With Windows Vista barely one week past RTM the Windows Media Center team started our first milestone for the next version this week. One of the guiding principles we will use to determine features for vNext is identifying and removing roadblocks which keep people from using Windows Media Center.

One example of this is the new Express Setup you find in 'Diamond'. 'Emerald' and previous versions (version history and codenames) forced the user into a rather lengthy first run setup wizard about 10-14 pages at minimum for most users. By contrast, the new Express Setup in 'Diamond' requires but a single action the first time you launch Windows Media Center before you are instantly able to start using the features.

We would love to hear your thoughts about blocking issues which keep you from fully enjoying Windows Media Center more. Leave comments for the team to read.

Categories: Windows Media Center | Comments [114] | # | Posted on Wednesday, November 15, 2006 3:54:35 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)   
Wednesday, November 15, 2006 5:23:14 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
Well the primary reasons IMO are A) the lack of consumer electronics type reliability B) lack of "my media anywhere I want it" i.e. the limitation on playing back ripped DVDs to a MCX really bites C) cost of the device. Some folks I know are looking for inexpensive DVRs and don't get what the extra money buys them (DVD player, DVD burner, music jukebox, etc). One in particular is waiting on Picture-in-Picture before moving to MCE. He's still holding onto his old Ultimate TV devices.

Please don't forget about your power users though. I would really like to see support for many tuners (say 4 to 6) as well as supporting DVD playback to an MCX. Lots of folks are ripping their DVDs especially those who have kids and being able to playback those ripped DVDs to a MCX should just work.
Wednesday, November 15, 2006 5:35:43 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
For me basically cablecard - HD support - I know that is coming, but from what I understand only "certified" boxes. My problem with that is like the previous comment I want 4-6 tuners. I want to be able to run the main media center box in a closet and then be able to build ultra-quiet low cost, low profile boxes and run them as extender like boxes, yet have a dvd player in them. xbox 360 would work but it is too noisy and too big for most rooms I would want to put it in. I don't want cable and hard drives and all that in every room in the house - I just want it in one place.
Wednesday, November 15, 2006 6:23:02 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
Hi Charlie,

Where I live there are the following reason that people do not use Media Center:

- People with digital cable (DVB-C), typically have all channels under DVB-C. People here need dual tuner option.
- People with satelite (DVB-S), typically they don't have all channels over DVB-S, and need to mix with analog, and preferably have dual DVB-S mixed with dual analog tuners, or four DVB-S where two is from one provider and two from another.
- The fact that DVB-T can't be mixed with analog, as the three main channels here are DVB-T, and the rest typically analog cable.

These are the typical things that requires people to still have other units (like myself, who uses a DVB-C digital decoder for TV instead of Media Center).

The other thing where people need other units is radio:

- You should be able to name stations and store them by name.
- RDS should be supported in Europe (automatically finds names, ect.).
- DAB radio standard is used for digital radio where I live, where only DVB-T is supported now.

I see these things as the main thing - there is no need for new features if the basic ones does not allow the general user to "be in the middle" of all usage senarios.


Brian Binnerup
Wednesday, November 15, 2006 6:25:22 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
Oh, yea, should I name some stuff I would like to have fixed, that is:

- VIDEO_TS folder playback on extender devices.
- Start a VIDEO_TS folder that have PUO protection removed from a specific time point. The current SDK supports it, but it does not work for DVD's with menu's.


Brian Binnerup
Wednesday, November 15, 2006 6:41:57 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
How about natively supporting more than two tuners for a given tuning type? I have 3 (with the registry hack) and still get an occasional conflict.
Wednesday, November 15, 2006 12:07:04 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
I moan and groan enough internally ;-) but I did just post a link to this on my own blog to see about getting more customer responses.
BTW I am running Vista Ultimate RTM on my Toshiba M4 and the MCE experience is absolutely smooth as silk. I spent 10 hours in airports yesterday and ended up demoing it in both Atlanta and Dulles (DC) and people were blown away. Typical reaction was " I didn't know Microsoft did that." Great job on this release.
Wednesday, November 15, 2006 12:11:13 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
Lots of tuners, I would love to replace my 3 tivo's with a single media center device and just distribute around the house. Support for DirecTV, specifically HD and MPEG-4 for future use. Portability of content. Let me take HD content and convert to VC-1 and burn to HD-DVD. Let me build my own box without it being crippled.
Wednesday, November 15, 2006 12:17:27 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
Hi Charlie!

First I gotta say that I absolutely love my media center. My girlfriend and I just moved into our brand new house 14 days ago - and I'd say it's pretty much "Designed for Media Center" with all the network cables, three Xbox 360's – primarily used as extenders – and "the works".

So there really isn't any feature that's keeping me from using MCE, as it is the way TV, music, pictures and radio is consumed at our household.

Anyhow, I think Brian Binnerup nails it pretty good. We need support for DVB-C, DVB-S and being able to mix and match that with analog TV and DVB-T. Besides that we absolutely also need PDC in Europe (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Programme_Delivery_Control), so that you'll never miss the end a program again.

My old $50 VCR had this functionality and I hate, that I now have to record the program after a soccer game, just to be sure that I won't miss the end of the game. I know I can set to recordings to end a few minutes later, but if the game goes into overtime, that won't help me.

I really don't see the need for any new features in MCE, besides, as Brian writes, the radio functionality is very limited and his suggestions are definitely valid and should be addressed in the next version (especially the first two suggestions).

Keep up the good work and thanks for listening to us - the users outside Microsoft - even though our "feature-requests" might not always point you in the direction you'd like to go.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006 3:25:17 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
CableCard is the biggie for me. It's supposed to be supported in Vista and "coming soon", but I've scoured the net and haven't been able to find anything about the OEM boxes that are required to support CableCard. Zip, Zero, Zilch, Nada... That's what I'm waiting for -- A box I can just drop in, plug in a couple of CableCards, and be on my way. I'd rather have a PCI, PCI Express, or USB interface, but I've resigned myself to having to buy an OEM PC. But there's absolutely no information on when such a box might be available, or at what cost...
Wednesday, November 15, 2006 4:45:22 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
1) CableCARD - HD / Digital tuning
2) Departure from the 1 box 1 user mentality.
a) It would be much easier to use as a "family" if their were say MCE user accounts. this would allow me to view only the shows that I have chosen to record and not everyone else's recordings. Likewise the ability to pull up just my pictures (tagging) or my playlists. Lastly you could block channels on the "kids" user accounts.
b) Allowing more than 2 tuners. Considering that one box may be feeding multiple extenders.
c) Native ability to sync with portable devices. (even if it had to be limited to Zune or Win Mobile) As opposed to using a third party App.
3) Alternative extenders to the 360. For people who'd like multiple extenders but don't need more than 1 360.
Wednesday, November 15, 2006 4:49:46 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
DirecTV HD support is critical. To me, everything else is gravy.
Jonathan Hassell
Wednesday, November 15, 2006 5:03:24 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
Oh - I forgot something:

- Internal support for HD-DVD
- Internal support for Blue-Ray

And, a note to Kenneth - I think "PDC" is on it's way out - I don't think Danish channels even delivers it any more.
Wednesday, November 15, 2006 5:10:54 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
It all looks promising... but until you guys go public with a trade-up plan for v1 Extender early adopters then Vista won't be touching my home MCE box. Seriously, I spent a lot of money getting my house all tricked out w/ Ethernet, multiple v1 Extenders, etc. - and now it's rip and replace (except the wiring, of course).

So far all we have is "an announcement will be made closer to launch re: v1 extenders". Last time I checked this thing has launched, or at least RTM'd. Understand your audience. People who adoped v1 extenders aren't the type to wait around for RTM to learn their fate. They read blogs, and are generally more informed than average peeps. Don't leave us in the dark. We get angry in the dark.
Wednesday, November 15, 2006 5:44:30 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
Like some of the comments above, I would also like to see more security features. Like the ability to password a particular folder in MyVideos. Last thing I need is my small children watching up a Horror movie that I ripped from DVD. I would also like the ability to protect certain areas of the UI like settings from my 2 year old.

Not allow them to delete certain television recordings, or change the current lineup without the magic password. I have even had guests at my house that either were not familiar enough with the product deleted shows from my upcoming recordings. Or if someone is watching live TV and another scheduled recording requires the use of the tuner, force the show to change to the scheduled show, unless a password is entered.

A wishlist capability similiar to Tivo. Where MCE could monitor listings for keywords and suggest or just record anything with those keywords.

The ability to "fallback" to analog recording if the ATSC tuner is currently being used and a schedule conflict occurs.

Save the live buffer if the user wishes to start recording the show. Currently it truncates the buffer and starts at the current live signal.

If two adjoining scheduled shows overlap, let the higher priority show take precedence once it begins. Thus you will get part of the lower priority show, and all of the higher one. As of now, its marked as a conflict and you generally have to choose one or the other.

Blake Thompson
Wednesday, November 15, 2006 6:06:44 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
1) For the UK, 10 million people have Sky Digital satellite - lack of support for DVB-S is stopping these users from using Media Center, as the picture quality from a composite jack out of the back of the STB is awful.

2) Reliability - this has got better in recent rollups, but still is not 100%; the number of times that I've lost a recording - seems to happen mostly on series finales! - and had to reboot the machine to get the tuners back.

3) Ability to share TV easily between multiple media centers - for people who want basic functionality, a DVR will suffice; for the more sophisticated users (the Media Center audience) the ability to easily share TV between multiple media centers is a must.

4) DVD playback on extenders!
Andrew Cherry
Wednesday, November 15, 2006 6:37:52 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
The tiny little problem that is going to keep me on MCE 2005 (or move me to MythTV) is the lack of filenames in the list views in "My Videos". Usability just goes down the toilet trying to figure out what things are by random frame grabs.

(Same with the music navigation, as well, with the album covers, which may or may not be present or helpful... sure the whole "pictures only" thing looks good in the screenshots, but it's really just plain annoying in practice.)

Other than that deal-breaker, CableCard is essential for the long-term survival of the platform. Sure, the PVR supplied by my cable company sucks, but if it's the only way to record HD content, it's what I'll have to go with.

Also, software-based extenders (that support more than WMV) are essential. I have lots of older PCs lying around that would make great MythTV extenders. The only real missing functionality (since music and video files can be accessed over the LAN) is the ability to record TV shows on a remote machine.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006 9:55:31 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
Well.... nothing is preventing me, I've had a MCE2005 pc as the only means for the family to watch and record tv for over a year now. Very happy currently running three DVB-T tuners in the living room pc with fully digital pay tv support.

Multiroom is essential and I really want alternatives to the Xbox360 currently being the only extender around supporting live tv and the full MCE UI. The Xbox360 we have in the bedroom to watch digital pay tv is way way way to noisy. Webguide4 might come to the rescue with added live tv support soon... Hopefully. But please please please relase softsled so there is the option to use cheap slow silent computers as thin clients!!!

But my real top list in prioritized order (here in Scandinavia) is:


1 - EPG guide data on ALL channels. This acomplished not by using a power user tool/hack like Bladerunner and xmltv (which works great! :-) but something that the average user easily can install (and gladly pay a yearly small fee for!!!!) This is a must, a half full EPG kills the usabilty of MCE totally. Why not as a bare minmimum collect EPG data from the DVB stream as everyone else does. At least for channels not having internet collected EPG data.


