Where are we now?

With all the questions about Vista I thought it might be interesting to talk about where we are in the project and to see if there were things you were hoping to see.

Right now we're in a bug fixing phase. That means we are working on closing down as many bugs as possible in the product based upon our schedule. A lot of times this is called stabilization. Not very glamorous - but the most important part of a project in my opinion.

During this phase, however, we get to a point where individual teams start wanting to make changes to features that are complete, almost complete or adding new features. This is called a "DCR" or Design Change Request. Here is the fundamental tension that comes up in software management, and I'd assume in most projects. The tension is simply "Do you potentially sacrifice products quality for additional features?"

Like most things the answer is not simple. Often times we get market forces or partner companies requiring changes so our business depends upon a DCR. Other times our customers give us feedback (through usability groups or basic feedback like a blog) and we take that seriously. Sometimes we get major bug fixes or internal partner teams who need us to do work for them. And finally we just have last minute ideas.

Every time a DCR comes up it goes through a process (not glamorous either, but necessary). This process helps us evaluate a basic risk vs. reward scenario.

For example: With the recent Update Rollup 2 release I got a last minute request from one of our PMs to add functionality to down sample DVD playback to 480p when media center is hooked up via component connections. The basic problem we face is that macrovision (the DVD copy protection program) invokes when a DVD is played back at too high a resolution over an analog connection (this doesn't apply to VGA or DVI or HDMI).

The customer impact was clear. Some of our customers will not be able to play DVDs at higher resolution with Media Centers hooked up through component. Seems obvious enough that we should fix the issue -right? Well not necessarily. When the problem and solution were brought to my attention the project was about a month away from shipping. At that point we were essentially done and the test teams were in their final phases of testing. The risk starts going through the roof with every fix you take at that point.

So the question then became - how many people are really using component connections to their TVs and how many of those people are running at higher then 480p and how many of those people will actually watch DVDs through media center? The answer was a pretty small number. So the risk to all our customers for the benefit of just a few didn't seem worthwhile.

In the end I strongly feel that features are less important than stability. I’d rather see us do our core features really well (TV, music, photos, video, etc) then start adding things that a majority of customers my or may not want or need. Not to say that I don’t love features and think they’re important – just not as important as a rock solid product. The two aren’t always related, but whenever you make changes the risk to stability goes up.

All right - interactive part. What would you like to see in Media Center? Assume that Vista Media Center is the same a XP Media Center (it isn't). What are you hoping to see come out or would love to have?

Also would you sacrifice some stability for more features?

See you in the comments....

Comments (107)
  1. J says:

    Rock solid failure resiliency and stability is number one for me. A feature I am looking forward to in WinFS is the ability to right click on a important directory such as My Documents etc. and make it automatically be copied and constantly mirrored onto another disk drive from then on (sort of like RAID but selectively on directories).. so if my HD fails from any point from then on I can recover all my stuff without any issues.

  2. Shawn Oster says:

    First, I don’t feel sacrificing stability is ever an option for a consumer product in the arena that MCE competes. There is no feature or function that I want so badly that I’d be ok missing a recording or having to reboot the server back in the office while my wife beats me about the head and shoulders for missing the climax of Desperate Housewives.

    I haven’t explored the third-party world too heavily so if I say something that is already available just ignore me. Things I’d like to see in Vista:

    – Roll-over storage. I want MCE to know that it should record on D: then E: then F:, etc. I have a bunch of external 80GB drives and don’t want to have "archive", I just want to it to jump from one to the other.

    – Ability to play anything the WMP can play, via extenders. I download all sorts of odd little bits here and there from my art haus friends and I don’t want to have to convert everything to play it on my TV.

    – Keep the UI simple! Even in the indie-PVR forums people love the MCE UI. Don’t muck with it just to muck with it.

    – Add a DVD ripping module that makes it easy for people to build up a "My DVDs" collection in the correct format and layout. Smack all the DRM you want on it, I just hate the clutter of DVD’s.

    – iTunes-style TV episode downloading, but at HD quality. I know, this has little to do Vista itself and more with the industry but while I’m dreaming 🙂

    – Week-at-a-glance recordings. What am I going to be recording today/this week/this month? When fall starts up sometimes it’s hard to keep your brain wrapped around what you have scheduled and how everything relates so having more of a calender view would help.

    – Software tuning instead of hardware, so I can basically record the entire signal coming down and use software to split out the channels. I know, forgetaboutit, but I dream big.

    – I’m still in the SDTV world so no HDTV comments.

    – Ability to get your freaking X-Box Extender software cd key from tech support if you accidently throw the jewel case away. I know, this has nothing to do with Vista at all but as someone that won’t be able to watch their recorded content until their pre-ordered 360 gets in I’m pretty steamed that even though I registered my XBox Extender software I can’t get a replacement key. I can’t even find a local place to buy a new disc for my XBox anymore. Ok, I’ll stop ranting 🙂

  3. J says:

    Voice control / recognition. That is the ability to use a remote that has a mic or whatever and press a button (or say a rarely used trigger word) and then change to the channel (by saying the raw channel number, or the word NBC, ESPN, Discovery etc) I want. If it is hard to recognize certain words, it should be able to understand spelling out.

    Maybe u can do it for music too (playlists or numbers or "media center, skip" etc. should be easier to recognize than songs so it would be a start).

  4. Chester says:

    Watch DVDs using my MCE….oh, sorry your not going to fix that….

  5. Shahn Hogan says:

    – Scheduled FM recording

    – Ability to mute TV and listen to FM announcers for sporting events at the same time (mix inputs)

    – Audio leveling, those crazy loud commercials

    – Ability to stream media over the Internet without third party products

    If you can do any of these right now, let me know–thanks!

  6. MSDN Archive says:

    Let’s see on all these comments (they came fast). I’ll respond over time here – but I have some initial thoughts.

    1. Syncing – yes I agree. I’d love to have automatic mirroring onto another driver or comptuer or even the web. We have something started called <a href="http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=e0fc1154-c975-4814-9649-cce41af06eb7&DisplayLang=en">SyncToy</a&gt;. I’ve used it and it is a start – but not a complete solution.

    2. I’ve heard that we might be working on some interesting TV storage solutions, but I haven’t seen anything yet. I do know that with the DVD changer you’ll be able to set shows to "archive" to a DVD-RAM or other DVD-R disc.

    3. Check out Matt Goyer’s Blog for how to use MyDVDs for ripped movies. Cool but not automatic. HD-DVD is supposed to support this for all movies as part of the design but I don’t know when Media Center will….

    4. Total speculation on my part (and I mean total) but I think IP TV will bring in software tuning. I’m excited to see what Media Center does with it.

    5. Extenders/XBOX Extender – XBOX 360 rocks and solves almost all the issues listed. Very, very cool stuff.

    6. Voice control – check out "one voice" as a possible solution here. I saw them at a conference a few weeks ago and it seemed to work well.

    7. Schedule FM Recording – I wish, I really do. Maybe soon

    8. Streaming media – check http://www.thegreenbutton.com for an add-in that does this. I think it is called "My Media." I used it for a bit…

    9. Muting TV and using FM audio would be great. I can’t stand the Mariner’s announcers and don’t get me started on Marv Albert. 🙂

    Keep them coming…. 🙂

  7. Thomas Hawk says:

    1. Cable or Satellite HDTV

    2. Performance improvement for large digital media libraries (specifically large music collections via WMP)

    3. Flickr plug in — including the ability to do full screen slide shows similar to my photos with both Flickr favorites, sets and photostreams

    4. The ability to better filter and rate photos. As Vista appears to have the ability to both rate and tag photos allow me the ability to create custom photo slide show playlists of sorts. For instance, if I only want to see photos from 2005, let me do that. If I only want to see photos of my son William, let me do that — irrespective of where the photos are foldered. Let me say run only my 4 and 5 star rated photos, or only my 4 and 5 star rated photos tagged William, etc.

    5. HDTV movies video on demand — and not the crappy IMAX stuff offered by CinemaNow today (this will involve much more than Microsoft of course).

    6. "My Radio" PVR for the Radio (satellite, FM and internet).

