Barb Bowman with help from Doug Knox (both Windows Media Center MVPs) and Steve Makofsky (Software Development Engineer at Microsoft) have Windows Media Center running on the MacBook Pro.

Here's How I did it - Mac MCE (Barb)

Boot Camp: Day 1 (Steve)

Steve, Barb even has TV working on the MacBook Pro -- something I know you were asking about last night in an email.

I've got a challenge for you, Barb and Doug: Can you get the Portable Media Center interface (which looks and feels like Windows Media Center) to run on an iPod...?


Categories: Apple | Media Center | Comments [1] | # | Posted on Friday, April 7, 2006 4:40:58 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)   

You can watch the Joe Belfiore keynote from Mix06 (streaming) via the following link.

The whole thing is nothing but goodness so I highly encourage you to watch everything. For those of you interested in the Windows Media Center portion...

41:50 Introduction and demo of currently shipping version of Windows Media Center running on XBox 360, including Comedy Central experience featured in Online Spotlight.

54:15 Demo of Windows Media Center in Windows Vista.

1:01:15 Demo of the 'Q' Windows Media Center Podcast Client SDK Sample Windows Media Center Presentation Layer Application.

1:04:10 Demo of the NASCAR interactive experience using WinFX (WPF and WCF).


Categories: Mix | Q | Comments [1] | # | Posted on Friday, April 7, 2006 5:38:20 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)   

I'm watching the Apple buzz happen again with Sean, Ed #1, Ed #2, Brian, Michael, Om, etc. over the availability of Boot Camp.

The switch page touts the Utopia of the MacOS and they have this quote from Walt Mossberg: 'It leaves Windows XP in the dust.' which just begs the following question...

If the MacOS is so wonderful why do I need to even consider running Windows?

What do I think?

Apple is going to start licensing the MacOS to third parties again. If Steve Jobs announces they have no intention to do so you can take my prediction to the bank. :-)

Categories: Apple | Comments [9] | # | Posted on Thursday, April 6, 2006 4:56:24 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)   

I'm not the brand manager for Windows Media Center, but I did what Jackie Huba said to do anyway and found this: at the top of the search results for 'Media Center'. Pretty cool romp through our user experience.

Update: These are still kinda lame (especially compared to iPod + iTunes commercials) and don't actually speak to what Windows Media Center is all about, but better than the general 'Start Something' campaign.

I'm beginning to see why awareness of Windows Media Center is pretty low, if these commercials are 'the best we could do'.


Categories: Media Center | Windows Vista | Comments [4] | # | Posted on Wednesday, March 29, 2006 6:12:43 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)   

Update: David Richards is back at it again with totally inaccurate and bogus information. His earlier article information was according to a 'Microsoft insider' and now he attributes the statements to Raymond Vardanega (Acer Austrailia Marketing Director) who was told these things by an unidentified person at Microsoft. Net result: total hearsay and David is admitting to not verifying information and sources. Frankly, it would be nice for David or Raymond to identify who at Microsoft told them this. Anyway, in this latest article David states "A major problem for Microsoft is that the current version of Media Centre (MCE) is clumsy and prone to crashing. It contains code which is not productive in delivering an entertainment experience for consumers." Totally, unequivocally false. Read on to learn more...

I've been reading what RobertSean, Loren and the XBox team have already said about the now infamous '60% Of Windows Vista Code To Be Rewritten' article by David Richards. For the record, this 'story' is absolute poppycock. The only reason I'm blogging this is because I got word of mouth some of our MVPs didn't know what to think -- and I want all of them and our current / future customers to be 100% confident we are on track to deliver a safe, secure and stable operating system with cool features (like Windows Media Center, Windows Media Player, Windows Sidebar, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera) with Windows Vista.

Robert put it this way...

Even the evidence denies this story. At Mix06 last week we had Media Center PCs for people to use, running, gasp, Windows Vista. An entire keynote (damn cool demos too) ran on Windows Vista and it didn’t crash the entire time. That doesn’t sound like something that needs a 60% rewrite. Or something that isn’t on schedule to ship.

Let me give you the backstory for Roberts comment (he hasn't heard this until now and it will independently corroborate his observation)...

I was responsible for getting six Media Center PCs built from scratch in one evening (Sunday night) at Mix06. It took Ernie Booth and myself about 6 hours, mostly because we had to share two installation DVDs and a single USB key among the six machines and they were spread out over four locations and two floors. Setup went without a hitch and the only driver we had to update post-setup was the sound card driver (using the USB key) -- every other device on these Dell enterprise machines (read: not originally designed to run Windows Vista or Windows Media Center) used the out of box Windows Vista drivers. The machines ran *great* for the duration of the conference. Clemens Vasters of the Indigo team even sat down at one of these boxes and watched football (soccer for us Americans) streamed over the net from his home in Germany one evening.

