An old friend wrote in to ask the following regarding my “Month of Microsoft” project:
Hey I’m a little late to your series but I am really curious — did the Xbox folks even mention Media Center? It’s IMHO the best Microsoft product ever; but I am afraid it is geting mothballed in favor of Xbox live video (and soon tv). Of course, this being MS, their plans are inscrutable, which sucks if you’ve spent money on building a multi-room system around it. Anyway. Just curious.
In fact nobody at Microsoft mentioned Media Center during my visit, but we were covering a lot of ground in a short amount of time, so I didn’t make much of it. I did follow up with one of my contacts there who says that Media Center will indeed be a part of Windows 8, though it’s unclear at this point exactly what it will look like and so on. He also pointed me to this blog post by Windows boss Steven Sinofsky who says Microsoft remains committed to Media Center, even though hardly anyone actually uses it. Money quote:
Our opt-in usage telemetry shows that in July, Windows Media Center was launched by 6% of Windows 7 users globally with the heaviest usage in Russia, Mexico, and Brazil (frequency and time). However, most people are just looking around; only one quarter (25% of 6%) of these people used it for more than 10 minutes per session (individual averages), and in 59% of Media Center sessions (by these 6% of users) we see almost no activity (less than a minute or two of usage). TV was the most common scenario we observed, and not surprisingly, traditional media (DVD and CD) are less common (and declining over time) than streaming and file-based content. By comparison, Media Player (66% of Windows users in July) and IE (88%) are popular rendering engines for all types of media content, including an increased volume of “premium” and streaming content. This is another place we’re reminded of the tremendous diversity of Windows activity.
So only 1.5% of Windows users run Media Center for more than 10 minutes at a time. And of the 6% who do anything at all with Media Center, most use it for less than 1-2 minutes. Wow.
Dear friend who wrote in: I would start thinking about building your multi-room system around something else.