The Top 10 Things that Microsoft and Tivo Must Each Do to Win Control of the Living Room

Thomas Hawk has a great post on his blog about what both MS and TiVo need to do to control the PVR in your living room.  I already reply to much of this over at TBG, but through i would post it back here to.  Read the link below, and then read the rest of this post.

The Top 10 Things that Microsoft and Tivo Must Each Do to Win Control of the Living Room

I think a lot of the things you want will come with Longhorn, so not close enough in most of our minds.  The current average person still does not see their PC as their TV, simple as that.  Sure, everyone here see it that way, but go walk up and down your street and see how many people are using their PC to run TV throw.

When Longhorn ships (Assuming current dates are some what right) people will be seeing their PC more as a digital media server, you can tell this is were Microsoft wants it to go to.  The average person does not want to see a PC next to their TV.  Way want a standard black box that makes zero noise and starts in 1/2 of a second.  The start of this is Media Center Extenders.  Get the PC out of the Living Room, and put the dumb box that looks and feels like what people know now.

1, 2 and 3 – All HDTV related.  Average person doesn’t have an HDTV yet.  Again, average.  Sure, you see many people posting here and other places that want HD, but i would bet you that most of the people that are posting make up 85% of the market.  The current ideas with Longhorn is that the basic PC will have a 16:9/16:10 monitor.  So, you can bet that the widescreen support has to be coming, but not fast enough for those who already have a 16:9 screen/HDTV.

4 – Everyone can relate to this.  DVD burning of DVR-MS files is not what it should be.  Microsoft problem?  Yes and No.  The hope is the both MS and <Insert DVD burning appplication maker here> are working together for better burning and to fix sync issues.  Burning data to DVD through Explorer will start in Longhorn.  Drag-and-drop DVD Video burning might come with that too.

5 – Has to come with Longhorn too.  Check out and read some of the stuff.  Very interesting stuff.

6 – Mostly covered already by me.  In terms of that metadata, i think it’s sent out only when the song/program is being broadcast, not much hlep in making a guide. 

Yes, stuff like Stern’s show could get on their, but at the current it sounds like something for a third party dev and the MCE SDK.  The one thing I can think of is that MS could talk with ClearChannel Communtions and see what they could get coming.  Of course this is more then something MS has control over.

Benefiting guests via MCE is not something anyone can argue at this point and time.  If I go to Radio Station “X” and say that MCE users would like you to send out a live feed of content they are playing, they will say “MC-What?”  I’ll have to check out the the Research stuff, I don’t think I have never seen that.

7 – Got to come with Longhorn again.  XP is very stable, but only in the hands of someone who knows what they are doing.  XP will never crash on you, it’s a different story when applications crash.  Most people blame this on Windows, but (for instance), WMP is a very stable application.  Now, if you throw in a lot of DirectShow filter that suck at doing their job, the basic user looks at that and says that the OS is at fault or that WMP is.  MCE can only be as stable as everything else that goes with it.  A step to this is NVIDIA with ForceWare MM and NVDVD.  Partner with Microsoft to make it perfect for MCE.  This has one downfall though.

When an OEM ships a PC they do it with everything config. like s***.  All the OEM cares about is the money they are getting from RealNetworks, Microsoft, MusicMatch, Sonic, and so on, for including their applications on the PC and putting the icon on the desktop, starting the helper program with the PC, etc.  They also ship the PC with bad or old drivers.  So, a lot needs to change on their part.

8 – Guess I have never paid attention since i’m generally the lone user of my MCE box.

9 – Very much coming in Longhorn, again, not soon enough to catch the current users, but upcoming users and the tons of people who just don’t know about MCE yet.

10 – I think Microsoft cares to much work on Media Center itself, leave the plug-in types applications to third parties.  I think we will see basic intagration with other Microsoft products, but things like home automation will very much start with the third party.  You might see a “Connected Home” from Microsoft where the features might be seen, but I would doubt that it’s going to be the focus of the MCE Team.  These has basically provided to work for Microsoft with just about every major app.  They release an SDK and let the mind of the third party dev take control.

Note:  When I say “Coming In Longhorn” I mean that the tech. to make it work better will be coming, not that “Longhorn MCE” will have it.

2 thoughts on “The Top 10 Things that Microsoft and Tivo Must Each Do to Win Control of the Living Room

  1. Thanks Chris. I trimmed the article down and was asked by Engadget to present it as a guest editorial for them at

    Like you I am really excited about the potential with Longhorn. Really really excited about it in a huge way.

    As to the HDTV stuff I think that Microsoft needs to be ahead of the curve here. It’s coming and they could be building loyal evangalizers with this right now. Instead they let Tivo beat them here and have gone radio silent on their plans for this — not the right strategy.

    I agree on the stability of XP but disagree on the stability of MCE as an app. XP is so much better than Windows 98 and infinately better than when I was the unfortunate hack who ended up buying a PC during the brief Millenium phase. As MCE, however, runs on an XP Pro System the stability is nowhere near TiVo’s.

    Yes, applications are the problem more than XP but MCE and WMP are essentially apps and can be very buggy.

    I agree with the poor quality that oftentimes come from the OEMs but the fact remains that Microsoft partners with them and won’t sell me the software directly to build my own PC in a much better way. It killed me to buy an HP but this was my only path to get media center when it came out. There are more choices today but Microsoft should still sell the software and let me have a custom machine built with it on it from my vendor of choice.

    Third party plug ins will drive usage and sales of MCE. Microsoft should develop or at minimum significantly fund development (ala Intel’s venture arm) of these outside plug ins. Microsoft should play a more active role than simply releasing an SDK.

  2. I couldn’t agree with Thomas more. My experience has been that XP is rock solid, but, MCE is very very buggy. Don’t get me wrong, I luv my MCE. It’s the greatest thing since sliced bread, but, constant reboots & screen freezes prevent MCE from being the converged device that the average consumer is willing to put up with. Sure, a lot of the bugs are caused by 3rd party applications that interact with mce, but unlike any other Windows operating system, Microsoft has retained quite a bit of control on how it is being distributed & what hardware/software it’s supplied with thus far. Overall, MCE 2002/2004 represent a very good first effort for Microsoft, but the boys in Redmond have a long way to go before it’s ready for mass consumptoin by the average consumers.

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