[Note: I've moved this FAQ to XBox 360, Media Center Extender and Media Center PC FAQ. Any updates will now occur in that post.]
I've just arrived back from a partner roadshow late this past Saturday (we presented in Redmond, Los Angeles and New York). I really enjoyed some quotes today which were echoes of what we presented to partners last week.
Chris Anderson in First Take: XBox 360 Media Center Extender
"What's important about the Media Center is that it takes the DVR concept and extends it to all forms of content, whether broadcast or downloaded from the Web. By having a broadband-connected PC at its core, it's by nature a full-featured connected device that can keep up with the pace of innovation in digital media online. If the Xbox 360 and the new content marketplaces of its associated Xbox Live service continue to take off, we really could have the beginnings of a Long Tail platform that could challenge broadcast TV."
Russell Beattie in XBox 360 As A Windows Media Center Extension: Context is King
"The most amazing thing about this is how it controls context. Your PC remains a PC, your Video Game Console remains just that, but when they’re put together, a third functionality emerges to help manage all your media. Maybe that can be seen as complexity (one box with a simplified interface might be better), but to me it seems like a pretty neat Trojan Horse for Microsoft’s vision of the digital home."
A couple of FAQ from the partner roadshow which are appropriate to air broadly here...
Q: Does every XBox 360 come with the Media Center Extender software built in?
Q: How does that work with the XBox 360 Core System which doesn't have a hard drive?
A: The Media Center Extender software for XBox 360 is sent over the wire each time you launch Media Center on the XBox 360.
Q: If you are sending the bits over the wire each time, doesn't the MCX boot time really suffer?
A: Not enough for most folks to notice. We have spent a lot of time optimizing the code sent over the wire to make sure it's fast.
Q: Is the Media Center Extender software cached on the XBox 360 hard drive, if present?
Q: Is the Media Center user interface on XBox 360 the same GDI version (sans animations) as the version 1 Media Center Extenders?
No. We ported the Media Center renderer over to the XBox 360 so the Media Center user interface renders in full fidelity on the XBox 360 just as it does on the Media Center PC itself. For the most part, consumers won't be able to tell a difference between the two.
Q: Will high definition content play on the XBox 360, and if so, what formats?
A: Yes, high definition content will play on the XBox 360 via the Media Center user interface using the DVR-MS (Recorded TV) and WMV format (up to 1080p). This includes high definition digital cable content using the recently announced CableCard module.
Q: Will Online Spotlight experiences (and those available via Marketplace or other third parties) work on the XBox 360 Media Center Extender?
Q: Is the XBox 360 as loud as my old XBox?
A: No. In fact, when running the Media Center Extender software, it's virtually silent with the fans at their lowest setting. From my experience, it's quieter than the VCR in my kids playroom when running MCX.
Q: Will the XBox360 will have other codecs available for it (e.g. Xvid, Divx).
A: Yes and no. The Media Center Extender for XBox 360 can support PCM audio when a custom DirectShow filter is installed and registered, meaning you can use [insert audio codec name here] as long as it uses this approach. See Registering a Custom File Type for more information. Video codecs natively on the XBox 360 are currently limited to MPEG1, MPEG2, DVR-MS and WMV.
Q: If the Media Center Extender software is sent to the XBox 360 each time you launch the Media Center, does that mean that the XBox 360 will automagically inherit the new Vista MCE interface when used with a Vista MCE?
A: The plans for Media Center Extender for XBox 360 in the Windows Vista timeframe haven't yet been announced. [Sort of a lame answer, I know -- sorry -- there are some things they won't let me talk about yet.]
Q: Will my first generation Media Center Extender (hardware or XBox MCX) continue to work when I use the new Media Center Extender for XBox 360?
Q: Can you fast-forward and rewind music stored on the host MCE computer using the Xbox 360 Extender.
Q: Can you play back AVI files?
If you have any other questions, leave 'em here and I will track down the answer and update this post.