Windows Home Server v2 Media Center Integration? Not So Fast

Zheng spotted a good one last week
, finding
a job posting that implies several things
about Windows Home Server v2
including “Time Machine compete UI for backup and restore, Windows Media Center
integration UI, Live Mesh integration UI etc..”

Windows Media Center integration UI is clearly the part of
it that I’m going to focus on, however I think this might end up being the
opposite of what most people think (and want) it to be.  Mainly, “Windows Media Center integration UI”
doesn’t have to mean “Windows Media Center UI integration.”  The placement of UI in the sentence makes a huge

For example “Windows Media Center integration UI” sounds
like a wizard from within Home Server to integrate sharing and backup of Media
Center content such as Recorded TV. 
“Windows Media Center UI integration” on the other hand would imply
Media Center functionality being built into Home Server.

The wording used by Microsoft is “Windows Media Center
integration UI” leading me to believe that Microsoft’s focus is not on
integrating Media Center directly into Home Server.

I’ve (poorly) argued in the past that while an integrated
Home Server+Media Center would be the killer scenario for hardcore Media Center
users and geeks, it would
do nothing to give Media Center the push it needs in the marketplace
.  I also question the backup functionality of
Home Server when more and more roles keep getting delegated to it.  Put Media Center functionality in and mix it
with backup and remote access and it is almost time for a Home Server to backup
my Home Server.

I’m I overanalyzing the “Windows Media Center integration UI” wording? 
You still holding out for your Home Sever with Media Center/Extender

13 thoughts on “Windows Home Server v2 Media Center Integration? Not So Fast

  1. You still holding out for your Home Sever with Media Center/Extender functionality?

    It’s available today and called SageTV.

  2. i think you are over analyzing…. i very very much want true media center incorporated into home server v2.

    one of the bigger reasons i dont not want separate media center’s and home servers is because it creates multiple points of failure and will double the power requirements. and if media center was integrated into whs i could have one box that i could invest 2x as much money in to make it as reliable as possible.

    all my current vista box does it act as a server for my extenders (it is build/run on server hardware and is even headless). but i dont get all the extra stuff that whs brings to the table because it would require setting up a second server to handle that part. now a good solution would be virtual mce inside whs but that does not work for most people (me included).

    and as stated above any good reason ms could make that it is not possible goes out the window when sage is already able to run on whs. its ms’s crappy coding/linking vmc to windows.

  3. Right, so my question isn’t whether I’m over analyzing the concept of Home Server+Media Center. I know that is what every Media Center geek wants. I’m question the wording of the job description.

  4. maybe it is…. i thought you were “overanalyzing” what ms was going to do in the whs+mce space hence my comment.

    i do think that you will never see a “true” media center in whs…. because running the full blown ui isnt necessary in whs like it potentially is for vista (since it can be hooked to a tv). the whole point of whs is to not be hooked up to a tv anywhere so i could envision a setup similar to the other whs addins where you just have the setup options to run through. so in that sense it would be a media center integration ui (and not media center ui). but that is getting pretty literal with the meaning….. i still think ms knows what we all want and will give that to us…. say what you want about ms but they usually do listen to their consumers and bring features we ask for.

  5. You could also interpret this to mean to add the WHS UI components that would be needed to configure Media Center from console. There is no way to tell from that posting.

    Chris, your argument that WHS would be overloaded makes me wonder..are you against add-ins then? Is there a threshold or class of apps you have in mind that wouldn’t be appropriate to run on a home server? I’m running a IP-PBX to serve our small business needs. Also, would you be more open to running Media Center on the same box as WHS if it was running in a virtual machine?

  6. Yeah, I’m not a big fan of add-ins. Simple ones are fine, but when you get into some complex like Media Center (tuner drivers, DRM, etc, etc) then I think it is to much for a component that is basically serving as the main fault point of my home.