    7. Sirius service including the ability to record a podcast of Howard Stern for transfer to my portable media device.

    8. Voicemail and telephone services through VOIP including a permanent archive of your voicemail. You should also sell VOIP wireless phones that double as remote controls.

    9. Plug in for the Internet Archive as well an editor (perhaps from MSN) who culls the best stuff from the Archive and highlights it up through Online Spotlight.

    10. "My Car" Integrate the services of Network Car (you guys should buy them) for vehicle tracking as well as the ability to transfer content (ripped DVDs, television, mp3s, etc.) via wi-fi or by removable hard drive to a GPS enabled auto media center PC in the car.

  8. Mike says:

    MPEG-4 Support (Divx and Xvid) for the Extenders- PLEASE!

  9. Kenneth says:

    Here’s the top of my wish list:

    – PDC (for us European users without more than two or three HDTV until sometime around 2009)… My old $50 VCR has this!!! I hate having to record the following two shows after the plannen NFL broadcast, just to be sure that I don’t miss the final touchdown.

    – A decent SDK so that I can have the same cool animations that MCE has. The HTML-stuff looks horrible…

    – A decent radio part. Only 9 channels… Come on! And a way to name these channels! Here in Denmark (where I’m from – and I think this goes for all of Europe) no one remembers the frequency a radio channel has – it can be very different from city to city… I want to be able to call my station # 1 eg. "Sky Radio".

    And I want to be able to add Internet radio and DAB as well… And please, please add a Guide for the radio part (I’m dreaming aren’t I…) or at the very least, let me schedule radio recordings…

    – A better way to edit music info… All the properties found in WMP should be editable via MCE – especially now the the cool MCE keyboard is out!

    Kind regards,

    Kenneth (Denmark)

  10. James says:

    Just wondering what features did Media Center customers gain that was so important in Rollup 2 that the DRM stability was sacrificed and now causes copy protection errors for many users?

    Did customers actually request additional CGMS/A filtering, COPP mechanisms, or new DRM engines?

    It sure seems like stability took a back seat to pleasing Microsoft customers that are requesting DRM additions.

  11. Beau says:

    1. HDTV via a cable card

    if not possible, then…

    2. QAM tuning. The cards are already out there. Just let me at a minimum tune my local channels via my cable provider so I don’t have to purchase some rabbit ears. QAM tuning would also allow MCE to capture surround sound (or at least I hope it would, I could then have surround sound with Battlestar Galactica, etc.)

    3. Better sorting/filtering of music, photos and probably DVDs (if we’re going to be allowed to rip them). I should be able to hit 1 through 5 on my remote while listening to music or viewing photos for ratings…

    4. Unrelated to MCE, but Microsoft should release a Home server edition like Small Business Server. It would have IIS, a slimmed down Exchange and SQL server. Limit the Exchange IS and SQL DB to 3 gigs or something. Put some home automation software on it as well. Limit it to five named accounts or something… The MCE machine would just be part of the domain.

  12. Paul says:

    1. Multi zone audio capability – if you have two soundacrds (e.g. onboard sound + add in sound card_ be able to output two different sources. This would be huge!

    2. Abilty to control MCE from another PC.

  13. MSDN Archive says:

    PDC would be very cool. We were just talking about that the other day. I wish US broadcasters would have it…

    My thought is that since it isn’t in the US this hasn’t be done yet. Not to say Media Center doesn’t care about international (we do – and it was one of the driving forces behind Rollup 2) but I don’t know if enough of our customers have pushed for the feature. We have talke about it though.

    SDK will be better for Vista. You should have access to lots of effects, etc. My ultimate dream, and a project I started a bit ago then handed off, was to have an Visual Studio Digital Media Edition, which would include the MCE SDK with intellisense, etc.

    Radio naming is on the list of things that will hopefully be here in Vista.

    Don’t get me started on Music editing. I don’t like it at all and wish we could do better. I haven’t looked yet in Vista.

    Per James who is clearly upset – I feel your pain. I didn’t want to change DRM either, but part of our product is to protect content providers. They are also our customers. DRM is complex but we did test is quite a bit and I hate to hear that you’re having issues. Can you give me more details?

    Finally the cable card request is something I’m hoping to see soon. See a couple of posts up about DVD ripping.

    Sorting and rating can certainly use work.

    Home server – very cool. I’d love to see that as all my media is on a server at home and it is still way too much hand work. I’m all about automation.

  14. Yacine says:

    1. Native Digital TV support.

    – DVB (Digital Video Broadcasting) with CI (common interface) support. DVB-C, S & T.

    – HDTV & Cable card.

    With this you can compete with cable companies DVR… And no more Tivo.

    2. Automatic (transparent) Game installation. Completely integrated in MCE (one-click uninstall). Not an add-on as Discover Console but a truly native part of the system. Games are important ! Hope XNA is no vapourware (that Xbox 360 and PC are sharing controls is great).

    With this you can compete against video game console.

    3. Push harder on content owner. Faire-use is important.

    With this you get the users 😉


    MCE not as a front-end for Windows (XP, Vista) but as the Operating System.

    Windows Hotfixes, Video Drivers etc… Silent and transparent installation or done simply using your Media Center.

    Skinned MCE.

    Better integration of portable devices (mp3 players…). Move playlists on the fly etc..

  15. Jason Tsang [MVP] says:

    To address James’ comment that he brought up…

    – If protected music works, but protected TV doesn’t – try new drivers (TV tuner and video card while you’re at it)

    – If neither protected music nor protected TV works – try the steps outlined here: http://support.microsoft.com/?kbid=891664

  16. captain_caveman2k says:

    I think most of these have been covered in mine or other’s posts on TGB but some of the following would be really good (which is in no particular order):

    1) Support for MHEG-5 to allow for DVB-T interactive services

    2) DVB-T Radio logos – rather than "Digital Audio Service" being displayed. I understand this is obtained from the MHEG-5 part of the stream

    3) Support for DVB-T subtitles

    4) Offical support for more that 2 Standard Definition tuners – HD is years away for most in the UK

    5) Better support for internet radio stations – including support for Real Audio Streams

    6) Support for Picture-In-Picture when MCE is being used with multiple tuners

    7) Now and Next (using the up and down buttons on the remote to view a mini guide of what is on at the moment whilst watching TV – similar to what Sky do here in the UK)

    8) Tivo style automatic recordings that allows similar programs to be recorded automatically by MCE (by actor, gener, etc…)

    9) T9 Predictive text input for the remote (It works really well on mobile phones)

    10) Restrict access to the Windows desktop from basic users (e.g The Kids)

    Cheers for listening



    PS. Any chance of a fix to channels being lost from the EPG here in the UK?

  17. captain_caveman2k says:

    I think most of these have been covered in mine or other’s posts on TGB but some of the following would be really good (which is in no particular order):

    1) Support for MHEG-5 to allow for DVB-T interactive services

    2) DVB-T Radio logos – rather than "Digital Audio Service" being displayed. I understand this is obtained from the MHEG-5 part of the stream

    3) Support for DVB-T subtitles

    4) Offical support for more that 2 Standard Definition tuners – HD is years away for most in the UK

    5) Better support for internet radio stations – including support for Real Audio Streams

    6) Support for Picture-In-Picture when MCE is being used with multiple tuners

    7) Now and Next (using the up and down buttons on the remote to view a mini guide of what is on at the moment whilst watching TV – similar to what Sky do here in the UK)

    8) Tivo style automatic recordings that allows similar programs to be recorded automatically by MCE (by actor, gener, etc…)

    9) T9 Predictive text input for the remote (It works really well on mobile phones)

    10) Restrict access to the Windows desktop from basic users (e.g The Kids)

    Cheers for listening



    PS. Any chance of a fix to channels being lost from the EPG here in the UK?

  18. Griffon says:

    You know, upscaling DVD’s is a very important feature to anyone with set that looks best with 720p+. LCD requires per pixel matching or it’s just not pretty.

    This feature has been SORELY lacking. It’s incredible sad and frustrating that I need to flip to a $150 dvd player instead of using my MCE box to get this functionality.

    xBox360 needs upscaling badly. If it had it I would be on the hook for 3 of them, without it I’m having trouble rationalizing even one.