2 - DVB and teletext subtitling. Very important in Scandinavia. It's supported in many other software alternatives...


3 - DVB mpeg4 HDTV live tv. Since we now have fully digital pay tv support for both DVB-T, DVB-C and DVB-S in a number of countries already here in Europe I know users will have a hard time accepting that their pc tv-tuner, their pc and their big flat panel tv supports HDTV but the single culprit preventing them to watch it is MCE. The users on networks having mpeg4 HDTV channels _will_ go over to other software just to be able to watch mpeg4 HDTV. No doubt about it. Just think, would you say.... I have _everything_ to watch it but, naaaawww.... You just run this other media software instead and you are set to go.... naaawwwww... or?

Cheers all!

Magnus Thome

Wednesday, November 15, 2006 9:59:42 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
The largest thing that keeps me from using MCE, currently, is licensing. I have Windows XP Pro, which I love. I've used Windows XP Home, which I don't love. Why not package MCE as an application that runs on top of any version of Windows? I'm not sure if Vista is this way, but I want the advanced-user features of the Pro version with the ability to run MCE on top of it. BeyondTV is set up this way and priced correctly.
Wednesday, November 15, 2006 10:15:37 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
For me it is HDTV support beyond ATSC. CableCARD support is key. I really want to be able to build my own machine with CableCARD support. I talk alot about this on my blog.

Also, price is an issue, as always. Building my own box lets me bring the price down.
Wednesday, November 15, 2006 10:32:32 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
main reason - no support for DVB-C. it's sorta/kinda supported, but here, in Moscow, the only provider available to me, Kosmos-TV (ktv.ru) isn't supporter. it uses fairly standard DVB-C + Irdeto2. i picked a compliant card and still nothing - MCE doesn't 'know' about such a service and there's no way to input transponder frequencies manually.

also without DVD ripping/storing it's just crap.
Wednesday, November 15, 2006 11:34:26 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
Here's my take on what's blocking me from just ditching the Tivos... In order of what I consider important...

1) I have DirecTV, meaning there's no built in tuner available for Vista Ultimate (RC2) to work with and showcase HD content on my HD tv... Instead it's all standard def... not fun. What no MS Hardware for this???

2) CableCard is so far away from being internal to my PC it's not funny... yet Tivo sure seems to have snagged a win on that one. Again... What no MS Hardware for this???

3) A perfectly good PC wasted for just a Video experience. In my home the location of the PC is not usable as a PC and a TV accessory... so I have to pick/choose. $900 for a decent Media Center box is much more expensive than TiVo. If there was a MCE type box that was in the same formfactor as a Tivo, didn't have desktop, but still had all the features of the MediaCenter box, allowed RDP into a session to manage the box, and was as cheap as say 1/2 the cost of the shipping Tivo3... Yeah that's the right price point for me... oh wait... that's something we could expect from the next XBox 360... with HDDVD & dual tuner support (with cablecard/dish/directv support built in)... and this time hopefully someone on XBox will think it's smart to include a 300g hd internal, with the ability for the end users to add an external set of drives... (snap on and go)

4) HMO options... I mean really how many different ways can people do these same kind of features without compatability... yes MCE looks awesome on my XBox, but I can't have the same functionality from my MCE on my Tivo??? Why do I have to run both Tivo software and MCE software to accomplish putting the Weather on any tv in my house? As an enduser this is infurriating.

5) Windows Mobile/Zune remote-pc access... it always takes some lame 3rd party that barely gets it right to pull this off... SlingBox, etc... Just lame. I want access to ALL of my media (divx and xvid inclusive) on all form factors... anytime and anywhere I want to view them, schedule them, play with them, and get the same MCE extras while on the road.

6) Add support for better SDK's for novice developers to quickly create apps for the MCE.. after all, it's mostly web driven. Take a hint from the new XNA architecture... or include XNA abilities in MCE?

Wednesday, November 15, 2006 11:51:53 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
I have used Media Center for 2 years and am seriously considering getting rid of i in favor of the Dish Network PVR. Here are the main reasons why I do not like using it anymore.

1. Tuners and the drivers are causing frequent problems (ATI and Hauppauge). I never know if I have to reboot MCE to get my signal back.

2. Really hard to make sure the S3 standby correctly resumes from standby. Really hard if not impossible to configure in Vista.

3. Transfer of media to gigabeat s...very difficult to impossible.

4. Cannot record cable / satellite signals.

It is now to the point where my wife and I have lost confidence in recording and are tired of troubleshooting and updating drivers. We want the thing to work and know that what we set up to record will actually record.

I do like how it works with XBox 360 but connecting it will always kill the signal on the primary tv tuner card. The only way to get the signal back is by shutting the Media center down, uplugging the TV box (reset) and then restarting the Media Center computer. I know it is not that card because I bought the second one thinking the old one was the problem but it wasn't. Because it wasn't I now have 2 tuner cards.
Thursday, November 16, 2006 2:01:02 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
I use MCE, but not as much as I would if it were better. I have a PVR with it, because the PVR functionality works pretty well.

I would have it on other machines, if the music capabilities were not so absolutely awful. The fact that I can't remove music from my library, or navigate it in any meaningful way, especially with several hundred albums, makes it worthless for anything put TV.
Thursday, November 16, 2006 3:04:59 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
Let me build my own PC with cablecard hardware. Fight the battle for us. Please! If you're not going to do that, support native Firewire recording.... Please!!! Firewire is a good compromise.
Thursday, November 16, 2006 3:51:10 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
I got turned on to MCE by using a LG LRM-519, now discontinued media center appliance. How it just worked. Guide and everything. Problem is no upgrades to the code and the video quality was, wow, very poor. Plus, sharing was problematic - I really like the prospect of xbox 360 integration.

So, I took the plunge and moved it all over to Vista RC1 running ATI Wonder 650 as a tuner. I can get TV great, can never get the guide. Code 13 every single time. Been that way for about 3 months now. Flipped over to SnapStream and GB-PVR and their guide works great... Why not MCE?

In summary, there are some key things that definately need to be worked on:

1. The Guide. Seriously, provide alternate ways to get the guide. Support XMLTV natively as an alternative, even in the US.

2. Support iTunes through the MCX. Extend a Olive Branch. Maybe they will recriprocate.

3. No Codec support through MCX? Can't MCX just proxy the video through the MCE box in that case? Better yet, accept signed Codec's. That gets MS off the hook and puts the onus on codec developers.

4. Agree with the native firewire support with cable boxes. Most of cheap people won't touch cable cards because we are too deeply tied with set-top boxes (I like OnDemand, a feature Time Warner says they will not offer with cablecards).

Keep up the good work.
Thursday, November 16, 2006 6:06:46 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
The main problem that keeps me from using Media Center more is lack of internal integration of DirecTV. I don't want to have a DirecTV set-top box and then have to input it into my Media Center PC. I just want to be able to run my satellite signal into the back of my PC and be able to watch/listen/see anything (Live TV/Recorded shows/music/pictures) on any TV in my house that has an extender.

I can imagine DirecTV, or any other content provider, is worried about the capability that I and others are looking for but you need to work together to give the consumers what they want. Lose of revenue by not selling as many receivers and the additional monthly charges for having multiple receivers should scare them, but I'm sure if what you are offering is what people want they will pay for it.

The DirecTV and Microsoft agreement was announced almost a year ago now and what has it brought us?
Thursday, November 16, 2006 7:18:21 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
The main reason is that most of the MCE devices are too... computer-ish. I don't want a tower sitting in my living room. The ones that are designed to look like components (such as my current favorite HP Digital Entertainment Centers) don't yet have cable card support, and even then, they cost thousands more then even the most expensive TiVo for what amounts to the same functionality. What I want is something like the LG DVR that uses an MCE like interface, only with HD and cable card support.
Thursday, November 16, 2006 7:35:42 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
I was just reading through some of the complaints I see mentioned, and I wanted to clear a couple of things up.

1) Firewire support is NOT a good solution. Several channels won't allow anything to be recorded over firewire, and more seem to be trending that way. Plus, you would need to rent a separate cable box for every tuner you want to run, which, in addition to being cost prohibitive, is an ugly solution. Do you really want to rent 3-5 HD cable boxes for every tuner you have?

2) CableCard support will NEVER come to devices that aren't fully certified by CableLabs. Just get that idea out of your head right now; it isn't going to happen. You will not EVER be able to go out and buy a CC adapter for a home brew PC. If you want CC support in a PC, you will have to buy a fully assembled one from someone like Dell, HP, or Sony. Microsoft can't change that, and probably wouldn't even if they could. Also, the CC is tied directly to the box it is installed into, so you won't just be able to remove the adapter from one computer and move it.

3) CableCards don't offer stuff like OnDemand because they CAN'T. It isn't some huge conspiracy (well, technically it is... keep reading) Current CC technology is one way only. Your digital cable boxes are two way devices. Until CableCard 2.0 comes out (a long time because the Cable companies are fighting it), there is no technical way to allow for things like OnDemand with CableCard technology. Even when CC 2.0 does come out, it is looking like the cable providers will force you to use their interface on the device anyway. So there would be no benefit.

4) Until multistream cards are available, CableCards will only support 1 tuner at a time. Period. It is at technical limitation with no workaround. Mutlistream cards won't be available for at least 6 months (they just got ratified), so don't count on that happening anytime soon. Even then, if you attempt to use a tuner that was not part of the original authorized package, it won't work.

5) Even when CC support is available, don't count on it being a free ride. Beyond all of the limitations I mentioned above, CableLabs is extremely tight fisted with features they will and will not allow. TiVo is finding this out now. They had to remove several features from the Series 3 DVR because CableLabs wouldn't allow them to implement them. This includes video sharing (ie. multiroom sharing) and external storage (through an eSATA port). So don't assume that CableCards will save the day.

6) DirecTV and Dish HD support is also highly unlikely. They are extremely protective of their boxes, shutting down external PVRs and cancelling contracts with TiVo and MS for their own DVRs. You may be able to get use of SD satellite service through S-Video ports and such, but HD would require internal support for the services (ie, an internal satellite tuner), and they just won't do that.
Thursday, November 16, 2006 8:42:18 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
for Europe: DVB-S and DVB-C. This is an essential! And please please consider supporting CI and CAM for receiving premium TV channels. In 2008 or so Astra will switch to scrambled transmission only allowing you to receive DVB-S through a set-top box with CI, CAM and smart card. Please let this set top box be Windows Media Center!
For DVB-C it is even worse: most of the channels available are already scrambled and can only be watched through the use of a smart card.

For the US: Free CableCard usage (i.e. off the shelf card support).

worldwide: more tuners please. Take Windows Media Center to being a vision: a home server for all the media! Above was mentioned to put a MCE-PC into a storage room with 8 tuners and lots of hard disc space. Now that's what I call a good idea! Sony once had the idea of putting a home server in every household for tv, music, video and fotos. Why not let this server be a Media Center machine with frontend-backend support for Vista clients/X-Box360s/pico-extender etc? Truely this is where the personal media experience is going.
Thursday, November 16, 2006 9:02:35 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
One thing that bothers me is when using a Xbox360 as extender and I wnat to liste to radio streaming. I have to power one pc which is in the office room and the extender just for listening to a simple radio stream. How about an extender with build in streaming just like the Slimdevice but with some kind of MCE functionality? Having just one extender to choose from is just not enough and having all kinds of brands with different remotes will not be WAF approved in my house :-) ...

