Thursday, March 29, 2007

Vista Media Center Recording Conflict Resolution Feature

Here's one new feature in Windows Vista's Media Center that I don't think most people know about that I learned about at the MVP Summit (thanks Jessica).

Some of you may notice that some stations schedule popular programs so that it ends at an irregular time. For example, Station A schedules Program A between 9:00 pm to 10:02 pm, while Station B schedules Program B between 10:00 pm and 11:00 pm. This scheduling tactic is one that typically affects PVRs that schedule recordings based on Electronic Programming Guide data so that other shows don't record due to a scheduling conflict. This is due to the scheduled programming times overlapping and there are not enough tuners to record both of the scheduled shows in its entirety.

In previous versions of Media Center, unless you had multiple tuners, attempting to record both shows would result in a conflict, and Program B would not be recorded.

In Windows Vista's Media Center, there is an 'enhanced conflict resolution' system that will overcome this scheduling tactic. When such an overlap between two programs falls within a small duration (five minutes), the first show will be recorded to the end of its scheduled time before the recording switches over to the second program. If the overlap is greater than five minutes, then a conflict would be shown on the second program. Using the example above, Program A would be recorded between 9:00 pm to 10:02 pm, and Program B would be recorded between 10:02 pm to 11:00 pm.

This new feature ensures that you still get most of the shows that you wanted to record, rather than losing out on one show in its entirety, when stations resort to this type of scheduling skulduggery in tuner-constrained systems. As such, this feature will be most noticed by those who have only one tuner in their system. Those with multiple tuners will be less likely to run into a scenario where this new feature is utilized (though it is possible, depending on what combination of shows are recorded).

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bradlinder said...

I'm glad they cut off the beginning of the next show and not the end of the first -- there's nothing worse than watching 58 minutes of TV only to find out that you're missing the resolution.

That said, missing the first few minutes is still pretty annoying. I highly recommend anyone who runs into this on a regular basis pick up a second TV tuner.

Anonymous said...

I just came across this feature tonight - it's one I wish MCE had had. It's great.

However I wonder if there's a way to force 5 minutes to being a bit longer? Sometimes I'd rather see the end of a programme than none of it at all. A football match, or the news, for instance.