Tuesday, May 23, 2006

V1 Media Center Extenders vs. Vista

As a Media Center MVP, Media Center Extenders are something that I am quite familiar with as I personally have 2 Xboxs with Media Center Extender functionality, in addition to an HP x5400 Extender.

Here's a little tidbit about V1 Media Center Extenders, Xbox 360 (with its built in extender functionality) and Vista from the Windows Vista Product Guide of Vista Beta 2 that was just released earlier today.

On Page 163, the following is stated.

Except for Xbox 360, earlier versions of Windows Media Extenders are not compatible with Windows Vista. However, new Extender devices will be available with the release of Window Vista.

I can't say I'm too thrilled about this. Hopefully, this doesn't affect the upgrade rates of those who adopted Windows XP MCE 2005 and its v1 Extender lineup. That said, with the growth of sales of the Xbox 360, many people will have the opportunity to try out extender functionality now, with MCE 2005, and in the future, with Vista. I'll have more information about this as it becomes available.

What do you think of all this?

2006-05-31 Update: See here for additional information about v1 Extenders and Vista

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

Jason,

Sorry, I cant agree with you. I think it is a problem not to support the old extender hardware.

You see, those are specialized hardware. If Media Center in the future will not support it, they become useless.

I understand that there are reasons not to support new funcionality, but why not keep a basic functionality? People would understand if you say that the device is limited, since is old technology, but why useless?

Also, why not provide softsled funcionality to overcome some of this limitation. It's unnacceptable this push that most people make for 360's as being extenders. 360's are not available in most of the world, and will likely not be in many of those ever. In Brazil, we never had Xboxes in the first place, and there is no plan to release 360's in the near future.But Vista will be available in those markets. Also, why do I have to have a 360's in a place were I already have a PC? So this push for "device only" strategy hurts a lot of peaple, especially outside US.

Sincerily, I still can't understand why MS has this attitude. Either say why they are doing and make it clear for the rest of the world that they will have a cripple solution, or start to make more democratic solutions (like softsled and a mecanism to import localized versions of EPG, where MS doesn't offer the service).

Jason said...

I definitely sympathize with you on your points; however, I think a big part of the reason why Microsoft has to take this stance is due to (and this is a guess on my part) DRM reasons.

I will pass your comments onto the product time when I speak to them.

Anonymous said...

Jason,
I'm currently running Windows Media Center Edition 2005 with an HP v1 Media Center Extender. My family and I love it and use it all the time.

I signed up to be a Vista Beta 2 tester and have tried to find out if the v1 Extenders were supported before I loaded it up. Your post was the first I have seen that stated the v1 Extenders would not be supported in Vista. Bummer!

In response to a question regarding the obsolescence of the Media Center Extenders in Vista the Media Center Beta 2 Release Notes has the following statement: "When we get closer to the Windows Vista timeframe we will announce a program to make sure that early adopters who purchased a v1 Media Center Extender (from Linksys or HP) are accommodated." Any idea what they mean by that? Software patch or Hardware update?

Thanks

julio said...

Jason,

Complementing the first comment (posted as anonymous by a error, sorry), I think that the problem is related to DRM, and propably o the CPU requirements for the encryption/decryption.

But that doesn't prohybits the extender to play music, see photos, family videos and browse/set recording with the guide.

As I've said, people would probably understand limitations, but become useless it's a different story.

Unless MS is planning on major discounts or rebates for those users. Not a technical, but still a viable solution.

Thanks for taking these points to the development team.

Jason said...

Responding to comments

Anonymous2: I don't know their plans. They will announce it closer to Vista's release, so your best bet is to wait until then.

Julio: I would guess that with the changes needed to accomodate all the DRM stuff, that they can't (or won't) include the old methods of extender affiliation to Vista. *If* that is the reason, and that is purely speculation on my part, then it'd be an all or nothing deal. Then again, there could be other technical or business reasons. Since I don't know the details, I'm not going to pretend to be an authorative source about this.

