Thomas Hawk is betting that Chris Lanier is right and I’m wrong in our predictions of when CableCARD HDTV support will arrive in Windows Media Center PCs. (Chris says in the Longhorn timeframe, late 2006, I say a lot sooner.)
In separate comments to my post and to Thomas’s post, Chris says he doesn’t have any inside information, and like me he’s speculating based on publicly available information. Meanwhile, Thomas says Microsoft needs to stop kowtowing to Hollywood:
Microsoft walks a fine line trying to negotiate with it’s Hollywood customers and it’s Media Center customers. It’s a shame because Microsoft certainly has the power, legal prowess and money to tell Hollywood to pound salt — they just have a little more business savvy than this and we will all probably just have to sit tight until the Titans of Media figure it all out.
Microsoft is not waiting for approval from the Forces of Darkness in Hollywood. All of the infrastructure is already in Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 to record and play back HDTV right now. With an over-the-air antenna, you can get many hours of high-definition programming already. The only missing piece – and it’s a really big piece – is a CableLabs-certified device that can plug into the PC to bring in HD programming that is only available over a wire. Those devices can be added to the Hardware Compatibility List as soon as they’re available, which may be before or after the fall update for Media Center (probably after). Drivers for those devices get certified by the Windows Hardware Quality Lab. Outside beta testers don’t need to use external hardware; all of that testing can be done internally, and in fact confidentiality terms in the license agreement with CableLabs probably make it impossible for any third-party tester to get their hands on one of these devices until they’ve been given the CableLabs stamp of approval.
As for the Media Center Update this fall, Thomas says, “Yawn”:
Give me HDTV. Give me Flickr. Give me instant access to my music without having to wait 5 minutes. Give me a PVR and a guide for radio. Etc. etc. and I’ll be thrilled.
HDTV? It’s already in Windows Media Center. The piece you’re waiting for is the hardware, and that has nothing to do with an OS release.
A fix to the problem of slow music libraries? That’s not Media Center, that’s Windows Media Player. As Matt Goyer said last December in a comment to Thomas: “The problem Thomas is experiencing is a problem with the interaction between WMP and MCE. It is being addressed.” Wouldn’t it be nice if that fix made it into this update, so that we don’t have to wait for the rumored beta of WMP 11 in November?
A PVR and a guide for radio? As someone said, “Yawn.” I barely listen to radio anymore. with the exception of NPR, and time-shifted podcast-like NPR programming is already available on Media Center. XM Radio is supported in Media Center too.
Anyway, for Thomas (and for Chris and for me and for lots of other people), HDTV over cable is the #1 item on the wish list. Get that hardware certified and you’re not yawning about Media Center anymore!