It’s been a long time since we heard any news from Microsoft regarding Windows Media Center, and now it seems the company is driving the final nail into the coffin. Microsoft has confirmed to ZDNet’s Ed Bott that Windows Media Center is officially dead, and will not make a return appearance in Windows 10. What’s frustrating about this is that Windows Media Center was ahead of its time, and for a fairly large number of enthusiasts, an important piece of software that gave worth to Microsoft’s often dubious add-on packs and otherwise premium editions of its operating system.
Windows Media Center debuted in 2002 as Windows XP Media Center Edition (MCE), saw a long succession of updates through Vista and Windows 7, and finally ended up as an add-on for Windows 8. And make no mistake: Windows Media Center was an innovative and necessary product. Nothing did what it did at the time. In fact, in successive years, I spent a good amount of time reviewing various set top boxes, from companies like Buffalo, Hava, Hauppauge, and SageTV that let you stream movies, music, and photos from your PC to your living room television. Some were referred to as Windows Media Center Extenders, a Microsoft-invented mouthful of marbles that didn’t last very long in the market. Most of them were pretty glitchy and difficult to use.
Often the best hope was to skip the set-top box (as they were known then, before today’s onslaught of Roku, Apple, and Amazon products), and simply build a PC dedicated to your living room HDTV running Windows Media Center. In fact, ExtremeTech ran fairly regular build-it stories and how-tos on setting up Windows Media Center PCs, including ones with beautiful, horizontal cases that would sit nicely in a stack of high-end stereo components. Set one of these up, and you’d get a large-screen, remote-friendly system that let you watch all of your locally stored content right on your TV, without so much as a network streaming hiccup or buffering message. Not only that, but you could install one or more — sometimes many more — TV tuner cards, so you could DVR shows without a monthly fee, watch and time-shift live television, and otherwise amp up your cable TV subscription. And you could control your PC with a remote, instead of a keyboard and mouse.
Other products eventually hit the market offering the same thing, such as the open-source XBMC (now Kodi) and MythTV. Right around the same time, Sling Media debuted the Slingbox, which let you watch TV or DVR remotely from your PC anywhere in the house or over the Internet. Apple didn’t have much success with this concept either. While some early iMacs, back in the candy-colored days of 1999 and 2000, began to support DVD playback, Apple pushed it pretty hard starting in 2005 with the iMac G5 and Front Row, its own larger-font, remote-controlled solution. Front Row essentially foreshadowed the first Apple TV in 2007 — which, incidentally, also came with a hard drive at the time for playing back locally stored media.
Unfortunately, that brings us to today, where it’s tougher than ever to set up a proper media center PC. Steam OS is great for HDTV-based gaming. And of course there are a ton of streaming set top boxes and game console-based solutions for watching streamed or otherwise cloud-based content. If you’re a downloaded-media diehard, you can always set up a local network-attached storage (NAS) box and use that to stream your own media around the house. But as with tablets (Windows Tablet Edition) and smartphones (Windows CE and Windows Mobile), it’s always tough to see Microsoft once ahead of the curve with a product, only to eventually let it languish and die like it has with Windows Media Center. Between that and TiVo on the ropes, the set-top and DVR market looks very different than it did 10 years ago.
Now read: How to use your PS4 as a media streamer without DLNA
View more information: https://www.extremetech.com/computing/204903-microsoft-kills-off-windows-media-center-for-windows-10