    You folks need to through the high end folks a bone or two, we are then one that will drive most of the future purchases and upgrade paths of all our friends and families, this turns out ot be a pretty big base globally.

    Plus it’s just lame to have all that power sitting their doing the same things that a $39 progressive dvd player can do :p.

    These type of fast assessments for ROI usually completely fail to look at a larger picture then the current window, and that is how many companies can shoot themselves in the foot.

  19. MSDN Archive says:

    To be clear – the issue I was talking about was down-converting a signal from 720p/1080i/1080p. The change was to down-convert to 480p.

    However I would like to see some upconverting. What decoder are you using? You might be able to get some of that through one of the DVD decoders. I didn’t know that XBOX 360 didn’t up-convert to 720p or above. I must not be paying enough attention as I’m happy with DVD playback on my 1080p LCD.

    Per the post abvoe from captain_caveman2k – what is the bug you’re seeing on channels being lost? Is that on initial install after you added channels manually or something else?

    Some of your other requests have been discussed.

    Also so everyone knows – I’m sending this blog post on to my team so we can look through your suggestions to keep them coming!

  20. Jeppe Ravn says:

    I would very much like to see a manual for the product. How can you expect "normal" users to buy this product if there isnt a manual??

    I am loosing my radio stations almost once a week, so that part would be great to get fixed.

    I am also getting a bluescreen twice a month. MCE does what it should but it just bluescreens when trying to standby and restarts.

    when you introduce xbox360’s as extenders I believe that you should make a mce server edition. One that can handle all the features that a server version should include. Backup, rollover when recording to another drive etc..


  21. captain_caveman2k says:

    Hi David,

    The loss of channels from the EPG only appears to effect DVB-T users and generally happens once or twice a month.

    We have been discussing it on TGB for some time now and from what I can remember it was mentioned in an expert chat transcript or newsgroup as a known problem.

    Basically, half a dozen channels loose their listing data in the EPG so "No data available" is displayed and we have to manually "Add listing to guide" to tie up the broadcast channel with the EPG data in order to fix the problem.

    It’s one of those very frustrating bugs and you could say that we seem to cope with it as long as someone is around the MCE machine to fix it when it happens – unfortunately if you are on holiday / vacation when it happens then your scheduled recordings don’t record and there is nothing you can do about it 🙁

    I know this is a very wooly bug report and from a project manager’s and software engineer’s point of view doesn’t give you much to go on. As such the following TGB threads may be of some use:



    If there is anything I can do to help such as send log files etc… please let me know. I have the same username of TGB and can be PM’ed / e-mailed / IM’ed.

    Thanks again to you and your team for listening.

    Kind Regards


  22. Ben says:


    What I really would like is RDS support for radio. Most european radio stations provide extra info through RDS. Even my cheap tuner can do this trick and it is great (list of music played for example)

    Also it would be cool to have a better IM client that the old windows messenger. A cool version of msn messenger fopr MCE with audio and video support would be awesome

    And I fully agree on the dvd rip functionality (now have to use nasty trick to rip the dvd’s I paid for to my harddisk) and the ability to easier manage your wma/mp3 collection (mine is over 20.000 songs and it was a uncool job to rip all of the cd’s)

    finally it would be great if I could without 3rd party products burn to a dvd that can be played on a regular dvd player

    Thanks for listebning and making this product even more cool

  23. carey says:

    0) Stability! RU2 seems to have helped.

    1) Support for digital and HD cable. I hate having intermittant signal problems due to rooftop HD ant and signal problems due to splitting my cable. I wish I had DiscoveryHD, ESPNHD, etc.

    2) Full HD Subchannel directory support! PITA that I can get a valid listing for PBS subchannels.

    3) PVR functionality for radio. Since I don’t listen to radio much via MCE, this is not a biggie. But I don’t see the big deal with implementing it. Easy for me to say. 🙂

  24. Steve says:

    Separate touchscreen display capability with the ability to handle separate resolutions. This may not be directly handled within MCE, but may be something that the video card manuf. have to address.

    More and more HTPCs are starting to have touchscreens available which can be quite useful as you don’t have to turn on the TV to access the PC, but the problem is that the resolution for the touchscreen has to match the TV which, if you have an HDTV can cause problems.

  25. Chris Hynes says:

    Killer feature:

    Digital Cable with HD through CableCard. This is absolutely imperative. I haven’t gotten an MCE box yet because of the lack of this functionality.

    Cool stuff to have:

    – Multi-zone audio

    – Upscaling for all content

  26. No way! Stability absolutely has to come before features and new functionality. MCE PCs have high visibilty to a group of users that may not care or know how to use extended features (higher res DVD playback, etc.). If MCE doesn’t pass the wife / visiting family test, it gets removed from the home media solution and we go back to watching from the box that our television provider gave us. A MCE PC must act like an appliance because low-tech users do not have tolerance to fiddle with settings and etc.

    Here’s an item I’d love to see improved:

    * We have a lot of MP3s accessed from the network. If the network is unavailable, the My Music menu hangs for a long time (2 minutes) until it can figure out that our MP3 server is unavailable. This happens when just passing the My Music menu from the Main Menu.

  27. Jean-Pierre Morard says:

    DVB-MHP like feature:

    When you get a dual display card you can watch your TV while you are, for example, writing this comment. But if your son takes the remote control to change channel then you are loosing the focus on the monitor: this prevent from sharing a MCE PC for office and entertainment simultaneously by two different family members. So I propose to change this exclusive way MCE application is managing input events into an org.dvb.event way (sharing between zapper application and xlet)

  28. MSDN Archive says:

    Thanks again for all the comments. I’ll continue to pass them on to the Media Center team.

    There are so many here that I can’t keep up. 🙂

    Clearly Cable Card is a big deal.

    I also think the network robustness would be good.

    I had a talk with one of our people working on TV today and let him know about the requests here as well.

    Also stay tuned for multi-zone audio. I’ve heard rumors (all I’ve heard) but that would be cool.

  29. Hubert Kay says:

    Here is what we need in the new version:

    # 1& #2) satellite and cable HDTV

    # 3) much better handling of large digital media libraries, esp. pictures and music files

    # 4) making better use of existing meta-data in those media libraries (esp. EXIF and IPTC information in picture files)

    # 5) allow usage of media files irrespective of their physical storage. E.g. let me create a slide show on the fly, with all pictures carrying a certain IPTC tag; and allow a calendar view (similar to Adobe Photoshop Album) of pictures

    # 6) ability to join an AD domain

    # 7) offer randomized playlists for video clips. I am collecting single-song music videos (MTV style), and would like to create party playlists with these

    # 8) offer all necessary system administration tools from within the 10′ interface. Currently I am esp. missing the "defrag" function

    # 9) provide the MSN Messenger video-conferencing facility from within MCE

    # 10) instead of trying to offer all things to all people, make it much easier to application programmers to offer an alternate 10′ interface to their packages. Example: instead of offering red-eye correction on pictures, I would love to have an MCE interface to Adobe Photoshop Elements (at least to the Album and the "instant fix" sections);

  30. Roy Evans says:

    1. Clean and fast screens

    2. Quick reaction to commands from remote, mouse,and keyboard

    3. Speed over cute

    4. Worthwhile Spotlight "stuff"

  31. Evan Light says:

    The glut of hard drive and flash based video players on the market virtually demands that MCE support popular and/or open codecs such as DivX, XviD, or H.264 MPEG-4. DVR-MS MPEG-2 takes up entirely too much storage space for many portable devices and is, of course, proprietary and therefore poorly supported.

    MCE should support one of the following abilities:

    (1) Encoding the original video recording in an unprotected flavor of MPEG-4 (except where CMGS/A is present because I know that, however much we complain, this feature will not go away)

    (2) Designating scheduled recordings/series for transcoding to MPEG-4 as a post-process on the recording.

    For non-CMGS/A material, is there a legitimate justification, other than locking the customer into using Microsoft certified products, to encode recordings in DVR-MS?

  32. MSDN Archive says:

    Per the request from captain_caveman2k.

