HTPC Opinion Windows Media Center

Keeping Windows Media Center Alive Without Microsoft

Keeping Windows Media Center Alive Without MicrosoftWe all know that Microsoft is no longer going to make any changes to Windows Media Center. If they decide to, that would be a major surprise. So where are we? As has been discussed many times, Windows Media Center is still the best option out there for media enthusiasts. So, like many of you, I will keep using Media Center until Microsoft stops offering guide data…unless some company comes along and surprises everyone.

So, my question to you is, “How do we keep Windows Media Center alive without Microsoft’s help?”

Option 1. We keep it alive by using it in its current form until it naturally goes away due to competition or gets cut off by Microsoft. Metaphorically speaking, Windows Media Center is on life support, and we are waiting as long as possible to pull the plug because we just can’t cope with its death.

Option 2. We try to prolong the life of Windows Media Center with the help of developers. We can do that by adding the things that we are missing and the things we didn’t know were missing. To extend the life support metaphor, this is us on our knees praying for a miracle as well as finding the best doctors to find a way to save our friend. (Obviously, this is not nearly as important as human life… just trying to make this interesting.)

We Pick Option 2. Now What?

First let’s talk about where Windows Media Center currently is.

  • We have an amazing recording engine as well as an amazing recordings interface thanks to Recorded TV HD [shameless plug].
  • We have great CableCARD tuners and mobile apps to control our scheduled recordings thanks to Ceton!
  • Ceton has also given us an extender in addition to Microsoft’s own Xbox 360 as an extender. No, they aren’t perfect, but they work very well!
  • We have a very good interface for interacting with our photos, videos, and movies. Great options are built-in or can be supplemented through other 3rd party plugins like My Movies, Media Browser, etc.
  • We have channel logos thanks to My Channel Logos!
  • We have Netflix – THANK YOU MICROSOFT!
  • And now we have Amazon Instant Video thanks to a couple of great developers!
  • We have a great website and podcast at The DMZ [thanks Mark! –ed]!

That’s a lot of great stuff! What are we complaining about? Well I guess it depends on…

What else do we need? What are we missing?

If we need an app, tell the Windows Media Center developers, like me, your idea. It may or may not be possible depending on the (aging) Media Center SDK, but developers are great for finding workarounds. It just may take a little longer than expected. If they think it will be worthwhile and beneficial to the community they just may create what you’ve asked for!

What’s The Point?

Unlike mobile platforms, where there are thousands of developers, there really are only a handful of Windows Media Center developers. Almost all of them are doing it in their spare time because being a Media Center developer does not pay the bills. Because of this, the Media Center developers need the community to help them with ideas and to motivate them!

There are still many Media Center users out there, but it seems most of them don’t know about 3rd party plugins. Made For Media Center was an awesome attempt to create a store/repository for Media Center plugins. Is there anything else that can be done in that aspect?

How can we get more people excited enough about Media Center to help us in this? One way is to tell people about The DMZ and the Entertainment 2.0 podcast, as well as sharing all of your favorite Media Center plugins with people you know and all over social media.

What Do You Think?

I’d love to hear your thoughts. Let’s get a discussion going. What should we as the community do? What is Windows Media Center missing? Honestly, I’m very happy with what we’ve got! In a way, I’m just writing this post for the people out there complaining to say, “let’s do something about it!”