My Letter to Microsoft (re: Media Center)

bradly1101

Diamond Member
May 5, 2013
4,684
2
126
#1
Gabe Aul at MS Tweeted about the end of Media Center, so I wrote him a letter:

Dear Mr. Aul, May 30, 2015

I am an avid user of Microsoft products and have been since Windows 3.1. When XP Media Center Edition came out I was floored by the functionality you built into the operating system that allowed me to take control of my cable boxes and be able to feed their signals to the most versatile and robust DVR yet conceived. Now with Windows 7 and using CableCard the TV experience is so much better than what’s available from the TV providers. Media Center includes all of the other media on my system and it has an incredibly intuitive ten-foot interface. Whoever designed it was a genius.

It is so intuitive that my mentally disabled partner is able to operate it with no problems. The cable company’s DVR’s always gave him trouble. Media Center even allows me to convert some of the TV files (mostly news – his favorite) for use on his phone when he has to wait somewhere. For him it’s a huge help.

I understand that Media Center is going away because of “lack of use,” but I know I am among many who probably utilize Media Center more than any other single piece of software. Its adoption in Windows 8 was hampered by the fact that everything works so well in Windows 7. For these reasons I am writing you to plead for Media Center’s inclusion in future versions of Windows. I believe that the existing code runs fine in Windows 10, so I’m guessing the main goal in discontinuing it is cost savings regarding the copy protection licenses and possibly the TV guide data updates. If this is true my esteem for Microsoft is diminishing. When the financial goals of a corporation are at odds with their consumers’ goals, who or what should take precedence? Can you just charge more for Media Center to keep it alive? Is Microsoft well off enough to do the right thing – not what the efficiency experts and share holders demand?

When I read Mr. Gates’ The Road Ahead I was intrigued by the vision of computers assisting us in the control of different aspects of our lives. Media Center fulfils that goal so well. Its death feels like a big step backward; it was such a ground-breaking, if underappreciated and under-promoted, product.

I often ask myself why Apple’s products are plastered all over mainstream media when they are released when Microsoft’s never are. If people understood the versatility and cost savings of Media Center over renting DVR boxes I think there would be a lot more adoption. [I also think Flight Simulator suffers in a similar way; an update to utilize modern hardware would make it amazing, but it too needs promotion.]

I think I can speak for other users in asking that you at least announce when you are going to end the TV guide updates in Media Center so that we can arrange for one of the other, inferior options.

I’d like to continue using Microsoft products, but you are making them less useful and desirable to me. Please engage me again with that vision Mr. Gates so presciently shared with the world.

Sincerely,



Brad Smith

cc. Mr. William Gates, Mr. Satya Nadella
Think it'll help? Maybe more are doing this?
 
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bradly1101

Diamond Member
May 5, 2013
4,684
2
126
#2
Ironically (or perhaps not) two days after I mailed this a new icon appeared in my tray; "Get Windows 10."
 

silicon

Senior member
Nov 27, 2004
880
0
76
#3
Ironically (or perhaps not) two days after I mailed this a new icon appeared in my tray; "Get Windows 10."
we are being pushed to adopt windows 10 aggressively by MS. I like my windows 7 though. Interestingly it is being suggested by many to use VLC for video since WMP will be gone?
 

OlyAR15

Senior member
Oct 23, 2014
527
5
91
#4
WMP is still there in 8.1 and will probably still exist in 10. What is missing is DVD playback, since it costs MS money to license it.
 
Nov 20, 2005
14,612
2
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#5
we are being pushed to adopt windows 10 aggressively by MS. I like my windows 7 though. Interestingly it is being suggested by many to use VLC for video since WMP will be gone?
VLC? VLC is a great one-off media player but it is not a ten foot interface.

Kodi, JRiver, and Plex Home Theater are all more similar options even though only WMC can record certain flagged programs.
 
Jun 30, 2004
13,809
285
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#6
VLC? VLC is a great one-off media player but it is not a ten foot interface.

Kodi, JRiver, and Plex Home Theater are all more similar options even though only WMC can record certain flagged programs.
First, I want to thank bradly1101 (now "outed" to us as Brad Smith) for his letter to M$.

I have two Win7-64 PCs currently configured to use my 2x SiliconDust HDHR'-s and feed media to my AVR and HDTV. And for the good part of a year now, it all works perfectly: no more problems with the cable-provider's tuning adapters; no more mysterious disappearance of encrypted channels. WMC ALWAYS performs a daily update of itself and channel information.

