Microsoft Patches Restricted Content Errors on MCE 2005

Microsoft patched the Restricted Content errors in Windows Vista a few months back, and today lonely old Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 is getting its fix.  The patch (KB956148) is used to resolve “an issue in which a Windows Media Center configuration that uses an analog TV broadcast without a set-top box, displays a protected content message when recording television shows.”

You should be able to grab the patch from Windows Update, or if you want it directly go here.

Microsoft Announces New Zune Pass Music Subscription Model

Consumers can now keep the tracks they love.

REDMOND, Wash. — Nov. 19, 2008 — Zune, Microsoft Corp.’s digital music and entertainment service, today announced landmark agreements with major and independent music labels to bring significant new value to the subscription music model. The Zune Pass subscription service currently gives consumers on-demand access to millions of tracks for $14.99 per month. Starting today subscribers will also get to select 10 tracks per month to keep and add them to their permanent collection (an estimated $10 value).

Agreements have been signed between Microsoft and EMI Music, Sony BMG Music Entertainment, Universal Music Group (UMG) and Warner Music Group, as well as independent distributors INgrooves, Independent Online Distribution Alliance and The Orchard. The Orchard delivers digital music, video and brand services globally, and represents labels including Barsuk Records (Nada Surf) and Fania Records (Hector Lavoe, Celia Cruz). IODA represents labels including Arts & Crafts (Broken Social Scene, The Stills) and Ghostly International (Matthew Dear, School of Seven Bells). The new enhanced subscription model came about as a result of close collaboration with all of these companies.

Zune Pass subscribers will have the added benefit of retaining digital rights management (DRM)-free MP3 tracks from Sony BMG and UMG, in addition to MP3 tracks from EMI Music, Warner Music Group and a large portion of the independent music labels. With the addition of tracks from UMG and Sony BMG, Zune will soon offer over 90 percent of its music in the MP3 format.

“The way people consume music has changed. With the shift to digital from CDs, it is more challenging than ever to offer the right mix of deep content, music discovery and economic value,” said Chris Stephenson, general manager of global marketing for Zune at Microsoft. “People want the freedom to listen to whatever they want across millions of songs, combined with the confidence that they can keep their favorite tracks forever.”

From its inception, Zune has bet on the power of subscription, not only as a consumption model but also as a way to highlight the music discovery features central to the Zune experience and the PC platform. The Zune service gives consumers convenient and unlimited access to the music they want, and also connects them to other music fans and expert sources to help them find the music they will love. The new enhancements to the Zune Pass subscription service offer unprecedented value for all music fans.

Read Full Press Release

Okoro Media Systems Now shipping 2009 LX100 CableCARD Media Center

Okoro Media Systems, manufacturer of Digital Entertainment Systems for the high end audio video market, is pleased to announce the availability of the 2009 OMS-LX100 Digital Entertainment System. The new 2009 LX100, part of the “Low Profile” Digital Entertainment Systems series, is built on a combined Intel and Nvidia energy efficient platform. The OMS-LX100 features cool and quiet operation, 7.1 LPCM HDMI support, and low power green operation.
“Customers have really enjoyed our LX100 series for years. Now by working with our various technology partners, we are now able to offer this next generation unit to our customers at a very nice price point. This is all part of our company mantra of providing next generation options across all of our product lines. We want to offer our customers the best Digital Entertainment System that is going to work well in their specific home theater setup.” said Christopher Curry, VP of Sales & Marketing.

The OMS-LX100 is priced at $1725 and is now shipping with the following standard specifications:
Dimensions: 17.00″ Width x  4.13″ Height x 16.13″ Depth

  • 65watt Dual Core Intel Processor
  • 8-channel LPCM audio via HDMI
  • 4GB RAM
  • 500GB low power HD storage
  • DVD Burner  
  • HDMI, DVI, VGA, Display Port output
  • Windows Vista Home Premium
  • Choice of ATI Digital Cable Tuner or Dual NTSC/ATSC/QAM tuners

For more information about the 2009 OMS-LX100 Digital Entertainment system, please visit

Upcoming Windows 7 Media Center Feature: Broadband TV Services

By now you have most likely seen what some of the new features of Media Center in Windows 7 are, but don’t think it stops there.  In this series I will go over some of the upcoming features of Media Center in Windows 7.  These features should start appearing in later builds, although some of them will be limited to specific testers.

I’ve been saying for some time now that Media Center needs to get serious about Internet and Web TV.  Microsoft will be taking another step toward this in Windows 7 by integrating online services in the standard EPG (Guide).  Below is a screenshot of the type of integration you can expect.  Wouldn’t it be sweet to get Hulu in here?


CableLabs Confirms Tuning Adaptor Support in Media Center (Kind of)

Good news, OCURs (can) support Tuning Adapters.  Bad news, OCUR is an open spec and the fact that they “can” doesn’t mean a whole lot.  CableLabs recently addressed the issue (PDF)with the two fantastic (ok, maybe not) bits of information below.  Pair that with Microsoft’s own fantastic response from a few months ago and the bottom line is not to expect a Tuning Adapter mixed with an OCUR any time soon.

If things work the way I think they will then we are waiting for one of two things to happen.

Possibility A: CableLabs updates the specs for the TA/TR to clearly state that it can work with OCURs using the PC as a hub.  ATI provides a firmware update for the OCURs to work and Microsoft updates Windows and Media Center to allow it to work.

Possibility B: ATI or some other company releases new OCURs (eg. New hardware) with the correct firmware upgrades and USB port configuration to work with the current TR specs.  Microsoft provides an update for Media Center because CableLabs is suggesting it will be needed.

Judging by CableLabs verbiage in the below statements, I think a bit more than a Tuning Adapter connecting to the PC is involved.  It isn’t a good sign when the main entity behind these things is saying that a timeline for development hasn’t been identified.  Stay tuned for some other changes CableLabs is making.

Can existing DTVs, STBs or OCURs by upgraded to support the Tuning Adapter?

“Existing one-way products that already include an USB port may be able to be upgraded by the manufacturer to support the Tuning Adapter.  Some manufacturers have announced plans for much upgrades.  For more information, check with the manufacturer of your unidirectional Digital Cable Product.”

Will the Tuning Adapter work with a Vista PC that is equipped with a Digital Cable Tuner?

“The TRIF specification is designed so that it can also with a Vista PC that is equipped with a Digital Cable Tuner.  However the timing for the development, availability and support of compatible products depends upon the PC and OCUR manufacturers’ schedule, as well as necessary upgrades provided by Microsoft.”

Short Bits: Windows 7

So the big question in my e-mail Inbox is where have I been hiding.  The answer is that I’ve been crazy busy with school and work, so blogging had to go for a bit.  That doesn’t mean it is over, so let’s start it up again.

The biggest news that I missed covering was the big Windows 7 unveiling at WinHEC.  Charlie Owen write a great blog post going over some of the new looks and features, and I hear there is more to come in later builds.  Of course, the focus of some posts about Media Center in Windows 7 is the UI changes.  The UI has never been the problem with Media Center.  Some will like the changes and some will not, but at the end of the day Microsoft’s failure to execute is the real issue.

Having said that there is a lot of goods stuff in Windows 7 including a signed driver for the DIRECTV Tuner (you didn’t think it was dead, did you?), MPEG-4 support (H.264, MPEG-4 ASP), and much more.  You might even have a chance to beta test it or other Media Center products.

More coverage on We Got Served, GeekTonic, Missing Remote, and Ian Dixon.