    We know about the guide issue and we’re investigating. That’s all the info I have so far…

  33. Arshad Jardien says:

    A Must:

    1. stability (it is going to be CE Product)

    2. satellite and cable HDTV


    1.Multi zone audio


    3. Build in true network aware Client/Server Media center, Media servers. EX. build in shared recorded tv,my dvds,etc

    4.MAYBE FRONTEND MCE ONLY EDITION.Not on XP,VISTA, but embedded.Take the Desktop O.S out (because people see windows desktop they think computer at work at home and say i don’t want that in living room.aka viruses,spam popups,crashes)

  34. bton04 says:

    New feature:

    – Ability to record and view TV show on mapped network drive

    – View ripped DVD on extender

  35. Ben Lambert says:

    Hey David – thanks for being so willing to get feedback. MCE is a great product, and we all want it to succeed as much as you guys do!

    Some suggestions:

    1) I’d really like to see the concept of "mood matching" fleshed out in MCE. For example, I’d like to be able to quickly generate a playlist of "Upbeat 80’s rock", or "slow blues". Genre is sort of useful, but not sufficient to get a playlist based on my current mood.

    I played around with a Tivo addin called MoodLogic a while back – I liked being able to quickly generate a playlist based on mood. Their Tivo menu structure had some decent views of music (By Genre & Mood, Genre & Tempo, Genre & Decade), as did their desktop app (it used slider metaphors). I know the MCE team could outdo that.

    I guess this comes down to allowing filtering/sorting/searching based on more tags than just Album, Artist, etc. Mood is already an available tag in the WMP Advanced Tag Editor, but not immediately available in the treeview (without using the playlist query UI).

    As another example, I’d like to "play all my music, but filter the ‘comedy’ and ‘soundtrack’ genre".

    2) Per your comment about having a "Visual Studio Digital Media Edition" – I can’t wait for this! I’ve avoided developing for MCE because I don’t want to write DHTML.

    3) Sounds like I’m in the minority, but I don’t consider ripping DVDs to my hard drive very interesting. If I’m going to watch a DVD, I don’t mind manually putting the disc in. I’d rather use the space for home videos, recorded TV, etc. I could probably evolve into ripping DVDs, but for now it’s not important to me.

    4) Regarding the thread on Charlie’s blog response to Paul Thurrott’s Vista MCE review – I agree that while having the alumn art is an excellent "wow" factor and I love showing it to my friends, it doesn’t get used much (I have a gazillion "Greatest Hits" albumns…).

    As a compromise, why not beef up the Artist view to have some art? Even just selecting an album cover to use for a given artist might be useful.

    5) Finally, the Vista MCE background looks really dull compared to the current vibrant blue. You’ll never please everyone, but maybe some degree of configuration or personalization would placate the masses? Show Left-to-Right or Show Top-to-Bottom. Personally, I love the current MCE2005 blue color scheme with the subtle white brush strokes. I think the Vista brush strokes in the background are too prominent. Maybe even offer color schemes out of the box? Tivo’s background is animated – might be nice to have the current background more ‘alive’ and incorporate some very subtle motion to the color scheme?

    Looking forward to what’s next!

  36. Chris Kinsman says:

    #1. DirectTV HD Support. I live in Redmond and MDM still does not offer HD Cable.

    #2. Remote Scheduling

    #3. Integrate SlingBox like remote viewing.

    #4. PocketPC Based Remote software integrated via WiFi or Bluetooth.



  37. Impact says:

    Multiple tuner spaces – so that dvb-t can work with analogue tuner cards, and dvb-t can work with FM radio !!! Seriously – this is just basic stuff !!!!

  38. philzgr8 says:

    One of my biggest bugbears is the inability to include music video clips in a playlist and have them automatically played as video clips. Not a difficult one I would have thought!

  39. Jarynis says:

    Apologies if this stuff I mention is not about your product. I’m not great on the technical side, but these are some simple? things I’d love to see.

    1. Record TV in a different format to DVR-MS. The files are just too big. Most the time I can convert shows to an .avi file with little obvious loss of quality and a much smaller file. This is on analogue, by the way.

    2. When I have programmed a TV show to record, and the show starts late, I want to be able to edit the end time for the recording, otherwise I’m going to miss the end of my shows. Don’t know about around the world, but shows often start late in Australia. To counteract this I have to anticipate a late start and end up sometimes recording 20 min too much of a show, hence increasing the file size.

    3. Support for Australian HDTV, including sound. I’ve heard there is an issue with capturing the audio, which is apparently in AC3 format? Not sure of the technical details on that one.

    4. Inbuilt software to allow editing of Recorded TV. I currently use dCut, which is great, but the less add-ons the better IMO.

    5. A working and simple way to burn Recorded TV to a DVD that can be watched on other DVD players.


    I’ll be interested to see what you have to say. And thanks so much for letting us be heard. I hope you can integrate as much as is possible to make MCE as good as it can be.

  40. Roberto Morales says:


    First Biggest problems with MCE 2005 is how difficult it is to navigate. I have a collection of over 1000 CDs perfectly tagged, all with Album covers. MCE 2005 makes it very difficult to navigate. For example while in Music -> Album Menu press a letter in the remote, MCE takes you randomly to a different letter…..

    Second biggest problem: PERFORMANCE!! Having a large library of CDs, photos, videos.. Menu refresh is extremely slow. Both Media Center 2005 and Media Center extender are barely usable….

    For microsoft to dominate the Media hub space in our connected homes, They need to hire somebody who thinks about USABILITY and SIMPLICITY. Their approach is too square

  41. Pete says:

    I know these have been mentioned, but I feel they are worth repeating:

    1. Support for more than 2 analog tuners simultaneously. I would like to do 4 analog.

    2. Support for recording to multiple hard drives.

    3. When a recorded show is archived to a seperate hard drive you must view it from My Videos and you lose all the metadata about the show. I suppose if you do #2 this is less important, but I would like to always see the metadata in My Videos.

  42. ozbear says:

    I would like to have Picture-in-Picture available for users with multiple tuners.


  43. mrees says:

    PIP would be great

    DEFINATELY support for mixed Tuners with DVB-T & FM Radio

    Ability to record FM Radio

    DIVX and xvid support on extenders

    More intelligent My music. Currently if tags arnt correctly tagged as far as WMP is concerned all hell breaks loose, even if the v1 and v2 tags are correct. I have 25,000 tracks in my library and correcting those was nothing short of HELL

    Abilty to watch TV and have my music playing in background

    Easy Export function for settings and recorded tv show settings when upgrading to a new machine or rebuilding exisiting.

    Ability to join a domain (all though Im sure that is pretty much on its way with Vista)

    yibidee yibidee, thats all folks

    Cheerz (from Doan Under)

  44. cjp says:

    Would be a lot more usedul for me, if you could schedule wake from standby and watch a specific channel. Eg, wake up to watch the news channel Monday to Friday at 7am.

  45. cjp says:

    XBOX (pre-360) extender support in Australia.

    DVB-T signal strength/quality indicator

  46. simbot says:

    – PIP support

    – Multiple tuner Spaces. Mediaportal can mix and match analog and digital, why can’t a for profit company do it?

    – Support for non-standard video content (ie Xvid/divx) on extenders. I noticed you havn’t addressed this comment once yet, it would seem everyone dodges this one. Alot of customers could be lost on this one, as a number of other free options are catching up and will offer this support.

    – Skinning Support for individuality.

    – Better/faster handling of music library


  47. Matt says:

    – Multiple Tuner spaces, as well as the ability to bind an EPG to a specific tuner to allow for PAY-TV via an analogue card, while also having DVB-T cards working with there own full EPG.

    – Video Playlists for Music videos

    – Options for automated video archival to a server.

    – Better DVD burning

    – Inbuilt DVR-MS editing tools (cutting adverts out)

    – Support FM Radio on DVB-T hybrid tuner cards

    – Longer soft padding times

    – Support for more DVB-T tuners

  48. James Tenniswood says:

    1. Multi room audio

    2. Upscaling playback

    3. Browsing pictures by time, ala Photoshop Elements (ie use page down to jump month by month)

    4. Option to stop mce creating snapshot images of the video files in My Videos (as it makes my service very slow and jerky even through it’s running video off a server over gigabit ethernet, except with read only access to save anyone deleting it)

  49. James Tenniswood says:

    Ps RU2 update is rock solid for me, and i’m loning the radio over freeview (uk specific)

    Great job

  50. Well you certainly got some good feedback!

    For me I can echo Steve (captain_caveman2k) the UK EPG problems drive me mad.


