Ugh! So Much to Blog About – Just not Quite Yet


There is so much to blog about that it is just killing me. I’ve been trying to think of new blog posts that don’t relate to the project that I’m working on – at least until it is announced.


Until then I suppose I have to think of some interesting topics to keep everyone engaged.


One thing I have been working on a bit why my management is future planning for the next year or so. Nothing is set in stone and most are general ideas, but it brings me to my question.


What do you think Media Center will be like in five years? What will be the big features? What will be the major changes? What will users expect?


I’m just really curious about what folks think might be here. I personally don’t know or have any notion of the long term plans in this area.


This is just something to pass the time until I got start blogging about what I’m working on. There is a nice long story there that will go into a lot of software process and how the system works. Can’t wait to tell it. 🙂


Comments (12)

  1. mschoneman says:

    There are three big things I’d like to see (hopefully sooner than five years):

    1) Grid MCE – The ability to link two or more MCE machines.  The idea being that together they have more tuners and storage space than any single machine you could build.  They’d cooperate to schedule the recording of shows and when you bring up the list of recorded shows it lists everything recorded on all the machines.

    2) Remote Extenders – Orb/SlingPlayer type functionality built-in.  Not only for when I’m traveling but when I get a Vista based UPMC, I want to able to wander out to the deck and watch TV.

    3) DVD Archiving – I want to be able to rip the movie to disk and then stream it to other MCE machines or extenders (local or remote).  I’ve got more than 500 movies so I’d need a lot of disk space, but it’s better than trying to daisy chain three changers together and then only being able to watch them in that room.

    The other thing (that I think is going to be coming with Vista) is more of a setup box like experience.  Don’t get me wrong I love that there’s a real computer under there but I’d rather not see that during the day to day operations.  

    Can’t wait to hear what you’re working on.

    -Michael O. Schoneman

  2. Peter Near says:

    I’ll pretend you asked "what would you like MCE to be in five years".  It’s more fun to answer that question.

    1. Ubiquitous.  I want MCE to be everywhere, and I think there is a real shot to make that happen.  Vista is a great trojan horse that everyone will have sitting in their den, and the 360 is a simple way to activate MCE in a plug and play manner.  I want my mom to know that she can buy a box to plug in to her TV and get all of her digital photos, music and other stuff (to be discussed later) to work on her TV.

    2. Seamless.  I want MCE to know about its universe and not force the end user to care about that universe.  It should know about other media and devices on the home network and make them available immediately and without intervention (including other MCEs).

    3. Connected.  If we can make #1 happen, then suddenly MCE is a viable mass-market way to get content from point A to point B (point B being the end user’s television, PDA, cel phone, computer, whatever).  That box that mom just plugged in to her TV to get pictures?  Now she can get movies on it too and it’s easy and the selection doesn’t suck.  I can get HDTV on this thing without necessarily knowing or caring what a tuner is – if I subscribe to the content (ie I pay for cable) then it is just there.

    4. Progressive.  I want Media Center to have a fast path of development and lead the crowd.  This is the main reason I chose to reword your question, because I think that this is where the ball has been dropped recently.  MCE needs to be "wow, look what that thing can do" and less of "ummm, look what that thing can’t do".  Encourage more community development (focus on enabling the little guy), and encourage more internal risk-taking.  The team is smart, I know they are, so take down whatever roadblocks that are keeping smart people from making cool software.  

    Is that last point a good segue into unveiling your current project or what?  Now spill it Fleischman!  😉

  3. MthdDirector says:

    Media Center in 5 years….hmmmm that’s a good one!

    I think we’ll be gradually moving toward decentralized media experiences in the home.  Right now, I’d venture to say that most Media Center users are watching media on their PC monitor.

    A decentralized media experience means being able to press a button and receive media (music, video, etc) wherever you are in the house or business.

    Going downstairs to boot up the PC, log in, etc. isn’t all that practical.  So we might be looking at a neworked server or HD, or Raid.  Something that boots up at the press of a button, and will support multiple streams of video and music, and send it to "any" destination (handheld wi-fi, TV wi-fi/network receiver, home theater, etc.)

    I also see Media Center becoming more organic to the living environment.  Being able to stream 1-way to a device will no longer be enough.  We’ll be looking at 2 way communication – anything with a screen will accept input and become an extension of the O/S desktop.

  4. JanJ says:

    I would like to see "placeshifting" in addition to the current time shifting of TV, DVD and CD content.  The challenge would be to be able to have this HD content everywhere, say at a vacation home, camper, or at a hotel far away and keep certain content providers happy.

    I would also like to see  better control capability of some of our presently dumb devices. Some examples might be (1) to alter the length of lawn sprinklers in response to seasonal changes from afar or (2) to get an alert when a laundry dryer reaches the end of a cycle and needs to be tended or (3) to wirelessly check on the status of some codes for your car.  

    Right now many home devices must be manually tended.  Most sprinkler controls must be manually tweaked.  A dryer alarm must be heard in the proximity.  Engine codes are so complex  they should be viewable from a PC and not when driving.  In each case the device does not need the PC to function, but the PC can provide some benefit if it can be a tool one wishes to use.  Some uses involve the media center, others might even need to interrupt an activity because of an alert. Control here would be optional.

    In essence, the Media Center can enable better use of our devices, the TV, DVD player or mundane things such as appliances.

  5. MthdDirector says:

    Forgot to mention: if you’ve got a WI-FI media center remote, then why would you need input devices in every room?

    Figure out a way for that remote to know WHERE it is, and WHAT device you are interacting with, and then you’ve got 1 device that you can take anywhere to control your media wherever you want it.  In fact, just taking the remote with you might be enough to cause your televisions/audio to turn on, so that you don’t miss your favorite show/music.  It’s all about creating a continuity of experience that transcends the individual devices.

  6. Keith Hill says:

    I like what Michael Schoneman and the others have suggested.  I would also add that I really would like to have PiP and that implies no arbitrary limit on the number of supported tuners.  I also expect to see systems like MCE or Apple’s equivalent becoming the center of home automation/security ala LifeWare’s products.  That is, I’d love to have the ability to pop up a window showing me who’s at the front door when the doorbell rings.  Same for caller ID (since it seems to have been removed).

  7. Jim Styles says:

    Complete the DVR functionality!!! Stop working on "cool ideas", and concentrate totally on the DVR scenario (in their living, 99% of the time people use the DVR and the rest is spent on all other features combined). So fix that scenario once and for all.

    * Big TV buffer (at least 2 hours)

    * Record the TV buffer

    * Batch delete of recorded shows

    * Better cues of what keys are pressed

    * Integration with Satelite (get rid of these IR in *all* scenarios)

    * Easy switching between TV buffers

    * Dont change channel without warning when you are in paused TV

    Basically — I want the functionality my UltimateTV had SIX YEARS AGO!

  8. MSDN Archive says:

    Thanks for all the great visions. I think there are some realistic and some not so realistic visions here.

    I think my favorite is the connected Media Center scnerio. Not something we’re working on today – but I totally agree that there should be a way to easilty connect multiple PCs and devices to share data and multi-media.

    A few days ago I was chatting with one of our devs about shared guide and distributed recordings and how we both wanted to see something like that in the product. We don’t have plans for it – but like you everyone else we dream about what features we’d like to see.

    Per my secret project. Hopefully soon I’ll be able to spill the beans. Just not sure when yet. 🙂