imageSomething I have been thinking about for some time is is it time for Microsoft to drop the Media Center name? As regular readers know I love Windows Media Center, I use it everyday and I have tried alternative UIs but always end up back with Media Center. I am not saying Microsoft should kill the platform, far from it but I do think its time to get some development behind it and really push it to new levels.

One of the things that got me thinking about this was the recent announcement of the new Apple TV, while the tech blogs and press were talking about box they mentioned competitor and alternative devices and not once did Windows Media Center or any Microsoft product get mentioned. There was talk of Boxee, Roku and Google TV (a product not even shipped yet) but no talk of a platform that has been shipping since 2005. Before you think I am trying to compare the Apple TV to a Windows Media Center PC I am not saying it a like for like comparison but its in the same ball park.

Maybe part of the reason is for people that have heard of Media Center may have images of a Windows Media Center PC as a big ugly PC from 2005 , which we Media Center users know that its now a long way from that but the the image has stuck and for the people that haven’t heard of it (most people) the name doesn’t mean anything. We all know most Windows Vista or Windows 7 users don’t even know what Windows Media Center exists. For that I put the most of the blame on the marketing from Microsoft, even the latest Windows 7 adverts shows off Media Center briefly but it doesn’t name check it.

So maybe its time for Microsoft to rebrand the application as Windows TV. The name would match the simplicity of Windows Phone and would also put it in the same field as Apple TV and Google TV. Over the last week we have had the first look at the new Windows Media Center boxes powered by Windows Embedded and they look really exciting developments so rather than being called an Acer Revo with Windows Media Center powered by Windows Embedded Standard Edition 7 we could have Acer Revo with Windows TV. The platform could still be a component for Windows as well as being available for set top boxes, Windows Media Center is still a fantastic platform but it needs to get out of the Windows development cycle and the teams allowed to let the product shine.  Just looking at the way the IE team have been able to develop IE9 out side of the standard Windows build cycle shows that Microsoft can still do great software and having a new build of Windows Media Center every 3 years is to restrictive in this fast moving world

So I would like to see Windows Media Center be rebranded as Windows TV, split out of Windows and either a standalone product or part of Windows Live Essentials so it can have faster release cycles. I would also like to see Windows TV set top boxes (powered by Windows Embedded under the hood) go on sale as retail products. I still like the Windows Media Center name, but I do think maybe its time for a bit of marketing and rebranding.

What do you think?


How Windows Media Center used to be:

The future of Windows Media Center


0 thoughts on “Is It Time To Drop the Windows Media Center Name?”
  1. In some respects it was nice to see Windows Media Center become a component of the Operating System rather than being OEM – in some respects this has given Media Center a lot more awareness amongst Windows users whilst being OEM left Media Center to the early adopters and enthusiast market. I agree with you Ian, in that a release every 3 years or so and being tied to the operating system is so restrictive, especially in such a face paced environment such as digital media. We all know there was an interim release of Media Center after Vista but it was OEM only and what a farce that was – on that note, I would love to see updates to Media Center on an annual basis like Windows Live.

    As for the branding of Media Center vs. Windows TV I’m not sure I agree with you. Maybe I’m missing something, as both Apple and Google have gone for the TV moniker, but to me Media Center is “so much more” than just TV. Yes it can play Live TV, yes it has a TV guide and yes it acts as a digital video recorder (DVR) but it also centralises my storage of CDs, DVDs, music I purchase electronically and personal media such as Photos or Videos. Yes I connect it to my TV but one could argue that my TVs are just screens or monitors as I don’t use their local tuner facilities.

    What I would like to see with Windows Media Center, Windows Media Player, Zune Player, Windows Phone and even the Xbox to a certain degree is the convergence of these services into a single product with a defined vision. What I mean by this is that Media Center gives me a 10 foot user interface over my media, Media Player gives me a 2 foot interface over my media, whilst Zune and potentially Windows Phone give me a small handheld device with access to my media. As a consumer, I want to consume my media, purchase, download and stream media, no matter what screen size or device it is on.

  2. I agree about it being more than just TV, but so is the Apple TV. Its more of a snappy name and implies it can be connected to a TV

  3. It isn’t the name it is the functionality and form factor. If Microsoft made a set-top box like the 360 that didn’t play games then people would compare it to the Apple TV etc. But as it stands, the 360 is more comparable to the 360 than Media Center. Video store, no PC required, streaming services like Netflix, all in a embedded set top box for $99 or a bit more.

  4. McTV would fit the bill perhaps more apropriately, and i am not sure about everyone else but i find the whole Media Center eco system frustrating, not in terms of useage or stability now that W7 is in control but in terms of development and public awareness, a winning lottery ticket that has yet to be cashed in could be likened to Media Centre, todays Tv Internet `revolution` could have been a catch up game for other smaller companies but frustratingly even with the platform that is ready and capable to do everything everyone else is finaly doing we sit and watch as mindshare and development goes towards the other brands….

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