Windows Media Center Will Be Optional Add-On in Windows 8 Pro

Apr 17 2012

Well it seems that Microsoft has answered the question that many devoted WMC users have been asking since the initial builds of Win8 were released to the public: "Will Media Center be included?" And the answer from Microsoft, buried deep within a blog post describing the various versions of Windows 8, is no. Instead it will be available as an optional add-on to Windows 8 Pro:

Windows 8 Pro is designed to help tech enthusiasts and business/technical professionals obtain a broader set of Windows 8 technologies. It includes all the features in Windows 8 plus features for encryption, virtualization, PC management and domain connectivity. Windows Media Center will be available as an economical “media pack” add-on to Windows 8 Pro. If you are an enthusiast or you want to use your PC in a business environment, you will want Windows 8 Pro. 

Windows 8 Team Blog

 

So now the question becomes will you upgrade to Win8 pro and get the media pack, or will you stay with windows 7? 

 

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Comments

It is hard to say if I will upgrade at this time.  I use Win 8 daily on 3 devices, tablet, laptop and desktop, I was planning on upgrading at home as well when the time came.  But if it is extra cost with no additional functionality from a Media Center perspective I may not.  But then again I may because of the OS optimizations etc... As you can see I am still on the fence with this one.  I guess it is at least good that they mentioned the name media center Smile

   

When I first read that over late last night, I interpreted it to mean that WMC would be in the standard version, but only available to Pro as an add-on. Reading it again with more wakeful eyes is disheartening to say the least.

So I have to pay extra for the Pro version and then more for the MCE add-on.  The jump from 2005 to Vista and from Vista to 7 both had feature gains(HDTV and native QAM for me).  Is there any new magic feature for Win8/MCE that would make me want to upgrade?

That is going to be crazy if you have to buy the Pro version and then MCE on top of that. I have no problems buying MCE as an "app", but it should be available for the base version of Windows 8. Of course, no way would I pay to buy the MCE "app" and Windows 8 unless there are actually improvements and changes made. If there aren't, might as well just stick with 7.

Making WMC a paid add-on is an excellent way to measure WMC's popularity, but I think they made the decision at the wrong time.  Making people buy the Pro version will deter sales, as will not having any reason for people to want to move from an older version to the Windows 8 version.  I believe the end result will low sales of the WMC application (well, they'll be low anyway, but now they'll be lower), which I think Microsoft will interpret as a lack of consumer interest in WMC, and could certainly result in WMC not being part of the next OS, even as an add-on.

I'd have to think twice about Windows 8 (Pro) for a new-build machine. I keep my HTPC as close to stock plus essential add-ins as I can because I don't want instabilities affecting my viewing pleasure. So, I don't use my HTPC as a general purpose machine and a lot of the benefits of Windows 8 don't apply. I haven't seen any advantages to a HTPC with Windows 8 except perhaps the Metro interface, and I am not so keen on that so far.

As for upgrades, well most of my recordings are DRM protected so I need an upgrade path to Windows 8 which converts or otherwise maintains access to my earlier recordings (even those on a WHS). I would not be able to 'get away' with simultaneously having a Windows 7 HTPC and a Windows 8 HTPC side-by-side while I watch-out several TB of older recordings and re-record archived shows. Mrs FrankAZ would have a fit.

 

All-in-all, this "pay extra for WMC, and then a bit more too" pricing policy is the death-knell for WMC. Only the most hard-core WMC adherents will use Windows 8 WMC. There will be very few newcomers who discover it through inexpensive experimentation on an existing machine. There will be vanishingly small opportunity for the developers of add-ins for WMC on Windows 8 so many will not be ported, and without the popular add-ins the out-of-the-box WMC is under-featured.

Frank.

 

I think its a very poor decision.

Most people with Xboxes that have Windows 7 have Home Ultimate as that's bundled with their system and is also a very cost effective OS. The standard home currently can setup & utilise the media centre system on the xbox very easily. If people now have to purchase Pro AND a MCE add-in, well lets just say that the popularity won't be getting bigger, it can only drop.

Its a shame because Ive been with MCE since 2004 and loved the product (despite all its flaws). I think its come a long way over the years and partnered with the My Movies app, its my ultimate and perfect Media setup. Its simple to use and setup with the right hardware, its close to being rock solid.

Iwould hate to see MCE dropped from Microsofts product line, but this just cant be good for business.

