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Some Seasonal Advice

I’ve been working with Windows Media Center a bit this week. My opinion is straightforward: people of earth, avoid. Media Center is Windows XP, Millenium Edition.

Thank you for your attention in this matter, please go about your day.

5 Comments | Skip to comment form

  1. Mike Kozlowski

    You’re insane. MCE is the ideal home edition of XP, and works marvelously well. I would recommend nothing else for anyone at home.

  2. Mike Hoye

    Media Center can’t be bought on its own. You need to buy a whole new PC, which is a good thing, because the installer is so broken that getting it preinstalled is the only option. Normal mortals cannot install it separately, full stop.

    The Media Center interface itself is raw and, despite its shiny colors, clearly an unfinished work, including UI mistakes that remind me of Lotus Notes and driver problems that remind me of the bad old days of the early Win9x OSes.

    Media Center is very obviously a beta test for features that are meant to be fully-formed in the consumer editions of Vista, and not a production OS in its own right.

  3. Mike Kozlowski

    Well, yes, the install procedure is terrible. This is a non-issue because normal mortals don’t install OSes, ever, and people who are buying OEM copies to install on their self-built machines can handle it.

    As for the Media Center interface, you’re crazy. It’s fairly basic, but it works well at what it does. I use it all the time for slideshows of pictures (via the Xbox 360, which is a Media Center Extender), and would use it for music if I didn’t have a Squeezebox. (Unless you’re talking about the DVR part, maybe? I’ve never worked with that at all.)

  4. Mike Hoye

    You need to deliberately select already-highlit-by-default options to proceed through the menus. Several of the DVR options (including closed captioning) may or may not work properly or at all.

    I’ll certainly grant that it’s nice for showing slideshows, but honestly, it’s almost 2007 here.

  5. Mike Kozlowski

    I don’t understand the first complaint. You mean that there’s a list of five options, the first of which is selected, but you still have to push the Select button on your remote to select it? Because that’s what I’d expect to be the case. How else would you do it?

    As for the DVR, I fully believe that it is unreliable and flaky, but doubt that it’s appreciably worse than the piece of Motorola shit whose sole job is to be a goddamn DVR, but which nevertheless persists in not letting me record two shows at once (despite having dual tuners) and recording shows that it won’t let me watch afterward. If TiVo would make a box for less than $800 plus one limb of your choice every month in fees, I would be a happy man, but alas.

    And yeah, the twenty-first century is getting on in years, but I still don’t know that there’s much better out there. On the music side, Slim Devices has things sewn up in terms of awesomeness, but for HD video and photo streaming, MCE and a 360 is about as good as it gets.