Thursday, November 16, 2006 9:50:12 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
we need for Europe and the World that you take contact to a company (like Philips, Sony etc.) that produce consumer products like TVs, VCRs and Settop Boxes to learn what consumers expact how a machine should work and behave. The exceptions between Europe, USA and also the rest of the World are realy different!

We need support the for all the TV-Standarts and there features and we want to use them native... like DVB-T/C/S/S2 and it's features:
- like the free EPG transmitted in DVB (for peaple who don't want to connect their PC always to the Internet, not everybody has a broadband connection and not everyboday wants to use the data from Microsoft, even the EPG coming with the DVB Stream is more actual and correct like the Microsoft EPG).
- native Teletext support for Europe in DVB receiveing
- switching between different Audio Streams/Languages in analogue- and digital-TV (this is very important in Europe... we have a lot of different languages here and a lot of Broadcaster transmitting Multilingual TV program)

For more comfort:
- Extender functionalities to use a second PC as Extender.
- better sound feature support... Dolby Pro Logic for analogue TV and Music or Radio.
- better down mixing features for Multichannel Audio, to listen to 5.1 WMV Files on Stereo Systems or to give 2 channel Audio through a Headphone and 5.1 through SPDIF.
- and the way around real time encoding in AC3 from 5.1 WMV Files or DVDs to give the sound out Digital to a A/V-receiver. (perhaps with special hardware only... like in XiFi or nVIDIA Soundstorm)
-using different receiving possibilities simultaneous ... e.G. Radio through FM analogue, TV through DVB or ATSC.
-better support to use the Mediacenter without a Monitor/TV for listening and selecting Music through a small status display. (A simple and open software-port for implementing this status display to make it easy for the Hardware Developers)
- a open port to support menu-structure in (MPEG4) video files/CD/DVD like it comes from Ahead Nero or DivX.

In general make it possible to use the system working as standalone, without a internet connection.
Thursday, November 16, 2006 9:55:27 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
further praying:

1.-5. native DVB-S/C with the support of CI (for Pay TV and public tv witch is in the future more an more scrambled by the transmitting companies)!
6. better options to manage/sort/group minimum 100 digital channels!
7. more than 2 tuner support!
8. a easy option to integrate other EPG sources in MCE! The MS EPG is very ambitioned, but I it can never cover all the options here in Europe. (Or at least the possibility to import all available MS EPG Data for a contry or region into the channel list, no matter whats the way of reciving the programm). We all know, without EPG a MCE ist nothing...
9. extenders without gaming machines,
10. extender software for thin clients.
11. picture quality improvement

I'm using MCE now for two years - and unfoutunatly it is getting more and more in a role of my old vhs- vcr because of all the restrictions compared with the features of my digi-cable box.
Thursday, November 16, 2006 10:17:35 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
The features I miss the most in MCE and stops me from using it on my main htpc are:

1. No EPG for Iceland
2. More than one tv lineup
3. I would like to see a mixture of dvb-t, analog and dvb-s.
4. I would like to see the UI translated to Icelandic.
5. EPG grabbing from the dvb-t stream
6. Native support on extenders for divx/xvid videos
Thursday, November 16, 2006 10:25:07 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
Reliability of DVB-T (in the UK) - it's shockingly bad, though I guess a lot of the blame lands on the shoulders of people like Hauppauge and Black Gold.
Nobody Interesting
Thursday, November 16, 2006 1:26:59 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
As a UK user, I would like to see:

1) A better EPG. It's improving slowly, but still it can take for too long for data for a new channel to appear in the guide.
2) Multiple source support, including DVB-S and DVB-S2. I get most of my TV from FreeView (DVB-T) but would like to supplement it with the stuff from satellite, in particular the HDTV from the BBC on DVD-S2. TiVo allows multiple source support, so it can be done!
3) Parental controls - ability to make series, individual shows and files/folders of videos with PIN based controls. I'm putting the whole family's TV in one box, I don't want everyone to be able to access everything.
4) Playback of ripped DVDs over Extenders. I have kids. They break DVDs. I'd rather the DVD stayed safe and they played back from the server.
5) The main thing stopping me going to Vista will be the excessively visual UI. It's all album art and thumbnails. Give me the option of text guys!


Stuart Anderton
Thursday, November 16, 2006 1:31:30 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
i build for my customer mce systems with my own homeautomation and communicationsolutions (www.ipshomecontrol.de) for the digital lifestyle. but at this time, my customers and i can use the mce experience only in some rooms, not in all rooms. we need more tuners (e.g. 4-8) and support for more extenders (we have in some installations 10 xobx 360, but its only possible to use 5 extenders at the same time. but pcs today have more than enough power. we try to play on 5 xbox 360 hdtv sreams an on the mce system - the mce system has only a cpu load of 20% max., the cpu was a single core cpu 3 ghz intel, we need support for more extenders at the same time - e.g. 10 extender to the same time, some small hotels are interested at an mce solution with homeautomation).

for bigger installations, we need the possibility to store the recording files in the network (e.g. win 2003 storage server, win 2003 fileserveror win 2003 sbs).

and on eof the important thing is, we need software extenders. so we can build the ideal extender for our customers.

with this features an all this plugins that exists, its possible to build the ideal solution for the digital lifestyle :).
Thursday, November 16, 2006 6:25:19 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
Here's one I haven't seen mentioned here yet...we need the ability to _easily_ switch our tuners between RF input and composite input. Why? Well, this feature would answer all the requests we see in the newsgroup of people wanting to bring in a VHS video tape. The current method is to rerun setup, which takes too long for a quick switch there and back.

Now, consider this fact...on every TV I have in the house (7 at last count), you can switch between RF and composite with ONE BUTTON PUSH. That's it, one button. Make Media Center do that as easily...
Thursday, November 16, 2006 7:01:13 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
Biggest issue: I want direct capture of streams from satellite (Dish Network). Grabbing the S-Vid out of the set top box has some significant drawbacks.

Other things are just wish list items, not show stoppers.

* Want at least 4 channel lists (I use 4 on my dish receiver - favorites, other channels I'm likely to be interested in, all channels, and kids favorites)
* Album art that doesn't look like crap. Even hi-res album art I've scanned myself looks terrible in MCE 2005.
* Better support for finding/viewing photos. MCE 2005 is only useful if you've got your photos organized into folders. I'd prefer keyword support and support for "playlists" of photos.
* Stream DVDs from a DVD changer to an extender.
Thursday, November 16, 2006 7:22:52 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
1) Remove the software restriction/limitation on the number of tuners.


3) MCE should be aware of and communicate with other MCE systems on a home network. This is going to be more and more common since the target consumer version of Vista (Home Premium) will have MCE built in. Meaning each household with multiple PCs, will have Multiple MCEs too. And it sorta ties points 1 and 2 above together.


5) last but not least SOFTSLED!

I didn't mention CableCARD because that's already on it's way.
Thursday, November 16, 2006 7:42:25 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
CableCard support, so it's finally here, great but only for the rich. Excluding DIY'rs is a HUGE NEGATIVE. CableCard is the biggest and best reason to move to MCE Vista but now we have to sit back and wait for some certified OEM box that will likely cost WAY too much money and not have the components we want. Microsoft is bigger than CableLabs, lean on them!

MCE runs on a computer, open it up! (feature wise) Stop treating it as a fancy Tivo. MCE Vista looks great but it seems to be just an enchancement of MCE 2005, I'm not wow'd by anything that's been added to it (other than CableCards but as I stated there are serious concerns there). Where is PIP or split screen? The ability to watch a video and a TV show side by side, play music but watch a TV show. Granted not a high demand for that stuff but its a freaking computer, it should be able to do almost anything.

More tuner support.

Software extenders! Software extenders! Software extenders! At the VERY least allow multiple MCE boxes to work together, share tuners, schedules, content, etc.
Thursday, November 16, 2006 7:53:27 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
I like MCE a lot, I want to plan my living room strategy around it...but this list could get long... there are so many things screwed up and a lot of them are beyond MS’s direct control (but not influence). This might sound negative as a whole but I think it’s a great platform that could lead to the holly unification grail of service independent storage.
1. Lack of multi vendor support. I think it's swell that I might someday soon, maybe, be able to get cable card support if I buy a new box from sobody, but I want is to be able to reuse that expensive box with any vendor. Cable, directtv, IPTV from a bell, dish network whatever. I don't EVER want to have to rebuild my favorite or season pass list again, or lose all the wife’s shows doing a box or service switch. All that stuff makes me tired and want to fire everyone. I know getting everyone on board to a more open standard is bit of a pipe dream but it's the holy grail you guys should be chasing with reckless abandon. I for one will never put down a big chunk of change for a hardware again that only works with essentially one service (direct TV tivo/other, dish proprietary box). The cable companies have everyone here because they more less give the box away, and that is what MCE has to sell against.

2. I should be able to build a box with a couple certified pieces and not have to buy a full (over priced) system. This what cablelabs certification should be for vista. Ah well. This would be a roadblock to upgrading.

3. DRM. Number one road block in America. The fact that causes shows to fail means it’s a no go for consumers, call the bluff dump the support until it really is seamless and local station errors don’t trigger it.

4. Lack of codec support on extenders

5. Lack of tolls to deal with lack of codec support for extender playback. It’s nice to say just convert everything to wmv (no matter how crappy that works out :( ). but the tools do so simple don't exist. Pretty ridiculous you guys completely forget about the customer in this scenario and buy into the lies from MPAA that somehow anyone with different format is thief. This pisses me off as a customer.

6. Lack of HD compliant extenders. Um I count 1, the 360, and that is pretty pricey if you really only want the extender functions. Course I would by two more 360’s in a heartbeat as extenders if you would support more codecs, I’m not going to rebuild hundreds of kids dvd’s I already bought and ripped for storage.

7. The wife hates multi press data input for text vs. the tivo pick the letter input. I just reach for the keyboard, which suggest that I don't care for it either. Fail the wife tests and well out ya MCE goes :).

8. Folders? hello I don't want to have to scroll all my kids content every time I look at my recorded tv, filters, folders other tools for viewing and managing blocks of data. Seriously, this is a WAF fail area as well.

9. Lack of being able o rip to encoded formats or dump shows to encoded files. Just saying, I can do it with the competition...

10. Commercial skip. Replay had it, loved it. MythTv has it, love it. It's my data on my hardware and I'll watch it however I want to, MS should never every get in the way of that. I'm the customer, not the MPAAA, never forget it.

11. Built in skinning or color adjustments for the UI. Hello not one shoe fits all.

12. Able to set a auto detection of stretch modes. Stretch modes are pretty flakey about when they reset or stay on as well, this problematic and confusing especially when going between SD and HD.

13. Able to set FONT sizes for the MCE UI. I have bad vision, why can't I trade screen font size for data volume in a dynamic interface?

14. Not so much hacking around to get things to show on the main menus, like add-ons and what not. the fact that system has issues with the number of objects, is well an issue.

15. More, many many more power user options, configurations and choices bellow the toaster exterior.

16. Ability to manage remote extenders for things like wake up and sleep. For example the alarm clock and music module (that never did quite work right on most systems) was a brilliant idea but has to also work with extenders. It's the little things like this that make it worth using the computer instead of a $5 dollar DVR cable box. It's the plusses that make the expense argument not the muscle, add them, expand them, support the community to do the same.