I suppose that "reserving" a Windows 10 upgrade will not pull me down some irreversible vortex if I decide I don't want it. I may use just one of those PCs to evaluate Windows 10. But if I do, I'll want a Windows Media Center alternative with the same intuitive features. And I'll want it to work with my existing "green-button" WMC remote control and USB receiver.

So, poofyhairguy, what do you mean by "flagged programs?" What are the limitations of Kodi and Plex? And can they reside and co-exist with WMC so that both programs are at least operational on a one-at-a-time basis?

I actually came into the HTPC forum today with an intention of raising these questions, and found bradly1101's thread at the top of the list.

While there are probably stale threads somewhere down in the pile which deal with these issues, I think it's time for a renewed discussion.

I'm still not sure about some crucial issues. If I keep Windows 7-64 for one or both of these systems, will Media Center continue to update channel listings? I've got so used to WMC that I do not want to go back to "cable-box bondage."

And what happens to encrypted channel recordings? That is, what happens if (a) you update to Windows 10, and/or (b) you drop WMC to use something like Kodi or Plex?

If the doctor ever declares me terminal with three months to live, I think I'd almost consider making a media event for crapping on Dick Valenti's grave -- and embrace my conviction. At least, WMC did a good job handling HDCP and other restrictions.

But now -- WHAT!?
 
Nov 27, 2001
29,007
37
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#7
Windows Media Center use in Windows 8 wasn't screwed over by the lack of adoption of Windows 8. It was screwed over by Microsoft's decision to...

a) Charge $10 for it.
b) Limit it to Windows 8 Pro only
c) Limit the use of extenders to the Xbox 360

Why would I pay $130 for Windows 8 Pro instead of $80 for Windows 7 Home Premium, and then pay an additional $10 to be limited?

I backed the SiliconDust DVR at the $60 level, so I should start getting preview builds at some point this month. I'm just hoping that it ends up being a good replacement for WMC.

So, poofyhairguy, what do you mean by "flagged programs?"
He's talking about broadcasts that have been flagged as Copy Once or Copy Never. Windows Media Center is currently the only software that can play or record (for Copy Once) the broadcast.
 
Jun 3, 2011
10,094
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#8
thats one of the best letters i have ever read, including this http://www.lettersofnote.com/

even though i dont care for WMC and im ok with it going away.
 

joutlaw

Golden Member
Feb 18, 2008
1,108
0
81
#9
I was not happy to see this announcement, but was not surprised. I have had a Ceton CableCard tuner for 4 years this July. It has been relatively stable for the last 2-3 years and the only problems have occurred when something changed on my end with Comcast.

If WMC guide updates are dropped, I will likely drop cable TV for good. There are just too many other options out there. I sure wouldn't continue to run Windows on my HTPC though if I wasn't using WMC. Kodi will do everything I need for the most. I can even use it on my FireTV and just use WHS 2011 as my media storage eliminating a HTPC altogether.

I get what Microsoft is doing. Windows 8 hurt them pretty bad and their image is bit tarnished for a consumer OS. At the same time, desktop and laptop sales are down and people continue to shift mobile. The market has changed and the pressure is forcing them to give away Windows 10 to ensure adoption. I think the HTPC is being ignored as there just isn't enough there for Microsoft to pay royalties and other fees to attract buyers to choose Windows as their HTPC OS.
 
Feb 6, 2002
17,183
28
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#10
Maybe the idea is to support an app or 3rd party software.

Really this is a shame because I watch lots of online video. However, I don't want a DVR or a TV Card.
 
Jun 30, 2004
13,809
285
126
#11
Windows Media Center use in Windows 8 wasn't screwed over by the lack of adoption of Windows 8. It was screwed over by Microsoft's decision to...

a) Charge $10 for it.
b) Limit it to Windows 8 Pro only
c) Limit the use of extenders to the Xbox 360

Why would I pay $130 for Windows 8 Pro instead of $80 for Windows 7 Home Premium, and then pay an additional $10 to be limited?

I backed the SiliconDust DVR at the $60 level, so I should start getting preview builds at some point this month. I'm just hoping that it ends up being a good replacement for WMC.



He's talking about broadcasts that have been flagged as Copy Once or Copy Never. Windows Media Center is currently the only software that can play or record (for Copy Once) the broadcast.
I can't speak for the others, but I'd done a quick scan of the Silly-Dust proposal. Anything I might have given toward the project was allocated to pay my dentist instead. An old filling cracked on a tortilla chip a couple weeks ago. I had to play 'easter-egg hunt" looking for loose change in my Quicken accounts.

If SD had to make their HDHR' work with WMC in the first place, you'd think the team of folks working on this DVR project would be able to come up with a substitute.