    Better support for DVB-T function

    Software Media Center Extenders

  51. Matt says:

    Ability to connect to other media centers for viewing. I have 2 media centers in my home. One in the family room and one in the office. It would be nice to watch things from the other media center without using an extender. Extenders don’t offer the same functionality as a whole new media center pc.

  52. Dan says:

    Mark shows by who selected to record it, or by who watches it.

    My Wife and I both record shows/series. Can they be color coded or marked some other way for who recorded it? And Sort based on that?

    Also, there are shows we both like, but are not always able to watch together. I’d really like to know if she has watched it, so I know I can delete it when I’m done watching it.

  53. MSDN Archive says:

    Thanks again everyone for all your comments. The are just too many for me to get through and actually do my job. 🙂 I have another post I’m working on that will move on with a lot of this info so check back soon.

  54. MattP says:

    1) More than 2 Analog Tuners, and/or the 4 available tuners we have now, without distinguishing between analog or ATSC. If I want 4 analog tuners or 3 analog and 1 ATSC, or 4 ATSC I should be able to do it.

    2) Picture-in-Picture, Picture-on-Picture, Picture-by-Picture. Preferably all 3 but I’d settle for 1 of them.

    3) It would be nice if I have multiple MCE boxes on my local network, they would ‘discover’ each other (UPnP) and cooperate with storage space and tuner availability. If all the tuners on one MCE box are busy recording, tuners on the other MCE box could be used for recording additional content. Basically help eliminate tuner contention. All this would happen transparently without user intervention.

  55. ProfessorU says:

    Make resolution changes easier. We should be able to set a default font, icon, and even thumbnail size at each screen resolution. Options for managing a desktop spanned across multiple monitors would be nice, a la Nvidia’s desktop manager app without two dozen submenus and useless tweaks.

    Under XP, my primary monitor is set at 1280×1024. My second and third monitors are 1024×768 and TV. Since aero-glass can scale anyway, the bottom and top of all monitors should be aligned, not mismatched with a bunch of desktop area I can’t see.

  56. Keith Hill says:

    1. DVD Ripper ala the "My Movies" add-in that is out there (I currently use DvdShrink plus My Movies). This should be built-into MCE.

    2. Once I have a movie collection on my main MCE PC, allow me to stream that content to my MCX devices.

    3. Allow multiple 30 minute TV buffers such that if I bounce between two shows I don’t lose the buffer.

    4. Support CableCard, nuf said.

    5. Since MCE is a "MEDIA CENTER" it is a crying shame that you have to purchase 3rd party software to get an MPEG-2 decoder. Not too mention that MCE’s quality can vary dramatically depending on whose codec is used.

    6. Why do I have to have AC3Filter to get my 5.1 surround sound speakers to work when watching DVD’s?

    7. Modifying an existig Music playlist is something that would be nice to do.

    8. PIP would be very nice for folks with multiple tuners.

  57. Ben says:

    1) Please fix my biggest gripe with MCE, the unnecessary use of the "album artist" tag for music. I have painstakingly ripped my music collection and use the standard tags "artist" and "album", but MCE refuses to recognise the albums artist, despite that a group of mp3 files, located in one directory, with identical "artist" and "album" tags. I admit the "album artist" tag is a good idea, especially for albums with mixed artists. The way it works also flies in the face of almost every other decent mp3 playing software in existance.

    2) This will probably be implemented anyhow by the use of WinFS, but it would be great to see a logical grouping of all movies, regardless of where they are located. For example I have movies on my MCE machine, and several other shared folders on computers scattered throughout the house. Currently it shows these as subfolders and can be quite difficult to navigate if you cant quite remember on which computer, which directory the movie you are after is stored. What would be much nicer is if it just grouped all the movies from all locations specified into one "logical wholeistic view"

    Those I see as "essential", now onto the "wishlist"

    3) A bluetooth remote control

    4) Speed up my music searching feature

    5) Scheduled FM radio recording

    6) Picture in Picture

    7) IIS Based EPG for programming recording etc, which DOESN’T rely on MSN, or for that matter, your country actually having a supported EPG 😉

    8) Make the interface handle and utilise widescreen displays more effectively than it currently does

    9) An SDK which can utilise all the snazzy interface effects and is easy to use (love the idea of a vs.net plugin to drag and drop MCE interface elements)

    10) More of a focus on country specifics, ie for Australia where I am, we have had EPG problems, AC3 audio in HD problems, and pretty poor online spotlight content. Some community groups feel some sediment because these issues have taken quite some time to be addressed.

    11) My Weather!

    That should just about do it, hopefully at least some of this stuff makes it in. Thanks for asking for our input.

  58. Tim says:

    Sorry for the long post, but…

    For me, requirement #1 echoes some other people’s request: stability.

    In the world of email systems, there is a well-known mantra for developers: "Don’t lose the mail."

    i.e. whatever you do, *never* lose a piece of email – if the disk might fill up, if the machine may crash at a certain point, etc, then that’s fine – just don’t allow this scenario to ever lose a piece of email.

    Talking to a friend about this who works at MS he said some (all?) dev groups refer to these principles as ‘pillars’.

    I would respectfully suggest that the MCE group adopt "Don’t fail to record TV" as their primary pillar. Everything else (slow performance on big media libraries, missing features, etc) can be borne by the user with patience, but if you don’t record the TV the user asked, there’s nothing they can do about it. You’ve lost it – it’s gone. Nothing will make someone develop a hatred for MCE faster than this. So don’t fail to record it.

    Why am I making a point of this? Well, it’s because about once a week, MCE will decide that it can no longer connect to the Guide database, and so it won’t let me schedule any more recordings. If I’m not around to reset it when it’s in this state, it will eventually start to not record shows that are scheduled to be recorded. My application event log (yea, even after Rollup 2) is typically full of errors from the Scheduler bitching about some problem with not being able to access the guide data. (And it’s not like I’ve installed a bunch of weird stuff on my MCE PC – it’s pretty vanilla.)

    Anyway, after stability (don’t lose the TV!), my requests would be:

    – My Music – speed it the hell up. It’s just *embarrassing*. When I say embarrassing, I decided to learn C#/Windows Forms the other week – I decided to write a simple media library. After about 2 days of work, I had an app that would index all of my mp3s, and show an iTunes-style browsing interface onto them (genre, artist, album, etc). Clicking on an artist/album was a similar speed to iTunes interface – i.e. sub-1 second to see the results. This took me 2 days (while also learning the language/libs/IDE), and already I’ve surpassed the performance of MCE/WMP. If that’s not embarrassing, then someone needs some more ‘motivation’. (I have over 8000 mp3s, btw)

    – Some other things are slow for no defensible reason (imho, of course). e.g. when I look at my Recorded TV, and switch from ‘Sort by Title’ to ‘Sort by Date’. It takes like 2 seconds to do that. 2 seconds. There are about 100 items in that list. What does it use, a bubble sort written in GW-BASIC?

    – Make My Music not mysteriously fail to recognise half my albums. The songs are all there, but in the album view, often there are no albums at all, or it only lists 2 or 3 albums for an artist when I know I have, say, 6 albums by that artist. The frustrating thing is, when you play the song that allegedly isn’t on an album, MCE then displays the name of the song *and* the name of the album! This is really quite broken. Note that the media library app I wrote (see above) didn’t have this problem – and here’s the killer – I used an embedded WMP control to extract the mp3 tags in my app, so you can’t even blame the WMP guys! 🙂

    – I live in the UK, and so I use DVB-T for my TV. MCE handles this really well, except for one problem – sometimes the reception on some muxes is not that great, and the signal cuts out. This results in choppy playback now and then – fair enough. But if the signal is lost for long enough, MCE (and/or the mpeg2 codec) decides that [a] The programme is now over, and shows the Delete/Restart/Keep menu (wrong!), or [b] Just plain hangs the whole damn machine (or just eHome.exe). You might guess that [b] is pretty annoying. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does, it really jolts you out of the whole ‘consumer appliance’ world, as you have to hit reset, or maybe get your keyboard out and do the 3-fingered salute. Basically, a codec (I’m assuming this is the problem), should never be able to crash Media Center.

