MCE To Flop In 2005? Don’t Count On It!

As noted on many different sites by now, Phillip Swann of is saying Microsoft’s Windows Media Center Edition 2005 will be the biggest flop of 2005.  The first thing I decided to do after reading this guys “Predictions” was to see what he predicted last year in terms of DVR/PVR’s.


Amoung his top Predictions for 2004 was that TiVo would be sold to DirecTV (He also predicted that in 2003 also), that it would be the “Buzz Year” for DVD/DVR’s, ReplayTV would fold or die, and DVR’s would experience “Moderate Growth”.


Now, the TiVo thing didn’t happen, after he “predicted” it would for two years in a row.  The ReplyTV thing just about everyone saw coming.  We all knew that TiVo would over power it.  I guess DVR’s did experience “Moderate Growth”, but that really depends on your definition of “Moderate Growth” and he didn’t give any context.  Not sure what he meant by “Buzz Year” for DVD/DVR’s, but how does “Buzz Year” then relate to the “Moderate Growth” of DVR’s that he also predicted?  TiVo is the “Name” for PVR’s.  You hear it in TV, Radio, Etc.  DVD Recorders have yet to hit the big time, and are just now starting to be priced correctly, so they could experience “Moderate Growth” in 2005!  BTW, I just purchased a DVD Recorder for my mom from Sony.  So far, it’s great!


In terms of 2005 and MCE, I don’t think Phillip has taken all the factors into account.  His whole reasoning for MCE big a flop is based on the average American not wanting a PC “as an entertainment device”.  Okay?!?


I would call myself an American, let’s see how my PC functions in terms of media. 

(1) DVD Player and Jukebox

(2) MP3/WMA Player and Jukebox

(3) TV Viewing and Recording

(4) Editing Home Movies

(5) Internet Radio/Video

(6) DVD Burner

(7) I’m sure there are more. 


My PC is my entertainment device.  The average American has loads of digital content on their PC.  PC’s now ship with 160GB+ hard drives just for the storing of digital media!  Music Services offer streams only so you can listen on your PC, is that not “entertainment“?


Screw the MCE angle for a second, what about Windows Media Connect and the half-a-dozen other UPnP type devices and protocols that are specifically meant to send digital content from your PC to set-top devices in your home?


Back to MCE, Media Center Extenders (MCX) get the content off the PC and stream it to your Living Room.  You will see new TV’s ship with MCX Technology inside in 2005! (Thanks for the catch, getwired)  The average American uses their PC for “entertainment”.  MCE 2005 brings Media Center Extenders to stream the content from the PC (Your Digital Media Hub/Server) to a more “Family Friendly” device with a sweet interface.  I 100% do not buy the fact that the PC is not an “entertainment device”, do you?


The PC is a Hub for Digital Media content and will continue to grow in 2005.  While this might not be the “Year of MCE”, it will be far from the “Year MCE Flops”.  That’s my Prediction, we will see who is right.

8 thoughts on “MCE To Flop In 2005? Don’t Count On It!

  1. Well said Chris.

    For now the biggest bump in the road for MCE will be integration with Digital broadcasts such as satellite and digital cable. I think that MCE offers enough value in other areas to the consumer where they can be a little inconvenienced with the IR blaster and slow response time that satellite and digital cable seem to cause.

    Phillip Swann has had some great articles in the past, but I often feel like he is not on the forefront of technology and he misses the mark a lot of the time.

    I can tell you there is nothing quite like having an MCE system hooked up to a 42" plasma where you can show off pictures in a slideshow (with music playing in the background) while at the same time being able to stream music to a Roku SoundBridge in the other room – "awesome" is an understatement.

  2. The only explenation for Phillip’s remarks has to be that he is not running MCE at home. I recently had 36 people over to my house for a holiday party, I had just finished my dedicated home theater with a HD front projector and a 8 foot screen. Of course I was showing it off to everyone, so what stole the show… MCE! Everyone wanted to know what the cool program was that was driving the whole system, nevermind the thousands of dollars worth of equipment sitting around the room, a $100 piece of software wowed 30 some people. It will make it, and it will succeed. It is transforming all of those who give it a chance, it is now a seperate platform all of its own. I do everything on MCE now. It is replacing 10-12 other devices or dedicated sources or media in my home. Sure its not perfect, but its growing. I love it. Anyone else on board?

  3. Totally agree….

    Been trying to do this home media system for over a year now, MCE2005 OEM just makes it work. and the two Acid tests are my mum and my wife, both who can use a remote, and for 99% of what they want to do with MCE, that will suffice. It’s shut up any complaints about hard to use home entertainment.

