Following the announcement that the Windows 8 Release Preview coming the first week of June in which Microsoft detailed how “Windows Media Center will be available as an economical “media pack” add-on to Windows 8 Pro” they have today revealed more details about the reasons behind that decision. In a post entitled Making Windows Media Center available in Windows 8  they explained how media consumption is changing:

On the PC, these online sources are growing much faster than DVD & broadcast TV consumption, which are in sharp decline (no matter how you measure—unique users, minutes, percentage of sources, etc.). Globally, DVD sales have declined significantly year over year and Blu-ray on PCs is losing momentum as well. Watching broadcast TV on PCs, while incredibly important for some of you, has also declined steadily. These traditional media playback scenarios, optical media and broadcast TV, require a specialized set of decoders (and hardware) that cost a significant amount in royalties. With these decoders built into most Windows 7 editions, the industry has faced those costs broadly, regardless of whether or not a given device includes an optical drive or TV tuner.

The post goes on to explain how consumers will be able to obtain Windows Media Center in Windows 8 regardless of the version they originally purchased:

Given the changing landscape, the cost of decoder licensing, and the importance of a straight forward edition plan, we’ve decided to make Windows Media Center available to Windows 8 customers via the Add Features to Windows 8 control panel (formerly known as Windows Anytime Upgrade). This ensures that customers who are interested in Media Center have a convenient way to get it.

Unfortunately no details are yet available on pricing but one thing is clear that even if you purchase a PC running Windows 8 that there will still be an easy upgrade path to obtain Windows Media Center. The final piece of information that will be of interest to Media Center enthusiasts is confirmation that the feature set will be the same as the current Windows 7 version of Media Center.


11 thoughts on “Microsoft details obtaining Windows Media Center in Windows 8”
  1. Just read the press release in full. I know hoping for Blu-Ray in Win8 was a long shot- although of course it shouldn’t be- but now in new improved Win8 you will no longer be able to play DVDs anymore in Windows Media Player. Progress- don’t you love it. I am hoping for Win9 it will only play VHS!

  2. Remember the “I’m A PC” advert poking fun at Macs because Windows 7 included native Blu-ray playback? How times change! I’m more worried about not being able to playback WTV files on PC’s without Media Center as it means if I want to watch Recorded TV on the Iconia under Windows 8 I’ll have to purchase the WMC pack multiple times.

    Not sure how I feel about no DVD support as I’ve never watched a DVD on a PC except when we had the HTPC PC in the living room but that is a long time ago. I wonder about ripping DVD’s with the Media Center pack?

    Progress doesn’t always mean better. 🙁

  3. If they want people to pay. We should expect some new features.
    Metro App for WMC
    Play protected content on different machines and tablets.

    Right now I will pay for the Q and Echo. If as an exteder it plays protected content, networked blu ray iso, and has a nice netflix. Be nice to see a zune app

  4. Not sure if I’ve read the post correctly on the buidling windows 8 RSS feed, but it looks like from standard windows 8, you can install the windows pro pack, which will also provide the media center app:

    “Windows 8 Pro is designed to help tech enthusiasts obtain a broader set of Windows 8 technologies. Acquiring either the Windows 8 Media Center Pack or the Windows 8 Pro Pack gives you Media Center, including DVD playback (in Media Center, not in Media Player), broadcast TV recording and playback (DBV-T/S, ISDB-S/T, DMBH, and ATSC), and VOB file playback. Pricing for these Packs, as well as retail versions of Windows 8, will be announced closer to the release date. To give you some indication of Media Center Pack pricing, it will be in line with marginal costs.”

  5. @Carlos RE: “If they want people to pay. We should expect some new features.”

    I think this is the point, unfortunately, they fully expect people not to pay since this is about the final chapter in Media Center’s life.

    In terms of playing protected content doesn’t that work through the “sharing” option in Recorded TV? This isn’t something we have much on TV in the UK so I can’t test.

    @Tony RE: “standard windows 8, you can install the windows pro pack, which will also provide the media center app”

    Yes that is my understanding too but also means you will end up on Windows 8 Pro too so I think the cost of the Windows 8 Pro Pack will be appropriately higher than just adding the Windows Media Center Pack.

    Either way if you don’t need all the features of Pro but want to use Media Center you will be paying a premium to do so.

  6. I agree with Jase – this is effectively deprecating media center. It’s not going anywhere. That’s a shame, but I am interested in what people see as the replacement? MythTV? Something else?

    1. Listening to the DMZ podcast looks like the Ceton extender will include netflix and Blu Ray playback when paired with the Q(embedded). Our last hope might be these embedded formats. Dont care what MS says most people consume video through TV.

      1. I agree consumption of TV via broadcast is still high but watching it at time of broadcast is declining (our household hardly watches anything “live”). Then there is the limited number who want to watch on a computer and possibly even less that want that computer in the living room.

        Let’s look at the positives here though. While there is no compelling reason to upgrade to Windows 8 now at least when Windows 7 is no longer supported you can upgrade then since Windows 8 will still be in mainstream support. This really is life support for Media Center when Microsoft really could have cut the product completely. I think the only reason they have is to remove even the smallest barrier to upgrading, even with the extra cost, because they need Windows 8 to succeed.

        In our use case we have no need of new features but I also use Media Center on multiple devices through DVB Logic so in order to watch Live TV or even Recorded TV on the Iconia Tab I will now have to go Pro + WMC Pack. 🙁

  7. I thought the Pro and Media pack upgrades were to separate entities and you could only buy the Media Pack if you got the Pro pack first? This is all still a little confusing.

    1. Looking at the flow in their post it works like this:

      Windows 8 + Windows Pro Pack = Windows 8 Pro with Media Centre
      Windows 8 Pro + Media Center Pack = Windows 8 Pro with Media Centre

      So in either case you purchase one pack only which makes sense to “hide” the Media Center cost for those starting at the base edition.

  8. Just to add to my previous comments that taking a positive view we have “life support” for using Media Center for at least 3 years (estimate) before Windows 9, which will for sure see the end of Media Center, and a further 7 years before Windows 8 is out of support. I’m certain the broadcast TV landscape will be very different within those timeframes.

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