    – Wake up, and realise that DivX etc exist. Other people have mentioned Xbox 360 etc, so I won’t repeat that, but the fact that MCE won’t let me fast-forward/rewind DivX movies (I have to jump through them) is really irritating. I asked someone I know in MS about this who’s done some work in video before, and they said it was that the files weren’t ‘seekable’ so it wasn’t their/WMP’s fault. I said, yeah, I guessed as much, only how come VLC can fast forward these same DivX movies *just fine*? (To be fair, they then said "Ah right. In that case, I lied. We suck.") Again, the fact that VLC handles media better than MCE *should* be an embarrassment. If it isn’t, there’s something wrong.

    – Fix padding. For a start, the end padding is limited to 4 minutes. I’m betting that no-one on the MCE team has ever watched BBC2 in the UK. 4 minutes? They can exceed that standing on their heads! That’s no challenge to them! 🙂 There’s no good reason to limit it that way (it doesn’t actually make the product easier to use, does it?) Also, MCE often forgets to pad recordings, for no reason I can determine, especially as I have two tuners. So it will record one program in the evening, and start recording 2 mins early, but for some reason will stop on time, even though my end padding is set to 4 mins, and it’s not recording anything else at the same time. That’s kind of annoying. It seems to do this a lot.

    – DVR-MS format is fine – you want to store extra info, great. But make it easy for us to extract the mpeg2 data if we want to. Also, I was sort of surprised that something like PowerCompress didn’t come as standard with MCE. Seems like in every other way, MS tries to push WMV in your face – I would have thought this would be an ideal way (save disc space, isn’t WMV great? etc), but what would I know? 🙂 (Of course, if you add it now, you’ll be accused of stomping on the little guy…)

    To finish, so I don’t seem like a total Cornish Curmudgeon, I really like a lot of MCE. For example, it is hands down the best DVD player I’ve ever used – mainly because of speed of response, and being able to skip back/forwards. I have wanted a Tivo-style ‘replay last 5 seconds’ button on my DVD for *so* long, so thanks very much for that.

    The TV stuff (when it works) is great – I’ve never had problems with picture quality/sync that can’t be put down to signal issues – but then I get it all direct as mpeg via DVB-T anyway; I guess analogue capture cards might have more issues.

    The interface is also very nice to use – and I’m an ex-Tivo owner, so I have high expectations. (The main thing that bugs me is when I have to wait for big lists to be filled in. Don’t make me do that. There are these new things called ‘threads’ you know.)

    Finally, sit up straight.

  59. Provide a way for multiple Windows PCs in a home to share content with one another automatically and have each other’s digial library populated by what’s available on the network.

    I just published an article on the topic:

    "Windows Vista MCE Needs to Take a Page from Mediabolic’s Playbook"


  60. Stuart Anderton says:

    For me the key things are:

    1) Reliability of recording TV. I get too many lock ups, too many failed recordings. The DTT guide listing problems seems to have been solved by Rollup 2 (although MCE still can’t associate the second most popular channel in the UK with its listings automatically!)

    2) Speed in My Music. I have 18,000 tracks, and it’s just rubbish compared to the speed of access of iTunes. Currently it’s borderline unusable with teh waiting involved.

    3) A little one – TiVo (and some other PVRs) have a nice feature where if you’re watching live TV and you decide to record the programme you’re watching, it adds the section of the programme which is in the live TV buffer to the recording. MCE just starts recording from where you are now.

    The stuff which has been stated about losts of MCE PCs shipping without tuners worries me. For me, MCE is a PVR with losts of great add ons. The TV viewing part of the functionality is by far, far, far the most important stuff. So

    4) Keep working on the guide data. It’s passable now, but it’s the best way to make the user experience better. I’m bored of having to delete all the duplicate recordings of the same episoode the whole time.

    5) I’ve seen screenshots of Vista which suggest album art is going to be very important for music navigation. Don’t assume that a) we know what the album covers look like, b) that we have album art associated with all albums. WMP10 is not good at adding album art; if you are going to take away the identifying text you at the very least need to add an album art tool usable in MCE.

  61. Steve Corbett says:

    1) Control MCE from another PC via Web Interface

    2) Play random albums from a genre but maintain the track order within the album

  62. Mark Hanson says:

    Regarding Ben Lambert’s comments about making playlists using mood information, support for this in MCE would be great. Sometimes you don’t want to construct a manual playlist and a random list often produces a mix that puts totally different songs next to each other.

    I have been using a program called MusicMagicMixer for a while which does a similar thing. It analyses all the songs for their musical style and then when you select a song/album/artist it can create a playlist of similar songs. You can also create moods and make playlists based on these. I have been very surprised at how good these mixes turn out to be. I think they have a plugin for Winamp so it looks like it could be integrated into MCE, the web site is:


  63. Stuart Anderton says:

    Here’s a quick and easy one; when using the Guide, can we see the day of the week on screen, not just the date? I’m forever trying to work out what day I’m looking at when I browse forward.

  64. Ian Bennett says:

    1) Interface to internet radio.

    2) My Music to include video (for music clips) too! When playing an audio only file then show visualisation. Can choose to play audio only, video only or mixed (e.g. via genre).

    3) Automatically go back to launching menu rather than show mini menu at the end of video playback. At least take out the delete option – I dont want my kids accidentally deleting something.

    4) "MCE mode" bootup option that only loads the essential stuff required to use MCE so that I dont have to wait for the 500 services to load up that I will never use.

    5) Ability to re-order and hide main menu items.

    6) Scanning for new TV services doesnt cause me to have to reedit my channels.

    7) Configurable automatic before and after scheduled EPG time for recording of TV shows. My local stations are hopeless at showing things on time.

    8) My wife is a University lecture and legally allowed to record and display TV shows for teaching/research purposes. It would be nice to have a mechanism for doing this (e.g. ability to play on one other device – laptop for instance).

    9) Reset mode (e.g. based on System Restore) that can reset back to a restore point for a certain amount of time and also back to the original installation.

    10) Automatic backup/synchronisation to USB device as it is detected. All my family photos and video are on the MCE and it would be nice to just be able to plug in the external drive and have it automatically synchronised rather than the manual method I have to do now.

  65. Ian Bennett says:

    …also, I prefer to use my normal PC for navigating and purchasing music from on-line sites.

    This is due to ease of use (I generally have no mouse/keyboard on MCE) and security (MCE is wireless, other PC is not and it is has all the anti-virus, anti-spyware etc software whereas MCE does not).

    Therefore I find it frustrating that I cannot play the DRM protected songs downloaded without having to burn them to CD and rip them off again (a practice which is dubious legally but I feel is ethically justified).

  66. Mike S. says:

    Here are some ideas with priorities:

    – P0: HDTV (cable) support.

    – P0: Better music support. Currently managing my collection of mp3s is pretty much impossible. 90% of them are missing proper ID3 tags, I ended up with with about only 1.5 songs per one album displayed in MCE. It’s such a mess. I can’t control it anymore, and I want something to fix my music collection (the current autogeneration of ID3 tags seems to fail me all the time. Can’t this be fixed?)

    – P2: I want to be able to create playlists by checking boxes next to several songs. Right now creating playlists is nearly impossible (too many clicks)

    – P1: I’d like to know who watched a particular show (there are two people in my house that watch recorded shows and sometimes it’s hard to tell whether my roommate watched it and therefore if it can be deleted)

    – P0: I want to be able to start slideshows in any place (not always from the beginning)

    – P0: when I am in a photo album and press back I want the focus to return to the photo album I was just looking at, not to the beginning of the list

    – P1: When I watch photos on my widescreen TV I want the option to have them always zoomed in to fit my screen

    – P1: a simple way of sharing my photo and music collection with other computers in my house (I want to play music upstairs when I shower, I want to play music downstairs when I eat breakfast)

    – P0: Better music search (currently its useless because its so slow)

    – P0: Pre-cache photo album thumbnails so that it doesn’t take media center so long to switch to the music view (it’s also silly that it renders them always from scratch)

    – P0: Fix the problem of the same show getting recorded multiple times (Daily Show on comedy central is a great example)

    – P2: Make the TV guide more attractive. It’s currently very hard to discover new and iteresting shows (and since I skip commercials I don’t know whats worth to watch in the future)

    – P2: undelete functionality (several times I pressed the delete button too fast)

    – P2: voice control (when I cook it’s hard to use the remote)

  67. Chris Malone says:

    This isn’t MCE but..

