By Kim Dixon
Something 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