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Media Center Costs Extra

I have to admit I've only tried Windows Media Center once. I did hear a demo of the Media Player up at Redmond, but the sound system cost about 80 grand and the room, if I remember correctly, cost even more. It could have made a Sony TR-63 transistor radio sound awesome.

Maybe that's why I'm not broken up that Window 8 customers will have to reach a little deeper into their pockets if they want Media Center.

Consumers will still get Media Player for free -- so tunes and Web videos are no problem.

Apparently, the issue with Media Center is Microsoft has to pay for the decoders that make the DVDs play. Some OEMs, hoping to pitch media-ready machines, will swallow the costs, pre-install the software and just add it to the sticker.

It doesn't look like Media Center will be an option for enterprise versions of Windows 8 -- as businesses don't want workers wasting company recording HDTV or watching "21 Jump Street." But what's wrong with a little entertainment in the hotel room (rather than trying to write off a $18.95 movie on the expense report)? A little extra for Media Center is starting to sound like a pretty good deal.

Here's where things get weird: Apparently Media Player, still free and still pre-installed on Win 8, won't play back DVDs? Odd.

And Windows RT, a confusing name for Windows 8 on ARM (in my opinion, the latter is a more logical name) won't even get Media Player. Aren't tablets all about media? Doubly odd.

Was I a fool not to use Media Center? Feel free to make me feel bad about myself by writing to dbarney@redmond.mag.com.

Posted by Doug Barney on 05/07/2012 at 1:19 PM


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Reader Comments:

Mon, May 7, 2012 Dan Iowa

I also use media center. We always had to pay a little extra to get it. It never did come on the base version of Windows, but it used to require OS upgrade unless you bought Premium or Pro. Now it sounds like it's a fully seperate app. So I'm just guessing, but I suspect this just means that instead of having a seperate OS version, you simply install the "App". In this case it wouldn't matter which version of the OS, since it would be an install anyway.

Mon, May 7, 2012 Andre

Correction, meant to say PowerDVD OR Intervideo.

Mon, May 7, 2012 The K Man Jackson

Let’s face the facts. True WMC customers are few when compared to the total base and it hardly justifies the millions spent in licensing fees for those users. Will it be available to those enthusiasts? Yes, but at a cost. I also have use WMC on occasion to watch TV but there are online alternatives and I can simply use VLC to view DVD’s. Especially since Microsoft sponsored making sure it would work on Windows 8 and it’s free. While I would love to still have WMC in the Windows 8 SKU I understand the thought and logic leading up to this decision.

Mon, May 7, 2012 Andre

The issue with Media Player not playing DVDs is because the required codecs are not installed. Those have to be purchased. Dell used to include software like PowerDVD of Intervideo which, when installed, provided the missing codecs. Apparently, VLC Media player has some other method of playing DVDs that doesn't use the proprietary codecs because even after you install it Media Player still cannot play DVDs.

Media center looks interesting but since I have limits on how much I can download a month I haven't been able to really play with it. Not sure I would pay extra for it since I could probably get by with other Internet based options.

Mon, May 7, 2012 Wendy Phoenix, Arizona

I have been using MCE since XP version and love it. I don't even own a "regular" television at all! I use my computers to record and watch my favorite cable and OTA shows on any and all computers that I own. I can see not having it on Enterprise versions (which I thought odd in the first place) but to remove it from Consumers or an extra charge? Ridiculous. I figured Microsoft loved MCE as much as we since they even bought out the Green Button website (greenbutton.com now thegreenbutton.tv) which is a forum for MCE users. I wonder if they will shut that down or start charging to use that website...

Mon, May 7, 2012 Joe T NJ

Media Center is a great product when used with a tuner that supports a cable card. Microsoft once again is making a mistake. They are dying a slow death. Instead they should sell a version of Windows 8 that supports the DVD playback and Media Center for a price. I think users who love media center would pay a one time license fee in addition to what the standard windows cost. Maybe Apple's TV product will be all we can use.

Mon, May 7, 2012 Mr. X

Looks like it will be VLC (or similar) to the rescue. Of course, Dell may just simply make me pay for a DVD player, anyhow. http://www.zdnet.com/blog/bott/if-vlc-can-ship-a-free-dvd-player-why-cant-microsoft/4962

Mon, May 7, 2012 Mark Syracuse, NY

Personally, I use WMC every day on my home PC to record television programs and play them back using my xbox 360 as a media center extender. I used it under Windows Vista and continued to use it after upgrading to Windows 7. If Microsoft doesn't offer it with Windows 8 I will not spend my hard earned dollars on an upgrade.

Mon, May 7, 2012

Another dumb move by msft. What they should have been doing is improving this great product and making people see its potential.

Mon, May 7, 2012 Larry Lovering Connecticut

Media Center is the best application for one 10-ft view of music, photos and TV. I have a cable card and watch HDTV with full DVR of up to four channels and with Windows Home Server, can share that recorded TV content in any room of the house. I will not give up Windows 7 for 8, seeing that don't see any value in the Consumer preview.

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