17. ATSC OTA digital tuner support is awful. I guess it might be better in vista but not being able to rename and sort the digital channels is a real issue. The lack of support for hybrid tuners is real problem too. OTA is also flakey MCE will often lose the signal when a channel like WC switches from SD to HD, the bundled software with my HD usb fusion card work flawlessly but about 1 in 5 MCE blows it.

18. Better logs about what’s happening and why and when. First it should never fail to do something, but if it does or if something changed by user or system and there was a failure on a expected recording I should be able to trace back exactly why.
I could go on and on, and probable get more and more negative, but really I like MCE and I think it very well could be the future especially if you get number 1 sorted out and the box can truly become provider independent.

19. follder access restrictions and ability to not show folder art in protected folders etc. Lets just call it what it is, I demand a porn protection plan :). MythTv does it... gotta beat the free competion in basic function sets at least.
Thursday, November 16, 2006 7:58:19 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
Oh yeah, MCE boxes shield be able to act as extender's to each other. Also better support for remote desktop access. The wife calls with a problem I should be able to hit it from work without blanks the screen logging the client off etc, and without having to hack the dam registry. Know your true customers, we are the one's who will sell this to the mom and pops of the world but only if it we can do it easily and support it easily :). Your competition is a all but free cable dvr, you gotta sell the tech crowed not the masses.
Thursday, November 16, 2006 8:32:08 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
Seamlessly expandable storage. Going on vacation for a month I should be able to pop over the fry's buy a 750G drive slap it on via fire wire, usb2, NAT, SAN, ATA whatever tell vista it's more storage and never have to give it another thought. The current system is not a road block but certainly sucks, and at some point if competition mounts then all those free cable DVR's are going to magically support expandability one morning. I no cablelabs has some stick up their ass over removable storage but you should be ablet o just point to it as encrypted and tell them to go away.
Ideally I should be able to share storage across multiple vista boxes but that is less critical.
Thursday, November 16, 2006 10:08:21 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
Well the things making me think about chucking MCE are :-

1 - Xbox360 extender fan noise.
2 - XBox360 frequently crashes.
3 - Poor sound quality from Xbox360 means I can't get rid of my CD player, it's OK for background listening but not as a main source.
4 - I live in Europe and MS is designed for the U.S i.e. support for TV cards and a small thing called PAL is pretty bad, again no 50Hz on 720p on 360 means PAL video looks very poor when forced into 60Hz.
Thursday, November 16, 2006 10:25:51 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
Frankly, my number one cause for not updating is that I have a DirecTV TiVo, and I can't get equivalent capabilities with MCE. I want the same quality of storage (versus receiving through a satellite box into a tuner), the dual-tuner capabilities, and (as others have suggested), if I can't take my machine, swap out a couple of cards, and change (or add to) my TV provider, with my content and subscriptions following me, then I might as well have a dumb set-top box rather than MCE. If I can't put DirecTV support or CableCard into my PC without ditching the machine and buying a new one, then MCE has no advantage over a dumb set-top box.
I'd also like to see support for multi-standards, for those of us like me, ex-pats who want access to our old videos, DVDs, etc.
Friday, November 17, 2006 5:52:06 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
Much, much better large music library performance.
A screen full of large images (video previews) is not very user friendly since you have to scroll through the movies to read the titles.
Friday, November 17, 2006 9:44:10 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
Sorry for comming back, but there is a small thing which isn't mentioned yet - let me explain it in practical experience:

I'm using the MCE PC as well as a living room PC for outlook, inernet etc. on a separat TFT screen. It is running in a dual view mode: Windows desktop/MCE on TV.

Unfortunately it is not possible to use one at same time, because the mouse is captured in the focused window. It would be wonderfoul to have a solution which gives "FREEDOM FOR THE MOUSE" using MCE!
Friday, November 17, 2006 12:44:10 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
The following reason is why I have removed MCE and won't be going back to it any time soon.

1) I live in europe

To clarify this:

a) DVB-T , DVB-C and DVB-S
b) Common Interface Support (CI)
c) Multiple hetrogenous EPG sources

I can appreciate the position taken by media companies on not wanting CI/Cam support but come on the windows operating system supports CDRs and DVDr and you don't stop them from writing things to disk do you!
Who me
Friday, November 17, 2006 2:16:41 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
I love my Media Centre and have been using it as my living room for over a year now, there are some definite things that could be improved though:

1) Reliability, it's better than it was but is still buggy. The ammount of times I go to record only for it to tell me it can't access the guide or some such excuse and I need to restart, it drives me mad. The annoying thing is, I can access the guide, the show is coming through on the TV fine, why can't it just start recording?

2) Music, if you have a large number of albums it's so slow to scroll through all of them. I think that this is meant to be better for Vista.

3)I'm based in the UK and would like to use MSN remote record, this isn't available here. I've tried Webguide but I'll be damned if I can get it working behind my router!

4) I also have cable TV but I use built in DVB-Tuner as a default, I would like to use both sources at once but can't.

5) I don't yet have an HDTV as there aren't yet enough broadcasts to bother, however I would like to upgrade soon. It doesn't look as though MCE will be able to record HDTV in the UK though. (with inputs from a Sky or NTL box)

Friday, November 17, 2006 2:37:30 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
How about a single disc liveCD/liveDVD version of MCE that would turn any PC into a MCE extender?
Friday, November 17, 2006 3:17:31 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
When I first bought my media center, it was the lack of content that prevented me from using it consistently. I can see if it hooked up to Directv or cable for a high-def experiences, but it was just for playing back music. In that sense, it's unnecessary. Zune integration would probably resolve this if you could purchase tv shows and movies straight from media center. That would be interesting and would give people a reason to use it.
Friday, November 17, 2006 7:45:32 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
Well the main thing is I have it set up so it goes maximized on my secondary display (with a stretched desktop) When it is like that it captures my mouse and prevents movement to my primary display without pressing alt-tab or windows key. Starting to use it less and less as it is a pain in the rear. Also when grabbing minimized programs it captures the mouse again. Each time I switch a program from the taskbar it captures. This is what is preventing me from using it more.
Pat Dusome
Friday, November 17, 2006 8:27:53 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
1. CableCard support. Should have been there in the last MCE2005 Rollup.
2. Built in functionality like MCE Tunes - it's time for MS to face the facts - almost 2 *BILLION* songs have been purchased legally through iTunes and none of them play on Media Center out of the box
3. Extenders that are not XBox360 - I don't play games. I have an enclosed media cabinet and do not need a 3-core / external power brick to watch TV.
4. Native support for FLAC/Ogg - Zune was a great wake up call for the world - any DRM can be ditched at any time - essentially screwing the customer. Go with open standards and don't get locked into proprietary solutions like FairPlay/PlaysForSure/Zune.
6. How about a for-fee Codec Pack? FLAC, Ogg, DivX, XVid, AAC-Fairplay, etc.
7. Front End/Back End capability like MythTV
Saturday, November 18, 2006 12:29:03 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
Far and away, the #1 need is CableCard support for home-built machines. I've spent thousands on the perfect PC, and there's no way I'll turn around and spend thousands more on an OEM box. #2 is the ability to import/store DVDs from within Media Center. There are 100s of free tools available to do this, but none (that I know of) that can be called from within Media Center.
Saturday, November 18, 2006 2:31:42 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
Hi Charlie,

I've been using MCE for nearly two years now and I love the concept and how easy MCE is to use. It even has the Wife / Girlfriend Approval Factor (although I'm sure that might change when / if I upgrade to Vista).

I would like to see the following features, although these are from the point of view of an experiance MCE user and may not necessarily answer your question:

1) Softsled - I am desperate to move the MCE machine into my 19" rack, away from the living room and have it act as a true TV server. I have an AV style machine so it's not as if I have a tower sat next to my LCD screen but even so it's not the sleekest of devices and the noise level can be annoying at times. I would love to install a smaller low powered PC in the living room and have it act as an extender - having an XBox 360 there is not an option, as they are still too noisy and it wouldn't give me internet access like the MCE machine does at present. Incidentially I do have a 360 in the master bedroom.

2) "Offical" support for more than two tuners - There are so many times I have recording conflicts especally with the UK EPG data being as bad as it is that repeat showings of certain programs record almost daily.

3) DVD Streaming - bring what you have done with CD ripping and streaming to the DVD market.

4) Support for CI and CAM for use with encrypted DVB-T/S/S2/C cards. In the UK alot of peaple have Sky (DVB-S) and interfacing with a set top box via analogue cards is not an option. The PVR concept is very popular as these users are converting to Sky+ (Sky's own set top box with PVR functionality) and Microsoft is simply missing out on this userbase at present.

5) Improve the UK EPG - work with BDS to improve the quality of their data and/or import it from the TV streams.

6) Support for interactive channels (MHEG and the red button) on digital chanels. My TV has this feature build it - why doesn't MCE?

7) Support for late starting programs. At present MCE has no way of detecting if a TV program starts 5 minutes late or 30 minutes late (especially when live sport preceeds a program and can run on due to extra time etc...) yet the broadcasters embed this data in the streams.

8) Improve reliability - I appreciate this is getting better all the time but I still have to reboot my MCE machine on a weekly basis. If I don't, programs stop recording and I normally end with the message "Program was not recorded due to a temporary failure caused by a system malfunction or a power loss." in the recording's history. If MCE is to be used as a mainstream product, "normal" users don't want to have to remember to reboot the PC or maintain it like we have to at the moment. Whilst I am only too willing to show off MCE to friends and family I certainly wouldn't recommend it to inexperianced users like my father for example. However he's quite able to use a consumer electronics device like Sky+.

In summary I think MCE needs to be more consumer friendly. It needs to have the features that people already have and are used to with their set top boxes and PVRs. The device itself needs to be packaged up inside a small, sleek consumer electronics device and not a large noisy PC.

Additionally we all know that distributed media and a media server is the way forward so please implement the features, such as softsled and dvd streaming, that existing users are asking for and new users will appreciate. All to often I am recommeding MCE to someone and then find myself in the next sentence saying "but it can't do that yet".

I hope this helps with your research Charlie and my appologies if I have repeated some of what others have already said.

Kind Regards

Sunday, November 19, 2006 7:09:45 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
Well, I use MCE. I love it. And my friends want to imitate my system.
But with the Vista release I can't recommend the same setup anymore to them.
The main reason - drop of support for the MCX devices like the HP x5400.
I don't use MCX devices for video - I use them to share audio around the house, especially the living room where I have it connected to a 7-inch display. It looks and performs great, and other MCX boxes in the house have a similar setup.
I think MS will come up with a new set of MCX or MCX-intergrated-into-other-devices offerings. My problem is with prioritization and transparency. I understand Microsoft prioritized media company happiness over MCX backwards compatibility. The thing is, there has gotta be some major technological leap in order for DRM to be done right. Until then, it is cat and mouse. And Microsoft has made a statement it prefers to make its consumers fund that chase, by making the decision to not let the MCX boxes work. There is absolutely no way I will buy a TV, amplifier/receiver or anything like that with MCX embedded -or even a $300 fan-less MCX box a la x5400- until I am led to believe that MS will prioritize my investments in its roadmap over the whims of media companies. Microsoft could also improve satisfactio and mitigate the pains its decision causes with a little more clarity. 1st , compatibility information about MCX devices is just not available. And when buying an MCX, buyers should get a notice 'not guaranteed to work with future software updates such as versions of Windows, service packs or critical updates' - and make the purchase with eyes wide open. Back compat is very important at Microsoft which you can see by all the pains they go to make programs run on new versions of the OS. But not MCX devices?
In Microsoft's media center ecosystem, the buyer is not at the top of the food chain. And it's only fair to make them aware of that.

