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With Windows 7, Media Center is All About the TV

TV and PVR capabilities are more elegant and useful, with a strong IPTV component; platforms are in place for developers to create customizable content for Media Center.


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Media Center has had a pretty mixed message in the past, but with Windows 7, Microsoft is making one thing very clear: It’s about the television.

Windows 7 Media Center will feature easy access to IPTV content; integrated TV guides with IPTV, standard- and hi-def content; rich touchscreen capabilities; more customizable content; friendlier Media Center features for PC users; and superior tools for finding, accessing, and navigating through a variety of video content.

Media Center is “anchored on television,” said Geoff Robertson, general manager of Microsoft’s eHome division, during a press briefing in Redmond, Wash. “That has stayed consistent and will continue to be consistent.”

Robertson pointed out that the TV and PVR functionality of Windows Media Center is featured in a television ad as part of Microsoft’s “Mojave Experiment” series.

“There are three Mojave ads and one is about TV,” Robertson said. “It should be a clear message … that TV has become important on the PC.”

In the past, TV has been touted as just another feature of Windows Media Center, but it will take center stage when Microsoft rolls out Windows 7, the successor of the Vista OS.

Special TV Content for Media Center Only

We still have at least another year of Vista before Win 7 drops (hopefully in the fourth quarter of 2009), and Microsoft is working to build momentum for PC-based TV viewing even now – for example, with that Mojave ad in which one potential Media Center user says he could now chuck his cable DVR.

Behind the Scenes of Win 7 Media Center
What you see in Win 7 is compelling, but what you don’t see is Microsoft’s back-end efforts to help third parties create applications (like SportsLounge) and hardware (like CableCard tuners) for Media Center … without Microsoft’s handholding. Read: Microsoft Bolsters Back End…

(By the way, the first comment on the YouTube video of the ad is this: “wait how do you record tv on vista?”)

One way Microsoft is generating interest in the PC-as-TV is through innovative content that is available only through Media Center.

Microsoft’s first big investment in such content was SportsLounge – a Media Center Mecca for sports fanatics. There, enthusiasts can view current sports scores in real time, track their fantasy football teams’ performance, check out highlights at a glance – all with a few simple clicks of the remote control.

Microsoft upped the content ante with the Summer Games, working with NBC to deliver Olympics on the Go.

Available exclusively through Media Center, Olympics on the Go provided an unprecedented amount of sports coverage accessible on the viewer’s own terms.

Table tennis lovers, for example, could simply subscribe to that sport (yes, it is a sport) and the Media Center would download those matches for later viewing. No need to muddle through gymnastics and swimming, and no need to usurp a TV tuner that was set to record other shows.

Now comes the hat trick: MSNBC News for Media Center, which debuted as a special service during the elections.

Through the “Decision 08” tab on Media Center, political junkies could select exactly what they wanted to watch, when they wanted to watch it – a specific Obama speech, for example, or a particular Palin interview. Or they could choose “Editors Picks” or “Most Popular” news stories.


  About the Author

Julie Jacobson, recipient of the 2014 CEA TechHome Leadership Award, is co-founder of EH Publishing, producer of CE Pro, Electronic House, Commercial Integrator, Security Sales and other leading technology publications. She currently spends most of her time writing for CE Pro in the areas of home automation, security, networked A/V and the business of home systems integration. Julie majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, spent a year abroad at Cambridge University, earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin, and has never taken a journalism class in her life. She's a washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player currently residing in Carlsbad, Calif. Email Julie at [email protected]

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