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  #1  
Old 10-23-2002, 05:00 PM
Jason Dunn
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Default Windows XP Media Center Edition reviewed

<a href="http://www.winsupersite.com/reviews/windowsxp_mediacenter.asp">http://www.winsupersite.com/reviews/windowsxp_mediacenter.asp</a><br /><br />Paul Thurrot, the guy who gets to try everything Microsoft before anyone else, has written a great review of the Windows XP Media Center Edition PC. I had a chance to get some hands-on time with one at the recent Mobius event, and I was really impressed - Microsoft seems to have put a lot of effort into the concept, and the interface was slick and fast. What's that you say? A full-screen interface from Microsoft that's fast? Yup. Apparently it's a DirectX engine, and it was so fluid I thought it was built from Flash. <br /><br /><img src="http://www.pocketpcthoughts.com/images/dunn2002/windowsmediacenter.gif" /><br /><br />I told the Program Manager who was demoing it that I thought they should use that engine for all the GUI elements in XP - we need something as slick as the Quartz engine on the Mac. Even on a powerful PC, the graphics engine on XP still gets bogged down and requires a ridiculous amount of CPU resources for the most basic screen draws. This is one of those things that seems to be low on the list of future improvements because it doesn't add to the "bottom line" like other XP features do. <!><br /><br />I nearly hugged the product manager when he told me that not only would the Media Center be able to control a digital cable box, but it's smart programming features would work in Canada. What? CANADA? Hooray! :lol: It's a beautiful thing people - let's say you like watching a certain series. Two taps of a button, and it tags the entire series for recording, ensuring that you'll never miss out again. It took us until 2002 to get something this simple? Yeah, I know Tivo can do this, but they don't offer service to Canadians. Grr. :evil: At any rate, I was extremely impressed with the speed and simplicity of the entire system. I'm considering purchasing one when they come out, even though I don't really need another PC right now - the abilities this box offers are truly impressive.<br /><br />Right now the Media Center will be sold only with new PCs - HP is the biggest vendor offering a solution, but others will come on board in early 2003. There's been a lot of complaining from the power users about this, because they have the power PCs but need the software to pull it off. I think Microsoft is doing the smart thing by controlling the platform tightly - it makes working out the bugs and improving the product much easier when you know the hardware people are using (shades of Apple anyone?). <br /><br />And now that Microsoft has <a href="http://www.winsupersite.com/showcase/windowsxp_mediacenter_copy.asp">opted to allow copying of the content</a>, this whole scenario gets a lot sweeter - I'd love to burn a DVD with a few TV shows and watch them away from home.<br /><br />Here's a blurb from Thurrot's article:<br /><br />"So what is XP MCE? Essentially, it's Windows XP Professional Service Pack 1 (SP1) with an additional application, Media Center, and related supporting services. XP MCE runs only on media center PCs, which include modern processors, fast video cards, FireWire connectivity for attaching a DV camera, a TV tuner card for interacting with a cable or satellite signal, and, optionally, other multimedia features, including a DVD writer, surround sound speakers, and front-panel access to the types of memory cards used by most digital cameras. This year, only Hewlett-Packard will be shipping media center PCs in the US, and I'll be reviewing the final hardware here on the SuperSite in early November; this review focuses solely on the software. But other companies, such as Samsung, are marketing media center PCs in other locales, and Microsoft will announce new partners and markets for XP MCE in 2003."
 
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Old 10-23-2002, 05:18 PM
DavidHorn
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I wish it was possible to run just the software on any PC. I have a high-end PC with both a TV tuner card and a digital satellite card, as well as an audigy sound card, and I'd love to be able to control the lot from the Media Centre interface.
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  #3  
Old 10-23-2002, 05:50 PM
dochall
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Only doing it as a complete system is a mistake. There are many people already using pc's in the living rooms either as home theatre pcs or as MP3 servers. This people are crying out for this kind of if but aren't going to buy a new machine to get it.
 
