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

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

“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.

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. 
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
, and Ian