Back to "flagged broadcasts." I'm pretty sure there is more than just two tiers in cable-TV. I think one of the more troublesome groups of channels are HDNET, PIVOT and some others. So I'm wondering if there are "flagged" and "unflagged" encrypted channels.
 

bradly1101

Diamond Member
May 5, 2013
4,684
2
126
#12
I get what Microsoft is doing. Windows 8 hurt them pretty bad and their image is bit tarnished for a consumer OS.
The same thing happened with ME and Vista, you'd think they would learn their lesson. 'Small' incremental upgrades that add little (or worse) will always hurt adoption. I'd like to see an internet poll of people who will delay upgrading because of this issue. So I guess naming it Windows 9 would be too 'incremental.'
 

Mushkins

Golden Member
Feb 11, 2013
1,635
0
0
#13
The same thing happened with ME and Vista, you'd think they would learn their lesson. 'Small' incremental upgrades that add little (or worse) will always hurt adoption. I'd like to see an internet poll of people who will delay upgrading because of this issue. So I guess naming it Windows 9 would be too 'incremental.'
I'm guessing you probably wouldn't like the results of that poll too much.

The HTPC crowd is a very small niche. It makes perfect sense for MS to drop development of a software tool that very few people even used, and even less used to it's full potential.

People legitimately holding back upgrading *specifically* because of this issue is going to be such a microscopic number compared to all users. For every one person in love with WMC to the point of not upgrading, there's a business enterprise of thousands of PCs not holding back.
 

bradly1101

Diamond Member
May 5, 2013
4,684
2
126
#14
First, I want to thank bradly1101 (now "outed" to us as Brad Smith) for his letter to M$.

I have two Win7-64 PCs currently configured to use my 2x SiliconDust HDHR'-s and feed media to my AVR and HDTV. And for the good part of a year now, it all works perfectly: no more problems with the cable-provider's tuning adapters; no more mysterious disappearance of encrypted channels. WMC ALWAYS performs a daily update of itself and channel information.

I suppose that "reserving" a Windows 10 upgrade will not pull me down some irreversible vortex if I decide I don't want it. I may use just one of those PCs to evaluate Windows 10. But if I do, I'll want a Windows Media Center alternative with the same intuitive features. And I'll want it to work with my existing "green-button" WMC remote control and USB receiver.

So, poofyhairguy, what do you mean by "flagged programs?" What are the limitations of Kodi and Plex? And can they reside and co-exist with WMC so that both programs are at least operational on a one-at-a-time basis?

I actually came into the HTPC forum today with an intention of raising these questions, and found bradly1101's thread at the top of the list.

While there are probably stale threads somewhere down in the pile which deal with these issues, I think it's time for a renewed discussion.

I'm still not sure about some crucial issues. If I keep Windows 7-64 for one or both of these systems, will Media Center continue to update channel listings? I've got so used to WMC that I do not want to go back to "cable-box bondage."

And what happens to encrypted channel recordings? That is, what happens if (a) you update to Windows 10, and/or (b) you drop WMC to use something like Kodi or Plex?

If the doctor ever declares me terminal with three months to live, I think I'd almost consider making a media event for crapping on Dick Valenti's grave -- and embrace my conviction. At least, WMC did a good job handling HDCP and other restrictions.

But now -- WHAT!?
Thanks. The other thing that concerns me about upgrading to Windows 10 (which as far as I know only exists as an upgrade download) is what if you want to do a fresh install? Will we have access to the setup files so we can do that?

I just wish MS would get that they could make more money by including and adding features. It's unfortunate that we are sort of stuck right now if we have previously gone down the MS path. We have to accept what they do if we want to keep all our software and ways of doing things.
 

bradly1101

Diamond Member
May 5, 2013
4,684
2
126
#16
I'm guessing you probably wouldn't like the results of that poll too much.

The HTPC crowd is a very small niche. It makes perfect sense for MS to drop development of a software tool that very few people even used, and even less used to it's full potential.

People legitimately holding back upgrading *specifically* because of this issue is going to be such a microscopic number compared to all users. For every one person in love with WMC to the point of not upgrading, there's a business enterprise of thousands of PCs not holding back.
You're probably right. I wish there was an easily available stat of how many people are downloading the guide in WMC. Is it a thousand people? Ten-thousand? 100,000? At what point is it "microscopic?"
 
Nov 27, 2001
29,007
37
126
#17
If SD had to make their HDHR' work with WMC in the first place, you'd think the team of folks working on this DVR project would be able to come up with a substitute.
HDHomeRun does work with Windows Media Center. If you're referring to the DVR service, it's pretty much impossible for true integration given that WMC is a walled garden approach. Some people may be able to create some clever hacks to get WMC to talk to the HomeRun DVR sort of like how they've turned WMC's recording service into a server (ServerWMC). At best, the only viable integration (without hacks) into WMC would be as a DLNA server.

