Thursday, May 25, 2006

Media Center Features in Vista

From another quick glimpse at the Windows Vista Product Guide, here are some more tidbits as related to Media Center Features that are forthcoming... (my quick comments in red)

Media Center Features in Vista
Windows Media Center

Extends the Windows experience to full-screen entertainment that you can manage with a remote control. Find, share, and enjoy all your photos, music, home videos, radio, DVDs, and even recorded TV programs in one sleek and easy-to-use place.

Enhanced TV experience

Pause, rewind, and record multiple live TV programs at the same time, including HDTV over an antenna or digital cable. (Digital cable support is available only in the United States.) - digital cable will come in the form of OCUR enabled tuners. With OCUR support, you can plug your digital cable signal directly into your CableCARD–enabled PC to watch and record premium and HD cable content (such as HBO) without the need for a set-top box. Note that this is in the US only, so Canadians like me are left out (Maybe the CRTC can force Rogers and other digital cable providers to move toward OCUR... wishful thinking on my part)

Media Center Extender support

Enjoy the complete Windows Media Center experience on any TV in the home when you’re connected to a Media Center Extender device such as Xbox 360 and a home network. Now includes full HDTV capability.

Built-in TV and movie guides

The built-in Electronic Program Guide (EPG) and Movie Guide save you time and hassles when looking for programs in your broadcast, cable, or satellite TV lineup. - the new miniguide functionality lets you browse the EPG without having the tv image shrink into the corner. you also avoid the delays associated with channel switching. access mini-guide mode with the direction arrows on the remote while watching tv.

Enhanced developer platform

The new SDK for Windows Media Center allows third parties to build on the Windows Media Center Presentation Layer and Windows Presentation Foundation to provide richer add-on services and applications for use with a remote control within the Windows Media Center Extender UI. - Charlie Owen and Aaron Stebner have been working on this development platform for quite some time now. I encourage everyone to check it out at the Media Center Sandbox

Exhaustive channel scanning

Accurately discover and use all available TV channels that are broadcast on the PAL standard. - hopefully this will improve things for those in European countries

Online Spotlight

On-demand programs, applications, and services from third-party content providers can be downloaded for consumption at your leisure. - there is already content from Fox Sports, Comedy Central, MTV, VH1, AOL, Yahoo, NPR, and CinemaNow, and this will likely increase as companies see the value in offering their products in this space

Photo Library and Video Library

Enjoy your photos and home videos on the TV, play photo slide shows with a soundtrack, and burn your photos and home videos or downloaded videos to DVD.

DVD playback

Windows Vista Home Premium and Ultimate editions ship with a codec pack that enables DVD playback. Windows Media Center has an easy Play DVD feature, and by connecting to external DVD changers you get quick access to your entire movie collection through the Windows Media Center interface. - Hopefully this inclusion of the MPEG2 decoder cuts down on the numerous codec issues that people encounter in the newsgroups and other MCE-related forums (the codec is also needed for Live TV/Recorded TV).

Music Library

Easily find and enjoy your music with Windows Media Center. Sort by album or artist name, album year, genre, song title, and more. Burn music to CD or sync to a portable device. - See the improvements to Windows Media Player 11's music library exposed in Media Center

Multiple-tuner support

Windows Media Center supports two dual-tuners, allowing you to record or enjoy programs on different channels. - I'm not sure if this is correct or not, but that's what it says in the guide. I'll get more info on this shortly.

HotStart

Allows the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) to configure the PC to start up like a consumer electronics device at the click of a button. It also enables an option to lock the Windows Media Center experience so users can’t easily navigate away from it. - Hopefully this isn't like Away Mode where non-OEM users effectively have no access to these features.

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