5 Reasons Windows 7 is Good for Installers
Windows 7 release will lead to more competition, more integration with A/V components, more automation functionality, more system design options and more revenue for CE pros.
With the launch of Windows Vista in 2007, Microsoft took an incremental step towards creating a platform custom installers could use as a base for everything from home automation to media distribution.
Vista was met with positive reviews, but it failed to deliver in areas that were beneficial to custom installers.
With the official release of Windows 7, this could mean the start of a revived movement towards Media Center-based products.
Here are five reasons Windows 7 is good for installers.
Competition is Good for Bottom Line
Microsoft has opened up Cable Card support to all system builders. This means CE pros won’t be stuck paying a premium for a Cable Card-equipped systems. By doing a little searching, chances are you can find an OEM system builder in your area willing to design and sell you a Media Center at a fraction of what the “big boys” charge.
While ‘White Glove’ vendors do provide an extended level of service and support, such as training, the benefit of a local supplier is in the speed and accessibility of support when it is needed. Don’t be surprised to see a whole new generation of Media Center builders popping up in the coming months.
As for the features, the new Guide and Record features in Windows 7 are a nice improvement over Vista. And the ability to move Cable Card HDTV recordings between Media Center systems is smooth and long awaited.
Automation Options Still Plentiful
The real benefit of a Media Center installation is the ability to control multiple aspects of the users experience through a single portal or GUI.
By installing third-party applications such as the ones available from Exceptional Innovation, Autonomic Home, Embedded Automation, or Cortexa, installers can expand the functionality of any system and boost margins substantially while reducing the number of components that require support.
Improved Netflix Integration, Internet TV
Netflix has also pumped out a new GUI for its streaming movie services to coincide with the Windows 7 launch. Combined with CinemaNow, which will be offering 3D content in the future, and Blockbuster’s movie services, a Windows 7 Media Center is the most complete and full-featured content delivery platform on the market.
If you did not get a chance to play with the Internet TV features in Windows Vista, you owe it to yourself to check it out on Windows 7. With an expanded catalog, users can access content such as CBS TV or even concerts. And, of course, you can always access Hulu, which might start charging users to view content, from a Windows 7 system.
Blu-ray & Catalog Integration
While early Vista Media Center systems could leave an unpleasant taste in your mouth when it came to Blu-ray playback, today’s DirectX 11-capable video cards and third-generation Blu-ray playback software are nearly bulletproof. Add in the ability to catalog (albeit controversially) your movies, including Blu-ray, using applications such as My Movies or AnyDVD and you’ve got an all-in-one entertainment machine.
Groundbreaking Integration with Other Components
In August, Onkyo announced three Windows 7-ready amplifiers (TX-NR1007, TX-NR3007, and top-of-the-line TX-NR5007) that have built in a tremendous level of codec support, giving users the ability to stream audio from their PC directly to a 9-channel amp via the network.
If this is a sign of things to come, CE pros can expect improved compatibility, connectivity, and usability as more products begin to communicate openly over the home network.
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