    Virtual Machine would be better IMHO, but then you still have my argument of WHS+MCE not being what the market needs. The average consumer still doesn’t know what WHS is, nor do they understand they they would spend $600+ on a “server” for them home. Adding additional cost of the Home Server to make it a Media Center hub isn’t going to bring anyone in. So it is a popular scenario for current Media Center users, but it does nothing to help push Media Center or Home Server out into the market.

  7. I don’t think you’re over-analysing the wording at all. I read it exactly as you do, that WHS2 will include a UI to configure integration with a separate MC machine.

    Unlike you, I would definitely like to see MC integrated into WHS. I only want one machine that is on all the time. I want that one machine to provide built-in backup, redundancy, and multi-point access, like WHS. I also want it to have media acquisition capabilities (i.e., tuners), and provide a media interface accessible via clients, ala MC and extenders. And I want it to have relatively low hardware specs, made possible because of its limited graphics and processing requirements, ala WHS. Actual rendering of media is done on the client side, so no problem there. Any encoding would be done on the tuner, so no problem there either. I would hope that the MC UI wouldn’t raise the CPU requirements, but I don’t know that for sure.

  8. I think if anything there will be some type of Media Center WHS Tab on the WHS console for copying or moving recorded TV automatically.
    As far as WHS and Media Center in one box that will be a long time in coming.

    Richard Miller MCE MVP

  9. “I think if anything there will be some type of Media Center WHS Tab on the WHS console for copying or moving recorded TV automatically.”

    Isnt there already something like that though?

    I dont run a whs atm because of the need of a second dedicated box but the linked product looks alot like what any official ms implementation would look like. So hopefully they will take it to the next level (real mce integration) and not use what we already have (assuming it does what it sounds like it does)

  10. I think many WHS enthusiasts will be very disappointed if the only update related to media is a WHS add-in for moving recorded TV.

    Just out of curiosity…what else should Microsoft add to WHS to improve the video/music/photo streaming experience? Was it a mistake to include Windows Media Connect in WHS v1?

  11. @ Aaron: Yes, but WHS needs to do this out of the box, as of right now recorded TV stored on WHS will not show up in the recorded TV list in Media Center (without hacks).
    It should have been there from day one.

  12. I think you interpreted the wording correctly- I bet your familiarity with the Microsoft Pholosophy guided you. I doubt MS will build Media Center into WHS strictly because it’s not the way things are done at MS. MS likes to have their products target specific groups and markets, rarely encouraging their products to merge. No judgement, just an observation.
    Personally I would love to see MS work on unifying media in one product before rolling MC into WHS. Don’t get me wrong- I’m a fan of both and would jump up and down if MC was rolled into WHS- but I would faint if MS actually took an honest shot at a unified media experience.
    Media Center was pimped as the media centerpiece in a home- and it is, for ripped CDs, properly Tagged photos and home videos, and OTA or Analog CATV.
    You can download HD or SD videos from Microsoft using an xBox360, but not a Media Center computer. You used to have an integrated music store, that is gone and I’ve been afraid to look at what is there. You can’t even transfer recorded TV directly to a Zune, for Bill’s sake.
    The original vision of Media Center being the media hub in the house is still valid- and more necessary than ever. This is where WHS and Media Center will merge- you’re actually seeing alot of the elements in high-end multi-terrabyte Media Center installations.
    I have been trying for years to find a simple, reliable, repeatable way to rip DVDs to WMV 5.1. Why is this not possible?
    When Microsoft unifies the media experience, wraps that up (in one box or two) with the core functions of WHS, they will have a product that won’t stay on the shelves. I see them working on bits and pieces, but will they have (a) a market and (b) anyone they haven’t pissed off once they put the pieces together?

    I want to believe.

  13. If they want to integrate WHS and MCE (or VMC rather) then I sure hope they also include some sort of SoftSled into Windows7. My WHS is in the loft, and the VMC is under the television – if the tuners end up the the WHS (which certainly makes a lot of sense), then I’ll need to replace old hardware with extenders which will lose a lot of functionality (HD MKV’s etc)…

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