The Story Behind Netflix for Windows Media Center
Today Microsoft released their native
Netflix application for Windows Media Center to much fanfare. The release comes with a catch, but let’s
back up a bit before we get to that.
I’ve talked about the need for Microsoft to get Netflix
within the Media Center ecosystem, and ever since Reed Hastings joined
Microsoft’s board I
knew it was coming. A year ago
Microsoft announced Netflix would be coming to the Xbox 360 Dashboard and that
rekindled my thoughts about the Xbox
360 being Media Center biggest enemy in the marketplace. Today those thoughts are confirmed once again
by the Netflix application for Media Center not supporting Media Center
I’ve been testing the Netflix application for a few weeks
now. Upon downloading the first beta I
read the release notes which talked
about Extender’s not being supported. I
figured this was something that would change.
Sadly, it didn’t and was planned at all.
I didn’t think I’d get to post this part because it was told to me under
NDA, but TechFlash
actually posted it so I’m in the clear.
Part of the reason Extender’s are not supported is because Microsoft
wants to make sure they don’t compete with the Xbox 360 Dashboard.
Leaving the technical
aspects of getting Silverlight to an Extender aside, this represents a huge
problem and once again confirms to me that Microsoft will continue to push and
promote the Xbox 360 Dashboard over that of the Extender platform.
Fellow MVP Richard Miller asked if
I would rather Microsoft have not released the Netflix application, and it
isn’t so much that I think Microsoft shouldn’t have released, but what I really
want is Microsoft to define who Media Center is for (do I sound like a broken
record yet?) and the future of some basic items like Extenders (I’ll have
another post on this later, but Microsoft keeps assuring me Extender’s are not “dead”).
A few months ago I
suggested that Microsoft was changing directions with Media Center to the
more customer friendly “TV on your PC” concept.
I took a bit of flack from Microsoft on the post who suggested that
wasn’t the case. Maybe is it and maybe
it isn’t. Correct or not, I’ll stick to
my story because it seems like everything that comes out confirms my
Back to the Netflix application, the delivery of this is the
future of Media Center. Just like
Internet TV, the Netflix application was automatically pushed to Media Center
without any initial user interaction. If
they can just improve the installation it will be much more beneficial to end
users. While the interface is very
intuitive I don’t have my Media Center connected to a TV. Given this, I find Netflix’s website more
convenient. Moving forward, if the whole
“TV on your PC” thing catches on this will be a huge issue of mine. Media Center was designed as a 10-foot
interface, using it as a 2-foot interface is kind of tricky and it's not as intuitive
as it could be. This has improved with Windows 7, but I
would still rather use a website to find such basic content and leave the
10-foot UI where it belongs.