Happy - but... Hasta La Vista
Sunday, November 19, 2006 2:42:07 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
1. Be able to set a song or playlist to automatically play when a photo slideshow is played. I'd rather have default music to play rather than having to go through the extra steps to select some songs. Or you can at least incorporate music selection within the slideshow process.

2. Volume imitator - Commercials are sometimes annoyingly too loud compared to the TV programming. It would be nice if you can limit how loud the TV can get.

3. The fonts are too hard to see from 10 feet away. Especially the tiny clock, when there's plety of room to make the clock bigger. First off, the clock should be viewable from 10 feet away by someone other than with perfect vision. We should be able to adjust the font size and/or font face.

4. Fix the bug where IE7 disables the album art and makes album art black.

5. (Full) Support for more video codecs. When I play avi files within MCE, I cannot fast forward. Not all video playback functionality for different formats is available.

5. User accounts. Be able to "tag" TV shows/movies, so they can be easily fitered by the user to find what they want to watch. Password protestion. Should be able to stop people from leaving the MCE experience: i.e. stop kids from exiting Media Center and messing around on the computer.

6. Be able to search future movies by title name. Currently can only search current movies by "title".

7. Be able to create a a couple of favorites TV channel "playlist"

8. Picture in picture. Be able to flip thru the chanels while still watching another program. If we have multiple TV tuners, we should be able to do this.

9. Be able to save the buffer when choosing to record a channel. Currently we lose the buffer when we start recording a channel.

10. Be able to flip to another channel but continue to keep a buffer of another channel -- until you chose you no longer want to watch that channel. This is another alternative to picture in picture. A TV user can tell MCE to start buffering one channel, then proceed to flip thru the channels, and then return back to the original buffering channel and continue to watch that channel from the buffering. The buffering in this way is sort of like recording, but it's less permanent and more seamless.

11. be able to edit/add descriptions of TV shows/movies.

12. Make the music section more user friendly. Some features such as setting songs at random or adding songs to a playlist are buried within the UI

13. Make it SUPER easy to burn a show/movie to DVD. If the show/movie won't fit on the DVD, then allow the option to either degrade the video so it will fit, or allow to split the movie/TV show so it can fit onto multiple DVDs. Also once the DVD is made, it should be able to be placed into ANY DVD player and the program should play automatically. When you record a TV show/movie to a DVD, you want to be able to watch the programming on a DVD player, NOT just store the programming as if it were simply data to be viewed by a computer.

14. Be able to make a video playlist. It would be nice to randomly play a bunch of music videos using MCE.

15. Any control used within Media Player should be available thru Media Center. For example, crossfading settings.

16. Be able to view photos via tags rather than folder view.

Sunday, November 19, 2006 8:09:45 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
17. Be able to go directly to a channel with no lag time using the remote. If I only have available to me at maximum 2 digit channels, (e.g. "01-99"), then I should be able to type into my remote "22" and the TV should automatically change the channel with no lag time. However, that is not what happens. If I type in "22" and then hit the enter button of the remote, then there is no lag time. I should be able to tell Media Center to only expect 2-digit channels, and once i enter a 2-digit channel with my remote, then i should not have to hit the enter button to go directly to the channel with no lag. Media Center should automatically know to go directly when a 2-digit number is keyed in. (Of course, if your TV system allows 3-digits, then you should be able to tell Media Center to wait for 3 digits before going directly to a channel with no lag.) The only time there should be any lag time is if I enter a channel that has less than the maximum amount of digits, and Media Center waits to see if you are going to enter additional digits. For example, if I enter "7", then MCE should wait before going to channel 7.

Monday, November 20, 2006 12:25:06 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
Being able to make your own media center extenders that run a smaller version of Windows, possibly CE and have client software installed.

So as was stated above: software extenders, software extenders, software extenders, software extenders

Also decoupling MCE from WMP would be nice, so they don't use the same library and etc.

As everyone else said CableCard. That isn't a problem RIGHT now but it will be soon.
Dan Sheline
Monday, November 20, 2006 3:19:04 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
I think essential for almost all high end users here in the uk is DVB-s or SKY support if this can be done with dvb-t this would be great. other than that for me it does anything i need
James Gaunt
Monday, November 20, 2006 4:26:33 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
Oh Another thing DAB Radio support would be excellent
James Gaunt
Monday, November 20, 2006 6:33:24 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
I have 2 MCE's, one running the nvewest vista & one on mce 05. I have a dual tuner in the 05 & a hauppauge 150 single runer in the vista. I like mce alot but i do have some issues as i'm sure most users and non-users do.

No digital input from the set tops boxes
On Vitsa Too much on screen, old people are lost by mce alone, u put too much for them, only advanced users can deal with the amount on vista's screen.
Why do we have to get vista for a HD digital input? Why can't the companies make a pci one now? I'd rather not spend $700 upgrading to vista components just for tv.
I can't put the dashes on my channel numbers 3-1.
I'd like to have my tv from other pc's or mce show in the tv list.
Why aren't the tweak features built in yet? they are great.

FREE Monthly - don't change this or u'll lose most of us -
Great interface both vista & 05
Many Many others but we all know them.


Tuesday, November 21, 2006 11:05:59 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
Nope. Vista complete mess with MCE. No real improvement over 2005 unless u want cablecard in USA.

1. No Record Whats In the Buffer if program already started when you press RECORD

2. No Over The Air EPG if no broadband connected. Over the air EPG far more reliable and updated than the broadband one! (For UK freeview DVB-T)

3. No DVB-S (satellite) support in UK

4. No MHEG engine for digital teletext/interactive services in UK/Europe/Australia

5. No crossfade function ON/OFF - back to Media Player for that

6. Bugs in Media Player 11 with cover art being replaced (see Chris Lainers blog for loads of people complaning about this and program managers were told of this on betas!)

7. More Bugs with media Player 11 with track numbers shown as zero when they are blank instead of just not showing them.

8. No Internet Radio like webmedia

9. Yet more bugs in Media Player 11 when synchronising content to portable device. If library is 320mbps MP3 and set to convert library to 192K WMA and Mp11 loses fact that its synced before (ie WMP XML missing), bad code results in CONVERTING message for every track but when it goes to copy you get "Already On Device" now why cant the programmer do their job properly and put the "Is it already on device anyway" check at beginning ! grrrrrrrr!

10. No fix for wake from standby to update the EPG but the internet connection isnt available - pop up message stops machine going back into standby

11. No playlists for Videos

12. No MCE integrated Messenger Client (though romoured to be a separate download later)

13. Cover Art blown up too big and makes pictures look pixelated UNLIKE MCE 2005 which was just right.

14. No updated DVD authoring including picking basic menu templates within MCE itself

15. No web browser built into MCE itself just selected portal.

16. No ability to lock MCE so you cant exit to explorer without credentials (needed for living room type PC's)

17. No integrated Zune type music store.

18. No integration with free pop videos like zone.

19. No Xbox360 update to the XEX file to allow streaming of other codecs such as divx and quicktime

20. Media Player 11 STILL loses meta data like publisher when you rescan a folder or new user account scans library folder for first time. Not embedding data properly STILL.

21. Still cant fast forward and rewind a CD in MCE

22. Still no basic editor in MCE to edit commercials out

23. Still no meta data editor for video files and music files in MCE.

24. Still no signal strength indicator for DVB-T
Tuesday, November 21, 2006 3:34:08 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
As mentioned before, but I would like to mention them again:

Native support for DVB(S-C-T) in combination with CI.


More than 2 tuners (Give that system rating a true meaning!)

Softsled! Softsled! Softsled! Softsled! Softsled! Softsled! Softsled! Softsled! Softsled! Softsled!

(Sorry for that ;)
Wednesday, November 22, 2006 2:32:50 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
I use MCE in Vista and lately it has started blocking channels spitting up a "Restricted Content" message. I live in Canada, you block Hockey in Canada, you are asking for trouble. Your question should more be: "What latest bug will make you switch from MCE?"

I'd appreciate you looking over at http://thegreenbutton.com/forums/thread/144193.aspx and pass it on to get this fixed.
Wednesday, November 22, 2006 5:14:25 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
OTA HDTV support in Canada, it works with a hack, but make it available without having to hack. Best way to watch HDTV is OTA.
Wednesday, November 22, 2006 1:17:48 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
Media Center currently betrays very USA-centric support when it comes to TV standards. The things that, from my perspective (as someone based in the UK using the Freeview DVB-T system), stop Media Center being deployed more widely are lack of DVB-S and DVB-C support and poor support for DVB-T.

I understand that DVB-S and DVB-C may be hard to do because of conditional access issues. A really good first step though would be to get fully functional DVB-T suuport. What do I mean by "fully functional"? Well, Media Center has to do at least as well as a basic £25 Freeview box. So, it needs the following features:

* Use of broadcast EPG

* Use of subtitles

* Correctly use aspect ratio information to automatically control zoom setting

* Access to text and interactive services

* Treat radio channels on DVB-T as radio content in Media Center and not just a "TV channel without video"

* Use of now/next information as a form of PDC to cope with a programme starting late or a programme reschedule (does rely on the broadcaster transmitting accurate now/next synch'ed to actual transmission times for this to work though)

A final really neat feature (although not one supported by most set top box DVB-T PVRs) would be to allow recordings from multiple services broadcast on the same MUX transport stream. For example, I shouldn't need two tuners to simultaneously watch/record BBC ONE and BBC TWO since they are both broadcast on the same frequency in the same transport stream.

If I was to pick any one of the above as a priority it would have to be getting Media Center to use the broadcast EPG. My MCE PC is not connected to the internet (shock horror!) so I can't use the MCE Guide data. But from what I hear it is frequently out of date or has mismatches from broadcast channel idents. And in some territories, Microsoft do not provide a Guide service. Any basic DVB-T receiver or PVR can receive and display the EPG, so MCE must do it too.

