CNET on PVP-OPM In Vista, and Cory Doctorow on PVP-OPM

Hollywood, Microsoft align on new Windows (CNET) | CNET has a piece of PVP-OPM (aka Protected Video Path) Also they have an FAQ on what it actually means to you.


Cory Doctorow (EFF) adds his opinion, and thinks PVP-OPM limits what you can do with your music and movies.  As usual, Cory is looking at this from the fact that DRM doesn’t work and is not needed (He’s generally right about that).  Microsoft, on the hand is looking at it the smart way from a business standpoint.


People don’t want to be limited on what they can do with their media, and without PVP-OPM in Vista, they don’t get to play the media at all!  How’s that for a limit, Cory?  Playing the media needs a system that fits what the copy protection system deemed secure, without it, the media can’t be played.  We just saw that Media Center PC’s have accounted for 43% of all desktop PC sales since July 9th, 2005.  As soon as Intel launches their Viiv-based PC’s, this number will jump even more.  When people buy a PC they want to be able to play what they have purchased.  This includes next-gen DVD’s like Blu-Ray and HD-DVD, along with capturing current content from something like a CableCARD.  None of which can happen without PVP-OPM.  Too bad Viiv-based PC’s will not be able to do this upon launch.


Other people keep telling me Vista will drive them to Linux and other “open” OS’s, it’s going to suck when they can’t play the content they have purchased and they can’t capture the content they might already pay for!

Media Center PC Sales Skyrocket in U.S. Retail Market

Sales of Media Center PCs have skyrocketed since July 9, according to a recent study by Current Analysis. For the week ending August 20, 2005, Media Center PCs accounted for 43% of all desktop personal computers sold in the U.S. retail market, based on data from a sampling of U.S. retailers.


Accounting for this phenomenon was a decline in pricing for Media Center systems, with the average price dropping below $900 for the first time ever. In addition to the more affordable price points, Microsoft has lead the charge to promote Media Center PCs at select retailers in an attempt to generate a higher level of interest for the platform.


Senior Director of Research, Matt Sargent states “The desktop market is in dire need of anything that will differentiate it from laptops, which have been stealing sales over the last year. Media Center, with its focus on performance-centric tasks, such as manipulating pictures, video and audio content, is one key differentiator. The continued success of the desktop form factor is reliant upon the success of Media Center–this is the reason we are seeing leading manufacturers such as HP rapidly shift their desktop offerings to Media Center.”


Additional results of the study:


71% of the Media Centers sold in the week ending August 20 did not have a TV tuner.

53% of the Media Centers sold in the week ending August 20 utilized AMD’s Athlon 64 processor.

67% of the Media Centers sold in the week ending August 20 used a 250-GB hard drive.

Vista Media Center SKU? Again

Doesn’t look like anyone is actually sure if there will be a separate Media Center SKU or not!  We have quotes from Steve Ballmer implying it will be a separate SKU, and now we have something from saying “The biggest news which we have heard is that when Windows Vista ships it will be Media Centre enabled as standard.”


Of course, Media Center in every Vista PC would be a great thing!  The question is still out on if that will actually happen.  Bring on the official Press Releases!

Thoughts on Intel Viiv Technology

Today, Intel publicly announced there new Viiv Technology that will bring further move along the PC as a home entertainment device.  Here’s some of my thoughts on what Viiv means to Media Center, the PC in your home, and what it actually means to you!


Viiv is the start of making the PC the center of home entertainment, and it allows this to happen in several form factors.  For the person will wants a PC in the living, there will be form factors for you that are “similar to a stereo component or DVD player” and also traditional desktop and tower form factors for the person who would rather not have a PC in there living room, but instead use more traditional Consumer Electronics (CE) devices thought-out their homes.


All PC’s based around Viiv will ship with a remote control, dual-core processors, platform specific software and of course wired (wireless option) networking built in.  You can compare Viiv Technology to Intel’s Centrino Technology.  At its most basic marketing form, it’s a collection of different technologies all wrapped together to provide the consumer with the proper functionally for their tasks.  With Centrino its wireless network adaptors, Pentium M processors and everything else needed to provide the consumer with the best mobile experience.  With Viiv, it’s a remote, dual-core processor, and everything else needed to provide the consumer with the best home entertainment experience.


Intel also said that all PC’s that ship with Viiv Technology will include Windows XP Media Center Edition.  This will surely be a boost in sales for Microsoft for the MCE platform, plus consumers will get to bring a new world of growing opportunities with Media Center Extenders, much like the built-in Extender that will ship with the Xbox 360.


Viiv Technology is the start of making the PC act and look like a CE device.  While Intel has announced to technology now, it will take time before the average consumer is ready to accept it as a CE device.  This is a good reason why they are making several form factors as I talked about above.  According to Intel, after the initial boot-up of the PC, Intel Quick Resume Technology is going to allow the PC to instantly be turned on or off with the touch of the button.  It is my guess that this ability will extend to the included remote with the machine, giving the consumer a CE-like experience with a PC.  5.1 or 7.1 audio will also ship with all Viiv PC’s, most likely using Intel’s HD Audio platform.


Much like Media Center PC’s currently, a TV tuner will be an optional device to be included on Viiv-based PC’s.  It’s my guess that after the first 6 months or so of the Viiv platform being on sale that most machines will ship with at least a single TV tuner.  The space saved with interested components will most likely free up expansion slots for TV tuners.


Intel also said that Viiv-based PC’s will “connect easily to the latest online entertainment services, enabling movie and music downloads, as well as access to the latest games — all viewed and played from the comfort of the couch.”  I’m assuming that this functionally comes from Media Center, not so much Intel’s side.  The current Online Spotlight in Media Center offers much of this functionally.


