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.”