website hit counter September 2005 - Posts - Chris Lanier

September 2005 - Posts

The Media Center Show #26

The Media Center Show #26 | 21st September 2005 (50mins 27secs) MP3 - 17.3MB (Download Here)


This week Ian Dixon talked with Declan Fitzgerald from Microsoft Ireland about job opportunities at the new development center in Ireland.


In addition, Ted Singh from Embedded Automation talks about trends from the CEDEA trade shows, and then Geoff Twibell about tagging your music collection and fixing album art!


Vote for The Media Center show on Podcast Alley!  If you have any questions regarding DRM, Ian is planning to do a DRM show soon so please send your questions in!

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New Directory of Media Center Hardware and Software Partners

The Windows XP Media Center Edition team at Microsoft is creating an international partner directory for the Media Center website. The directory will feature companies creating software services, applications, and hardware that work with Media Center; it is intended as a tool for businesses looking for inspiration or resources for their own Media Center projects. To submit a listing to the partner directory, visit and fill out the partner directory form. Be sure to go back and update your listing if you change product versions or add functionality. You may add as many products as you’d like under your company listing.


The partner directory will go live on the Media Center website on in mid-October. There is no charge to appear in the directory, but Microsoft reserves the right to review all submissions before posting. The partner form will support multiple languages.


If you have questions, please email

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Thoughts and Answers on Managed Copies

I’ve been talking about the ability to legally “rip” HD-DVD’s to your hard drive for some time now, and of course today Microsoft finally made their announcement that they will pair with Intel to provide support for HD-DVD in Windows and with Intel's Viiv-based PC's.  I have seen many questions pop-up about some of the features and about your ability to do certain actions with the media.


Thomas Hawk had questions about the quality and file size of a “Managed Copy” over the original HD-DVD.  Ed Bott speculates that better compression will cut down the file size which is kind of true, but I’m not sure if Ed is thinking of the compression used in the correct manner.  While we do have much more advanced and efficient video and audio codec’s, it doesn’t always mean file sizes will be drastically cut.  There isn’t much stopping “studio x” from encoding their video using MPEG-2.  For a feature length movie at 1920x1080p, you’re looking at 30GB cutting it close!  You will have to add audio and extras too!  Most studios will be encoding video with either MPEG-4 AVC HP or VC-1.  This will cut down file size of the overall disc, but you as a consumer should really want that disc to be as full as possible.  Greater bitrates (in turn larger file sizes) means better video and audio quality to start with.  Oh, 30GB HD-DVD’s might be available at launch, but that doesn’t mean the all studios will play the price for them.  Think about it!


If I remember correctly, you will be able to make at least a single “Managed Copy” at full resolution.  Look for a host of other information on this near the end of October or start of November.  This is where that crazy AACS content protection system I’m always talking about starts to come into play.  =)


Sean Alexander had also posted this news and his views on “Managed Copies” and Kenn left a comment about the type of “reactivation” that will be needed to keep the content secure.  This is true, and you will need an active Internet connection to take advantage of “Managed Copies” for HD-DVD.


Ian Dixon asked if the process will be easy to get your copy, and you can bet the answer is yes!  It will be extremely simple to copy an HD-DVD to our hard drive.  =)


Windows Vista will of course play into this in many ways.  I would very much assume that Vista will be needed to take advantage of “Managed Copies“.  There are some downfalls to the “Managed Copy” feature with HD-DVD that will play out in the upcoming months.  To try and kill a bit of what might pop-up in the feature, while it is a “guaranteed feature”, it doesn’t mean that you purchased the right to make a copy when you bought the HD-DVD.


My single question about all of this is where is the HDMI output on the Xbox 360!  There will be a secure path with WMRM to get content TO the Xbox 360, so there must be a path OUT to also keep it secure.  I still hold my thoughts that Microsoft has the best chance to win your Living Room, the rest of the pieces just need to start falling.  This mainly comes with Vista and the framework that is being built to allow the consumer to get this media on their PC!

Microsoft and Intel Back HD DVD

Microsoft and Intel Back HD DVD as Next-Generation High-Definition DVD Format of Choice | Intel Corporation and Microsoft Corp. today announced that they will join major consumer electronics manufacturers, content providers and other companies as members of the HD DVD Promotion Group. After extensive review, both companies determined that the HD DVD format developed by the DVD Forum meets important criteria and delivers unique advantages, including PC and connected device interoperability and an easy, affordable transition to high definition for consumers. HD DVD can bring the excitement of HD video to the consumer faster than competing formats, with the potential for more affordable hardware and more interactive experiences.


