When Microsoft released Windows XP Media Center Edition in 2002, I remember being awestruck. It was as if I was looking into the future; surely everyone in the world would eventually have giant towers next to their televisions running Windows. The reality? Not so much. The operating system only shipped with pre-built machines that were quite costly. Ultimately, it became freely available for most of the common Vista and Windows 7 versions, but was put on life support with Windows 8, where it was a paid add-on. Digital TV ultimately killed much interest, as adding PCI-e tuner cards and CableCARDs were a huge pain in the butt (the rear-end pain was often caused by Cable TV providers).
Fast forward to 2015 and we are on the verge of a new version of Microsoft's operating system, Windows 10, and many people have been wondering the status of Media Center. Well, I am happy to say it is dead. The clunky bolt-on will not be available anymore. Why am I happy? Storing tons of content locally and playing it back is a dead concept; people need to move on. Hell, nowadays I would guess it is used mostly by pirates with massive hard drives. The future (and the present, really) is streaming both movies and music from the Internet. If you are a Luddite that depends on Windows Media Center for watching DVDs, you will be happy to know that an alternative is coming to Windows 10.
Below is an exchange I had with Windows 10 Guru, Gabe Aul on Twitter. As you can see, I was a bit perplexed by his follow-up statement to declaring Windows Media Center dead, thinking at first that they would ship Windows Medias Center on DVD to existing users.
After asking him to clarify, he explains that the most common usage for the software is DVD playback. Rather than leave these users in the cold, they will offer some type of DVD playback option in the future. Whether that includes Blu-ray is not yet known.
Quite frankly, in 2015, I would hope most people are using services like Netflix and Hulu or buying/renting digital version to save to their devices. Lugging around DVDs is just so... last decade...
@GabeAul If you have WMC now, we’ll have a DVD option for you in an update later this year.May 4, 2015
@brianfagioli The main scenario people used WMC for was to play DVD. We'll provide another option for DVD playback in the future.May 4, 2015
Photo Credit: Stephen Train/Flickr