No Media Center in Latest Windows 8 Beta – should we panic?

According to Ars Technica,  the latest beta of Windows 8 does not contain any sign of Media Center, this had led to a lot of discussion in the community and some consternation but should we really be panicking?

My simple answer has to be no.

Firstly this is an early beta – we really do not know what Microsoft’s plans are at the moment. We may know some more at the Build conference later this year but I suspect even then we may only get a few hints at the grand plan.

Secondly, we do know from the Windows Team Blog  that two areas the Windows 8 team are focussing on are “Application and Media Experience” and “Media Platform.” Does this mean Media Center, possibly not, does this mean some integration of Media Center like functionality into other parts of Windows 8, maybe, but we really just don’t know at this point.

Thirdly and, probably most importantly, things that disappear from betas often appear in other forms. There was a bit of an outcry, for instance, when various parts of Windows Live vanished from the Windows 7 betas but almost all of those reappeared later as part of the Windows Live download.

As many people have suggested (in particular I would like to give a shout out to Adam Thursby of The Digital Media Zone who has posted some really sensible comments on this matter on the MVP discussion group) this latter thought makes a great deal of sense. Producing a lean mean fighting machine of a Windows 8 but with the ability to download those bits we want to add on should make the core product a lot less bloated. Also remember the core Windows 8 experience has to work across hardware platforms including non-x86 such as Arm and the like, and that might be a lot easier if some things are taken out.

Also this idea of Media Center as separate download might explain the recent news about Dolby Technologies not being licensed for every copy of Windows 8. It would make sense if the license was per download. We should also remember that Windows 8 is supposed to have its own store and it may be that Media Center could be a charged for download to cover the license costs.

Having said that whilst we can speculate as much as we like at the moment it is just too early to say what Microsoft will or won’t do. We can be concerned, we can express our desire that the Media Center technology is retained in some way but for now we will just have to wait and see. After all we can always stick with Windows 7 – at least whilst the guide data holds out.

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About the author Garry Whittaker:
Regular presenter and occasional host on The Digital Lifestyle Show. Contributing writer. Convenience Computing enthusiast. Author of the Media Center Decoder tool. Microsoft MVP
  • Juan

    I don’t really get why they would remove WMC for space or because it has to run on ARM. WMC is just a glorified skin for WMP and I don’t see them removing that.

    • Garry Whittaker

      WMC does a lot more than a glorified WMP skin when it comes to recording TV and managing tuners.

  • tom

    panic!

  • http://www.facebook.com/ted.singh tedsingh

    The HTPC by the TV idea is dead. The tuner in the server makes some sense – but the monolithic MCE client+tuner desktop/platform strategy doesn’t make sense: it’s too expensive, complicated, etc.

    For MCE to be used in the future, MCE needs to be built into TVs (or streamers) a la Google TV *or* on mobile screens (e.g., tablets). To be built into either one of these devices implies a lower cost processor and, by association, possibly a lower cost OS.

    Perhaps Google, Apple and Microsoft will all be providing a more vertical TV solution in the near future – for example, an OS for TVs, like they now do for mobile devices. Maybe a branded TV by Microsoft? Xbox TV?

  • http://www.facebook.com/thedaydreaminglibra gerryrivers

    honestly, its no surprise if they remove it because Apple did the same thing with Front Row and media centers aren’t as popular now-a-days since the arrival of various media options with WMP and browsers and even the mobile world. However i think microsoft should just merge Zune Software, Media Center, and other media features into WMP and allow WMP to be downloaded as part of the Windows Live Essentials

  • baubieed

    Personally I think that Microsoft relalizes that the PC is not the way to win fans in this space whereas the Xbox is the center of the living room which sits in millions of homes and continues to break records. I tweeted to Ian and Josh Pollard yesterday that I predict that Xbox will become the Media Center. Furthermore, with the changes to the latest remote and the dolby codec licensing change for Windows 8, what better way for Microsoft to offer IPTV in some form or allow the Xbox to connect with a PC or Home Server that has the CableCard tuners installed? If you notice, all of the CableCard tuners currently support bridging. The Xbox currently allows users to play their own music and videos and provides access to Facebook, Twitter, Hulu, Netflix, ESPN3 and in the UK BBC, Sky and Lovefilm with plans for Kinect and voice recognition through Bing. In other words, XBox already has so much more than Apple TV and Google TV. The only thing I see missing at that point is the ability to run great home automation software (Thanks Ted!) and plug-ins such as MyMovies. Why not create one more plugin that can reach a CableCard tuner located on the same network?

  • Da1ek

    Its worth taking a step back and looking at the windows 8 interface. Which is very remote control friendly straight from the start menu. Complete with the live tiles …. covers the bulk of navigation elements of 7MC.

    But I mean , The TV Guide / Live TV ‘app’ , Movie Guide ‘App’ , Videos tile , pictures tile , is not very far fetched. and idea is it ? And much more sensible a delivery method for the new ‘one platform to rule them all’ concept MS is working towards
    .
    Garry makes the point that with the more cloud based Windows 8 we are seeing, The W8 really does lend itself to tailoring the platform to its hardware.

    So , its not Media Center is dead , its we now have what we always wanted , a complete 10ft friendly PC !

    PS: ….So Sam if your reading this , When can we expect a MediaBrowser port and live tile 😕 :) :) :)

  • PaulC

    Note there is no media center group at microsoft anymore and there hasn’t been for a while now. Media Center as we knew it is dead.
    10′ interface and media will of course be core to Win 8 according to what we have seen. The only real question is the cable , guide & OTA TV functionality. If and how it will be included.

    • Juan

      Hopefully in WHS 2011 in the next Power Pack so that a). we can continue using tuners and b). so WHS 2011 has a point to its existence.