Fiji Media Center Beta Inches Closer

We
have been waiting for Microsoft to open the beta for Fiji, the suspected
codename for the next version of Media Center for well over a year now.  I
first posted about it
in March of last year
, with invites first
opening just a month after that
, and now it appears we may finally have
taken a step forward.

Users
(who shall remain nameless, because I edited them out) at The Green Button are
reporting that they have received
e-mails from Microsoft Connect
.  If true, this would be the first step
to finally getting something in our hands to play with (under NDA of course).

This
release will bring DIRECTV support
among other unannounced features.  I had expected it to include HD DVD
support, but I wouldn’t count
on that any more
.  Other features have been kept under tight wraps,
though I’ve got a few in mind that I’m rather sure will be there.

As
the beta has still not officially started, anyone have predictions for what
features will be added?

Update: Engadget
HD points to a user
who leaked their invite for the DIRECTV beta (bad move,
considering Engadget published their first name!).

image

31 thoughts on “Fiji Media Center Beta Inches Closer

  1. Recently over on the Green Button, a Microsoft representative had asked what they should change about the Start menu. The overwhelming answer was being able to customize the menu.

    So that’s what I hope the next version of Media Center brings to all aspects of its features: ability to customize.

    In addition to that, I also hope Fiji brings 2 features: 1) better media library management (basically return to the way the library is managed like the way it was with Media Center 2005 where the folders that MC looks for photos can be different than the folders it looks for videos) & 2) Better TV/Movie/Video display: i.e. being able to view a bunch of recorded TV episodes in the order of their first air date.

    I really hope the beta is going to happen soon. At this point, I don’t care if I am picked for the beta. I just want it to happen so Fiji is released to the public sooner rather than later.

  2. Im hoping some of the glaring omissions such as being able to rate a song with 1-5 buttons while listening to it, the ability to have a ‘party shuffle’ mode, better collections management, a way to track watched and unwatched titles in my videos (especially for series’) and so on. From a UK perspective, proper DVB-T support inc. teletext and interactive features are a must!

  3. I’ll make a guess on DVB-C, DVB-S and DVB-S2 for Europe, and DVB Subtitles for already supported DVB-T and other DVB standards.

    If that does not happen with Fiji, but DirectTV does, Microsoft have cut off Europe from Media Center in general, as these technologies are the widely used technologies for digital TV – and users who is Media Centers target audience requires digital TV, and certainly will within the more than 1½ years it will be from Fiji before the next release arrives.

    FireDTV products make a valid solution for DVB-C and DVB-S by emulating a DVB-T device, however the lack of DVB-Subtitles support makes it useless for most people where this technology is used, and now is part of ALL TV’s shipped with DVB-T tuner, which is 80-90%.

    Personally, I am not using Media Center as more than a secondary device, and I know that most users here have it the same way.

    So, I see this as a get in or get out feature in Fiji – does it not make it to Fiji, Microsoft have inactively decided to get out, and decided for most European users to get out.

  4. Will be there:
    -DirecTV support
    -Finish changing the UI to horizontal layout

    Should and may be there:
    -Native Blu-ray
    -Change guide to fully support ATSC channel listings
    -Native support for network based DVD playback

    Would love to see but I’m not holding my breath:
    -WHS adds capability to be Media Center Server

  5. …Oh yeah, I forgot…
    More support for IPTV. I have no idea what but I’m sure MS will be doing more on this.

    …And another item in the category of “I’d love to see but I’m not holding my breath” is the ability to customize the start menu. That thing is just WAY too bloated.

  6. This better be included or WMC is going to die fast in Europe.

    DVB-T non free channels
    DVB-C
    DVB-S

    H.264/MPEG-4 AVC (for SD and HD)

  7. Off the top of my head:

    1) ATSC sub-channel support in the guide (give me my PBS)
    2) Quit shrinking album art. (I live in 1080p, I dont want blown up 128×128 album art, give us something bigger)
    3) Native QAM support
    4) A better shuffle algorithm (I have 700 cd’s ripped, should’nt selecting “play all” + shuffle give me some better variety.)
    5) network DVD playback (via video_ts or iso)
    6) Independant zoom memory. (If I choose to playback a recording zoomed, that doesnt mean I want everything I playback zoomed.)
    7) More robust library management

    Chris, is Fiji going to be an update to Vista or is it for Windows 7?

  8. I echo the above comments, either make it a worldwide package rather than US centric, or pack up and watch others take the Media Centre mantle.

  9. Near Term Stuff (6-12mos)
    – Windows Home Server integration (or at least the beginnings of it). Ease of use functionality & improvements are needed around network storage discovery and drm handling. Media Center Configuration should automatically detect if WHS is discovered an prompt the user for various integration options.
    – Easy DRM Transfer to another PC/Windows Home Server so that protected media can be played back without requiring the original recording/download PC to be available. Ex. Laptop user purchased/downloaded a movie but wants to transfer that media to their central Media Center PC.
    – XBox Live Movie Store access. If Microsoft is required to keep this closed then at least allow Media Center PC to access the content on XBox HD for playback purposes only.
    – Zune Pass support
    – More Customizable UI (background image, font, etc) that is carried over to connected v2 Media Extenders.

