For years many have proclaimed the death of our favorite home theater PC and DVR platform: Windows Media Center. While we’ve largely disagreed with the premise of its death, we’ve also stated that it’s still the best platform out there. We’ll also continue using it as long as the electronic programming guide data keeps flowing. Another possibility could arise that would lead to us dropping it too though. It’s possible that some other sort of bug could occur that would render Windows Media Center unusable. If that were to happen, and Microsoft chose not to fix it, that could also truly end our use of Media Center.
While the fear of a fatal bug not being fixed has always been a small possibility, we now have a very big reason to fear such a scenario. A bug was posted on the Windows Media Center section of Microsoft’s Connect site dealing with a guide data issue. In this bug it appears as if a television show originally airs in a country other than the U.S., then it will always show as a repeat for American viewers. While this isn’t an “end of the world” type of bug, it can wreck havoc on your scheduled recordings. The truly scary aspect of this bug is that Microsoft has decided not to fix. Even more scary though is the reason for dismissing the bug. A Microsoft employee left the following comment on the bug thread after changing its status to “Resolved as Won’t Fix”:
We are aware of the issue of shows airing in another country being marked as a repeat the first time they air in the US. Unfortunately, the media center client and services are not being actively updated anymore, and developer resources have been assigned to other projects.
Sorry we can’t help you further on this.
The “media center client and services” aren’t being updated anymore? They aren’t being updated at all? Not even to fix bugs? And why does this Microsoft employee speak so casually about the product? They didn’t even capitalize Media Center as a proper noun. What will happen the next time there is a major guide data issue? Will it get fixed? If not, that’s truly the end of the road.
In situations like this there is always a possibility that the employee reacted in a way that he shouldn’t have. But this situation certainly won’t be giving anyone a warm and fuzzy feeling about the future of Windows Media Center. Most of us Media Center users have resigned ourselves to the fact that we won’t see new features added to the application. Those of us who are still using it would like to just see it continue working. But there is also the issue of users who have moved on to Windows 8 machines. With Windows 8, Media Center is a purchased add-on to the operating system. It doesn’t just come for free anymore. That leads to the question of what are we paying for if Microsoft isn’t even supporting it anymore?
Here at the DMZ we’ve always tried to remain optimistic, or at the very least content, about Windows Media Center. This new situation definitely brings concern and doubt into the situation though. We can hope that this one employee over-stated the situation, or that this situation only applies to this one bug, but we won’t really know until Microsoft makes an official statement or we see a continued pattern of this behavior.
Good catch. My feeling is if there was another DVR out there that worked with CableCards and encrypted content, I’d be fine if MS let it go. But there isn’t anything else out there! My only choice is to move back to Tivo or go with a Cox provided box.
There are already other ways to get guide data into Media Center. When the guide data stops coming from Microsoft, users will need to do a little work to setup a new way to retrieve guide data and import it into the Media Center EPG database. It won’t be the end of the world, and Media Center will continue to work.