Microsoft Makes Fiji Official, TV Pack for OEMs Only

Today Microsoft made the
Windows Media Center TV Pack official
.  Formally codenamed Fiji, the
TV Pack is meant to add support for various TV signal types within Vista Media Center. 
News about the TV Pack has been leaking out for the past month, and instead of
waiting for CEDIA as originally planned Microsoft let the cat out of the bag
today so people will know exactly what to expect and not to expect within the
TV Pack.

First of all, yes the TV Pack is OEM only.  The
official word for the OEM only release has basically centered around the
installation method, which according to Microsoft was designed for a clean
install of Vista Service Pack 1 (plus a few patches) before the new software
bits can be loaded.  As some have already figured out, it is possible to
avoid the clean install method and just install it on your existing Vista SP1
install, but of course it isn’t suggested.  Outside of the install method
the TV Pack is very dependent on new hardware (TV Tuners) and thus that likely
played into the decision to make the product OEM only.  Sadly, Microsoft
seems to have forgotten the big splash they wanted to make by including Media
Center in two of the Vista SKUs and getting away from the OEM only
release.  By providing the TV Pack as an OEM only release they have (once
again) kicked all existing news while they were already down.

Next up on the list, DIRECTV and H.264 support which will
not be shipping in the TV Pack.  I don’t believe an official reason has
been given, other than the previously leaked “more complex then expected” but I
wouldn’t count on seeing it until Windows 7.  As I’ve said in the past,
the chance of another Media Center release this year and/or DIRECTV support
shipping separate is very doubtful (read: not going to happen).

So what is in the TV Pack?  Depends on where you live (there are some other features I will talk about in another post).

Japan

  • Integrated Services Digital Broadcasting – Terrestrial
    (ISDB-T)
  • Broadcast Markup Language (BML) Support

Europe

  • Digital Video Broadcasting – Satellite (DVB-S)
  • Digital Video Broadcasting – Terrestrial (DVB-T)
  • Multimedia and Hypermedia information coding Expert Group
    (MHEG) (MHEG5)

US

  • ClearQAM (Unencrypted Digital Cable)

33 thoughts on “Microsoft Makes Fiji Official, TV Pack for OEMs Only

  1. I think Microsoft is going to need to develop some features that consumers want quickly, or people will leave based on the way they are being treated. They have already fallen behind in the race to create the complete setup, and Apple could easily take more market share away from them if they are not careful.

  2. As an update for Europe the TV Pack fails. What we REALLY want is H.264 support, without it we still can’t get HD.

  3. Now that it is official, it looks like my days of using Media Center are numbered. They are basically telling us all to wait until Windows 7 for what VMC should have been when it launched or at least by SP1. Who knows if it will even ship with Windows 7 RTM? They are really reinforcing the perception that people should skip Vista and wait for Windows 7.

  4. It seems like the new update is a success but MS needs to get their act together in terms of marketing and not treating the people who really love their product as crap. Think about the folks who bought a DCT media center. I personally have been waiting for Fiji to pull the trigger but this is no way to treat early adopters.

    Who makes the decisions on features for Media Center? Whoever is pulling the strings has no clue. Looks to me like an inept bureaucracy.

  5. This is an absolute joke. Visa is officially a waste as far as I am concerned…. and it pains me to say his as one of MS’s biggest supporters.

  6. The only reason 95% of us are unhappy is because we wanted DirectTV support. HD for MCE is a total disappoint right now. Cablecard just looks like a nightmare, mostly because I don’t trust my cable company. The instant DirectTV is supported, I’m on board for 100+ channels of HD goodness. I just really hope we don’t have to wait that long.

  7. I think the biggest issue not Directv in general, but rather H.264 about HD sources. DVB-T, DVB-S, etc support is great, but at this point without H.264 support the features still don’t give you a useful product.

  8. Everyone knows that DirectTV only serves “HD lite” on their system, so the CableCARD solution is the best route to take with Media Center.

    With this update, now VMC is even better when using CableCARD, because you can add clearQAM tuners with ease. People need to stop complaining.

  9. Everyone knows that? I sure don’t. Their HD used to suck, but given their MPEG-4 updates in the last 6-8 months all of DIRECTVs HD beats Comcast, TWC, etc. I’d research some more before you say that everyone knows.

  10. This is incredibily dissapointing for me, I was waiting for Fiji before upgrading to digital tuners. Now if I want to upgrade I have to buy a new machine from an OEM? That is an incredible dissapointment as is a slap in the face to its custom builder userbase.

    I won’t be upgrading to Windows 7 just to get this functionality. At this point I’ll probably just get a DVR from my cable company since Vista Media Center is basically dead for non-OEM customers.