In addition, I was responsible for the primary and backup Windows Vista machines for the Joe Belfiore keynote. Joe rehearsed on Monday night, and towards the tail end of the run through using this machine we noticed the album art wasn't loading quite as fast as expected and the audio took a while to start playing. The reason: We had been running the machine through it's paces, adding new content and syncing devices to it non-stop for about 8 hours with no reboot. After 8 hours of *actively* running a beta OS with Visual Studio 2005, Q podcast application using the Windows Media Center Presentation Layer, Apple iTunes installed (wouldn't you like to know why :-) and FWIW was later uninstalled, which typically torques even my most stable Windows XP build) and greater than 10,000 tracks in the Windows Media Player Library it was performing pretty much up to snuff. A quick reboot (which I *always* do before an on-stage practice or live demo, but forgot to that evening for some reason) resolved all issues. The machine performed flawlessly after the reboot, again early the next morning during practice and again for Joe's keynote in front of 1000+ individuals (including Robert). We later used the exact machine on stage for our 'Developing For...' presentation at Mix06. It was a stock HP zd8000 laptop (again, read: not designed for Windows Vista).

So, you would think I was running the February CTP or some other build which had been vetted and throughly tested for consumption by the masses and appropriateness to use with a high profile keynote and the demo machines.


I used the latest build from a development branch of the eHome source code tree which contained some functionality we needed to make the Q:Helix perform as expected. It was a random build which hadn't been through Build Verification Tests (aka BVT, the most basic of tests to qualify a build before broader release to other teams). It wasn't even from the main branch for Windows Vista (aka WinMain) which is what typically gets posted for beta testers. Generally speaking, if you select one of these builds you typically expect things to NOT work since the regression rate (regression=bug fix causes other things to break) can be pretty high. I had confidence any build I picked would work just fine.

And now you know...

...the rest of the story.

Categories: Windows Vista | Comments [8] | # | Posted on Sunday, March 26, 2006 5:59:16 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)   

Francis Hogle (Development Manager for the Windows Media Center team) has the first of his four part series posted which explains how the Windows Media Center Presentation Layer works in greater detail. Check it out...

A Quick Peek under the Hood - Part One of Four

Categories: Media Center Application Design | Comments [1] | # | Posted on Sunday, March 26, 2006 4:41:13 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)   

I've been learning more about how Windows Media Center Presentation Layer Applications are run on the XBox 360 Media Center Extender. For a while now I've been stating these apps render at 30 Frames Per Second (FPS). As the Hertz commercial says, well...'not exactly'.

But unlike the Hertz commercial, this 'not exactly' is a good thing. :-)

As Paul Harvey would say, here is the rest of the story...

For a Windows Media Center Presentation Layer Application, the Windows Media Center Rendering Engine running on the XBox 360 combines the video signal (deinterlacing when necessary) with the user interface and renders both to match the current frame rate of the display. On the XBox 360 in the United States that means you get a refresh rate of 60 Hz or Frames Per Second. (It's worth noting the XBox 360 native refresh rate can be different depending on the geography.) Generally speaking, the higher the refresh rate, the smoother the experience appears to the user and less noticeable flicker.

By contrast, the Hosted HTML or Hosted WinFX XBAP Application user interfaces are rendered on the Media Center PC with 3-5 screenshots taken per second (on average) which are sent over the network via a Remote Desktop-like pipe. Even though the XBox 360 display output is much higher these applications will appear to operate at a much lower framerate due to the rate at which screenshots are sent.

So, why have I been saying '30 FPS' for the last couple of months? It's what I knew from my work with the Windows Media Encoder (NTSC television is shot at 30 FPS and output to your TV at 60 Hz, film is shot at 24 FPS and typically projected at 72 FPS using the shutter to avoid flicker) and was the best way I could describe at the time how the three types of applications will appear to the end user. My apologies to our readers for not getting the facts 100% straight before posting / answering questions. In this case I hope you will say 'no harm, no foul'.

If you want to learn more about refresh rates, head on over to Wikipedia at

Francis Hogle (Development Manager for the Windows Media Center team) is preparing a four part series which explains how this stuff works in greater detail -- look for it here soon.


Categories: Resources | Comments [2] | # | Posted on Saturday, March 25, 2006 8:12:39 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)   

Giovanni beat me to the punch getting some screenshots of the Mix06 build of Q. One thing I want to clarify (which Giovanni did in his original post and a later follow up): Q is not a shipping feature of Windows Vista -- it is a sample application for which source code will ship with the Windows Media Center Software Development Kit for Windows Vista.

