Evolution of Windows Media Center

by Bharat Suneja

With the public availability of Windows 7 beta announced at CES 2009, Media Center aficionados are eagerly waiting for the updated Windows Media Center experience in the new OS. For me, Media Center has been the big reason to upgrade home PCs to Windows Vista, and looks like that will continue with Windows 7.

I love the easy-to-use electronic program guide (EPG) – and my son refuses to watch TV any other way now. The built-in DVR functionality is great, the ability to easily search for TV shows and record one instance or entire series, and being able to view the recorded TV shows from a laptop outdoors or any other computer on the home network is impressive. Although none of it is earth-shattering or revolutionary, it’s a great user experience, very well done, and getting better with each version.

Here’s a a look at the evolution of Windows Media Center:

Another trend visible at CES: many new models of televisions you’ll be able to buy in 2009 will have Media Center Extenders built-in. This means the same, well-designed Windows Media Center interface will now be shipped with the TVs – with no additional external boxes to buy or cables to run.

I also had no idea you could easily synch recorded TV from the Media Center to a Windows Mobile phone, as shown in this video.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Mark Lewis January 13, 2009 at 1:43 pm

Why would anyone be awaiting this? Many of us have been doing all of that AND things that Windows Media Center doesn’t and WON’T do for years with other software packages. WMC is over the top with DRM and because of the format it uses, you are very limited what you can do with your recordings. I can convert my SageTV recordings to ipod, PSP and a myriad of other formats already, so displaying on a phone is just a gimmick. Most areas either dont have the bandwidth to do it or the costs are too high.

As for the notion that many TVs will have extenders built in, I will believe it when I see it. Besides, who wants to replace all their TVs to do what you can with other software packages for significantly less money and without all the MS bloat and inflexibility.


Bharat Suneja January 13, 2009 at 2:00 pm

@Mark: I like Sage, but Vista (and Windows 7) Media Center looks a lot better, more polished/finished.

Haven’t run into any DRM issues just yet with Windows Media Center – although converting recordings to different formats is one feature I’d love to have.

The video link I posted shows how to synch to a Windows Mobile device by connecting it to a Windows PC – so no bandwidth concerns there.

For folks who love the Windows Media Center interface, having it built-in in the TV is a huge plus, imo.

As noted in the post, none of it is earth-shattering or revolutionary.

It’s not likely I’ll replace all my TVs just to get the built-in extender and Media Center interface, but when I buy the next TV, I’ll certainly factor that in (besides the ability of the TV to get on the network and fetch news/RSS feeds, weather, stock quotes, email, etc. from the internet, and play music, videos, and pictures from my Windows PC).


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