embedded and Windows Media Center Microsoft are offering OEM a very complete and polished solution for connected devices that integrate well with the rest of the Windows Ecosystem (he showed me an LG Windows Phone with Play To built in so we could play music from the phone straight to the TV via Media Center). We are not going to see anything new on Windows Media Center front for Windows 7, all the development is going to come from the Embedded team for now and we should see some interesting solutions coming from OEMS.

Microsoft didn’t have a Windows Media Center display on their booth at CES which is a real shame but the setup the Embedded team had in the meeting room was very impressive and its a shame more people will not get to see the setup but I do have some video and audio that I will get posted soon

So you next media devices could be running Windows Media Center but it will not be a PC

More videos and audio to come!

 

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Me interviewing Mark

 

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Customised Windows Media Center UI

 

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Acer 6 tuner CableCARD system

 

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Prime time set top box powered by Windows Embedded

 

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Haiar TV running with built in Windows Media Center

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About the author Ian Dixon:
Founder of The Digital Lifestyle.com and host of The Digital Lifestyle Show. Started podcasting in 2005, Windows Entertainment and Connected Home MVP. Lover of gadgets from the Raspberry Pi to the iPad, Android to Windows 8. Also a massive motor racing fan