    Watch TV, Watch a DVD record stuff, play recorded stuff, get the weather (using the MCEweather plugin), play some music , look at the Christmas photos. All of which is handled by the MCE remote. The Gyration Mouse/Keyboard spends most of it’s time in the Hfi cabinet. I’m the only one who uses it and only when I’m tweaking something or other…

    We use it all the time friends we’ve had over during the holidays are really caught by the UI even the wives are sort of interested in it…


  4. I have yet to see MCE 2005 in action but it looks very cool. The only thing keeping me from buying it is that it has yet to support Satellite and digital cable HDTV. For most of the people out there who spend 2-4 grand on an HDTV, what’s the point of getting this? Over-the-air broadcasts are fine, but I would miss my Discovery HD. If Microsoft would get that working right on it’s media extenders, they should be able to bankrupt TIVO in an instant. Anyone know if they ever plan to do this and when?

  5. I certainly believe that MCE 2005 will be a flop.

    I recently put one together for myself and I have to say, I love it! After days and days of tweaking, adjusting, and reloading, it is working great, more than worth all the trouble. Of course I have a custom built system, I assume a store bought MCE would work fine out-of-the-box, even so, I think it will be a flop.

    For MCE to be even a moderate success it MUST break away from the computer hardware/software geek crowd like me and appeal to the mass market. That means people like my little sister Sue. I would never wish a Media PC on my sister Sue. Sue is not a computer person, or even remotely technical. She can operate her Tivo and a VCR, but maintaining MCE is WAY out of her league.

    MCE might work for Sue for a little while, but it’s eventually going to have problems. One day soon after she buys one, it’s going to quit recording her "Desperate Housewives" even though it’s been properly programmed to. Tech support’s going to tell her she needs a driver and/or codec re-installed, and she’s going to say "re-installed??". That will be the end of her Media PC.

    MCE is far to unstable for the average Joe. MCE needs to be 99.9% bullet proof for it to really appeal to the mass market. I consider my MCE to be very stable right now. I think I have it working very well, considering all that I’m asking it to do. However, it still requires a re-boot a few times per month, and that is simply unacceptable for most people. Try telling someone who’s not in the computer industry that the reason their season finally of "Friends" didn’t record is just a minor computer glitch.

    To address some of the points made:

    (1&2) DVD Jukebox- What drove my decision to go with MCE as opposed to a Tivo is MCE’s ability to store and playback MP3’s, and DVD’s on the hard drive. Having 500 DVD movies and 1,500 CD’s available and instantly viewable on my 60" DLP in extremely high quality is simply INCREADABLE!!

    (3) TV viewing and Recording- As for it’s ability to record and playback TV shows, it mediocre at best. MCE frequently records the wrong show, thinking it’s recording something else. HDTV support is lacking, to say the least. Where are all the HDTV sub channels in the program guide?!?! There’s no way to natively record from a satellite or digital cable service, you must use composite or S-Vid in. MCE has nowhere near the record options that a Tivo has. Tivo lets me record any show that has Al Franken in it, even if I don’t know that show exists.

    (4) Editing movies- How? There is no way a keyboard and mouse are going to be encroaching on my living room coffee table. NO WAY. If it can’t be done with a handheld remote control, it can’t be done.

    (5) Internet TV/Radio- Why in the world would I want to watch a crummy 500kb/sec video stream on my $5,000.00 DLP. I bought that DLP to IMPROVE the picture quality. Same goes for Internet radio, although they are making some strides in improving the bitrate/quality.

    (6) DVD Burning- This is certainly cool. Does it work better than a stand-alone DVD burner? Yes. Is it easier to use than a stand-alone DVD burner? No way.

    (7) More things- I have a nifty weather program loaded that gives me a 10 day forecast for my city, it’s cool. MAME for MCE is great. I can view my Netflix movie que from my couch. There are some more programs and I like them, but are they worth the $1,500.00 price tag?

    MCE 2005 is truly a cool product, and it’s a glimpse into the near future of home entertainment. Maybe MCE 2008 will be the commercial success that Microsoft hopes it will be. But it’s just as likely that by the time Microsoft gets the many, many bugs worked out of MCE, something else will have come along and grabbed the market.

  6. MCE will flop without a doubt

    OTA HDTV is stupid.

    I wish I didn’t waste my money on a HDTV can’t enjoy it with the Media Center.

    Anyone want to buy a MCE2005 PC?

  7. Hamer, vacuum cleaners also suck so MCE will flop for sure!

    Seriously, just because you can’t get HDTV via MCE in any other format than OTA _CURRENTYL_ does not mean the product will flop.

    I’m sure MCE will have support for all major TV distribution formats in time for Windows Vista. THEN the majority will discover MCE.

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