I've lived without guide data for the first year of using MCE but I've become so frustrated by the lack of a guide that I've just written a utility to capture the broadcast EPG in XMLTV format (and then using other freely available tools, make that available to MCE). If I can do this in a few evenings/weekends of work then surely you guys who develop Media Center full time can build this feature into the product and make it available to all?
Peter Clare
Thursday, November 23, 2006 12:27:09 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
I have been using MCE 2005 for over a year now and here are the reasons why my friends don't use MCE and why I can't completely recommend it for my less-techy friends:
1. CableCARD support - most of my friends have digital cable. None want to use IR-Blaster.
2. Not recording the live TV buffer is a problem.
3. XP is more than people want on a set-top box. People want something simple. Unfortunately, you can't really use MCE without having to use the non-MC part of XP.
4. The cost of a nice set-top MCE form factor is too high. Most people don't want any visually resembling a PC in their living rooms.
5. People don't have to have to have a keyboard in the living room.
6. Extenders don't support enough functionality, so "have an MCE in one room and an extender in the living room" idea doesn't correct #3-5. Even if it did, MCE + Extender = WAY too much $$$.
7. People don't want to have to go through process for downloading and installing a client for things like MovieLink.
8. Lack of marketing. This one can not be over-emphasized enough. Regardless of the other problems, this one keeps most people from ever considering MCE.
Friday, November 24, 2006 8:09:33 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
I live in Germany and watch TV via DVB-S. I've been using MCE 2005 (with the Hauppauge patch for DVB-S) for about a year now and I love it. The patch works, but it's horrible to configure and almost impossible to scan for new channels. Please implement native support for DVB-S and DVB-S2 (which uses the H.264 codec) into the next version of Vista Media Center including support for encrypted channels via CAM. DVB-S2 is currently the only way in Germany to watch high definition TV and since I own a high definition Plasma, I would love to watch high definition content using Media Center.
Stefan Marquardt
Friday, November 24, 2006 9:19:13 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
I'm looking for

- native support for XMLTV or/and EPG over DVB-x

- ability to record from the buffer

- ability to be free in setting the overtime of recordings

- picture in picture (TV)

- webbrowser

- multilanguage-support for switching between different languages in TV-movies

- support for TV-subtitles

Sunday, November 26, 2006 1:59:08 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
A _lot_ of things requested in this thread are already available and working.... You just need to dig around a bit!

One more thing to add to the "already available and working" list is software extenders. We don't need Softsled, it's already here: Webguide4 now supports just about everything in the MCE interface INCLUDING streamed live tv! With multiple tuners in your MCE-box you get a real killer setup. _Today_. Way to go Doug!!!




Monday, November 27, 2006 2:29:41 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
In my opinion, for MCE to really take off it needs to be a stand alone machine. My suggestion would be that the next version of the xbox should be a stand alone MCE, not an extender. The TV source should plug right into the xbox, not via a PC.

I really don't know too many non-technical folks that have their PC near their TV. I have an XBOX 360 and the MCE extender component is great, but I'm only using it for pix and music right now due to the difficulty of running TV cable to my PC which is on the other side of the house (I'm running it wirelessly right now). Actually, I spent a good deal of my weekend crawling under the house and cutting drywall to accomodate the TV cables...not fun.

Monday, November 27, 2006 9:51:58 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
QAM integration into MCE, with complete EPG support. In other words, what keeps me from using MCE is GBPVR, which can take my QAM tuner(OnAir USB HDTV-GT) output and integrate it perfectly, meshing it with the analog EPG info as well. Why only OTA?
Tuesday, November 28, 2006 7:41:56 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
I have Vista Ultimate on my laptop; I'd use Media Center on it but can't/don't-want-to/won't simply because I can't point the Recorded TV directory to my XP MCE box. Heck, Vista should have been able to become an extender for live TV from my XP MCE box -- why does my XBox Classic have more functionality with XP MCE than Vista?!! Without that kind of interopability, Media Center without a TV tuner on the host PC is really just another fancy slide show.
Wednesday, November 29, 2006 12:02:15 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
Telewest Cable TV - what more do I need to say? CableCard support!
David H
Wednesday, November 29, 2006 6:20:37 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
I am an avid MCE user and have been for years. It is the only media device I have left in my living room except for my audio amp. This box is a home-built PC because I can build a much better machine than any OEM: I can choose what I want in it, the performance level, etc. It gives me the flexibility to incrementally move forward as technology improves.

Several things are preventing me from moving to Vista MCE

1. Unencrypted QAM support inside media center for devices like Divco Fusion HDTV 5. My HDTV shows these channels (has an internal QAM tuner), but MCE 2005 doesn't and I hear Vista MCE doesn't either.

2. Retail cable-card support. I *do not* want a STB if I want to move to digital cable, but I do not want to buy an over-priced OEM box when I already have a perfectly usable box. I know this has been said above in the blog, but seriously MS should take more action if they want MCE to really take off.

3. HD-DVD / Blueray playback with full support for things like AACS and HDCP. This *should just work* if I have hardware that supports these. While I am no fan of DRM, HDCP, or other protection schemes (it treats the honest person like a criminal), this should be completely native to Vista if you want consumers to use it.

3a. That said, MS should really press the industry to figure out a more common standard for HD disc format instead of two competing and incompatible standards. I am so completely suprised MS didn't do more in this arena.

4. 64-bit drivers. I was really shocked by the lack of 64-bit drivers for common devices like Netgear wireless PCI cards. While this isn't exactly MS fault, MS could do more to encourage the move to 64-bit everything.
Jeff R
Saturday, December 2, 2006 8:10:33 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
Like "fred" said earlier - all the usual stuff plus SoftSled!

Currently WebGuide 4 now offers Recorded TV and Live Tv streaming but doesnt work for people in the UK UNLESS you use the bloated PowerDVD (which by installing would probably mess up more stuff in MC!). Ive always found mixed results with this decoder especially with synch.

So something like WebGuide4 out of the box.

We have Sky+ here and the broadcaster earns a fortune from it. This can at least offer SMS and remote record by web site or mobile phone web site.

MHEG, MHEG, MHEG !!!!!!! How many more times !

Why does Vista and MC in Vista feel so half baked ? It actually shows all throughout the product. I think Vista will damage MS and make more people consider other alternatives. The way user profiles have been implemented in Vista is shocking, truly shocking. Talk about wreckage. Its been made worse!
Another UK User
Saturday, December 2, 2006 8:20:57 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
And Another thing:

If Microsoft want to redeem themselves for the shamble that is currently in Vista, then lets have a feature pack download with the missing features or deliver them in SP1.

I suspect MS will be greedy and make everyone wait for Vienna. By that time, Im sure MediaPortal or Apple would have delivered an alternative.

Hate to say it, but I think MC will be dumped by MS. It has to be because it simply cant deliver what is expected in the digital age and rivals like slingbox (softsled!) etc are starting to creep in.

Until Ballmer adds enough funds so MC department can get going it wont win. Theres too much emphasis on "partners" making clunky, often breaking MS standards, software to try and patch the holes in missing functionality. It needs to be connected and out of the box.
Another UK User
Sunday, December 3, 2006 9:27:24 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
native DVB-C oder DVB-S(2) would be great.

....and HDTV support.
Tuesday, December 5, 2006 7:33:35 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
The lack of file level permissions is the number one reason it I will not be using it. What a JOKE! Unix has had file level permissions for how long now ? 25 to 30 years?! Another reason I will not be using it is TVU does not work reliably with it. Works fine with XP pro, but not XP MCE.

I just bought a brand new Sony VAIO VGN C190G from Costco. Great hardware that is running a poor excuse of an OS, and by that I mean Windows XP media center excuse or was that edition?

Hey Microsoft, have you ever heard of Tivo? Why are you doing a media center edition, when your OS is lacking necessary functions of a robust operating system? What you ask? Like secure networking, or robust file level access control? What were you thinking? In case, you were thinking of making the “Swiss army knife of operating systems” that does everything everyone wants …Well DON’T!!!! Everything to everybody will end up being no good to everybody instead.

Third party developers can do a better job than you filling the missing gaps of your OS. Listen, you don’t have the expertise, and you are NOT doing a good job. Stop being a greedy pig and let others fix it for you. You REALLY want to have a media center? Well build one you dumb-as* . Don’t try to roll the functionality over into your already over bloated OS. Build a dedicated box that is optimized for the job! This way, you don’t have to remove critical portions of your OS to make things work in a sort of acceptable manner if the user promises to treat the OS with kid gloves. Swiss army knife indeed!!

BTW, here at our Engineering schools in Silicon Valley they teach us that the Swiss army knife is a prime example of piss poor engineering! It’s not a good knife, or a good scissor, or a good toothpick, or a good nail file, or … etc. Yes, it has all of the functions, BUT, none of them work very effectively! RING ANY BELLS? HELLO?? Earth to Microsoft, Is anybody listening? ….

I will be returning my Sony laptop two weeks after my finals. I do NOT need a crippled OS. My Palm software will flat out not even support windows xp MCE for their palm desktop software! Don’t believe me? Just go to palmone.com and read what they say about windows xp media center edition! How bad does this have to be for Palm to refuse to support it, and what the hell was Sony thinking?

Also, another problem. I just wrote some code yesterday, saved it, made sure it works. Then I slept, put my laptop in hibernation mode, woke up, and ALL OF my changes to code were gone!!! I have to start from scratch. P.S. I was using another mircosoft product Vstudio 2005.net. I have proof the code worked before I slept. I redirected the output to a log file. It was working last night. I did not dream it. GOD I hate you guys. My project was due Sunday night, and now I have to redo my code again!

This OS is such a disappointment! Please note that I did not make the decision to buy it. It came with the Sony hardware. Nothing wrong with the hardware, but the software stinks like week old sushi left in the trunk of your car. You stink, and the Sony retards that picked this version instead of XP pro stink. Good god, WHY? Really guys. This software might be considered good enough if you were still in college like me, but you have all graduated right? On the other hand, I'm not sure I want the answer to my question. I would rather think this OS was created by a bunch of glue sniffing retarded high school kids instead of a bunch of trained engineers.
Tuesday, December 5, 2006 1:10:37 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)

Christmas wish list:

1. Microsoft Vista Media Center Extender version, a minimal windows with the media center extender build-in for use on standard PC hardware - which enables everyone to build fanless small quiet extenders. I have a media center in a remote location, and uses an xbox 360 in the living room, but will not buy the 3 more needed for the other rooms, because the noise from this device is much to loud.

2. Support for multiple (at least 4) tuners. Preferably in a single server, but alternatively by making one media center as master and others as slaves, so the extenders is able to control everything by being connected to the master only.

3. Support for streaming dvd video from the media center to the extenders.

Thursday, December 7, 2006 5:02:41 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
Sorry...I've been reading all these comments and I just have one question, since I have been counting on Vista MCE as being the holy grail, and have already budgeted for it as my next major tech purchase:

If I get an OEM cablecard equipped PC running Vista MCE, can I or can I not record more than one HD show at the same time?

If the answer is no, I'll go get an HD Tivo.

Friday, December 8, 2006 9:44:09 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
1) Radio recording and AM/XM support. The biggest radio shows in the nation (e.g., Rush Limbaugh, Dr. Laura, etc.) are generally not on FM and are often not on at convenient times for most people. The ability to set these up to record in Media Center would gain a lot of users. I would guess that radio is rarely used for music by most Media Center users, since they likely have substantial CD collections of higher fidelity, so radio really is most relevant for non-musical content.

2) I was thinking about the user accounts situation that a previous commenter noted and that my wife and I have run into, and I think I have a simple solution. It would be hard for you to segregate everything by accounts and have each user log in, and then deal with issues like what to do if both husband and wife are sitting at the TV, whose content would you see. Therefore, I think the easy solution would be to allow all content to be tagged. For example, say there are users Bob and Jane. Jane can tag all of her CD's, TV shows, etc. with her tag, and Bob can tag his. It may even be that some CD's are tagged by both of them. Then, you support simple filtering in the UI by tag. So, when Bob is using the system, he can select a view filtered by items tagged with his tag, and in that view he will see CD's he likes, TV shows he likes, and so on. Jane can easily switch the view to filtering by her tag to see her content. You would default to seeing everything so that when each person sat down at the device there would not be any confusion as to why they didn't see their content.