  11. Just curious what MS calls an OEM? I mean, if I went to NewEgg and bought and OEM licence for Vista ultimate does that qualify me for the upbrade or we talking HP and Dell?

  12. Oh well. Support for old DVB standards, at last.

    But no H.264 means Microsoft still do understand what need to be standard features of a modern Media Center application.

    Most HD in Europe is in H.264. Some countries have SD in H.264 only. So no digital TV at all for them. I hope they haven’t turned their analogue broadcasts off yet…

    Microsoft! Media Center users are already abandoning this application. The official word about OEM only and no H.264 will probably kill Media Center.

    I use Media Center on my every day computer. I’ve been waiting to get a dedicated media center until this Fiji update arrived. Now I don’t know what to do…

    If Apple hasn’t been as lazy and igonrant as Microsoft with updates to their product they have a good chance to win even more users over.

    Windows 7 is not an answer. If DVB and H.264 isn’t included in consumer update before the end of this year it might also be the end of Windows Media Center.

  13. I was under the impression that Vista was going to be the HD platform. HD-Dvd has died, you can’t play Blu-Ray natively in VMC, you can’t get HD TV content into MCE (in the UK), the whole sales pitch is a farse.

    I haven’t jumped from MCE 2005, and have been waiting to see what Fiji will bring…and this isn’t it. I’ll maybe see what Windows 7 does, but until then the only HD content I’ll be getting will be through my V+ Cable box, outside of MCE.

  14. I just realised that DVB-C is not included.
    That does it.

    GOOD BYE WINDOWS MEDIA CENTER!

    Sad to see such a great product getting so out of touch with old, current and new TV standards. And being a jo-jo between OEMs and consumers.

    And what use is DVB-S “free to air”? Is this really available anywhere?

  15. Chris, seeing as how MS have already given the pack to their beta testers and, as we already know, the pack is “out there” will MS have a problem if we manage to install it anyway? Will it affect windows updates. I’m another one in the position of having built my machine from scratch with legal OEM software. I would have loved the H264 support for BBC HD but in Europe we’ve also been waiting forever for digital MHEG subtitles/teletext, it’s worth it just for that.

  16. Adam Coles: I see no way that they could discriminate here. An installed of a leaked copy will look exactly the same as an install from a valid OEM.

  17. Another thought….the Olympics kicked off today…the biggest HD event, and the only ‘offical’ way to get this HD content in the UK is from BBC HD. Not only does MS offical release come after the Olympics finish, but it doesn’t support H.264 anyway…what an own goal.

  18. i have to say i will be pretty mad if directv support is pushed to windows 7. but i still say media center needs to be taken out of the os and needs to be done a long time ago. that would remove all the problems associated with these “updates”. just release the “next” version and charge an upgrade fee. having media center have to adhere to the os update cycle is turning out to be the mistake of all mistakes.

    i am actually looking into building a new computer server and trying to put whs on it but ive put those plans on hold because ms still cant even work properly with their own os’s (making it a bigger slap in the face is sagetv can). so now those plans are on hold and more than likely for a long time now.

    come on ms…. i WANT to give you more money if you will only get your ass in gear.

  19. I wonder what will happen if apple allow Mythtv to be installed on the next Appletv. Microsoft would then be playing catchup. Another windows mobile vs IPhone situation. Microsoft has forgotten what made windows so popular, people could do what they wanted as opposed to being locked into someone else’s idea.

  20. Any idea when the patch for xbox360 extenders will be released to enable compatibility with the new recorded tv format? recorded shows in the new wtv format seem to crash my 360.

  21. I waited until the official release to comment about Microsoft’s anemic, pathetic development efforts surrounding media center. The entire community has waited a great deal of time for this update. It has been promised through various outlets an incalculable number of times. Microsoft and eHome once again failed to deliver.

    I have been a professional developer for the past 13 years. I have been writing software for the Windows platform that entire time. I will continue to do so for business. Microsoft has a great platform (.Net), language (C#), and IDE (VS). But the media center related applications that are in my development pipeline are done. I will no longer develop for it. They will now be shifted to SageTV. I will no longer recommend Media Center to any of my clients or friends. Does Microsoft care about the $160.00 they lost on me for an OEM SKU of Vista Ultimate? Not in the least. Will they care that one less Media Center related application will be released? I would like to think that said application will be the next My Movies, but I would be kidding myself. Does Microsoft even care about the thousands of dollars they will lose in SKUs because I no longer recommend or sell Vista Media Center systems? Magic 8 Ball says “Most likely not.”.

