I am a huge Microsoft enthusiast and so grabbed the Windows 8 Consumer Preview and installed it on my laptop (basically, my test machine of all software) – For an old laptop like that, it installed very quickly – haven’t found anything on it yet that doesn’t work with the hardware (definitely shows improved driver support initially).
So, I was disappointed that most of the services there aren’t supported in the UK yet (despite their current non-Windows 8 equivalent’s are) but, everything seemed stabled so it got rolled out to the HTPC.
Installation on the HTPC went well, all the software and specific hardware worked just fine – so, we come to Media Center – was very surprised to see it not change at all, well okay, so they updated the copyright notice but that’s not a change I care about.
If I remember correctly, Sinofsky said the reason why Media Center wasn’t in the Developer Preview is because “it wasn’t ready in time” – I’m sorry? What’s ready about it now? Okay so, maybe that was a little bit harsh, for all I know it could have totally changed under-the-hood but, I highly doubt that as no functionality has been added, removed or changed at all.
Media Center is the opportunity here to compete with AppleTV on the PC, while yes the Xbox might be the physical under-the-tv equivalent there is still a market on the PC and the reason I say this is because the Consumer Preview hasn’t brought with it any alternative – in a way, it’s almost like elements of Media Center have been fragmented out into “Music” and “Video” applications but this doesn’t support the “10-foot” experience that you have with a remote control purely because Metro start isn’t currently designed for a 10-foot experience (Metro can be used for that though, Media Center essentially could be the first pre-Metro interface that led to what Windows 8 looks like).
So this brings me back to my original theory (which could be totally wrong) that if it wasn’t ready for the Developer Preview perhaps a really early build from the Media Center just to make it compatible with Windows 8 has been added and in fact, there are more up to date versions which heavy improvements and UI changes or maybe that’s just what I’m hoping is true.
My other reasoning for thinking this could be true is because it clearly hasn’t been tested for example, there is a setting in Media Center that allows you to start it when Windows starts (very helpful for HTPC owners) but, what actually happens when Windows 8 Consumer Preview starts is that you see a Metro Interface and hear Media Center in the background, pressing the Media Center button on your remote brings it to the front, quite a flaw if you ask me.
My concern is that, Microsoft don’t see Media Center as “important” or have a “large enough user base” for it to be considered a major feature. I have no problems if Media Center was replaced with something that had the minimum functionality that Media Center has now, can be used from 10-feet away and be used with a remote but integrated more heavily and provided performance improvements while fitting more with the current Metro interface.
So Microsoft – just what are you up to with Media Center? You removed some elements of support of Media Center related items from Xbox, Media Extenders started dying out a while ago and your latest Operating System doesn’t have any signs of an updated Media Center… is this the end of the 7-year old Media Center?
On a side note – non-indexed network locations appear to be a slight problem (still) in the Windows 8 Consumer Preview whereby, Windows Explorer doesn’t allow it but there is a way around this, if you add Media Libraries within Media Center then your non-indexed network locations will be mapped as Library Locations getting around the problem that Explorer doesn’t allow it even though the functionality is there to allow it through Media Center – very backwards functionality of Explorer there.