3) Reliability which was already mentioned. Missing a show is unacceptable due to random hardware failures. If the user is trying to use bad hardware tell them so, but if they have good hardware then the requested operations need to just work. Also, when a failure does occur, ever attempt at recovery should be made (e.g., "CSI failed to record on Monday, but MCE has found another instance and set it to record on Friday").

4) IP TV would be nice. Get rid of all of these tuner and international issues, and become your own cable company. If I could pay $40 a month and have all of my shows downloaded to my box in HD format, I would ditch cable, satellite, and other content input mediums. This eliminates commercials (maybe, unless you decide to monetize in the same way) as well as missing the end of shows due to scheduling changes or overtime. A user can already do this using a site like www.tvtorrents.com, but there should be a legal way to make it happen. However, freedom with the content is key. Once I buy it, I am not paying again to put it on my Zune or to watch it in the other room of my house.

5) Stop squandering the opportunity offered by having a TV and an Internet connection. When I am watching a show, why can I not see the latest gossip about the actors in it (Access Hollywood-style)? Why can't I do other things like download a CSI desktop background, find out about events related to shows I watch (e.g., you see I watch 24 and Keifer Sutherland is going to be on Leno next Friday, how about offer to record Leno for me?). There are so many innovative features you have the chance to offer that many of your competitors can't, this is a great way to differentiate your product and add real value.

6) Track show series better. Right now, if it isn't in the current two weeks of guide data, you don't allow setting it up to record. Often I see that, for example, the new season of Big Brother starts in a month and I have to make a note to myself to remember to record it within two weeks of it starting. This most often leads to me forgetting and missing the show. If you just had a list of TV series similar to the Movie browsing UI in which I could set it up to record whenever it becomes available, this would make me happy.

Friday, December 8, 2006 9:48:15 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
I would add to (5) above that you have the opportunity to do cross-content scenarios that others can't. For example, I gave the example with 24, but what if instead you noticed that I have a lot of Jewel CD's and Jewel is going to be on Letterman this week. You could record Letterman for me. Also, other uses of the Internet connection include noticing that I have a lot of Bangles CD's and noticing that the Bangles have a new CD coming out this week, offer to place an order for it on Amazon (or other provider of your choosing) and have it sent to me. Who else could do that?
Wednesday, December 13, 2006 6:15:16 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
As a developer:

- Relative paths on code-less apps.
- Support for the MCML schema on ASPX pages.
- Ability to insert variable values on XML namespaces.
- Intellisense inside custom elements
- Intellisense for more advanced properties (like ChosenIndex inside Choice)
- A hint on what are the best practices on re-using the look and feel (fonts, colors, assets, animations, etc.)

More will come as soon as they come to mind ;-)
Wednesday, December 13, 2006 4:05:10 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
The one single thing that absolutely positively 100% keeps me from getting MCE is no native DVB-S support!

I'm UK based, would really love to get any flavour of MCE tbh, mainly for PVR function. But as I can only get reliable digital signal with Sky Digital and don't want Sky+, MS have to sort this before I get MCE.

Matt Hogan
Thursday, December 14, 2006 3:17:12 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
1) EPG support for DVB-T Signals
2) 3rd Party Codec support for MCExtender (DivX on Xbox360)
Thursday, December 14, 2006 4:16:05 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
Please add better support for multi-mon setups. I want to watch TV on one screen. But I cannot move the cursor out of the fullscreen window. I have to press ALT+TAB. Then everything flickers, takes 5s and the cursor is free. As soon as I want to change something I have to click the Media Center screen. Flickering, 5s, .... And afterwards ALT+TAB again.

This is very annoying.

"Let my cursor go"

Thursday, December 14, 2006 4:17:14 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
Oh yeah: Removing and reordering channels takes forever... That's another thing you could improve.
Thursday, December 14, 2006 5:40:46 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
I've got major driver issues but aside from that, the following are all stopping home-wide deployment and recommendations to others.

DVD playback to extenders
Decent number of multiple tuners
Have a user logged onto the MC interface, while another is logged on as a desktop user (you're not going to get MC as the media hub of the home unless you move away from the 1 computer, 1 user mentatilty)
A cheaper Media Centre Extender from MS. i.e I don't want to pay for games console, stuff I'm not going to use.
A way of making any modern-ish networked PC into a MCX.

These are other useful enhancments:
On the guide, if viewing details of a program that will start in a few minutes (and thus doesn't have the 'watch' option), have the option to 'watch this channel'.
More Program categories: Sci Fi, Comedy etc
DAB Radio Support
Internet radio - surely you can integrate the internet radio from WMP11 into MC?
Steve Robinson
Thursday, December 14, 2006 11:13:49 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
Many refinements needed...

* "Shutdown" while recording feels SO wierd. With Tivo it "turns off" but keeps recording...this is the right thing to do. MCE should pop up a message to say that the will system standby when the recording is done but instead it asks me about logging off or cancelling the recording.

* CE mode - I know that some people use their MCE as I regular computer but I'm just looking for a TIVO alternative because I like the MCE interface better. If it's a dedicated box I don't want to ever see my desktop. Infact I don't want to see the log-in page, the desktop, etc. The box should boot right to MCE start page and standby should be smarter whether or not it is recording.

* No way to stop the preview... I can't make the preview window (especially when recording) without actually playing a pre-recorded show and then stopping that.

* Series priority - the interface is slow and clumsy. Why cant I use the page up and down features to move the orders fast? Why cant I just punch in the # of where I want it to be? When I say "Record Series" why cant I do to the prioritizer page instead of just picking "always", "no conflict", or "manual".

* Resolve Conflicts pops up way too much! - I have a lot of stuff on my record list. They conflict... But that is why I organize my priorities. Why can't I turn off that message?

Saturday, December 16, 2006 3:55:55 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
Support for non-standard setups. I tried to setup mine to work on the TV 2 port of my Dual Tuner Dish Network HD DVR. But since the tuner only outputs on CH.73 MC (Vista) dosn't accept it. I would like more custom setting if I choose to in the system setup options.
Sunday, December 17, 2006 5:57:44 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
The one thing that keeps me from allowing meddling kids, drunk party guests and computer iliterate relatives anywhere near media center is the "delete" option that keeps popping up after playback. PLEASE provide a way to deactivate file deletion, at least in Media Only mode, so I can let guests play around with it without risking losing wedding photos and painfully collected trailers for all the 1000+ dvd movies I own.
Tuesday, December 19, 2006 2:59:56 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
There is only one thing stopping me from using MCE in Vista and it is:

Media Portal

It supports all of the functionality that Windows MCE doesn't!

That functionality includes:

Real DVB-S support (by real I mean CI/CAM)
Over the Air EPG
Changing the PID to get the correct Audio stream
Recording whats in the buffer

Its Me
Saturday, December 30, 2006 7:30:03 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
I'm not a technical guy, but an MCE power user, with 1000s of video clips etc that I would like to put into rotation using MCE

I was stunned to hear that the latest version will not support video playlists. Is this in fact the case?

If it is, can anyone suggest a workaround? The link at Phil Goyette's page for a plugin doesn't work anymore.
Monday, January 8, 2007 12:53:35 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
Like many MSDN users I installed Vista RTM Ultimate as soon at it was available in mid November. I wont go through my experience when I intalled Ultimate as an upgrade to MCE2005, but very few of my old programs ran. Things like Office 2003, Quicken 2007 (just installed a few days earlier) crashed as soon as they were started. I dropped back several yards, and installed Ultimate again on a newly formatted disk with a much different experience. Every thing went smoothly. Since I had to install office again, I installed 2007 (love it). Even the same version of Quicken that failed to run before ran great after a new install. There were a few minor programs that had to be replaced with a new Vista version, but this was not great surprise or pain. The largest trauma I had was not being able to store anything in c:\. I have had a habit (probably bad) of creating text files leaving little messages to myself in c:\. Not anymore, I as a lowly admin user no longer have that right. Now I have a new folder c:\notes to leave my "how to do" notes to myself. But where do you put .bat files?

Vista Media Center came right up and I was very impressed. It had been in use for over a month with no problems until a week ago. As I approached my computer I saw a message at the bottom of the screen that my TV Guide was obsolete, click here to download a new guide, it said. When I clicked on the button I got a message that the TV channel setup was missing, click here to setup. I complied and the system went to the normal TV Signal / Download TV Setup Options page. Click Next and it hangs FOREVER. It is as though it is waiting forever for the data to download. I have tried several times, after a fresh reboot, etc. Each time the same result at the same screen. I eaven let it run overnight. The system has not crashed, i can click back or cancel, they work fine. Does anyone have any suggestions, workarounds, etc?? BTW, I installed nothing or even used the computer between when it worked fine and when it refused to know that I have a TV.
I looked at reinstalling Vista (remember my previous upgrade experience) but am not that brave (or is it dumb). I did reinsert the RTM disk to see if there was a repair option. If there was I would have probably opted to reinstall just Media Center. My machine is constantly connected so all updates and fixes that Microsoft has chosen to release are already here. I don't know if they have some giant fix release planned before before 1/30/07, but lets hope.

help needed??
Bob Staib
Monday, January 8, 2007 3:12:36 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
Minimum is to be able to watch all the shows that I can watch on plain old TV. Not so with Media Center. Several channels appear to be blocked although they are part of my basic cable package and can be watched on any standard TV in my house.
Not Impressed
Tuesday, January 9, 2007 10:37:00 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
I've been using MCE for nearly 6 months. I understand it can't - and will never be - perfect, but my wish for it was for only a few things.

1. WAF. A single device that allow watching free-to-air TV (DVB-T), allows time-shifting of TV shows, and allows playback of DVDs.

2. Storing my favourite DVDs on the hard drive then playing them from a list of selections.

3. Storing my music collection and playing them while reading, chating with my spouse/friends.

Re no.1, I had to invest in the Logitech 880 remote control. Once I figured out that their "Activities" are actually macros, I programmed it so the spouse can turn on the system (defaults to Live TV) and can then record, playback previously recorded, or watch TV and stored DVDs. There is a Coffee Break activity as well, it pauses the TV (starts time shifting if it is Live) or DVD, turns Off the front projector, and turns On the lights!

Re no. 2, I tried to use the 3rd party "My Movies" MCE add-in, but it only allows management of Region 1 DVDs (not so lucky if you, like me, are in Sydney, Australia, and most of my DVDs are all Region 4). I therefore use AnyDVD to 'rip' the DVD onto the drive; at least MCE manages to allow one to select each of the DVDs as a folder.

Re no. 3. I tried but have stopped using MCE for my music. I listen to music in two ways, I stop everything else and concentrate on one album at a time, or I am playing the music at random in the background - which requires the use of Real Gain. Microsoft does not support Real Gain - they call it Volume Levelling - except on WMA audio files. Since I have nearly a decade of MP3s in my library, I am thus using MediaMonkey which supports RealGain on MP3s and WMA files. Real Gain is 'critical' for when you are having a party (it is scary to see a 25db difference between the lowest and highest recordings in my collection; essential if the softest song is followed by the loudest - my speakers are VERY expensive!

I was very happy that my SPDIF digital audio port on my PC worked fine with MCE, so MCE only sends "raw" audio to my hi-fi system. Bliss!

I've read that dual-tuner support is now available, and so it's time to upgrade to a dual tuner DVB-T card, but I don't see any reason to move to overpriced Vista.

