Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Windows Media Center Announcements at PDC 2008

With the release of a build of Windows 7 build at Microsoft's Professional Development Conference (PDC), there are many new features of Media Center that are finally being unveiled for the first time.

For details, see these two blog postings by Charlie Owen, complete with screenshots and further explanation:

Highlights include the following:

  • Changes to the Start Menu (text, iconography, improved readability, remembering the last location strip between sessions)
  • Improvements to the Music Library (improved display of albums without cover art, more details to improve discoverability of more features, Now Playing improvements, Rating improvements, improved scrolling through large number of items)
  • Improvements to the Pictures experience (Ambient Slideshows, Slideshow Creator, etc)
  • Video Improvements, including out of the box H.264 playback
  • TV Improvements (all of the TV Pack features, mouse navigation of the tv timeline (TV and video), improved shared Recorded TV libraries among multiple Media Center computers, etc
  • Movie Improvements (new strip within the Movie experience, including an HD content pivot)
  • An on-screen keyboard
  • A Media Center sidebar gadget
  • An updated Windows Media Center platform focusing primarily on small, targeted improvements to the Windows Media Center Presentation Layer and additions to the managed code object model to make all applications (with greater emphasis on the web paradigm) a first class citizen in Windows Media Center and help them act and feel more like locally installed applications in terms of perceived performance.

Of course, feel free to visit Charlie's blog entries for more details and screenshots.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

October Updates for Media Center

Microsoft released cumulative updates for both Media Center for Vista (KB955519) and the Media Center TV Pack for Windows Vista (KB956147).

The following lists provide details as to what is provided within each fix.

October 2008 Cumulative Update for Media Center for Windows Vista (KB955519)

  • Fixes an issue in which you cannot seek through recorded TV shows on Windows Media Center systems that have digital cable tuners. Additionally, the recorded TV shows display the incorrect length.
  • Fixes an issue in which Windows Media Center Extenders cannot reconnect to a host computer after the host computer resumes from the suspend mode or the sleep mode.
  • Fixes an issue which is introduced by in Microsoft Knowledge Base article 950126. In this issue, a video that is paused may resume if you minimize or maximize the Windows Media Center window or if a screen saver starts.
  • Implements support for Digital Rights Management (DRM)-free copy for digital cable tuners that have the latest digital cable tuner BIOS versions that support DRM-free copy.
  • Expands the solution that was introduced in Microsoft Knowledge Base article 950126 to improve the experience of recording analog TV broadcasts to include set-top box scenarios. Previously, some analog TV broadcasts were blocked with the "protected content" message.

Download links

October 2008 Cumulative Update for Media Center TV Pack for Windows Vista (KB956147)

  • Addresses an issue in which Windows Media Center Extenders cannot re-connect to host computer after the computer resumes from the suspend or sleep mode.
  • Improves the experience of recording analog TV broadcasts to include set-top box scenarios. Previously, some shows were blocked with "protected content" messages.
    Note: This solution does not apply to configurations that use analog TV over digital cable tuners. The BIOS for the digital cable tuners provide content protection.
  • Addresses an issue in which incorrect PlayReady API is called.
  • Addresses an issue in identification of systems with the Windows Media Center TV Pack installed for server-related content.
  • Addresses an issue with certain extensibility applications that pass the Real Time Streaming Protocol (RTSP) protocol-based URLs.
  • Addresses an issue with .wtv files that are listed as unsupported file type after the third-party decoders are installed.
  • Addresses an issue with Terrestrial Integrated Services Digital Broadcasting (ISDB-T) digital TV signal when it uses component or composite output.

Download links

Both of these updates are also available through Windows Update.