When MSNBC called Windows Media Center PCs a miss earlier this week I wrote my reply but I thought I would save the post for my first post on TechRadar.com’s Digital Home Blog.

My thoughts were this: Windows Media Center is a service and not a product. The Media Center software should be server based powering Extenders (hardware and software) and not a desktop PC connected to a TV as the MSNBC article describes Windows Media Center. Here is a quote from my post:

A PC connected directly to a TV will always be a niche product but I also think that Windows Media Center has a big part to in the digital home by being a service and not a product. I see it as a Digital Media Server, where you have a TV card installed (either CableCARD, DVB-T, Sky etc) and then Extenders around the home, which could be devices like the Xbox 360 and the new generation of Extenders or smaller devices like ROKU Sound Bridge.

It could also perform the role of home automation server, security system and many other services. Obviously there is huge crossover of functionality with Windows Home Server and an ideal future product could combine the best of both products.

So while I see the product described in the MSNBC article as a miss Windows Media Center should have a great future powering the home, read my post and let me know what you think.

EDIT I want to say the title was Techradar.com’s editors idea, my title was Media Center is a service not a product 

How Microsoft can rescue Windows Media Center

8 thoughts on “How Microsoft can rescue Windows Media Center”
  1. Does Windows Media Center needs rescuing ?
    Me don’t thinks so.
    I use a Media Center PC hooked up to my TV, no extenders, and I couldn’t live without it: the experience is so much richer then any other of the (many) media setups I tried.
    for me, this is clearly the way to go and have no doubt it will get more and more mainstream. Even non tech visitors to my house have a jaw-dropping *ploink* when they see how much more fun a “TV” is when you turn it around from a “push” box to a “pull” device.
    MSNBC misses the point here – expecially by posting a dorky PC picture next to the story. It’s similar to 3 years ago, when everybody was claiming the Microsoft origami / UMPC things where an utterly failure, and yet, these days we see a flood of these devices hitting the mainstream.
    Mark my words: 5 years from now – most TV enthusiasts will have a PC hooked up to their TV. (and obviously it wont look a PC at all)

  2. In the post I excluded Home Theatre enthusiast, but for the mainstream I just can’t see a old style PC being connect to a PC is the way to go and hence the miss but as a service or HTPC then it’s amazing

  3. Ian,

    First off.. LOVE the podcast. 🙂

    And I have to agree.. Media Center is awesome. But most people won’t know or care or even consider connecting a PC to their TV – and they don’t know about extenders yet. (Microsoft – and yes, I work for Microsoft – is really spending WAY TOO LITTLE MONEY on advertising all the incredible stuff we’re doing. IMHO)

    In my perfect world, I would love it to be a SERVICE on the next rev of Windows Home Server. NOW we’re talking about fantastic repository for family media of all kinds, plus the TV source for the entire home. And, oh, by the way.. it also backs up all your family laptops.

    Kevin Remde
    US IT Pro Evangelist – Microsoft

  4. Hi Kevin

    Your spot on Microsoft do need to promote Extenders way more than they do now. On the Webinar last night there were hundreds asking questions so the demand is there

  5. When HDTV, AV Receivers, DVR’s etc embed Media Center functionality in their hardware and make them truly entertainment centers and not just standalone platforms the MediaCenter concept will become a reality. Extenders are much in the same fashion, as they need to become embedded into DVD/BluRay Players, network devices and the like. Using an overpriced Xbox as an extender is not at a realistic price-point except for those few that are game players. Extenders seem to have made the advance as embedded technology more than the Media Centers, but times they are a-changing….

  6. As above, Microsoft do not push extenders AT ALL. This means that the ‘mainstream’, that is, everyone who doesnt look at things like this blog, have no idea they exist. Even my GF who uses media centre daily doesnt know that my 360 sitting right next to my HTPC can be an extender.

    If Microsoft made a push on a couple of existing points (your pc runs home premium, add a tuner and you can use it as a PVR, watch all the movies and listen to your music through your 360) and it would give allot of traction to this area.

    All they really need to do is to push it with a small amount of advertising, then on the 360 dashboard, just have ‘want to play videos or listen to music from your PC?’ type thing on one of the squares, click and it gives you some info on how to do it…

    Then from there talk about TV and such later, or have the options in media centre and people will go looking.

  7.   The post round up is back, it’s been a busy week, the live show was great and even a naked man…

  8. I have used Media Center as my only entertainment channel for about 5 years. I have 6 PCs around the house – all with Media Center. I also have a Windows Home Server and one extender I have been playing with.

    The biggest problem I see with Media Center is TV tuners. I use cable and have digital cable boxes all over, hooked up to various PCs that record and serve the shows. What is needed is a Tuner Farm, probably attached to the WHS that can be shared by all. And, the direct integration of the WHS, as the media server for, all to share. Also, PCs should have the ability to act as extenders within the system. If Microsoft would do those functions, which don’t seem that difficult at all, they would have NO competitors in the entertainment arena, IMHO…

Leave a Reply