    Windows Vista wanted features:

    Auto-Select current directory as default when you go up 1 dir.

    Unload Windows and unneeded services from memory when you launch a fullscreen app. (configure in properties dialog)

    Download manager in IE7 with pause and restoration after shutdown.

    Set Timeline for all thumbnails of videos instead of just black from the start of a movie.

    Binary saving for Notepad.

    Open With and Edit for EXE, COM etc.. files with notepad.

    Multiple clipboard capabability.

    Processor Temperature in Task Manager.

    My Video on Start Menu.

  68. Andrewpmoore says:

    Pretty much the same list as captaincaveman2k.

    Especially the "Now and Next (using the up and down buttons on the remote to view a mini guide of what is on at the moment whilst watching TV – similar to what Sky do here in the UK)" this makes like so much easier for quickly browsing what’s on.

    Also multi dvb support, ie dvb-s and dvb-c with the ability to mix sources, ie dvb-s and dvb-t

  69. Kerpal says:

    I’d like to see:

    * Support for analog/digital tuners at the same time (and ability to map specific channels to tuners).

    * Ability to fast forward/rewind DivX/XVid.

    * Better/easier support for Real Media and QuickTime.

    * My Music performance increase.

    * Now/Next (mini-EPG) when switching channels.

    * Separate EPG/list for DVB-T radio stations.

    * Overhauled radio application with channel names, categories and extra presets.

  70. wboyer says:

    I searched to see if someone else had covered this, [Not likely.] – – regarding TV recording and the "Guide" of channels and times.

    The GIU has large buttons and text, to facilitating a view from across the room. However, folks in college dorms and many others are using this exclusively from a PC set at a desk. Some of us think the huge items look retarded. I’ll be more practical:

    Couldn’t there be a series of options to set, like MSIE has its Control Panel "Options"? I want at least 2 choices for the GUI sizes. When I pick the face-to-face ‘small text’ mode then i want to see more than 6 channels at once.

    This has been the greatest annoyance for me. I set to program a show and then can only see 1.5 hours at once, and 6 channels at once. Jumping from channel 20 to CH60, then I can’t look back to see how long that show was. I picked CH19 to record, but does the show stop at 8:30? I COULD just record CH59 at 8:30 – testing for a conflict, but I’d rather just page back twice and verify the stopping time.

    The current "Gram-ma" mode forces you to page back a gy-NORmous # of pages, only to discover that you have to page back in time also, [it stopped at 7:00 – my bad.] But fast verification makes navigation SO MUCH MORE PLEASANT! I want 5 hours of the guide, visible at once.

    I want ‘Options’ to allow me 2 channel config’s: one is max channels and then other zeros in on my top choices. Everyone using ‘Gram-ma’ mode would love that. The idea: I pick a Channel List [big or small] then I start MCE. This saves me 20 steps to re-configure the channel list.

    I really appreciate [1] the Guide shows lots better details than "The TV Guide Channel", and [2] that ‘conflicts alert’ feature, showing that a program will conflict since it overlaps an existing order.

    However, SOMEDAY this gui will have to let me adjust the times. I see the conflict and I have 4 choices. [1] Cancel first request. [2] Cancel 2nd request. [3] Adjust the time of first to its end. [4] Adjust the time of second to its start.

    This would allow a smooth transition from recording David Letterman, starting at 10:35pm ; and I won’t have 6 minutes of waste at the start.


    My ‘remote’ has a button called "More Info." I’m not familiar with it’s use, but that could be programmed for several functions. One function: Let me make a config change in "Options" so "More Info" takes me directly to Options. Even if this makes MCE shutdown, -I ain’t complaining- I want fast access to the Options panel.

    It’s not hard to imagine why: you are trying to pick a full night of programs and realize you need that short list of channels, [or some other config change.] It takes lots of menu picks to get to Options [now called "Settings" – "TV" – — -] So I want the fast "thirst quencher"!! Get me there, and when I shut it down, I’d like to get back fast.

    However, I ain’t complaining – If I could just make the change with Tabs and CheckBoxes, [crashing MCE] it’s STILL so much easier. THEN if MCE requires a total restart – then that’s fine – at least the change is done fast, and the ‘crash’ would teach me to make a config, BEFORE starting MCE.

  71. gerome says:

    Most of the core features of Media Center 2005 are implemented very well and personally I think you did a great job identifying what is necessary and what is not in the past. The one and only core feature, which is not there / not implemented well is cutting and archiving of tv recordings. Sooner or later the hard disc is full with tv shows and there is no satisfactory way to store them on dvd. This is especially true, if the video data was transmitted in dvd compatible mpeg2 format (dvb).

    BTW: The rollup 2 broke the existing DVR-MS to MPEG2 conversion methods for DVB-T users, when Dolby Digital is used.

    Bedsides I am missing this:

    – Timeshift buffer should be customizable or just bigger.

    – It should be possible to start recordings earlier and end them later.

    – Support for DivX, Xvid, SVCD etc. It should be possible to use the fast forward and rewind functions.

    – The MP3 player should use the "artist" tag instead of "band", which is the behaviour that 99% of the software outside of MS has.


  72. Kashoo! says:

    Sacrifice stability? That has to be the number ONE priority. That and not losing the EPG…

    1) Fix the stupid dual tuner feature whereby if you’re recording consecutive programs on the same channel it uses both tuners to record the padding overlap, so you can’t watch another channel during this 7 minute period. That’s just poor testing. I can’t believe they let that slip through. And still let it slip through in Rollup 2.

    2) DVB-T subtitles. Most of my family is deaf and we spend more time watching "normal" TV that has subtitles. Really, it’s not that complicated. If MediaPortal, a free product, can do it, why haven’t the combined mighty brains of the multi-billion dollar Microsoft manage to figure it out yet ?

    Sorry to rant, but they are just two things that really annoy me about MCE and you don’t often get the chance to voice things to MS!


  73. MSDN Archive says:

    Just to let everyone know that I’m still watching this thread. The feedback is really great.

  74. Ruud says:

    It would be very nice to be able to adjust aspect ratio realtime like mediaplyer classic using the numpad keys. Best would be to assign the direction keys on the ms remote controll for that purpose.

    This goes for all video media off course.

  75. Jeff says:

    I’ll be installing MCE2K5 this weekend followed by MythTV. I must say that 55 gigs of MP3s make me a little nervous re:MS.

  76. Patrik says:

    I just love the Media Center (live in sweden), but the music section is soo bad, please replace it! And it would be cool if it would be possible to change the start page of media center, to nice pictures (think front row)

    Good job!!!!!!!

  77. Ian says:

    All I want is the guide HDTV subchannel hack to be fixed in Rollup 2 so that I CAN ACTUALLY USE ROLLUP 2!

    Pre-rollup 2, I could use a digital cable listing and assign the PBS listings there to my local Seattle PBS subchannels. After rollup 2, this is no longer possible. I’d love to even try out some of the RU2 stuff, but for now that’s not an option or I loose the ability to record any PBS HDTV.

    I’d also love to see the ability to browse my music collection by folders (like my videos) instead of with the library database. The "artist" tag in WMP is so broken that I can’t find half of my music unless I sort by song. Why can’t it just use the Artist tag when you sort by Artist?

  78. David Davis says:

    First, I would like multi monitor support. I can run MCE in full screen on my second monitor, but it keeps stealing the mouse focus!! Second, I would also like to be able to resize the window larger. Why is there a locked max size anyway? Third, I would like to be able to specify more than one drive/path to record to. Spilling over to the other paths as needed. I know I can stripe drives, but that isn’t a good solution. Also, PLEASE add xvid/divx post encoding support. It will save a lot of space.

