cyberManor Named 2008 Windows Media Center Ultimate Install Contest Winner

With a stunning
implementation of Windows Media Center technologies in an eco-friendly Northern
California home, cyberManor captures this year’s title.

DENVER — Sept. 8,
2008 —
Microsoft Corp. announced the winner of the 2008 Windows Media
Center Ultimate Install Contest at CEDIA EXPO 2008 in Denver. CEDIA EXPO 2008
is an annual show for the residential electronic systems industry put on by the
Custom Electronic Design and Installation Association. The winning installation
for the design contest was submitted by Gordon Van Zuiden, president of
cyberManor and noted innovator in the custom installation channel.

Founded in 1999 and based in Los Gatos, Calif., cyberManor
specializes in the design, installation and integration of Internet-connected
home electronic solutions that enhance the entertainment, communications,
comfort and safety of their clients’ homes in the San Francisco Bay area. Its
contest-winning project was created for a family in Sunnyvale, Calif., that
desired a centralized, user-friendly entertainment and automation system. The
result was a complete integration solution with Windows Media Center at the

“We couldn’t be prouder of this accomplishment,” Van Zuiden
said. “Winning the Ultimate Install Contest is a testament to the phenomenal
efforts of the cyberManor employees who worked so diligently to make this
installation one of the greatest integration projects in our company’s 10-year

The Windows Media Center Ultimate Install Contest, now in
its second year, encourages integrators to show off their talents by presenting
their most unique and creative installations that leverage Windows Media Center
technologies. cyberManor’s solution uses numerous industry-renowned products
from the Windows Media Center ecosystem, including NiveusMedia Inc.’s n9 media
server with four CableCARD tuners, multiple Niveus EDGE and Xbox 360 extenders
that distribute live and prerecorded digital high-definition (HD) content, and
a Niveus Ice Vault, storing the family’s DVD movie collection. Also integrated
into the entertainment solution were the family’s music library and digital

The home features Exceptional Innovation’s Life|ware software
for whole home control of thermostats, lighting, audio distribution,
surveillance cameras and an Internet protocol (IP)-based door strike at the
front gate with the touch of a button. Deriving power from solar panels on the
roof, the family strived to make their home as environmentally friendly as
possible, using only LED and fluorescent lighting and settings on their Lutron
lighting system that automatically turned off power at certain times of day.

“The goal of this project was to centralize the digital
entertainment and automation of the home in a simple and effective system that
had one consistent user interface,” said Jim Kohl, project manager at
cyberManor. “Two of the homeowner’s main objectives were the distribution of
high-definition personal video recordings to multiple HD video zones throughout
the home simultaneously and the ability to centralize all A/V sources in a
single rack mount computer. The seamless integration of these Windows Media
Center products and technologies enabled us to accomplish those tasks while
staying consistent with the sleek and clean design the homeowner desired.”

The cyberManor team used Windows Media Center as the central
platform to control numerous aspects of the family’s digital lifestyle,
including 12 zones of Russound distributed audio, Lutron lighting and shade
control, individual room climate controls automated by time of day and air
temperature outside, and surveillance technology. All home automation is
provided by Life|ware software, including unique features such as fountain
control from all areas of the home. Via Life|ware, family members in various
rooms, including the outdoor patio and cabana, can dim the lights, lower the
shades, turn on the television, enjoy the distributed audio system or perform
numerous other tasks at the touch of a button.

“Microsoft is pleased to recognize cyberManor as the 2008
Windows Media Center Ultimate Install Contest winner,” said Kevin Collins,
director of the Custom Installer Channel in the Connected TV Business, Entertainment
and Devices Division at Microsoft. “Its use of Windows Media Center in this
home provided the homeowner with an easy-to-use solution for all of the
family’s digital needs and home automation. cyberManor’s incredible work is an
excellent example of how high-level integration combined with the Windows Media
Center scalable entertainment and automation platform can delight the most
discerning customer.”

This year’s edition of the contest saw an increase in both
the number of submissions and the overall quality of the technology design
projects. With more options from hardware manufacturers and the additional
support of Microsoft, Windows Media Center has seen enormous growth in the
custom integration channel over the past year.

In addition to cyberManor’s winning installation, Microsoft
named Wireless Home of Naples, Fla., and Simple Digital Home of Salem, Ore., as
this year’s finalists. Both installations featured Windows Media Center as the
basis of truly unique solutions, and both are recognized for their

More information about the Ultimate Install Contest is
available at
More information on cyberManor is available at

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide
leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses
realize their full potential.


3 thoughts on “cyberManor Named 2008 Windows Media Center Ultimate Install Contest Winner

  1. Post after post after post with little or no comments. Man. If this was my blog, I sure would be pissed about what M$ has done to this product’s user base. Reducing my blog to a vehicle for press releases for the filthy rich.

    Makes me feel marginally better that we users weren’t the only ones that got effed.

  2. Very nice install, with lots of tech components.

    However, it would be interesting to get more details about just how integrated this system is and how all the components actually work together, esp. the Media Center elements. For instance:

    – There is a Touchsmart computer shown running Media Center. However, as far as I know, the Touchsmart computer can’t work as a Media Center extender, so it would not have access to any of the TV (live or recorded) from the “Niveus Media’s n9 media server with four CableCARD tuners”. So, the Touchsmart computer would effectively be an “island” in this system. The only way to watch TV (live or recorded) on the Touchsmart computer would be to connect additional CableCARD tuners directly to it, if it is even possible to connect CableCARD tuners to a Touchsmart computer (but in any case, it would still be an “island” component in the system).

    – The diagram shows several XBox 360s running as Media Center extenders. However, as far as I know, there is no way to stream DVD movies via Media Center to a Media Center extender, so it is not clear how “A Niveus Ice Vault to store the family’s DVD movie collection” would allow the family members to watch this centralized DVD collection on the Media Center extenders using Microsoft Media Center.

    So, on the surface, this looks like a great system, with lots of integrated components running Microsoft Media Center and Media Center extenders, but it leaves one wondering about the details of just how Media Center is actually used in this system, esp. since this is a “Microsoft Media Center Install Contest” winner. How many Media Center “islands” are actually present in this system? Is Microsoft Media Center really the “center” of this “Media Center Install Contest” system, or is Media Center just a “part” of the system, where there are lots of other products that actually provide functions like the DVD streaming, TV watching, etc.

    Just curious…

  3. Marty – I agree 100%, biggest 2 issues with the MCE solution is that DVD’s (ripped on HD or stored on changer) don’t play on extenders and recorded TV doesn’t play on other computers, such as the touch screen that you noted. Since TV and DVD’s are the 2 things people watch the most, this is an unforgiveable oversight on the part of M*.

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