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Old 10-23-2002, 06:03 PM
pt
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dochall
Only doing it as a complete system is a mistake. There are many people already using pc's in the living rooms either as home theatre pcs or as MP3 servers. This people are crying out for this kind of if but aren't going to buy a new machine to get it.
this isn't for the pro-user with the ability to set up a system like that, it's geared towards a different auidence.

it's cool stuff, i've got to use one.

cheers,
pt
 
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Old 10-23-2002, 06:14 PM
vetteguy
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All I can say is....BOOOOOOOO to Microsoft for only making it available with new machines. I have a machine that will easliy outclass ANYTHING HP or Toshiba would put out bundled with this OS. I will NOT buy a crappy $2000 machine just so I can have this OS. They scream about piracy, then make a new OS unavailable to anyone who already has a machine they want to run it on. Sorry, but this is a terrible decision.
 
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Old 10-23-2002, 06:34 PM
Sven Johannsen
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I must agree with the others. I have the machine, need the OS. I clearly understand the "shades of Apple" aside in Jason's article, but think MS could clearly define the hardware requirements and leave it to the consumer to choose whether they want it to work or not. i.e. buy the HCL stuff.

It would be really nice if the PC manufactures would think about where these boxes are going to be used. A form factor that has the same footprint as a typical AudioVisual device, Tuner, Amp, DVD player, etc. would be great. Then it could sit in my stereo cabinet. As it is, PCs are too deep to fit in there. A remote keyboard (with trackball/touch pad) would be the thing to have here, plus the standard remote sort of thing.
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Old 10-23-2002, 06:52 PM
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Quote:
It would be really nice if the PC manufactures would think about where these boxes are going to be used. A form factor that has the same footprint as a typical AudioVisual device, Tuner, Amp, DVD player, etc. would be great. Then it could sit in my stereo cabinet. As it is, PCs are too deep to fit in there. A remote keyboard (with trackball/touch pad) would be the thing to have here, plus the standard remote sort of thing.
Sounds like you may have the next million dollar idea! Hmmmm...
 
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Old 10-23-2002, 06:52 PM
PPCRules
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There's a lot of other aspects of the product we could be talking about, but until someone moves onto those, I'll put my $.02 in on the side that Microsoft is making a very good decision to offer it only on new machines.

The main point I'd make is that this allows the product to get to us, the users, way sooner. While running my upgrade to Windows XP, I had plenty of time to think, and I was trying to picture the enormity of the task of building an install program that people will expect to put on any PC hardware, from any manufactuer, with any manufacturer's accessories stuck in and onto the machine. I was actually surprised at how good things did work, even on a year old, major manufacturer machine. Even testing such an install process probably adds six months to the release date and 100's of million dollars. So since the choice would be a) make the product available now, or b) wait six months more to serve a few more people, I think the wise business move is a) and so is the one that adequately serves the vast majority of purchasers.
 
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  #9  
Old 10-23-2002, 07:11 PM
Furan
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Actually, the graphics engine doesn't improve because of GDI and backwards compatibility . Video card manufacturers are much more concerned about the ddraw/d3d acceleration working well than they are about the GDI apis performing well at all. The composited desktop and new graphics/windowing engine may make it into Longhorn, which will change things, as that will all be accelerated well(and it will be important to vendors to support it well).
-Ian
 
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Old 10-23-2002, 07:13 PM
johncj
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I have a question for those of you who "have the machine". Where did you get the remote control that runs your computer? Seriously, when I first heard this, I was upset, but after talking with some folks at Microsoft about this, I'm beginning to think it was a good idea. I look at XP media center as being more along the lines of XP embedded than a mainstream OS. These are special-purpose devices, appliances, if you will. Pocket PC, XBOX, Tablet PC, Windows for Automotive are also in same continuum of "not quite computers" running some variant of Windows. Is anybody upset that they can't run XBOX apps on their PC?
 
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