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Microsoft's Interactive Online Streaming Dilemma

Microsoft’s partners seem to be having a hard time finding success in Media Center with interactive streaming plug-ins available through the ‘Explore’ (Online Spotlight) section of Media Center.   Several partners have seemingly dropped support for Media Center without notice over the past year and with the lack of a worldwide presence for the applications you have to wonder about the future of Media Center as a streaming platform.

MTV Networks pulled their applications for MTV, MTVU, VH1, and Comedy Central months ago with no reason as to why.  Just last month the Queensberry Fight Network launched a Media Center application, yet today it is nowhere to be found.  And finally with the downfall of Yahoo! and AOL web properties, Microsoft is having a hard time keeping third party content available within Media Center.

So my question is, with Microsoft clearly targeting streaming as the future (and present) of the digital home, is it hurting the Media Center platform and Microsoft’s long term goal for streaming dominance to have all these companies come and go with such limited success?

Published Sun, Aug 10 2008 17:44 by chrisl


# re: Microsoft's Interactive Online Streaming Dilemma

I agree with you Chris, it's very odd. I checked my system, and the Queensberry plugin still appears to be functional as i had already downloaded it.

Not sure why it dissapeared from the Online Spotlight either though.

Sunday, August 10, 2008 6:29 PM by Mike Garcen (Shadymg)

# re: Microsoft's Interactive Online Streaming Dilemma

I think this is more a fault of not getting good partners for media center (mtv is not the partner of the media center fan base) as well as them having flat out horrid interfaces for the few people you do get (and this is likely their fault but ms should help alot more if people are having trouble).

Comedy Central was a good partner but their content was bad.  You can watch all the south park episodes free on the web via  Thats an example of something that would have done well.

Sunday, August 10, 2008 7:55 PM by Aaron Rodriguez

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That's the problem when you leave it up to third parties. Microsoft should find the strongest third parties, work closely with them, and ensure they have "award winning" components for Media Center.

I have tried several VMC plug-ins and none of them were that great.

The Netflix plug-ins (MyNetflix and vmcNetflix) are so-so. Both have good points and bad points, but neither one integrates all that well with VMC to the point where it looks like the component is supposed to be part of VMC. This is an area where Microsoft should take over or work closely with Netflix to create a _really good_ Netflix VMC component.

Also, played a bit with TVTonic for Olympic coverage. Again, another example of really bad UI (drops out of VMC, poor navigation, lame channel setup, difficult to get to content, etc.). The component is just not integrated well with the VMC interface, and just doens't work/look like part of VMC. There is a lot of potential there, but from what I have seen, really poor design, execution, and interface for VMC.

I have had similar experiences with all the VMC Online applications I have tried. In most cases, they don't at all look like they are seamless to VMC, many drop out of VMC, don't work exclusively from the VMC remote, bring up web pages, have content that is clearly not designed for VMC, and generally just don't work well.

I am a "techie", and even I get frustrated with the poor quality and how useless these online components are. I can just image how frustrated an "average" VMC user would get when trying these out, expecting a "VMC like" experience, and not getting anything close.

Sunday, August 10, 2008 11:02 PM by CoupleOfPoints

# re: Microsoft's Interactive Online Streaming Dilemma

Queensberry is still there on my Online Spotlight, maybe they have not got round to pulling yet

Monday, August 11, 2008 3:37 AM by Ian Dixon

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In the UK, the options have been so rubbish I hardly ever look in that section. And most of the other links to streaming content don't work in the UK, but you can't remove them from the UI.

MS could solve this at a stroke in the UK market by coming up with a BBC iPlayer add-in.

Monday, August 11, 2008 6:27 AM by Stuart Anderton

# re: Microsoft's Interactive Online Streaming Dilemma

I thought the Olympic TVTonic content was the best that they have had.  It really would help those people who want to record very specific events. This is a good step to real content.  The rest are very lame.

Monday, August 11, 2008 10:05 AM by dnr

# re: Microsoft's Interactive Online Streaming Dilemma

Re Couple of Points

I agree that most of the VMC streaming plug ins were sub-standard (sucks is a little strong).  VMC Netflix and the Olympics do seem to take things to the next level.

In terms of finding other partners, I think problem here is 50% technical, 50% business model.  E.g. can advertising by Lenovo and Intel justify the expense of streaming high quality video of the Olympics?  Yeah probably.  Can it support long term feeds of lame cable shows?  Probably not.  

And what about cannabilization?  Certainly, the success of VMC Netflix and Tvtonic Olympics is only reinforcing my decision that I never need to pay for cable.  I can get a HD OTA signal and supplement with streaming video over DSL + Netflix DVD's delivered.  Cable content providers must be wondering how this business model will work out.

Nevertheless, streaming is the future.  Looking at near HD content delivered when I want it and not depending on a cable provider.  Sounds like a future I like.

Monday, August 11, 2008 3:11 PM by Ken J

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Noticed Vongo (which was made by Starz network) is disappear as well.  Every program has two squares now to me that is a very very sad way to hide the fact MS can't get any more programs.  More proof Media Center is a dying product?

Monday, August 11, 2008 3:31 PM by bieon

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They just don't want to be tomorrow's PlaysForSure partners.  Microsoft is moving into the video content space and those other providers know what happens then.

Monday, August 11, 2008 10:22 PM by Matt Olsen

# Vongo goes away

Chris Lanier noticed some online services disappearing from Media Center and now it looks like another

Tuesday, August 12, 2008 3:55 PM by Ian Dixon's Blog