One Big Secret Revealed – Media Center Retail and Upgrade!

Honestly one of the biggest frustrations in blogging is that I can't talk about everything that I'm doing.

The retail project is one of the big ones that was on the down low. Now it is out and I can admit that I own the retail project for Media Center from a technical perspective.

What does that mean? It means I own making sure that customers who either buy a standalone Windows Vista Home Premium or Ultimate or upgrade a machine to Vista have a good experience.

The project is multi-faceted with our attempts at protecting our customers aimed at telling them upfront if their machine is modern enough to run the desired applications, making changes to how Vista works to make it run better if you're on the edge, and generally doing our best to be upfront.

In case you missed it the announcement for SKUs is here:

And Charlie Owen speaks to this in his blog.

Over the next bit of time you'll see a few new things come online for this project.

Personally I think that this is huge for Media Center and our customers. I'm excited and I hope you are too.

Feel free to ask questions - I always monitor comments.

More cool stuff coming soon...


Comments (11)

  1. Shawn Oster says:

    I’ve just read two or three other blog posts highlighting this great fact about Retail Media Center and the first thing I think is, "Yes!  No more sneaking a MCE disc out of my MSDN subscription for home."

    The second thing I think is, "Oh man am I glad I’m not David Fleischman, because he is going to have to be That Guy that puts this message in the OS:"

    Vista Ultimate has detected that while you have our new uber-OS and you have 4GB of RAM and that new stack of 400GB drives and that crazy expensive ATI HD CableCard Tuner and that new 102" Plasma… You still can’t record HD content from your cable provider because your entire machine hasn’t been dipped in the DRM Magic Juice and approved by the Grand Rootkit Council.

    Or in question form: How are you going to handle non-certified machines (as in home-brewed) that have CableCard tuners from a "letting the user know if their machine is modern enough" perspective?

  2. MSDN Archive says:

    To be clear letting a user know if their machine is modern enough refers to basic OS components and Media Center funtioning.

    In terms of Cable Card I don’t know the answer.

  3. MikeA says:

    So why is a retail edition of Vista Home Ultimate useful if one can not acquire the OCUR device needed (according to Joe B’s Engadget interview this week) to build a PC that will benefit from the retail version of Vista Home Ultimate?

    Will it say on the package "Vista Home Ultimate allows your Media Center PC to record and view HD Cable TV! (But only if you purchase a PC with Vista Home Ultimate pre-installed, not the version in this box.)"

  4. MSDN Archive says:

    I get the confusion and angst around cable card – but remember that cable card/OCUR isn’t the only thing in media center and for a large portion of our customers it isn’t a concern.

    I really don’t have a lot of data on the subject right now but I get where you guys are coming from, I really do.

    To answer the question though, there are a lot of features, and Media Center itself, will be in Ultimate.

  5. David says:

    I’m not so much bothered by the cablecard but I will be bent if I can’t say bring a feed out out of my cable box somehow into my VMC to record HD.

  6. Shawn Oster says:

    David (the commenter, not the author)… prepare to be bent.

    Ok, I’ll stop hammering you about CableCard support.  Any these questions fall into your lap?

    How will Vista work with the 360?  Will you still have to download a seperate app or does it come in the box?

    Does the new MCE allow spanning of disks for recordings?

    What are the minimum specs for a smooth experience?  What is considered "on the edge"?

  7. MSDN Archive says:

    Vista will work great with the 360. Not all details are announced (and I’m not totally clear on what is announced yet – but I’ll check). I’ll post what I can here as soon as I can.

    I don’t belive we support disc spanning. I haven’t seen the feature come through yet. Doesn’t mean we don’t, just means I haven’t seen it.

    Smooth and on the edge are just coming together for targets. I was in the meeting on Friday to work this out and we still have a bit of work to do to nail everything down.

    So in essence my answer is a whole lot of nothing. 🙂 Reality is I just don’t want to give false info and these things are moving enough that it can and probably will change. This is the nature of shipping a product…

  8. Shawn Oster says:

    *grin* I understand the "whole lot of nothing" response.  I’m the software developer that once got kicked under a table, literally, by a sales guy for spilling too much about our upcoming software release.

    Thanks for the answers, though I will be a bit bummed if there isn’t multiple "Recorded TV" targets supported simply because as people get dual and triple tuner systems finding just a single drive to hold everything gets annoying.

    Keep the updates coming and thanks for the feedback!

  9. Jack says:

    where’s the firewire STB support?  Cable card is nice but WAY TO Restrictive.  Firewire is an open standard that the cable companies must include at full resolution (per US law).  Its the only consumer friendly way of getting HD to MCE.

    Vista sounds like it will be a step back out of the living rooms of the world to me.

  10. Eric says:

    Can I have FM radio at the same time as selecting digital TV? Can I record FM radio? As a podcast? Scheduled?

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