Microsoft is finally getting set to take HDTV in Media
Center outside of the US! Our first hint
was a few months ago in a job application where Microsoft stated they were
working with European satellite TV providers. This just screamed Sky to me, and with Media
Center get H.264 and
DVB-S(2) support in the next Media Center release it was just a matter of
time until things started to materialize more.
The next step has been taken in the form of another
job application, this one laying to rest that Microsoft will indeed be
taking HDTV outside of the US. The job
application asks if those applying are “passionate
about the GLOBAL (emphasis theirs)
consumer experience” and that they “thrive
on innovation and…are taking our technology to the rest of the World. Be a
part of the team that brings advanced HDTV to the PC!”
It’s too bad that a large percent of Media Center users have
been so passionate about that global experience and have yet been ignored for
six years. That said, I strongly believe
that things are finally going to start moving along. Providing the framework for things like H.264
is huge for TV sources outside the US. As
DVB-S support will now be in Media Center, the question is will providers
outside the US like Sky adopt the platform?
I’ve had conversations with some other MVPs like Ian Dixon who paint the
clear picture of commercial implications getting of the way of providers like
Sky jumping in. There have been some ways
to get DVB-S within
Media Center for a while now, but I hope we can see official support that
provides encrypted access as a part of Microsoft global initiative.
Another consideration here is IPTV, and it could be the
starting point for it in Media Center.
Deployments of Microsoft’s IPTV platform are much greater outside the US
where nearly 20 service providers are currently using it (this compared to only
1 in the US). I’ve always seen it as
foolish for Microsoft to develop for IPTV in the US, a market that only includes
a couple hundred thousand with AT&T service. Outside of the US however, the picture looks
much brighter. Once again, H.264
support plays a huge role here to (as does VC-1).
Digital terrestrial service is another bullet on the
list. With Freeview getting
ready to go HD I hope that Microsoft is working on DVB-T2 support, which
will be used to broadcast the new channels.
Once again this content will be delivered in H.264 which Microsoft
already has working in Media Center.
Sadly, I have no idea on ship times for this. The framework is set to be there for
satellite services and H.264 video, but there are still a lot of questions
marks. The job application is very nice and shows that Microsoft is actively looking to pursue support outside the US. Windows 7 might be the key for
global HDTV support, and while it can never come fast enough I hope that we can
get Microsoft to comment on what they plan on adding before it launches.
This brings up another question, is Windows 7 set to be what Vista was supposed to be in terms of Media Center promises?