Lastly, it will be nice if Enlarged Fonts (for the XP back-end) really was enlarged, but that is too much to ask, I guess.
Tuesday, January 9, 2007 11:00:50 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
Re some comments about Vista and MCE screwing itself up, there are two things I have done which might help.

Firstly, even before my system is setup, I reformat the HDD with a basic copy of DOS on a 32GB FAT32 partitioin. I than install MCE taking care to retain the FAT32 partition. (FAT32 does not support larger than 32GB partitions either, but since MCE is hardly 5GB, it is not a problem).

Once XP is installed, I create all but 10GB of the the rest of the HDD into a nice large NTFS partition, and MOVE the My Documents folder to it.

I then create the balance 10GB into another FAT32 partition.

Since DOS and XP are on the C: drive, the system pops up with a 30 second option to select one or the other (unhide and modify the boot.ini file to change it to 3 seconds), with XP/MCE as the default. This allows one to boot into DOS, and access the two FAT32 partitions. In the second partition I place a copy of Norton Ghost's GHOST.EXE program.

When MCE is settled in (like 1 week after), I make a GHOST of Drive C onto the second (drive D) FAT32 partition.

When MCE stuffs up (and has done, every so often), I simply boot into DOS, switch to Drive D and restore the GHOST image of C:! It's so simple, even my good wife can do it.

Better a re-imagable and workable system, then an irate wife left without a TV for a few days!! :-)

Of course, since the data is in a different partition, all the media files are untouched, so they can be accessed. (In TV Recorder settings, you can select which logical "drive" to put your files in; same with My Videos - right click on the screen and the option will pop up).

Have fun!
Tuesday, January 9, 2007 11:08:29 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
I would like it to be a one box solution that is digital all the way to my TV for

PVR (recording time shifting etc) for DVB-S2 DVB-T pci cards at the same time with one combined channel list / epg simple for anyne to use with all the source switching invisble to the user. But behind that setup functionality that allows DisESC 1.2 so I run multiple LNBs or sat dishes. Also support MPEG4 H.264 HD tansmissions & CI encryption

Play DVD and support new HD formats when hardware is mainstream enough to swap out the DVD drive.

Play music media players does everything I want presently.

Play IP streamed media

Do this like an appliance not a PC, for me the features is has now are more than enough but it needs to support all the possible media sources without a myrad of STB and ugly analogue interconnects.

For this I would pay modest sums for epg services and accept reasonable time restrictions on recorded material to satisfy copyright issues
Wednesday, January 10, 2007 12:05:36 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
1. No Cablecard Suport
2. No HDMI on 360

Tuesday, January 16, 2007 1:58:39 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
Can somebody help me? is it possible for me to get television on my windows media center without having a cable cord plugged into a tv tuner? I have a cable card installed into my television. Is there a way to get an out signal from my tv and send it to my computer, so I can record shows with my computer? My television that i want to use this with is WAY too far away from my cable box.
Wednesday, January 17, 2007 2:32:37 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
Forget all the complex stuff. Why can't it just play avi files?
Wednesday, January 24, 2007 5:34:49 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
You need a few things to get wider adoption

1. Network Tuners (ex. Pinnacle's PCTV to Go). This basically streams video to PC giving the consumer the flexibility to locate the MCE PC where they want. Network tuners need to evolve to support CableCard, etc. I'd like to see Microsoft promote/accelerate the idea by creating a USB Tuner that could be plugged into the XBox. I'm not talking about DVR in XBox, just using it to encode and stream the content to MCE PC. You'd need to create an XBox Tuner driver. The great thing here you already have a great extender connected to your TV with XBox360.

ALTERNATIVE SOLUTION (if feasible): Create a OCUR CableCard Tuner with that can transmit over Wireless USB. Something were you can get a distance of maybe 150 feet.

2. You need partners to create v2 extenders at variety of price ranges. I seriously would like to see Zune team create a Zune branded extender. Theretically with Zune's wireless capabilties and AV Docking Station..It could be an inexpensive offering with added value you can take it with you. This would be great in my son's room for example.

3. MCE needs to be more customizable then it is today. It should be skinable with Themes like the OS. For example, I use Zune and I would like to have a Zune theme throughout my MC experience and I would like that carried over to all extenders in my home.

4. SoftSled
Friday, January 26, 2007 11:56:29 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
It is not lite...it takes time (although much lesser in rtm as compared to rc1)to load...is not very stable.
The other day i tried to access my music library and it stopped responding, and once its stuck..its tough to even end the process.
Saturday, January 27, 2007 10:19:07 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
i have a computer running windows xp mce and i have a ehome remote reciever installed on the computer. so im able to access all the functions using a remote.

i have just purchased a second remote and reciever to go in my bedroom so i can access the computer mce in my bedroom.
the problem i have is that on one of the recivers work. i have tryed both of the recievers, so i know they both work. so it is a software problem.

can you help me resolve this please.

Sunday, January 28, 2007 4:33:41 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
1. Multiple tuner support
2. Customizable channel lineup per tuner
3. Proper support of 'hybrid' HD/SD cards (don't freak out and think one or the other has ceased to exist)
4. Built-in DirecTV STB serial or low-data-rate channel changing and control capabilities (i.e. I just need the port and the cable, and to identify my box flavor)
Sunday, January 28, 2007 4:42:51 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
Oh, and I totally forgot (how could I???)

5. Better multimonitor support! If I build a touchscreen case, I want the MCE 'interface' on one screen and video ported to the other (extended desktop between monitors, not cloned) without any mouse focus issues. Better yet would be a custom 'secondary' display UI that's designed to be more like 6-7 foot view on a smaller screen (large widgets or something) while the 'normal' MCE display can be on the main, with a single hotkey or remote button that lets me 'switch' focus from one to the other.
Monday, January 29, 2007 3:47:37 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
I want support for unencrypted QAM turners, like the DVICO FusionHDTV RT Lite and the DVICO FusionHDTV5 Express. I'm not able to use the MCE HDTV Over-The-Air capability due to poor reception and have resorted to using the software that comes with the tuner card to record HDTV programming via the cable. That software doesn't work as well as MCE, so I'm pretty frustrated. I also want to be able to map the digital channels to the local OTA channels so I can use the MCE Guide. I was hoping and waiting for clear QAM support in Vista, but I see it's not there.

My cable company (Comcast in Redmond WA) broadcasts all the digital channels I want unencrypted. These are the local network affiliates, ABC, NBC, CBS, CW, FOX. Plus they also have the Discovery channel HDTV unencypted which I cannot get OTA. I do not want to wait for CableCARD support. I don't want a CableCARD. I don't have any premium pay channels such as HBO and I don't want them. I don't do pay per view.

In order to use MCE's HDTV capability, I bought an indoor UHF antenna. But I could only get one out of the 5 major network channels depending on its location. So I bought a big expensive roof mounted UHF antenna. Now I got 2 channels. So I bought a mast-mounted amplifier for it. Now I can get 3 of the 5 channels. Sometimes they cut out, depending on the weather or some other factor I haven't figured out. I spent a lot of time reasearching antennas (hdtvprimer dot com), but to no avail. I'm at the top of a hill just 15mi from the transmitters and the analog UHF signal looks fine. I'm frustrated with antennas. I spent a lot of money and time and its for crap. I read that in 2009, some HDTV broadcasters might move from UHF to VHF. So maybe my antenna solution will work even worse in the future. I'm not at all satisfied with OTA HDTV.

All the pieces are there for unencrypted QAM support. The capability exists. We just need some code to connect the dots.
Friday, February 2, 2007 7:04:50 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
Plus 1 for being able to work with BOTH digital channels (such as Freeview in the UK) AND analogue channels (such as cable or satellite) each with their own EPGs. Preferably with the digital EPG being populated from the digital feed.

People I talk to about MCE are dumbfounded to learn it can't cope with both digital and analogue feeds. It's a major obstacle to adoption and forces me to use two media centre products: MCE for analogue and GB-PVR for digital. Most people would not be inclined/able to do that.

Andy Henderson
Wednesday, February 7, 2007 7:34:31 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
The one thing that held me back from building a vista media center to complement my xbox 360 and 1080p tv was the lack of support for devices like the FusionHDTV5 cards.

I can't get OTA HDTV, but I subscribe to Comcast Basic, which transfers all HD channels I care about via QAM.

If I understand the current plans with respect to OCUR tuners, I'll have to wait for CableCard support and then buy a complete new system just to be able to use what I watch with my current subscription.
Norbert Rasmus
Sunday, February 25, 2007 12:02:57 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
I've had one hell of a battle with MCE and now VMC. It's cost me a fortune in hardware and software to try and get a reliable Media Centre. Finally having replaced all hardware (in some cases more than once) and finally the OS upgrading to Vista Ultimate, I've come to the conclusion that Media Centre sucks. Other third party TV viewers work straight out of the box, tune in all the channels, this negates hardware and signal issues. Yet Media Centre struggles with nigh impossible work-arounds etc. I still cannot view my full quota of available channels!

If there is one improvement I want to see before any of the improvements detailed above - is to see Microsoft actually make their product work.

To date I have not received any useful help on any of my issues from the Microsoft websites.
Monday, February 26, 2007 2:58:18 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
I use Vista x64 Ultimate with Xbox360. I don't really see any advantage to using the media center interface at the 2' experience, but for 10' its necessary. At 2' it only hinders media organization, transcoding, editing, etc.


1) File Mapping: MCE 2005 worked better for me. I would like to map the various types of media to their own directories. Pictures and Videos pick up the same mapping, I find music thumbnails in my pictures library, pictures in my video library and a scanner in my pictures library. I have to navigate three levels of folders to get to any content. I have about 500GB of video, audio and pictures (It would be more if I didn't have to transcode DVDs to WMA to play on XB360). They reside on a separate volume from the OS - RAID 5 backed up on RAID 5 NAS.

Maybe the reason why your youtube.com video showed content in the first level of each menu was that you used the default locations for the source files. I can't clear the flags to "search" the default folders. I get the "Sample Videos" along side the Media volume.

Short story long: Improve the mapping capability and provide a rich interface to manipulate the MC experience from the 2' level. The usage model has to be (a)orgainze media at 2' on the PC & (b)watch it at 10' through an extender. Compare even just making a playlist for music at 10' to drag-n-drop at 2'.

2) VOBs through Extender. We need a way to drop a DVD into the tray, rip it into the library, and have it play through the extender with all its menus, etc. Currently there is no turnkey way to even turn a DVD into a WMV or MPG so that it works over the extender. My system takes 9 hours to transcode a 90minute DVD to WMV at 99% quality. That will improve, even for the average user, but man what hurdle!

3) Thumbnails on videos. I have about 40 Disney movies in WMV and ten of them have a thumbnail of the Disney castle in various stages of being drawn. There should be a regenerate option with some kind of random offset or ala music, a download of cover art.

4) Finally, and what I think is most importantly, a way for the user community to view, comment, perhaps vote, on the feature set for upcoming releases. For my own edification, I would like to see the release schedule as well. Any Product Manangment posistions avialable? How about testing lab?


Friday, March 9, 2007 5:02:52 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
In this age of HDTV it's really unforgivable to ignore embedded high resolution cover art and instead only show extremly pixelated low resolution cover art with washed out colors.
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