  79. Joe Borchers says:

    I would like to see all of the functionality inherent in the program itself, not having to rely on third party vendors to complete the product, case in point: having to deal with compression requiring additional software to be installed in order to compress video clips that will not fit on a dvd. I purchased a product that I believed to be somewhat complete and did not ask to have to do business with ie sonic to complete the task.

    If other programs are required to complete the media experience in media center please state them up front or provide a guide to ensure customers know what additional resources will be required to media center’s advirtised capabilities. In otherwords, yea you can record tv to dvd only if it fits the disk, if it does not and is longer you need additional software.

  80. Rob Cunningham says:


    Most of my wishes have been detailed above. However the biggest problem here in the UK, is the continual corruption of EPG guide data on DTV(freeview cards). We could do with a proper guide editing utility to filter out unwanted transmitter frequencies. I currently get multiple versions of the same channel, due to the MCE everything, rather than he actual frequencies on the transmitter I selected.

    I think microsoft UK should sit down and try to operate media centre in the UK to understand how frustrating a problem this is for us all.


    Keep up the good work.

  81. Ben Thatcher says:


    I think that Microsoft should justify their reasons for not providing DVBT subtitling services. They should check out section 21 of the Disability Discrimination Act…


    21. – (1) Where a provider of services has a practice, policy or procedure which makes it impossible or unreasonably difficult for disabled persons to make use of a service which he provides, or is prepared to provide, to other members of the public, it is his duty to take such steps as it is reasonable, in all the circumstances of the case, for him to have to take in order to change that practice, policy or procedure so that it no longer has that effect.


    Have Microsoft made ANY effort to correct this matter, so that us deaf users can enjoy Media Center ?

    I will be writing to Microsoft UK and asking them to explain this – cost is NOT an excuse that will hold up i’m afraid – and will keep you updated.

    To me, as a deaf person, this is outrageous and a clear violation of the DDA – one which I am quite prepared to go to court to argue. This i’m sure is publicity that MS do not need !

  82. George Israel says:

    Firewire support, the IR blaster is a bridge solution and not everybody will use cable card initially. Usage of MCE functionality in the current installed base seems to be an issue beyond the core group of users.

    Optional automatic recording of television/movies based on past recording/viewing data, a la Television. Some of the data is already there within the Movies section of Television. If you really wanted to nail it you could implement a rating system a la Netflix of the programs that MCE recorded automatically and you could go further and ask MCE users to rate the television/movies that they selected themselves to further refine suggestions. You could even do something like Amazon suggestions, "viewers who liked this program also liked this program”.

    I think the DVR capabilities of MCE should be paramount given the increasing competition from generic versions from the Cable/Sat companies plus Apple’s Front Row. MCE is the best product of its kind on the market and it needs to stay that way to get people to use it versus less expensive and less functional alternatives.

  83. Pete says:

    Right where shall i start… *rubbing my hands together*

    When setting up MCE there appears to be no manual tuning for the TV, instead it rely’s on knowing the channel frequencys for your area… now what happens when MCE gets those frequencys wrong?!? well luckly for me i knew where my signal was coming from and entered another post code closer to the source… but do ya think you could include a method for a real station search in Vista? or at least some proper information in the read-me’s if i’m wrong?

    I just can’t help but think MCE is just way to slow… the lag is pritty apauling, esspeshally when searching… itunes can search my collection (about 6500 songs) in a fraction of the time MCE does it – this is supposed to be a media solution to make accessing music and vid quickly and easly.. i’m afraid were back to using WMP & itunes at the moment for music, cause it just aint worth the hastle.

    Can MCE not be a stand alone Op system of some kind? where it might boot in and out of windows and into a more streamlined media experience? and be capable of booting quickly – i don’t like having to wait to for my computer to boot to find i just missed the first 5 mins of my fave show.

    basically where im going is get the running speed right before more features, i’d rather see a really basic simple, but light solution that gives you what you want when you want it. Rather than having loads of features but spending half your life waiting for them.

    The layout and design is pritty good for the current MCE so I wouldn’t like to see you mess with it too much, but i would like to see some more skins, maybe some nice silver or clear type interfaces based on the current design?

    I’d like to see a password lock on the MC program as sort of a party mode that when you have people over you can lock the computer into MC and not allow people to delete files, that would make me far more comfortable when people are messing with my music collection.

    i’ll sum up what i’d like to see:

    Make it lightweight and quick and work well first

    Make it look good, would be great if it was more customisable

    then if all that goes well then go ahead and put some useless gizmos in, they might amuse me for half an hour

    just please don’t forget what its for and what it is competing with, play music, vid and tv, do it quickly, because my tv set turns on streight away, and is very reliable, my MCE box isn’t!

  84. J says:

    Stability definitely.

    Record by keyword and series etc is nice but I like to watch films. It is really painful to filter the guide by all films and trawl through. As I cannot just select record all films as there would be no space.

    It would be nice to be presented with a list of all of the films until the end of the guide which match certian criteria such as:

    number of stars (rating)

    age (i.e. not older than)

    category (i.e. action)

    showing time (i.e. display if on between 5pm and 3am)

    I think that this would be part of the guide options, i.e. avanced record. I see a button taking you to a screen with the list of films as buttons. The bottom part of the screen is text to give the currently focused button i.e. films details so that you can decide whether to record it or not, clicking the button schedules it for recording, clicking again unschedules.

    If there are more films than room on the top half there would be the standard arrows for item x of y.

    I am trying to write this as an addin but am having to majorly jump through hoops, there is no support for getting the guide data so I have to use 3rd party data, no support for the look and feel of mce.

    This would not have to be limited to films, it could be good to be presented with a list of programs that match criteria to choose rather than just recording everything.

    Also ability to use the IR blasters to learn a sequence of commands (i.e. to turn on TV and change to av channel (3 presses for me)) because I use the TV button for the amp.

  85. Stan Spotts says:

    Considering that the Vista version of MCE will have WinFX installed by default, it would cool if WF was utilized… especially the rules. I’d love to see rules based recording priorities. For example:

    1. I want to set up movies to record in the future that aren’t in the guide yet (which you can do now), but only on specific channels. Pay channels only, like HBO, but not TBS, Spike, etc., that edits for television and adds commercials.

    2. I want to have it automatically record all new TV pilot/premiere shows on specific networks.

    And expose the rule sets so people can write their own fancy rules editor.

    I also want a better interface for the darned priority adjustment. Where the heck is that info stored? The current one stinks when you have several hundred items to worry about (remember the future movies? That’s all stored in the same place).

  86. dswtan says:

    Given my bad experience with Rollup 2 update, I have to say that stability must be #1 — though since I only use MCE on my desktop for occasional (not main living room) use, then I don’t need consumer electronics levels of stability myself.

    RDS with radio scheduling would make the inclusion of radio much more useful — even some US stations have RDS these days. Some level of integration with internet radio stations would make the experience even better.

    I would also like to go straight into the Guide from the home screen — I frequently don’t want to pick up the remote (I’m using my desktop most of the time remember), and it’s annoying to hit My TV first and then Guide — I would put a Guide in the main menu, or to the left of the movies button in the My TV list.

    And while the UI is universally praised, and I’m ok with it in general myself, I do find it weird that the DVD menu is so far away from My TV — I would expect these to be adjacent, at least! In my mental model, DVDs are much more closely associated with TV than anything else on the list.

    Why doesn’t My DVDs cache the AMG info of all the DVDs I ever watch on MCE too? I don’t expect to store my DVDs on MCE, but I would like to have MCE catalog them. That would be useful.

  87. Olaf says:

    Don’t know if you still read this post.

    The thing I mist most in MCE and couldn’t find it in the Vista beta. The option to filter my pictures based on keywords.

    I have more then 20.000 pictures and I have them all taged with keywords (country, city, people, events and starts) I would LOVE to be able to say I just want to show all the 5 star pictures from this folder in my MCE. Or when I am showing it to some other friends maybe I want to show all pictures with them in it.

    Vista has the virtual folders and all the keyword options but MCE doesn’t seem to have them.

    I agree with all the requests from above love most of them and thing we need them. But this one is a real pain not to have.

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