A very poor marketing decision and despite being a very early adopter of gadgets and electronics, I myself will stay with Win7 as long as the hardware and software I use supports it.

Having WMC as a "seperate" app with it's own release cycle = good.
However, a requirement for Win 8 Pro is puzzling since there shouldn't be any dependency if you are goign to already decouple it as an add-on.

I'd like to see a supportable uptake of the add-on, just so Microsoft can be reminded that they were leaders i nthis space once and maybe they should be again...

This is a bit annoying, Pro is for business, given WIN 7 the thing Pro has is RDP to that box.

a cheap add on to win 8 home would make sense....

....as usual, the second time around , MS requires a personal lubricant to use their product....

"So now the question becomes will you upgrade to Win8 pro and get the media pack, or will you stay with windows 7? 

 

Maybe when windows 9 comes out and I can buy windows 8 pro for $20 on Craigslist.Windows 7 is working great for me...

 

Going this route may spawn competing DVR software.  To me, one the biggest advantages to WMC was it was built-in to the OS.  It was free.  The downside is lack of development appeared to reflect that free cost.

I don't mind buying a good DVR software if the company will develop and maintain it.  I never felt WMC was high on the MS development agenda.

I suppose I d buy the addon, as i understand it, this addon is supposed to play most/all of the formats (without additional codecs installation etc). microsoft is making it an buy-able addon since including all these codecs would involve extra licensing fee that needs to be paid.

 

 

I for one am glad to see it as an add-in, not baked in

As i want media center to evolve into metro tiles ,each tile having  the same functions as current media center features, i.e  live tv, tuner setup, rcorded tv and more

 

but to keep it working till the developers build these metro apps , an add-in sounds great

I've posted an open letter to the Media Center Community about this topic here:

http://thedigitalmediazone.com/2012/04/17/an-open-letter-to-windows-medi...

Please consider this perspective... I see this as mostly a positive move for the community.  I'm not saying that Microsoft is designing this intentionally to be to our benefit, but if we band together, it could benefit us in the end.

IMO this is nothing more than a bone to placate the community - slightly better than removing MC all the way, but not by much. Current MC users are better off sticking with W7 and new MC users (if there are any) are probably better off going with W7 too unless they would actually use some of the new feature in W8 in their HTPC.

There are several problem with the approach MS has taken assuming there are no new features in 8MC.

  1. Require buying two SKUs to get one product will discourage casual adoption. Realistically, I don't think we'll see Pro on retail boxes so the pool of buyers is artificially limited to people who either know they want MC or need some feature that only Pro can provide and happen into it.
  2. Created a disincentive for existing 7MC users to upgrade to W8 + Pro + MC. Why pay for all that to end up IN THE SAME PLACE.
  3. Unless there is significant intrinsic value in W8 for HTPC users its more logical to stay on W7 or buy new W7 licenses for new builds. Obviously we make up a small part of the market, but this breaks a fundamental rule of upgrades (you can't offer less features in new products for more Cash.
  4. By creating a standalone product they've finally made it possible to measure its value as a discrete entity, but the approach's intrinsic problems (1, 2 + 3) so effectively hamstrings it that the most likely outcome will be "evidence" for non-viability of MC as a product at all. While some would argue that enthusiasts need to step up to that MC isn't euthanized. As it stands I don't think that is grounded in sound enough economic reasoning; so while some may take-one-for-the-team, I see little incentive for large enough numbers of enthusiasts to make any kind of difference in the natural outcome.

I couldn't have said it better myself.  You hit the nail on the head.

I agree, but this has never been MS's MO. So why start now?

When everyone mentions the numbers Steven Sinofsky put up, they say it as if they were low numbers, and this proof WMC wasn't popular, even though there are more users of it as a DVR than TiVo at its height. His reason for bringing it up was that the feature was indeed liked and used, and that's why it would be in Windows 8.

But once again, this is not the type of thing MS ever does. So why this time? Why is WMC getting this pass?

I'm sure WHS folk wish they didn't lose Drive Extender (even though Storage Spaces may take its place, if the performance issues are addressed).

Even Microsoft should know that charging for product that is already free as part of Windows7, is not a good idea.

Question - Before we all go into a major fit here, does anyone have any documentation that says the optional mediacenter app will come at a cost?  Live Essentails (Movie Maker, Mail, PhotoGallary, etc...) are apps that used to come included in the OS but were moved out and made as optional apps... and they are free still.

