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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.

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.

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Article Topics

News · Product News · Slideshow · Digital Media · Media Center · All topics

About the Author

Julie Jacobson, Co-Founder, EH Publishing / Editor-at-large, CE Pro
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. Follow her on Twitter @juliejacobson. [More by Julie Jacobson]

4 Comments (displayed in order by date/time)

Posted by A L  on  12/11  at  08:17 PM

How about tru2way support ???

Posted by Julie Jacobson  on  12/12  at  07:19 AM

A L, in the companion story,Geoff Robertson says:

As for tru2way cable, Robertson notes that “U.S. cable companies are developing two-way cable solutions on our technology without our help,” but won’t speculate about “whether or not they come to market.”

Of course, Robertson would like to see tru2way and other related technologies rolled out with Win 7.

“My wish is that lots of robust two-way solutions that were easily attainable,” he says. “We’ll have to wait and see what cable companies do.”

Posted by Seraphim  on  12/14  at  11:44 AM

Honestly, the caption shouldn’t be “It’s all about TV”, but it should be “It’s all about entertainment.”

One of Windows Media Center’s (WMC) major strength is its ability to be used with an extender for home audio streaming.  While I applaud MS for what “appears” to be a major enhancement to WMC, there still could be major improvement and additional features that are found similarly in Life|Ware for home automation capabilities.  Now that MS has on its employee’s payroll one of Life|Ware’s former founder, it would be interesting how much of his influence can be attributed to WMC new role out.

I would like to see a better integration of WMC for my collections of hundreds of audio files, such as: 1) creating a “screen saver” that shows the album art of the current album I’m playing; 2) WMC becoming more integrated with Zune’s playlist for subscription files and not having to make a duplication of playlists in Windows Media Player for WMC to identify.  Currently WMC can’t read Zune Playlists; 3) the ability for Windows Media Center to locate other Media Center PCs and to give the user the option to use several profiles found on ones network at the same time rather than having to create one specific profile.

This is only the crust of which Windows Media Center can improve substantially.  Anything else is simply fluff

P.S.  I placed a comment about three days ago, but for some strange reasons, it didn’t show up.

Posted by anonymuos  on  02/21  at  10:38 AM

The author of this article has made a huge goofup. IPTV is not yet supported in media center, what media center supports is receiving Internet-based TV channels. IPTV is something completely different.

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