Intel and Microsoft are the two most recent additions to the HD DVD Promotion Group, joining such companies as NEC Corp., SANYO Electric Co. Ltd. and Toshiba Corp. and content providers such as Universal Studios and Paramount Pictures Corp. A complete list of over 100 companies is available.


“There are both challenges and opportunities in the transition to high-definition experiences throughout the home,” said Blair Westlake, corporate vice president of the Media/Entertainment & Technology Convergence Group at Microsoft. “And after looking at the core advantages to the PC ecosystem and how it would benefit the consumer, it is clear that HD DVD offers the highest quality, and is the most affordable and highly flexible solution available.”


“Our vision with Intel Viiv technology is that digital media content can be enjoyed on these Intel-based PCs and consumer electronics devices in and around the home in an easy and affordable manner,” said Brendan Traw, Intel Fellow and chief technology officer of Intel’s Digital Home Group. “Intel has determined that HD DVD best meets the needs of consumers and the requirements for the respective consumer electronics, computer and entertainment industries for delivering a high-definition, interactive experience to the home on optical media.”


Microsoft and Intel cited the following consumer and industry requirements of any successful next-generation optical format for high definition, which is reflected by what HD DVD delivers today:


  • Managed Copy: A first for DVDs. Managed Copy is a guaranteed feature within HD DVD that gives consumers the freedom to make copies of their discs to a hard drive or home server, including Media Center PCs using Intel Viiv technology, and enjoy them in every room of the house over their home networks. HD DVD discs also will allow copies of the movie to be played on portable devices.
  • “Future-proof” compatibility. Using proven HD DVD “hybrid disc” technology, a single disc can store both high-definition and standard-definition versions of a film, allowing consumers to immediately enjoy the standard-definition movies stored on these discs on today’s DVD players, while HD movies can be replayed later on the HD DVD platform. This is an opportunity for consumers to buy discs at launch that future proof their collections — in other words, helping assure customers that the discs they buy will remain viewable in the future.
  • Proven low-cost, high-volume manufacturing. HD DVD discs use essentially the same manufacturing equipment as existing DVDs, meaning that production of HD DVD can ramp up easily and with lower costs.
  • Superior capacity. HD DVD-ROM discs will offer dual-layer 30GB discs at launch, compared with BD-ROM discs, which will be limited to 25GB.
  • Superior interactivity. HD DVD discs will offer greater interactivity using iHD technology, allowing for enhanced content, navigation and value-added functionality for high-definition films. For example, HD DVDs can offer advanced picture-in-picture capability so that other video, such as a director’s commentary, could play on top of the movie.
  • Superior format for notebook PCs. The compatibility of HD DVD with standard DVD facilitates and simplifies development of slim disc drives for integration in notebook PCs, one of the fastest-growing segments of the PC market.

As longtime leaders in the development of new industry specifications, Intel and Microsoft believe a single optical disc format is an ideal solution that would drive rapid consumer adoption. Although the companies have determined that HD DVD is the only viable solution at this time, each remains committed to working toward one format that meets consumer and industry requirements.

AVerMedia To Launch MCE Media Expansion Card (PCIExpress!)

AVerMedia Technologies, Inc., the leading provider of digital multimedia and presentation technology announced today that the AVerMedia AVerTVTM MCE Media Expansion Card won the Intel Technology Innovation Accelerated (TIA) Award for the Digital Home Category. The Intel TIA award is presented each year at the semi annual Intel Developers Forum (IDF) to recognize technological advancements and innovation while building off of Intel’s new platform strategy.


The AVerTV MCE Media Expansion Card is an x16 PCIExpress dual analog TV tuner featuring hardware MPEG2 compression. The Media Expansion Card has been designed around the Intel 945G platform SDVO interface technology in order to support its onboard DVI output capability. This concept allows users or systems integrators to build mainstream Media Center PCs with Dual TV tuners on an Intel 945G motherboard (featuring integrated graphics capabilities). AVerTV MCE Media Expansion Card designed specifically for use with the Intel motherboard.