 

MSFT choice of the word "economical" to describe the media pack seemed to indicate to me that it would be for a charge. I think the main problem that many have pointed out is the fact that it is not included by default and thus the number of users will be inherently smaller.

The current model allows many computer owners to "discover" media center by the addition of a TV tuner will no longer be as easy as now in addition to purchasing a tuner they will also have to buy media center.

 

The only part of WMC that I am really attached to is the cablecard tuner access.

I kind of wish they would just turn that into some sort of API, open source media center and be done with it.

though i will agree that I am kind of excited by the potential of the metro 'desktop' and HTPC usage. you probably wouldn't even have to open source media center because metro is pretty much it already.

We are looking at this from a MC standpoint.  Is it possible they're doing this in attempt to offer their store some success?

I'm going to take one for the team as Andrew put it.  It's the first time they offered MC through an avenue like this so I'll give them that (last?) chance.

...unless I renew my technet subscription which will negate this new ideal.

I wouldn't mind having to shell out a few more coin for that "economical media pack" but forcing me to pay a premium for W8 Pro in order to do so is ridiculous.

I've been looking for a reason to try out MythTV and it appears that I have now a reason to do so the next time I upgrade. 

I'll run WIN7 until it dies. But this article didn't mention if the standalone app would be getting upgraded. So until I hear if it has been improved I'll stay put.

It looks like not only will MC receive some kind of upgrade/enhancement over 7MC but now MS is trying to "double dip" with MC enthusiasts by requiring the Pro version and then charging for MC on top of that.

Um, yeah, no. I think it's time I finally suck it up and transition over to XMBC or (better yet) Media Portal and/or just stick with 7MC for the long haul.

 

You know, I really wish MS had decided to release an MC themed flavor instead, probably using the Embedded version or however they're now handling that. I wouldn't mind buying a Win8 Media Center OS for around $60-90.

 

...If only XBMC, Apple, or MythTV would support the Ceton tuners & channels that aren't CopyFree (DRM).

Microsoft has got some of the dumbest marketing practices I've ever seen.  They spend millions to develop a product and then basically abandon it without giving it much of a chance to catch on.  I've seen little or no effort from MS to push Media Center since it was first released.  They let the UltimateTV division die from lack of interest and I wouldn't be at all surprised to see it happen with MC.  I suppose if a product doesn't get some outrageous return on investment in an unrealistic time frame they $hitcan the whole thing.

I tend to skip past consecutive OS releases from MS unless I see a valid reason to upgrade.  The only reason I upgraded from XP was to get a Ceton InfiniTV 4.  I woudn't have touched Vista with a 50-ft pole.  From what I've read about MC with Windows 8, I see no reason to upgrade whatsoever.  As long as there's hardware and software for HTPCs that will run under Win 7 I'll stick with it.

I don;t have a problem with MS offering MC as an extra add-on with Win 8.  What gets me is that it's only available with the Pro version when Home Premium is all you need to build an HTPC.  Anything more is just a waste and an unnecessary expense.  I get the feeling that MS is simply trying to discourage people from using MC rather than see it flourish.

I never used windows media center.  I just stream video through a web browser.  I always considerd it kind of bloatware.  There is almost no cable TV I want to watch.  My Samsung TV is smarter the Microsoft Windows.

I just had a thought as to why they might be requiring pro--  I work for a major IT services provider in the healthcare industry and I can say that we have zero plans to go to Windows 8.  Hell, we're still trying to get to Windows 7.

I suspect many large businesses are in the same boat.  They are not wanting to upgrade from XP to Windows 7 & then to Windows 8--  all three upgrades being major changes to their support processes and end users.

Forcing any subset of the Windows OS user base to Pro might help offset the perceived lack of sales in the Windows 8 Pro world.

...Just a thought...

osburnfamily wrote:

Forcing any subset of the Windows OS user base to Pro might help offset the perceived lack of sales in the Windows 8 Pro world.

...Just a thought...

 

I just figured that whoever at MS is responsible for this decision was just a goofy bastage. 

I seem to recall that from time to time someone from MS chimes in here (I believe that has happened here on MR) to speak to whatever MS-centric discussion is garnering lots of comments.  Maybe someone from MS could give us the reason behind this decision? 

With apparently only two consumer versions of 8 being released maybe Pro won't be so darn expensive...yeah right Undecided

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