Update: News is traveling fast, and it's the wrong news. I'm pretty amazed at how much the story gets subtly changed with each retelling. I'm linking to some here so they will hopefully clarify their posts before the hype machine gets going: Microsoft Podcast Client - or Mix06 Myth?, Les clients podcasts chez Microsoft, Microsoft Podcasting Client, Microsoft Demontstates New Podcast Client At MIX06.

Several folks (internal and external) have asked for screenshots, so here they are along with a description of the experience...

Intro Animation

A really cool launch animation occurs when you first start Q. Approximately 15 images of various types of electrical circuit schematics rush at you (transparent, so you see multiple layers at once) which pivot on the center midway through. This is followed by the Schematic logotype flying from behind you. The electrical schematics are framed in the square of the Schematic logotype as it comes into view. All of this happens in about 6 seconds. This animation is 100% Media Center Markup Language (MCML) and PNG files. Proving the Model + View separation which is a pillar of developing in the Windows Media Center Presentation Layer, Schematic created this animation independently of the development work on the Q:Helix and other application elements following. We checked their MCML into the source tree as is -- zero changes.

Channels Page

The Schematic logo at the end of the intro animation 'falls back' after about a second to reveal the background and Channels page, followed by the Q:Helix rotating down into place, locking on the first item in the list. The helix is center locking so all items rotate into the center of the application. We think this makes the app pretty usable because the user only has to look at one location for focus -- it doesn't bounce around like a series of stacked buttons (Windows Media Center uses a similar paradigm, but it's not exclusively locked to a single position).

As you move up and down in the list, the current Title and Description zooms back away from you into infinity while the next Title text flies in from the right and Description text flies in from the bottom. Meanwhile, the background is animated with the RSS logo randomly 'melting' down the screen (kind of Matrix-y like). There are a couple of alpha blended layers here -- the small animated RSS logos are alpha blended in front of the Channel text on the left side as well as the background.

Items Page

Selecting a Channel, in this case the American Experience podcast, will navigate you to the items for that channel with an elegant crossfade into a different background and a slightly different Q:Helix animation (faster, zooms toward you a bit, and has an extra spin or two which happens really fast).

Selecting an Item will result in the audio or video playing. If audio, we animate with an alpha blend between the image provided with the item and a blue RSS logo. If video, we start playback in place of the image provided with the item. The video element will move just like an image in the Q:Helix. Selecting the currently playing video will take it full screen.

A big THANKS to the following folks who helped us pull this together from scratch in a very short time (about 3 weeks to implement once we had the conceptual designs, all the while keeping focus on our day jobs).

Peng Lee, Kevin Hosmann and Robert Perrine from Schematic who designed the Q:Helix navigational concept and opening animation, as well as coding of the opening animation. They also provided the background images which seem to be animated, but are in fact static images -- brilliant!

I approached Stephen Toub about this project and asked if he could provide the code-behind for the RSS feeds in about a week. The next morning we had solid, working code ready to wire up to MCML. 'Nuff said.

And finally, Mark Finocchio (you get to meet Mark face:face in an upcoming Channel9 video, btw). Originally I was going to do the UI implementation (MCML) for this project with his help as needed. My time then became consumed helping get portions of the JoeB keynote ready, leaving me with zero time to give to Q. I asked Mark if he wouldn't mind stepping in and helping us out by creating the balance of the MCML. As with Stephen, the bulk of the MCML was complete the next day, and Mark continued to introduce elegant touches up until the Friday before Mix06. Really, 'nuff said.

We hope to release the Q app with Beta 2 so you can us the app (rather than relying on screenshots and low res video caps) and tell us what features and improvements you would like to see.

Categories: Media Center SDK Code Sample | Q | Comments [3] | # | Posted on Friday, March 24, 2006 4:01:34 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)   

As Aaron notes, the Q application will be included in Joe Belfiores keynote and shown by myself and Stephen Toub while at Mix06. We've been subscribing to various and sundry feeds to test things out -- now it's time to decide what to put into the Q:Helix.

Nominate yourself or others in the comments, with a pointer to the RSS (not HTML) feed. Who knows, your content might be showcased on stage in front of all the attendees at Mix06, demonstrated by JoeB himself. :-)

Categories: Mix | Q | Comments [6] | # | Posted on Thursday, March 16, 2006 10:51:57 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)   

Posted by Nate Dunlap a few minutes ago, and I just felt compelled to link...

"...but one API the architects forgot to include was the "HelpStopDuchenneMuscularDystrophy()" feature."

Visit WPF can do lots of things... to learn more on how you can provide feedback to enable this feature.

Categories: Muscular Dystrophy | Comments [1] | # | Posted on Thursday, March 16, 2006 10:33:19 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)   
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