Previously, the MCE platform required a high end and costly graphics card to actually process the video on the screen. These high-end cards also provided DVI output option for users using higher resolution LCD or Plasma monitor, however the combination of Intel’s integrated motherboard and the Media Expansion card eliminates the need for the additional high-end graphics card since the graphics and DVI output are included.


“Winning this award is a great honor for AVerMedia and a tribute to our technical and development expertise,” says Dominic Wong, Technical Marketing Manager for AVerMedia Technologies, Inc., USA. “Between our own internal innovation and relationships with such highly regarded organizations as Intel, AVerMedia will continue to be on the leading edge of multimedia technology.”


“Promoting technology leadership efforts driving Intel’s evolution to a platform strategy, the Technology Innovation Accelerated Awards recognize companies and individuals who take a creative approach in creating exciting new products through technologies that promise to exceed customer expectations,” said IDF General Manager Rob Chapman.


Pricing and Availability


The AVerMedia AVerTV MCE Media Expansion Card will be available in early Q4, 2005 at an MSRP of $199.99. For more information about any of AVerMedia’s other digital multimedia products, visit or call AVerMedia at (408) 263-3828.

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$235 Creative Zen Portable Media Center

Creative Zen Portable Media Center Model (20GB) | I just noticed that Newegg has the Creative Zen Portable Media Center for $235.99 after a $200 MIR (PDF Link).  This is about the price point that Portable Media Center should have starting shipping at.  If you want to pick one up, act quick!  The rebate is only good through the 30th.

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This Is How It Should Work! Thank You

Thomas Hawk has been going on about his issues with Media Center (keep it going Thomas!!) and I would like to thank him for it.  I would also like to thank Matt Goyer, Charlie Owen, and the rest of the eHome division.


This is how it is supposed to work everyone.  Media Center has a community built around it that I have watched grow for years and years, while trying to help the growth by highly contributing my views on this blog, trying to keep The Green Button going, helping the higher end market accept Media Center and help them with their issues, contributing as much as I can to The Media Center Show podcast by Ian Dixon, and more!


Seeing any member of the eHome division step-up shows a lot about the team, and the product.  Media Center as a product is very much a roller coaster of broken features and shattered dreams for some.  Not being able to ship a feature that many want seems so much better to the community when the people making the product get a word in about it to the people that matter the most; the users, the consumer, the community!


Keep it up Matt and Charlie (et al.)!  Thomas, do the same (and I'm planning on replying to your views in another post soon).

The Media Center Show #25

The Media Center Show #25 | 21st September 2005 (54mins 15secs) MP3 - 18.6MB (Download Here)


This week Ian Dixon talked with Ian McCarthy, VP of Product Development at Orb about the Orb services, the new API for developers wanting to create add-ins for Orb and more!


Remember, Vote for The Media Center show on Podcast Alley!


If you have any questions regarding DRM, Ian is planning to do a DRM show soon so please send your questions in!

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NVIDIA’s Next Gen Dual PVR Card

NVIDIA Next Gen Dual PVR Card | HTPCnews posted a bit about NVIDIA’s plans to offer a new dual tuner PVR card.  According to the PowerPoint slides it will feature the following…

  • PureVideo™ 3D Comb Filter (No Chroma Artifacts)
  • PureVideo™ 3D Noise Reduction
  • In-line TV Amp
  • Hardware MPEG Encoder
  • ISF Certification
  • MediaSqueeze™
  • And more!
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Developing for the 10-Foot Interface In Vista Media Center

Lot's of Goodness for Media Center Developers at PDC05 | Charlie Owen has posted the PowerPoint presentations from PDC; Developing for the 10-Foot Interface (Windows Vista Media Center)

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Multi-Zone/Room Audio Media Center Plug-In In Development!

The Green Button Community: MCE MZone | MCE MZone is a client/server based application that will stream the audio over an IP network (Multi-Zone/Room Audio!).  Initially this means MZone will only work in one of the two conditions:


  • Each zone has it's own PC connected up running a client
  • Each zone has a pair of speakers connected to a pc, via a unique soundcard, running multiple clients.

Features in the first alpha release will be limited, will most likely include:


  • Ability to play, stop, pause, queue, forward and rewind music.
  • Play unique streams in each zone
  • Synchronize streams between zones
  • Initially there will be no Media Center interface.
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Xbox Extender Price Drop!