    But what other venue do I really have to express distaste over such chicanery? 2 years to develop Fiji and it supports more broadcast types? That’s it? Are you kidding? There can’t be but 2 or 3 developers working on it then. It just isn’t enough work to keep a team of developers busy since November of 2006. And if Microsoft is only going to allocate a few developers to media center, then how can I possibly have any faith in its continued support?

    Eff you Microsoft. Eff you in the A. That’s really all that is left to be said.

  22. Actually I think MS fully understands and if you wants to keep and gain users in Europe it will add the support for H.264 which would automatically gives US/Canadian users of Direct TV support as well.

    They most likely couldn’t “add” it to Vista without changing too many things, makes sense to me.

    Support for both the most wanted features by end users is coming because franky I really don’t think many people shelled out $2K for a new PC when they had just bought a PC to get Vista!

    I for ONE built a new PC just for Vista and I was NOT about to spend X amount just to have TW re-connect the cable they disconnected over 5 years ago in an experiement to see how expensive digital cable was…

    Give me Direct TV MS!

  23. Chris, you should really point out the new WTV format in your article. It makes recorded TV incompatible with WinXP, WMP, non-Fiji Vista, extenders, DVRMSToolbox, VideoReDo, etc (for now?)

  24. So, for the UK TV Pack brings a great feature, Digital text and red button support, aka MHEG5. But why has it taken 4 years to add this feature?? MS need to learn from this, they are just too big, its time to lean out and split into smaller teams not dependant on each other. Make MCE a commercial, stand alone installable product. There are PVRs available in the UK with software developed by tiny teams of developers, maybe a couple of people working full time, who achieve most of what MCE offers in less than a year.

    Come on EHome, ramp it up before it dies from slow progress.

  25. As for Europe “Native EPG” support had been announced i’d been looking forward to the release of Fiji. In an article with some integrated Videos of an Fiji RC(?) installation @ http://blog.this.at/Lists/Beitraege/Post.aspx?ID=127 (german language) the feature of “Native EPG” is included. In the Video you can see the author editing a channels programmlisting and then choose “Use listing from broadcaster”. This feature, which is very essential for me, since the M$ EPG has a realy poor quality and isn’t uptodate, has been seemingly excluded in the RTM release (mentioned above).

    “Native EPG”-Support has become more important, since M$ changed the encryption of the epg database and with this closed the door for any existing tools (such as BladeRunner or XMLTV2MCE). I actualy use a “self brewed” EPG extracted from the DVB stream which is a realy fine and working solution. The epg gets updated 2 times a day, so i’ve more or less actual data. Nevertheless “Live-Native-EPG” would be much better and i can’t figure out why M$ has obvisously much problems with the integration of this feature, while freeware projects (such as Mediaportal f.e.) has this feature build in from the first release.

    If M$ would exclude MCE from the OS and sell it as Stand-Alone Application i would pay for it! My whole livingroom is based on the VMCE and (with several workarounds) the woman-acceptance-factor is nearby 100%…

    Although the other projects aren’t that integrated as MCE is, they actually have the potential to fish disappointed MCE users out and attract them with features like HD, native EPG a.s.o…

  26. I installed the TV pack… and apparently, Comcast only has 3 unencrypted channels in my area… being that it broke my favorite plugins for a measly 3 channels, I reinstalled Vista and see no real benefit of this update.

  27. Wormhoudt: I agree with you 100% Eff them right in the A with a rusty axe handle.

    I have been supporting Vista since it was released. I have been showing FOR TWO YEARS how Vista isn’t a bad operating system. All my systems use it and my office uses it. My office is 100% Server 2008/Exchange 2007. I have a WM6 phone. I make a living selling Microsoft products and make Microsoft tens of thousands of dollard a year. My voice is not just a drop in a bucket for them. Maybe two or three.

    I’ve been using MCE since somebody retuned a Gateway PC with a key on it and I built it into my first Media Center. That was 2003 and sadly not much has changed at all. Think of it. Remotes, BD-R drive, video card, hard drives, reciever, plasma/dlp/lcd, speakers, etc… All these are things I have put on hold until Microsoft can get their act together. By 2009 I will have abandoned the idea entirely and just go back to reading books for entertainment. $3000 computer, no TV. I’d be a freak of nature!

    I’d rather jump into a pool of herpes-spitting cobras than deal with the likes of CableCARD or any other restrictive DRM.

    I feel like such a chump supporting these clowns all these years. I’d like to voice my opinion but I don’t think any of Microsoft’s employees speak my language anymore. I’m not going Apple or sage or myth, I’m just going away.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *