More on Fiji/Media Center TV Pack

Lots of stuff going around on Fiji, and while I can’t say as
much as I’d like too I can say that no single person has put all the pieces
together yet.  Word is that Fiji final name is indeed Windows Media Center
TV Pack, and useless a separate product pops up out of nowhere I’d consider
that pretty concrete.  Microsoft let that bit slip themselves by releasing a few knowledge
base articles
specifically about the TV Pack.

HD runs down what they expect
to be in the update, and Brent Evans covers
more of the news
from a few different sources
as does Mary Jo.

Now, I still can’t say much about it because of various
different NDAs, but I can say there are still pieces missing from people
accounts of how this is going to work and/or what is included in the
update.  Good or bad however, I can’t say so you will have to wait.  Microsoft
has hinted
that the official announcement for Fiji will come at CEDIA in

On to what I can say, this beta has been a disaster if you
look at it with an outside perspective.  I am very disappointed on how
many people are leaking stuff, and if you thought a two year wait for a public
beta was long for Fiji I’d suggest you not get your hopes up about testing
anything else related to Media Center in the future.  Based on the
disregard of the testers I wouldn’t be surprised if Microsoft cut out a public
beta until everything is finalized for the next release.  You can thank
your fellow beta testers for screwing you out of a possible opportunity. 

I’m also very disappointed at the collective attitude of The
Green Button.  Not because Fiji might be OEM only, not because it might be
missing DIRECTV support, not because of any included or missing feature but
instead because of the childish name calling and activity that has gone
on.  The Green Button used to be a community that pretty much moderated
itself, but of course the second I get busy at work all hell breaks loss and
people turn into name calling teenagers.  You can all do better, and I
expect to see it.

Just because Microsoft bought The Green Button does not mean
they will reply to all threads about unreleased and/or unannounced
software.  Everyone needs to realize this.  Microsoft employees have
been being more active in the forums, and considering this ownership transition
is just starting it will take time for things to change.  Those who insist
on flaming and name calling any member, Microsoft employed or not, will not be
welcome at The Green Button.

I will have more on Fiji when I can talk about it, but sadly
at this point all I can say is above.

30 thoughts on “More on Fiji/Media Center TV Pack

  1. Kinda makes you wonder what makes Apple different when it comes to these types of things, most seem to have fun speculating on their upcoming products and updates rather than the anger and frustration that has surrounded Media Centre.

  2. It’s the turtleneck. Ballmer needs to start wearing a turtleneck. Not black though, maybe red, with pentagrams and unicorns. That will throw everyone off.

  3. chrisl,I agree with you that a lot of people are acting out very childishly. However, I also understand their pleight. It is frustrating not knowing when key updates to the Mediacenter system are coming. I have talked to over 20 people who can’t even decide whether to build or buy an OEM PC because the don’t know what hardware or updates will be supported. I don’t see what it hurts to at least let the people know what products are coming, what the requirements might be, and at least a general timeline of when it is coming. I know you can’t discuss what is concealed by NDAs but I believe microsoft could do a better job of keeping the public informed. Honesty will always be the best marketing stratedgy. These are only my opinions take’m or leav’m.

  4. i just want to first say i agree with alot of what you said (esp about tgb…. and i have avoided most of that coversation because its lame).

    but i think there is one key point you made…. media center has been a disaster as of late and its 100% microsoft’s making. (weather you want to believe it or not). they have done almost nothing from the public viewpoint since vista media center launched nearly 2 yrs ago and as such people were expecting the world from the fiji update (and they should have… 2 yrs is a very long time to develop software). but the flaw here and before has been lack of communication and i think that what has everybody up in arms and wanting some real information.

    all i need to do is look at how much the zune and xbox360 have improved since their launches and then look at media center to see nothing new. sure those products are slightly different in revenue streams and if that is whats needed to get some real development going i say break if off vista and make it a stand alone product and let people pay for it.

    there is nothing more frustrating to see the potential here and not have it realized and by the time i think it does i will have long moved on. there are already many products that have the basic functionality down far better than media center but lacking in the ui dept and ui can be fixed far quicker than the base functionality.

  5. I didnt follow the conversations at the green button but I can certainly understand the frustration some people have.

    there are some things really nice in media center but other stuff that is so wrong.

    I have used media center from the beginning, also used other stuff like mythtv

    – as a dutch user the guide is missing the 3 most important channel info regularly (know issue)

    – I bought the home premium only to realize that you cant remote desktop into it! (less features in a new product??!)

    – there is no real codec support in extenders

    – my xbox extender RROD 3 times allready

    – I had to move my extender to the attic and drill holes throught the ceiling because of the noise of the 360

    – all the extender issues could be resolved easily by releasing softsled!

    – the dutch online content is a joke

    – I cant remove menu items like: play all (what’s up with that)

    … writing this in anger, I could go on for a week with my personal issue list, I have spend several thousand on media center (including 2 digital tunes that cost 400 dollar each) not knowing if it will work next week when something gets ripped out in an update.. im actually scared to run update! Now I have to buy a new pc to get an update to media center? are you kidding me??!

    inform the public as previous poster has mentioned would be nice.

    I dont need netflix support because it will never come in the netherlands but I would like to know if I can upgrade without worries or even upgrade at all without throwing away several thousand euros

  6. Ugh. things didn’t get much better after this blog post, Chris.

    Ready for another round of OT post deletions to start off your day? 🙂

  7. OEM Only! It would be a complete joke on us. I truely belive that the overall plan from the begining of the MCE was to give it to the OEM companies and custom installers.

    Use all of us as a testing ground then dump us for the highend market.

    It’s a joke. High end MCE’s are almost unreachable for most of us, yet we can put together our own machine that in many cases way out does the OEM. Yes there are affordable systems out there, but you get what you pay for.

    I am just sick of the MCE being nothing but a money pit. I am going to a HD video switcher, Multiple sources, HD movie pc, access in multiple rooms for way less than I have spent on the MCE.

    They have taken the best parts of the MCE and split it between U-Verse and the Xbox. Not that those are the end all be all, but at least they work, and dont cost 2000 here and 1500 there because…..”oh yeah were not gonna support that”…..or…”hmmm, it is gonna be OEM your gonna have to buy another pc”. it takes forever and a day to make any forward progress.

    Can’t get H.264 workin? Who is working there any way. Hire me cuz I seem to be able to get it done with no team of people and no money.

    I would like to suggest that with the lack of support for DTV (been workin on that for 2 years) and the possibilty of TV pack being OEM, that everyone pull to gether and buy nothing. We are living with are MCE’s as is, what is a little longer. Screw them. Don’t buy a thing. It’s been done before in consumer history. Make a statment. I am! I pulled my MCE last night and switched everthing over.

    The love affair is over…….

  8. “On to what I can say, this beta has been a disaster if you look at it with an outside perspective. I am very disappointed on how many people are leaking stuff”

    Ehh, so the beta testers are the real cause of this mess??
    Pretty surprised how you can spin it on the community just like that. Ok, so we all asked for it?
    I’m really sorry everyone disappointed you so much, but anyone with half a brain knows NDA’s are bull…. (just ask Nvidia and AMD/ATI), and if anyone outside the community really cared one bit about how Microsoft was screwing up now, they could get that information easily.
    The only people suffering here are the dedicated users. Don’t know how you missed that.

  9. What’s disappointing is that Microsoft will likely not do a public beta of Media Center next time, they will limit it more. Had you read my whole post, I think you would have got that I was trying to express that. The community ends up hurting itself.

    You can consider NDAs to be bull, but that doesn’t change that the amount of leaks that took place will most likely change how Microsoft handles the next beta. Not sure how you missed that. 🙁

    I have nothing to spin the other direction (Microsoft), because they have yet to say anything about the release. Trust me though, when the official word is out (meaning I can post about it without breaking my half a dozen _different_ NDAs) then I will let Microsoft have it where they should.

  10. Alternating between saying that you know what’s going on but can’t tell us,and posting about how blu ray isn’t coming to XBox isn’t interesting blogging. You used to be much more interesting than this. Tell us something new for a change.

  11. As someone who has been with MCE from the start and spent a fortune on it over the years, I’m pretty much ready to give it up. It’s been almost 2 years since Vista’s release and we’ve seen nothing. If Fiji is what people say it is then it looks like it’ll be a longer wait for anything worth talking about.

    This OEM-only nonsense is a another slap in the face. You know, like the V1 extenders and the “possible exchange program” that was announced and then promptly dropped. Or like CableCARD. I’m just tired of it all.

  12. Martin: Hard to bring much new news when there isn’t much going on with the platform. 🙁 Microsoft has kind of bottomed out on stuff we are interested in. No DVD streaming, no Blu-ray, seeming no good new release, etc.

    I’d love to bring everyone new stuff, but I don’t make any of it come alive.

  13. “…I wouldn’t be surprised if Microsoft cut out a public beta until everything is finalized for the next release.”

    Hmm… Would that really be so bad? A more focused beta test? Testers that are solely interested in testing all the code paths in the product (with no other agendas)? If nothing else, it would put an end to, or at least limit, all the endless speculation, and long list of beta test bloggers who write that they “know all the answers, but can’t say what they are…blah… blah…”, which just adds to the frustration of those on the “outside”.

  14. Somebody must have called in the wambulance.  =)  Sorry if people respecting their NDAs has limited your knowledge on the subject, but that’s life.

  15. LOL 🙂 I have been involved in many beta tests (some with NDA), and I have no problem with people respecting the terms of an NDA, in fact I would expect no less!

    My problem is with those that feel they need to blog about the fact they are participating in a NDA beta test, then write that they “know something that those outside the beta test don’t know, but can’t tell anyone because of the NDA”.

    Ok, absolutely respect the terms of the NDA, and just don’t say anything from the beginning. If someone asks, tell them you don’t know anything. Just don’t “brag” that you know something, but can’t tell anyone because of an NDA.

  16. Why are updates to Media Center such a big secret anyway?

    Why can’t Microsoft inform the users and the market about their work with Media Center?
    Just list the major new features they are working on.

    Users are abandoning Media Center every day because poor support of old standards (DVB-T/S/C) and no word about support for current standards (H.264).

    Media Center used to be a first class pioneer product, but Microsoft seems to have stopped caring just like with Internet Explorer 6. When they wake up it will be too late. The beginning of the end of being number one will be hard to stop.

    Most products from Microsoft have open betas and we (developers and users) get tons of information a long time before RTM.

  17. I dont see much more than rollup fixes and minor improvements for Media Center in Fiji.

    I feel most of the significant change will come when we are all willing to pony up the Cash for a new version of Windows.

    Just my 2 cents.:)

  18. No matter if the fears are justified or not, the fact is that it has stirred up a lot of anger and frustration among their customers and enthusiasts and Microsoft needs to come out and do some damage control before it’s too late

  19. It is a bit funny that microsoft can go to E3 and announce the New Xbox Experience, with it’s new GUI and functionalities, and anything else platform related that won’t be coming out until Fall, and yet not give out any info on VMC updates that may or may not be happening.

  20. Chris – Microsoft said that enthusiasts wouldnt be left out of the loop when it comes to media centre, yet it looked loud and clear like we had been.

    I even called MS to get the update, and I was told to contact my OEM, and that they didnt have anything to give me.

    Also, by the time it hit TGB, the TV pack had been out for a day, according to the KBs.

    Add together that we hadnt been told of its apparent release, and that we couldnt get it, and thats a great way to annoy a market that doesnt have a whole lot of love at the moment.

    Posting public KBs isnt violating NDAs, if they were supposed to be secret keep it in the beta areas where you need to be a member.

  21. As a hard core MCE and VMC user/fan, and an ex-Microsofty, I can clearly say that I told the MC team (before I left) that they are REALLY screwing up Fiji. I have no comments on the poor behaviors of beta-testers, if you are given something to try and test – act responsibly with it – period. However, Microsoft has really screwed the pooch on this one. No matter what is finally released they have basically abandoned MCE:

    1) XP SP3 horks a clean MCE install – no concern or thought about MCE – unacceptable!
    2) Fiji has been two years in the making and we will get basically nothing – you can thank a few people in Microsoft for that. MCE again is not really a concern, Vista and Windows 7 is all they care about – Robbie should have stepped up on this one and has not – which is a shame!
    3) The MC team is crazy passionate and dedicated about their product. Their hands are tied by people higher up in the chain and they are NOT to blame. I place the lack of care for MCE and VMC on the lap of a few VP and that is the real shame. I of course understand that a few million MCE users happiness is worth less than the Windows brand and how they deploy the human resources around it. What I have issue with is how they have mis-managed the consumer relationship. Microsoft has the rare chance to KILL their competitors in the Living Room PC space – and their mis-management around ignoring this space – will be their undoing – which will be a real shame!