Back to "flagged broadcasts." I'm pretty sure there is more than just two tiers in cable-TV. I think one of the more troublesome groups of channels are HDNET, PIVOT and some others. So I'm wondering if there are "flagged" and "unflagged" encrypted channels.
There are three main ones... Copy Once, Copy Never and Copy Freely, and a few other variants. Content is usually flagged on a per-show basis, but there are channels that are almost exclusively flagged in a specific way (e.g. HBO is Copy Once). I'm sure some heavy CableCard tuner users here have also ran into situations where a random recording was flagged for Copy Once. I remember having it on a random episode of How I Met Your Mother.
 
Oct 10, 1999
24,988
445
126
#18
Well I for one am gratefull this WMC stuff is gone. I have hated every microsoft media player since media player 7. Media Player classic 6.2 was good, but VLC is far better IMO.
 

Binky

Diamond Member
Oct 9, 1999
4,046
0
81
#19
Media Player <> WMC, and nobody here is talking about media Player.

Why would you be glad that a feature (you don't use) is gone?
 
Oct 10, 1999
24,988
445
126
#20
Media Player <> WMC, and nobody here is talking about media Player.

Why would you be glad that a feature (you don't use) is gone?
I thought WMC was media player. I was saying I liked old windows 3.1/nt for workgroups media player better than current one, thought it meant windows was going back to a simple media player without all the garbage and bells and whistles.

Misunderstanding.
 
Jun 30, 2004
13,809
285
126
#21
I thought WMC was media player. I was saying I liked old windows 3.1/nt for workgroups media player better than current one, thought it meant windows was going back to a simple media player without all the garbage and bells and whistles.

Misunderstanding.
Actually, they are two different items -- two different Windows components. There is a default configuration option where one or the other must be chosen, and they can't fit that slot together.

I can run WMC to display on my HDTV tuned to CNN as a "Live-TV" channel, while using WMP to view last week's DVR-capture of some PBS documentary -- on my desktop monitor. But I can't watch Live TV on WMP.
 
Jun 30, 2004
13,809
285
126
#22
HDHomeRun does work with Windows Media Center. If you're referring to the DVR service, it's pretty much impossible for true integration given that WMC is a walled garden approach. Some people may be able to create some clever hacks to get WMC to talk to the HomeRun DVR sort of like how they've turned WMC's recording service into a server (ServerWMC). At best, the only viable integration (without hacks) into WMC would be as a DLNA server.



There are three main ones... Copy Once, Copy Never and Copy Freely, and a few other variants. Content is usually flagged on a per-show basis, but there are channels that are almost exclusively flagged in a specific way (e.g. HBO is Copy Once). I'm sure some heavy CableCard tuner users here have also ran into situations where a random recording was flagged for Copy Once. I remember having it on a random episode of How I Met Your Mother.
I was looking at a comparison of Plex versus XBMC/Kodi. I think there's a SiliconDust HDHR' add-in for the latter. I'm leaning toward XBMC/Kodi (and why do they change the names of these softwares? It doesn't really inspire confidence.) But it's something I need to get done, when WMC is working just great on both computers. And it is BEST to be done before I feel pressured to pull the string on Windows 10.

By the way. Somebody should KNOW. Is it possible to have XBMC/Kodi resident and operational on a system that continues to have WMC operational without fouling up the WMC configuration? I'd like to know what awaits me when I download XBMC/Kodi and install on my second machine, leaving the first to continue access with WMC.
 
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bradly1101

Diamond Member
May 5, 2013
4,684
2
126
#23
Media Player <> WMC, and nobody here is talking about media Player.

Why would you be glad that a feature (you don't use) is gone?
You see my point; MC lacks adoption because they never promoted it enough for people (cable/FioS users) to know what they're missing.
 
Jul 1, 2001
21,125
176
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#24
Windows Media Center use in Windows 8 wasn't screwed over by the lack of adoption of Windows 8. It was screwed over by Microsoft's decision to...

a) Charge $10 for it.
b) Limit it to Windows 8 Pro only
c) Limit the use of extenders to the Xbox 360
I remember getting a free license key to download and install it as part of my Windows 8 Pro installation. I didn't have to pay for it, either.
 

Dude111

Golden Member
Jan 19, 2010
1,492
0
76
#25
silicon said:
we are being pushed to adopt windows 10 aggressively by MS.
Yes they really want everyone on Win10!!

WHY?????? (Always an agenda)
 

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