As much as we love satellite TV here at The Solid Signal Blog, it would be great if there were an easy solution for recording off-air TV and distributing it throughout the home. The IPTV revolution is coming, and a simple DVR would make it happen just that much faster.
At one point it looked like Microsoft actually might save the day with its commitment to Windows Media Center. The basic technology dates back to the Windows XP days and is included in every copy of Windows 7 except the netbook-friendly starter version. Microsoft not only created a robust DVR and distribution solution, they certified remotes and other devices as well.
Unfortunately it looks like Microsoft is backing off Media Center in the next version of Windows. This article at engadget.com claims that while there will be some Media Center function in Windows 8, two key elements have been tossed out. First, it won’t be possible to turn the computer on and go straight to Media Center, making it harder for people to use the software. Also, Microsoft won’t be certifying any more remotes or extenders, so there’s no guarantee anything will work with anything.
This isn’t a terribly surprising move. Microsoft has decided that Windows 8 will be for tablets and businesses; they want you to use XBox for media consumption. XBox is a pretty good streamer, and with some of the upcoming vaporware features it looks like it could be even better. Xbox doesn’t have a DVR function though, and without additional hardware like a tuner, it’s not likely to get it.
Unfortunately, this is simply the latest in a string of abandonments from Microsoft. The history of the company is littered with hardware left by the wayside. It makes it hard to buy a new Microsoft product knowing that you have a fair probability of ending up with a boat anchor in a few years. Any technology will have its share of flops — even Apple walked away from toads like the Quicktake and the Macintosh TV, but it’s fair to say that Microsoft has had more than its share of hardware flops. I guess the Media Center remote, along with the software it ran, is just another one.