Many people would call Michael Jackson dying a tragedy while others couldn’t care less. But I’m not writing this to talk about Michael Jackson. Well, sort of. What I want to talk about is the fact that his funeral was netcast in HD via inMusic in Canada. The cast wasn’t country specific so I was able to tune in and check out part of it.
The streaming was done using 720p Smooth Streaming with Silverlight, Microsoft’s answer to Adobe’s Flash technology. All I can say is that I was amazed at the quality of the stream I was presented using my netbook on a wireless connection. Not one stutter, loss of audio, and no jaggies. Yeah, jaggies. Ya know, those annoying ridges that you get while watching other online content? Not a one.
I think Microsoft has put together some great tech here and I hope they continue to develop it as far and as fast as they can. The question today is: Why isn’t it being utilized within other Microsoft properties? Specifically Media Center.
Again, no matter what your opinion is about Michael Jackson, the fact is that millions of people tuned in to watch the funeral. For me, there was something else programmed to record at that time. My guide didn’t update so part of the funeral was recorded through analog cable. This gave me the chance to compare the broadcast to the netcast and guess what? The stream provided by inMusic looked 100x better!
So why wasn’t it available in Media Center? It seems to me that this was a great opportunity to provide a stream right to people’s televisions. A stream that people wanted to see and one that, done correctly, would have had people screaming for more online content for Media Center and perhaps gotten people to use it more.
It seems to me as though Microsoft keeps each development team in a bubble. Hidden from the other teams. As an example (and this comes from Derek Flickinger on Episode 36 of Entertainment 2.0) MS has a playlist format which is used in WMP and MCE: .wpl. Then along comes the Zune team which creates their own format: .zpl. Oh, and it’s not compatible with WMP or MCE therefore you have to have two playlists if you want to use them at home and on your portable device. This is, again, just an example. Back to topic.
Does the eHome team even know that Silverlight and Smooth Streaming exist? I’m sure they do. Is there a reason it’s not being deployed to Media Center? Got me. Is there a reason the Xbox 360 team hasn’t added support? Who knows. The point is that again, Microsoft has this great tech and yet they don’t seem to have any interest in leveraging it.
What we’re talking about here is really just another example. Others include:
- Zune not talking to MCE
- Zune not syncing with MCE
- Different file formats supported by each piece of software
- Xbox 360 Marketplace and Zune Marketplace content not available for purchase in MCE
- Above mentioned content not playable in MCE
And the list goes on. The fact is that Microsoft could be pushing this tech out right to people’s televisions and they’re not. The funeral this week would have been a great way to do it. After that, start providing streams to other high profile news events or maybe even concerts. Streamed sporting events anyone?
I simply see this as an opportunity for MS. I hope they don’t miss an opportunity to bring more online content into MCE. They seem to have the tech. Now they just need to bring it together.