Microsoft Xbox Media Center Extender ( - $33.95


Microsoft Xbox Media Center Extender (  - $31.99


Microsoft Xbox Media Center Extender (Micro Center) - $34.99


Microsoft Xbox Media Center Extender (CompUSA) - $29.99

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Place Your Application for Windows XP Media Center Edition on Windows Marketplace!

In order to help promote your great Media Center development work to consumers, the Media Center group at Microsoft is excited to announce that, starting today, you can upload your finished Media Center application to Windows Marketplace, a comprehensive, easy-to-use shopping and download site that helps Windows customers discover, experience, and purchase partner products and software.


After Microsoft has processed your application, your approved Media Center product will be available for download from CNET’s and Windows Marketplace.


How to upload your product


  1. Prepare your software application.  CNET will test for the following, so be sure you’re ready before you upload your product.
    1. Your application must be virus and spyware-free, and must not perform any malicious operation on the customer’s PC.
    2. The product page on your website must list “Windows XP Media Center Edition” as a requirement for product installation.
    3. The application installer must validate that the user’s PC is running the Windows XP Media Center Edition operating system before installing the application.
    4. When the application is installed, a tile for the application must appear in More Programs.
    5. When the customer clicks on that tile, he or she must be taken to a 10' experience.
    6. The customer must be able to navigate your application with the remote control.
    7. Your application design must feature large buttons and fonts so that it is readable on a TV screen.
    8. Installing the application must not add a link to the top Media Center navigation menu (next to My music, My Pictures, etc.).
    9. Your application must function with Media Center Extender.
    10. For Web-based applications, the application must have some component that needs to be installed on a Media Center PC (this will not necessarily show up in More Programs).
    11. Your application’s text must be in English.
    12. You must have the rights to any content used in your application.
    13. Certain types of content are prohibited by Microsoft policy
  2. Visit and create an account.  CNET has a few different listing options: Free listing, Basic ($9USD/mo) or Premium ($99USD/mo).
  3. Choose “Windows MCE” as your Operating System, and fill out the rest of the submission form. At this time only English-language applications may be submitted to Windows Marketplace.
  4. Submit your application.  CNET will send you mail with confirmation of receipt, and let you know if your application passes their testing requirements.
  5. Check your listing.  Give CNET 2-3 weeks’ processing time to verify your application, then visit and to make sure your product appears on both sites. Beginning mid-October, the products will also be available on the Media Center consumer website on

If you have questions, please email

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Temp Skin Change (or Not)

Fixes a few issues we are having... CAPTCHA issues or not, I can't handle 20+ spam posts an hour.
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Windows Media Center Takes on New Life

Windows Media Center Takes on New Life | Read this NOW!  Here’s the Conclusions and Recommendations section, there is a lot of interesting analysis in this article.  Kind of sounds like many discussions that I have had here on this blog, The Green Button, eHomeUpgrade, and AVS Forum.  ;-)


“This forecast illustrates how WMCE will become the norm for premium home computing during the next few years.  Its widespread adoption will be aided by the fact that its definition has become loose enough to make the decision to incorporate the interface in high-end offerings much easier for PC hardware OEMs.  However, this watered-down version of the original conception, this compromise, will help Microsoft (and Intel) achieve the long-cherished goal of making the PC the hub of the digital living room.  Of course, with many DLNA-compliant devices in the home —interoperating digital entertainment servers, players, and control points — one could argue that there will be no hub, just a lot of devices talking to each other in digital harmony on the home network.  But nonetheless, the media center PC will be an important element in this network, and Microsoft has made sensible changes necessary to further this end.


Microsoft will continue to improve the media center experience, notably with an “away” state that appears to the end user as an instant on-off capability and an internal management system that restarts processes automatically from time to time, a feature that will help bring reliability nearly into line with expectations for a consumer electronics device.  The company should do everything possible to deliver as much media functionality as possible for as little money as possible in order to promote maximum penetration.  One area worthy of looking into is the cost of the dongle, which is currently single sourced and could be sourced from multiple vendors. 


PC hardware OEMs should prepare to adopt media center for their premium offerings in the Windows Vista Home timeframe or before.  Decisions to be made include whether or not to have a remote control and one or more TV tuners in the package, and whether to feature the same level of media functionality in notebooks as in desktops.  All vendors — including the Japanese —should take advantage of the program to brand and modify the interface, a program that represents an opportunity to promote themselves to their end customers.  Both Microsoft and Intel are making it easy, particularly in the short term, to advocate this platform , and although details on market development support for it over the longer haul have yet to be fully defined, such support is likely to be generous. 


