Friday, September 02, 2011

Microsoft: Media Center Will be Part of Windows 8


Microsoft addressed the growing doubt about the survival of Media Center in their Windows Operating System today with a blog article.  In the article Microsoft confirmed that Media Center would in fact be part of Windows 8 – with some caveats.

Media Center Lives On

Microsoft’s Steven Sinofsky says in the article:

“I want to reassure customers that Media Center will definitely be part of Windows 8.”

No Media Center in Pre-Release Builds

He goes on to say that while they do plan to include Media Center in the new version of their flagship operating system, interestingly it will not be in the early pre-release builds:

“Media Center will not be part of the first pre-release builds. …. These are engineering decisions as well as business decisions.”

Probably No Changes to Media Center in Windows 8

He left the door open for how Media Center might be packaged with the Operating System – so it could be handled as it was in Windows 7 or it could be separated in some way.  I read no mention of any improvements or additions to the Media Center look, feel, or functionality and the fact they will not include it in the early releases leads me to believe it will remain largely unchanged from the version we now have with Windows 7.

HTPC’s Still tiny Niche Market

Another interesting tidbit in the article was about actual usage of Media Center.  here’s a quote that confirms what we already know – Media Center as all HTPC products still serve a small, niche market:

Our opt-in usage telemetry shows that in July, Windows Media Center was launched by 6% of Windows 7 users globally with the heaviest usage in Russia, Mexico, and Brazil (frequency and time). However, most people are just looking around; only one quarter (25% of 6%) of these people used it for more than 10 minutes per session (individual averages), and in 59% of Media Center sessions (by these 6% of users) we see almost no activity (less than a minute or two of usage).

Continuing to tell us a little more about usage, he goes on to say that of the functions used in Media Center, TV was used most often followed by streaming content and finally DVD and CD.  These numbers pale in comparison to Media Player which was used by 66% of Windows users in July.  If I was consulting for Microsoft, I would advise them to break out Media Center from the OS as a low-cost add-on for the operating system.  Market it as a “premium” product that is valued something beyond MS Paint.   Microsoft had been alluding to the possibility that Media Center would be dropped based on “The Future of the Living Room” focused on XBox and Bing.  So this confirmation of Media Centers survival will bring a sigh of relief to many.

So I see this as some bad news – no notable, new improvements to Media Center, but good news – Media Center survives.  And in this day and age of dwindling HTPC’s in the world, survival probably sounds pretty good to those HTPC enthusiasts in the world.

Read the complete article, Building Windows 8 at MSDN Blogs