I shouldn’t actually call it a fight because that implies
one actually gave effort, but CES 2009 has shown that Microsoft is effectively
out of the race to provide a platform for streaming and downloadable content
via the PC. I say via the PC because the Xbox is still alive and actually
putting up somewhat of a fight.
With every major display company now pushing integrated
online content embedded or easily attachable to their displays the PC is now becoming
irrelevant. No longer is the concept PC-to-TV, it is Web-to-TV and
Microsoft fails to offer compelling products that work under this
Media Center had strong potential to rule the online
world. In 2002 when Microsoft introduced Media Center the Online
Spotlight provided a mechanism for content providers to offer 10-foot versions
of their streaming services. As time went on however Microsoft had a
difficult time keeping content providers interested with big names like MTV
Network pulling content for reasons unknown to anyone but Microsoft.
In late 2007 Microsoft offered up their Internet
TV plug-in which scrapped content from their MSN properties. Then in
early 2008 Internet TV got an upgrade that introduced
interactive ads, a feature that I thought would give Microsoft a leg up in
streaming Alas, Microsoft has failed to secure any additional web
content. Even Netflix, which is on the Xbox 360 didn’t get ported to Media
Center (while unofficial plug-ins fill the gap for users). Windows 7 hits
hard on integration
of broadcast and broadband, but that only goes as far as the content you
have to offer.
My advice to Microsoft, buy boxee
and integrate it into Media Center, Xbox 360, and Zune. Unless you have
some big partnerships in the works (CES would have been a good place to unveil
those), your platform is effectively dead for online content delivery (broadcast
isn’t looking that hot either).