    Future Stuff (1-3 years)
    – IPTV. Microsoft should be bridging the Media Center and IPTV platforms. As IPTV availability increases..consumers shouldn’t have to be making a decision between IPTV and their existing Media Center investment. IPTV needs to blend into the Media Center UI and the Extender ecosystem.

  10. The top of my wish list:

    1) Ability to disable file deletion so I can let meddeling kids and computer iliterate relatives use my HTPC without risking losing half of my media library

    2) Removal of the totally pointless menu that pops up at the end of video playback. Why is it there?! It only forces you to press more buttons to do things than if you had just been returned to the library view with the just played video selected.

    The number of keypresses needed to do the things in the menu compared to doing it from the library:

    “done”, 1 keypress vs 0
    “restart”, 2 keypresses vs 1
    “delete”, 3 keypresses vs 1

  11. I would love to see IPTV on Media Center(they have MediaRoom), so that I can extend it over the house. DVB-T, DVB-C, DVB-S and DVB-S2 with CI, for Europe. DVD streaming would be great. Xbox Live movie rentals using Media Center and the possibility to watch it around the house using extenders. Possibility to mix different sources of tv (IPTV + DVB-T or DVB-T + DVB-S). Ooops I got lost, I don’t really think this is going to be available on Fiji, but one can dream, right? 🙂

  12. Will not even look at it without DVD streaming to extenders and TV sharing across multiple computers (something like Softsled, but better executed like in Sage or Mediaportal).

    DVB would be a very welcome addition too (like the previous mentioned software also already do).

  13. A certain someone I know received this invite as well, but instead of DirecTV his was geared for Dish. So, for me, that is exciting.

    I hope to see Dish onboard with Media Center.

  14. Everybody has some good ideas which I agree with.

    I would also like see a button in the ‘now playing’ when playing music of course, to sync the current song to my Zune. e.g. If I hear a song that catches my fancy, I want to sync it in real time with the push of a button.

    When did syncing music become such a project?

  15. Well I have had email exchange with the beta office and the beta invitation that I got is specific to work being done for the UK market.

    So hopefully this mean they are taking this market more seriously..

  16. For me any of the above.

    MS probably know that they have a good product that is capable in the home. The question is how long can we wait and how devoted are we?

    Surely it won’t be long before a competitor will come out with a product that does all that we ask of it. Those products are already out there and catching up. Time is running out.

  17. For those who keep saying “die fast in Europe”, maybe MS is just going to flip the bird to Europe due to the constant litigation from its rulers…

  18. MS is never going to let ripped DVDs play over your networks. MS is never going to go in a direction of making Media Center even more for tech-heads like us. I totally understand it and I don’t get why people keep asking for it. MS is going to try to keep the content creators happy. Without the content creators there is no reason to even do Media Center…mike

  19. Better Windows Home Server Integration. Wizards which automatically create shorcuts to your Home Server Content.

    DVB-C, DVB-S, DVB-S2, DVB-CI for encryption support.

    Pull the guide from the DVB stream instead of the internet and allow updates when programmes are running late.

    Eventually would like to see them port the Tuner\recording engine to Windows Home Server, then I can keep my Home Server turned on all the time and turn off my Windows Media Centre in the lounge. At the moment they are both on 24 hours a day. I’m guessing the extender interface should also sit on Windows Home Server.

    Allow Windows home server itself to act as an extender to your main Windows Media Center. Meaning my bedroom PC could play content form my lounge Windows Media Center.

    Allow more than 3 Tuners and allow the GUI to show conflicts from them.

  20. All I care about is:
    – Native Blu-Ray and HD DVD support
    – A better way to handle large video collections. Looking at a mass of screenshots doesn’t help me find the movie I want quickly.
    – Better integration with games and other external programs. I want to easily be able to add programs to run with my remote without messing with XML files and registry settings.

  21. I’m really, really hanging out for this in Fiji: VMC is currently dead in the water in New Zealand and parts of europe until DVB-T H.264 comes on board. No Kiwi I know uses Windows Media Center any more, as it just doesn’t DO digital tv in NZ. DVB-S, DVB-S2 support are more or less compulsory now.

    Grabbing the EPG from the digital transmission seems a no-brainer to add in, native blu-ray support seems a no-brainer, customisable menus seem a no brainer. I therefore assume, given that these are no-brainers, that they are not going to appear.

  22. Do we know what all is changing with Fiji yet? I have read some things that Fiji is supposed to be Vista SP1, but is that true? If it is – I have not seen any changes in Media Center yet – did I miss a bunch of stuff?

    Chris – anything you can tell us?

  23. Vista SP1 is already out, and it’s not Fiji.  Fiji is a Media Center update, and the linked to stories above contain all the information I have about it.

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