Cody said...

This is a serious issue for me. I sincerely doubt that I will be upgrading my main computer to Vista then. I currently have an Xbox 360, and THREE Xbox extenders, all hooked up to my media center PC. Obviously, the Xbox 360 hooked up to the HDTV is the one that gets used the most, but two of the others are used on a regular basis (the third just kind of sits). Since the PC itself isn't actually hooked up to a TV, that would leave me with one place to enjoy the Media Center experience, instead of hte four that I currently have. Media Center Extenders have been a great way to allow access to my terabyte of media on my server.

Hmm, in another line of thinking, if I get a fairly cheap PC to use to connect my Xbox's to, if I add the path to the recording location on a Vista Media Center, would it be able to play shows as they record, or not until they have been completely recorded? (I currently have my MCE2005 box watch a local recording location, and the terabyte network drive where I archive them.)

Jason said...

Cody - If you set up shared recorded tv folders on your vista machine, so that a mce2005 machine can access the dvr-ms files stored on the vista machine, it should work (so long as the dvr-ms format doesn't change). I'll see if vista dvr-ms files playback on my mce2005 machine in the next couple of days.

You won't be able to playback recorded tv until the recording is complete, and you can only playback dvr-ms files that are not copy-protected.

sroe said...

Have watched most of the channel nine videos on media center and xbox360 and came away with the impression that xbox and other extenders will continue to what there are doing now,and look the same as they do now. The Xbox 360 will be able to show the same look and fancy graphics that is showing on your Vista CPU

Jason said...

The Vista Product Guide that has been released is a far more authoritative source than the Channel 9 videos if there is conflicting information.

Xbox 360 Extender performance will pretty much bring you all the new UI features that will be in Vista's MCE (i.e. Diamond). v1 Extenders won't be able to affiliate with Vista MCE machines at all.

Anonymous said...

Microsoft ahort sightedness on not supporting the V1 extenders with Vista will bit them a bit in the butt. Those media extenders are not cheap and unless I get some kicking deal to replace mine I will not be upgrading my MCE machine to Vista. I imagine that I will not be the only one with this opinion.

I would also like to see a software add-on for normal XP to make it act like a media extender.

Rob

al said...

I'm a newcomer to the media center world, and am looking to buy an extender that will work well for me for the next few years. I don't think I'll be upgrading to Vista for a while either, and am wondering which extender you would recommend getting. I have seen that the linksys is no longer available anywhere but on ebay, and am not sure about the HP or others. Any suggestions? thanks.

Scott Hollrah said...

Just found your blog through the MS Help and Support Forum. Just installed Vista Beta 2 and was excited about the ease of the MC extender interface until I couldn't get the stupid thing to work. Fortunately I installed VB2 on a separate partition and can go back to XP MCE to use my extender. I noticed that you first started writing about this issue in May and was wondering/hoping there was some sort of update for the extenders. If there is one please let me know where I can find it. Thanks.

Scott

Jason said...

Hi...

Unfortunately, nothing has changed. V1 Extenders (Linksys, HP or Xbox Extenders won't work in Vista); however, Xbox 360 will work.

Hope this helps.

Anonymous said...

Come on that media center extender was not cheap ! Atlease allow us to have the same functions that we currently have. I can live with not seeing HD on it They are asking way to much of the average guy to invest in another set of extenders. There are a lot of of products coming on the market that can stream my DVR content maybe I will say F U to the media center. I do love what microsoft does but I will only love then as long as they are the hottest one out there

Jason Tsang said...

For those of you looking for an update, see the blog entry v1 Extenders - No rebate program .

paynepl@hotmail.com said...

Jason, we are looking for a Windows Media Center Extender for the Original X-box. Do you have one for sale or know someone who might?

Jason Tsang said...

Best bet would be to try ebay?

Unfortunately, I gave my copy away a couple months ago.