Undoubtedly one of the most interesting bits from Intel today is that Viiv Technology will include an “integrated media server engine”.  According to Intel this means Viiv-based PC’s will be able to “reformat various digital content files so they can be viewed on a selection of devices verified by Intel to work with Intel Viiv Technology-based system.”  Update:  It’s supposed to be “reformated” to be DLNA Compliant. (EDIT: Media Center Extenders are DLNA Compliant)  Very little information is available on this specifically, my guess is that this means Viiv-based PC’s will ship with a hardware encoder onboard, most likely encoding to WMV9.  This will likely be software assisted (dual-core, a bit extra to burn for transcoding digital content), and would play into Microsoft’s PlaysForSure digital content strategy.  This is backed up by Intel saying “Additionally, we [Intel] worked with the PC, CE and content industries to set interoperability specifications so that consumers can easily move a variety of online media from room to room and between various devices in the home network.”  This is the exact idea behind PlaysForSure.  This would also be the perfect match for Microsoft’s current batch of Media Center Extenders, which don’t support decode of DivX, XviD, MPEG-4, etc.  This content would be transcoded in real-time (or near real-time) to WMV9, then spit out to the network for playback on the device. 

Intel Unveils New Platform Brand for Digital Entertainment in the Home

A new kind of personal computer (PC) will premiere in homes early next year when Intel Corporation introduces Intel Viiv technology designed to enrich consumers’ enjoyment of digital entertainment.


Working together with a variety of Intel-verified consumer electronics devices, online services and software — including movies, music, photos and games — Intel Viiv (rhymes with “five”) technology, disclosed for the first time at the Intel Developer Forum today, will help usher in a new era of entertainment choices for consumers. PCs based on Intel Viiv technology will be easy to use with a remote control and will be powered by a suite of Intel technologies, including a dual-core processor, chipset, platform software and wired networking capabilities.


“Intel Viiv technology is our first platform designed from the ground up for the digital home, where consumers are passionate about the idea of accessing their content anytime, anywhere in their home on a number of devices,” said Don MacDonald, vice president and general manager, Intel Digital Home Group. “Following the success of Intel Centrino mobile technology, we are applying a similar branding strategy to our new digital home platform composed of Intel’s latest PC technologies. Intel Viiv technology marks the intersection point where innovation, a multitude of digital devices, first-class entertainment and state of the art technology converge to put consumers in more control of experiencing digital entertainment on their own terms.”


The Intel Viiv technology brand name communicates the excitement, vibrancy and vividness of the latest technologies that enable people to have a great entertainment experience in the home.


Consumers will be able to get Intel Viiv technology-based systems in a variety of form factors — from small, sleek consumer electronic-type designs (similar to a stereo component or DVD player), to more traditional desktop or tower designs.


Intel also integrated consumer electronic features into the Intel Viiv technology platform to make it easier to use and contribute to the overall entertainment experience. All PCs based on Intel Viiv technology will ship with a remote control, the Microsoft Windows Media Center Edition operating system and media software that lets consumers interact with their PC in the same way they operate a TV. Consumers are enabled to watch a movie or play a game while also downloading the latest music, all from one integrated system using a remote control.


Read Full Press Release

Interview with Josh Goldman (CEO of Akimbo Systems)

Interview with Josh Goldman (CEO of Akimbo Systems) | “Akimbo CEO, Josh Goldman, recently spoke to [itvt]’s Tracy Swedlow about the company’s plans to distribute its programming on Microsoft’s Windows Media Center and other platforms; about announcements it expects to make over the coming months; about its strategy to differentiate itself from emerging competitors in the broadband programming space, such as TiVo; about how a videoblog called Rocketboom is proving to be one of the most popular offerings on its service; and more.”

Meedio Releases DVR Application to Record HD ATSC, DVB-S, and DVB-T Digital TV Broadcasts

Meedio Releases First Commercial DVR Application to Record High Definition ATSC, DVB-S, and DVB-T Digital TV Broadcasts | Meedio LLC, a leading provider of software for digital lifestyles released a free update to the Meedio TV digital video recorder (DVR) software today which adds support for viewing, time-shifting and recording standard and high definition digital TV broadcasts from ATSC and DVB sources. Meedio TV is the first commercial Windows® DVR to record digital TV from ATSC Over The Air (OTA), DVB-S, and DVB-T sources. Meedio TV includes a free electronic program guide (EPG) and is available at for only $39.99 with no monthly service fees.


Until now, consumers who wanted to take advantage of their existing Windows PCs to watch and record ATSC and DVB broadcasts were forced to have a commercial system builder replace their entire operating system with Microsoft’s Windows XP Media Center Edition (MCE). With Meedio TV, however, users of Windows XP Home, Pro, or MCE can download and install a standalone application on their existing PC in just a few minutes.


Meedio supports a number of analog TV tuner devices and expects to support additional devices with each new release. Today’s release adds to this growing list with support for the following digital TV tuner devices:

  • ATI HDTV Wonder

  • AVerMedia AVerTVHD MCE A180

  • DVICO FusionHDTV 5

  • Hauppauge WinTV Nova-T

  • Hauppauge WinTV Nova-T USB2

  • TechnoTrend DVB-S and DVB-T

  • VBox DTA 151

Meedio TV is also available as part of the Meedio Pro bundle for only $79.99. Meedio Pro is a complete digital media center that enables users to enjoy digital photos, music, movies, TV, news, weather, and games through a customizable full-screen interface displayed on a TV and navigated with a remote control. Meedio Pro also includes free access to the Meedio Add-Ins Directory which contains over 200 third-party themes and plugins.