  22. Honestly, I’m flat out puzzled that MS is treating the dedicated VMC users this way. Users who, like myself, have spent serious $$$ to stay with MS all this time. OEM only release?? Seriously?!? I’ve read the posts on TGB and refrained from commenting. However, to say that you’re surprised at the reaction from the community of dedicated followers who’ve just been slapped in the face for their loyalty is NONSENSE.

    Of course the community is going to have a collective “bad attitude” when Microsoft presents a valuable/highly desirable software UPDATE and then sticks a $2000+ price tag on it!!

  23. Clearly you didn’t read what I wrote. There is no reason people can’t be upset or have a bad attitude. What they can’t do is attack each other. The latter is exactly what was going on.

    What is really nonsense is everyone telling me that these peoples childish behavior is nonsense.

  24. Actually, you’re absolutely right. Their childish behavior IS nonsense. I think everyone is frustrated, and with no official conduit to vent their frustrations, folks get bitter at those individuals who they think have some influence/insight into the decisions made.

    I know everyone is under NDA’s at the moment, but if MS were just to shed some light on how/why the decision was made to exclude all current installations of VMC, perhaps things would be a little calmer? We may not like the decision, but knowing what the decision exactly IS would help in moving past it.

  25. If no major update is coming this year, then GAME OVER Media Centre.

    I’ve been loyal for too long now…

  26. People out there are excited by all the stories that MSoft used to tout about integrating the full multimedia experience into the home. If Vista MCE got even a fraction of the features that have been clamored for (for years) in The Green Button, and Microsoft showed even a fraction of the enegry that forum members are putting into building/modifying their home systems I’m sure we’d now have a kick-ass MCE. Instead it’s rather telling that the main reason the severely delayed Fiji upgrade is in the news is because of the Fiji government, and not because of the product or its supposed features.
    I respect you for adhering to the MSoft NDAs, but the only news this article provided was (the inevitable) product rebranding.

  27. It’s like I’ve said many times before – Microsoft doesn’t give a rat’s backside about the end user. It’s all about the OEMs and what they want.

  28. Chris, this may be a stupid question, but what is Microsoft trying to achieve with all these secrets, NDA’s, and not commenting.

    I agree with one of the other posters who say the only people hurt with this stuff is the dedicated users.

    I have sold my XBoxes, and dropped Vista in my Switch back to MythTV. I think MS could really learn from their method of doing releases. Release a stable version for the masses, and support the enthusiast with CVS Releases. I would never install the CVS Version on my main TV (AKA My Wife’s TV) but I love being able to install it on my office computer to see what is in the works. The enthusiast can see what is happening, and if the CVS version fries your data, well that’s why it’s a development release, isn’t it!!!

    When it became apparent that the HDPC-20 was dead until 2010 that was the nail in my Media Center coffin. I will certainly keep and eye on it going forward, but I fear the until DRM is dead Microsoft will never, never, never get it right.

    I foresee Apple Coming in and completely pulling the rug from MS’s feet before this is all over.

  29. I’ve been in both ends of the public beta slate having ran one and been a tester on several. So I can say that leaks by testers suck. Some people strap on their ‘the community needs to know!’ cap as they leak but it is really unproductive and disrespectful at best and at worse I’ve seen people sued over NDA violations.

    It also doesn’t help when you have folks in the press taking pot shots at the whole process on top of all of this.

    That said as someone who just got a new HP 4 days before the code was released to the OEMs, I’m bent that I might not be able to get this update. There is just no good way of spinning this.

    As for the Apple comments, two things to remember:
    1. With the exception of Safari, Apple doesn’t do betas with their community.
    2. Apple due to the fact they don’t have OEM partners yanks all older versions of the code out and/or shafts those who buy it before the new stuff is stocked (think iPhone first gen)

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