By the time Windows Vista Home launches, many of the remaining features will be worked out.  Extenders will help propagate content around the home, deals with content providers should be hammered out, and a digital rights management scheme is likely to be in place.  Consumers may not all use the TV features, but anyone wanting to listen to music, look at digital pictures, or play digital movies from an attractive interface will have a media center PC of one sort or another, either in their living room or in their den, from where it will be projecting to an extender in the living room.”

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The Media Center Show #24

The Media Center Show #24 | 15th September 2005 (1 Hour 4mins 51secs) MP3 - 20.3MB (Download Here)


This week Ian Dixon talked with Jason Bradbury host of The Gadget Show on UK TV about gadgets, tech and Media Center.


Remember, Vote for The Media Center show on Podcast Alley!


If you have any questions regarding DRM, Ian is planning to do a DRM show soon so please send your questions in!

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Neowin Covers Media Center Updates

Windows Media Center Updates for XP & Vista | Well, doesn’t like look Tom Warren sources were exactly right this time (Sorry, Tom), but anyway Neowin is now covering new Vista MCE and Update Rollup 2 information. Included are a few more Vista MCE screenshots!  I would like to say that at this point Media Center’s interface is most likely very subject to change.  I wouldn’t get caught up on anything that you see just yet.


Related: Update Rollup 2 Contains... & More Details on Rollup 2

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Xbox 360 to Hit Store Shelves…

The Countdown Begins: Xbox 360 to Hit Store Shelves Nov. 22 in North America, Dec. 2 in Europe and Dec. 10 in Japan


Fueling global anticipation for the arrival of its powerful new video game and entertainment system, Microsoft Corp. today announced that Xbox 360™ will arrive on store shelves Tuesday, Nov. 22 in North America, Friday, Dec. 2 in Europe, and Saturday, Dec. 10 in Japan. The announcement, made on the eve of Tokyo Game Show 2005, marked the first time that a game console will be launched in three territories in the same time frame. In preparation for what is expected to be massive worldwide demand for the new system, Microsoft also announced that Xbox 360 manufacturing is under way, with state-of-the-art facilities producing millions of units ultimately bound for frenzied gamers’ homes from Osaka, Japan, to Oxford, England, and Orlando, Fla.


“This holiday season, gamers in Japan, Europe and North America pining to experience jaw-dropping high-definition graphics, unmatched online play and compelling digital entertainment features of Xbox 360 will finally have the chance,” said Robbie Bach, chief Xbox officer for Microsoft. “Renowned development studios around the world are busy putting the finishing touches on their Xbox 360 games. We expect a strong portfolio of titles on launch day and through the holidays that will appeal to fans of every genre and gamers in every region, and with more than 200 games currently in development, continuous new additions to the library are on the way.”


Read Full Press Release

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More Details on Rollup 2

More Details on Update Rollup 2 | Ed Bott has posted some more information on Update Rollup 2.


It looks like my main predictions are true.  HDTV Support didn’t change, and the Release Date will be mid-October.


Other notes that I can say is that burning ATSC recording with Sonic’s burning software should now work.  Files edited with programs like DVR Edit still will not burn correctly using the Sonic Encoders.  There will also likely be a few other small changes and additions that I will have more on later.


As I have been saying for some time now, Vista will be a turning point for multimedia and the PC.  The platform will be at a point where companies can develop solutions to provide users with support for the features they have been wanting from a PC PVR/Frontend!  Sorry that point can’t be today.  :-  (

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Update Rollup 2 Contains...

Media Center Edition Update Rollup 2 Information | Thanks to Bryan for attending the OEM chat today, now I can actually put something here about what’s in Update Rollup 2.  ;-)

  • Free Download from Windows Update
  • Available in about 1 month
  • 2nd HD Tuner supported
  • No CableCARD
  • No QAM
  • DVD Changer (No other public information)
  • Xbox 360 Extender support
  • Sonic DVD Burning fixes
  • Slight improvements in Media Library performance

More support countries…

  • Denmark
  • Finland
  • Hong Kong
  • India
  • Ireland
  • Mexico
  • New Zealand
  • Norway
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Russia
  • Singapore
  • Slovakia
  • South Africa
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Taiwan
  • Turkey

Update: More Details on Update Rollup 2

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