And make no mistake: Windows Media Center was an innovative and necessary product. In fact, in successive years, I spent a good amount of time reviewing various set top boxes, from companies like Buffalo, Hava, Hauppauge, and Sage TV that let you stream movies, music, and photos from your PC to your living room television.Some were referred to as Windows Media Center Extenders, a Microsoft-invented mouthful of marbles that didn’t last very long in the market.
Often the best hope was to skip the set-top box (as they were known then, before today’s onslaught of Roku, Apple, and Amazon products), and simply build a PC dedicated to your living room HDTV running Windows Media Center.Other products eventually hit the market offering the same thing, such as the open-source XBMC (now Kodi) and Myth TV.Right around the same time, Sling Media debuted the Slingbox, which let you watch TV or DVR remotely from your PC anywhere in the house or over the Internet.Apple didn’t have much success with this concept either.In fact, Extreme Tech ran fairly regular build-it stories and how-tos on setting up Windows Media Center PCs, including ones with beautiful, horizontal cases that would sit nicely in a stack of high-end stereo components.Set one of these up, and you’d get a large-screen, remote-friendly system that let you watch all of your locally stored content right on your TV, without so much as a network streaming hiccup or buffering message.
Not only that, but you could install one or more — sometimes many more — TV tuner cards, so you could DVR shows without a monthly fee, watch and time-shift live television, and otherwise amp up your cable TV subscription.
And you could control your PC with a remote, instead of a keyboard and mouse.
It’s been a long time since we heard any news from Microsoft regarding Windows Media Center, and now it seems the company is driving the final nail into the coffin.
Microsoft has confirmed to ZDNet’s Ed Bott that Windows Media Center is officially dead, and will not make a return appearance in Windows 10.
What’s frustrating about this is that Windows Media Center was ahead of its time, and for a fairly large number of enthusiasts, an important piece of software that gave worth to Microsoft’s often dubious add-on packs and otherwise premium editions of its operating system.
Windows Media Center debuted in 2002 as Windows XP Media Center Edition (MCE), saw a long succession of updates through Vista and Windows 7, and finally ended up as an add-on for Windows 8.