Boston Globe: Microsoft’s Windows XP Media Center is by no means a sure bet

“The traveling ‘Windows on Wheels’ exhibition, parked at dusk outside the Micro Center electronics palace on Memorial Drive, is jam-packed with wary Christmas shoppers checking out Microsoft Corp.’s lit-up vision of their entertainment future,” Robert Weisman reports for The Boston Globe. “At the center of this multimedia extravaganza is… a Windows XP Media Center personal computer built by Hewlett-Packard Development Co. but powered by Microsoft’s ubiquitous operating system. It controls the action on the 50-inch Panasonic screen in the family room and, through a set-top box ‘extension,’ a screen in the kitchen. In a third room, set up as an office, another multimedia screen works off an Xbox console serving as a second extension.”

“‘It’s too early,’ said Erez Leshem, a Somerville business consultant who thinks computer-based entertainment eventually will gain traction. ‘The way I go is to wait a year. I’m not an early adopter.’ ‘The idea is great, but it’s still a little rough around the edges,’ said Jonathan Birge, an MIT graduate student from Cambridge who clicked on a selection of broadcasts from MSN Radio. ‘And it makes me nervous that it’s Microsoft. They’re already choosing stuff for you,'” Weisman reports.

“While more consumers already are using PCs to view video, and many are embracing the ‘anything, any time, anywhere’ mantra, Microsoft’s computer-centric entertainment vision is by no means a sure bet… ‘It’s premature to know which (if any) device will become the centerpiece of the digital family room of the future,’ Steven Milunovich, a Merrill Lynch analyst in New York, wrote in the report. ‘Still, we doubt that PCs (even Media Center PCs) will win because they are too complex and unstable. It strikes us as more likely that either the game console will move up-market to become the leading entertainment device or a new system we dub the entertainment server will be created,'” Weisman reports.

“Microsoft, which has bet heavily on the PC model, nonetheless could capitalize on the gaming console scenario through its Xbox 2, which is scheduled to be introduced next year. But it’s just as likely Sony could get the edge with its Playstation 3 console, or that Apple Computer Inc. could develop an entertainment server. However it evolves, the future of the entertainment center will have implications for everyone from microprocessor and data storage providers to software developers to consumers trying to make sense of the dizzying options,” Weisman reports.

Full article here.


  1. I would love for Apple to do something like this. A modified Xserve of some sort that you could essentially run your house on, not just entertainment.

    Am I a little too Jetsons?

  2. I dont think it ever will be one single device. Content is too varied for this ever to work well for everyone, everywhere. I think that the digital home network should follow the internet model of separate interconected but modular components around common interface and comunications standards: the Home net. Each consumer is inevitably going to want their own, personal, setup and only a modular system will be able to cater for the vast array of devices to be conected, both now and in future. Apple is already doing this with its iPod that can conect to PCs and home TV’s, Airport Express, etc. That would seem to me to be the sensible way to go.

  3. Well Steve has talked around this so there is a chance Apple has something for this sitting on the shelves at cupertino. If Apple does get into this you can be sure they will redefine the game.

    “You can’t just ask customers what they want and then try to give that to them. By the time you get it built, they’ll want something new.” Steve Jobs (1955- )

  4. If I want to play games, I use a Playstation 2.

    When I want to watch movies/TV, I use a Panasonic DVD player with a television.

    When I use a computer to surf the web, check my e-mail, organize music for my iPod, edit home movies to be put on DVD, use music software, and a myriad other things I do when I feel like being ‘creative’, I use a Mac.

    There is no way in Hell I will willingly use a Microsoft product. At least, not until Bill Gates is pushing up daisies.

    They can have my Mac when they pry it out of my cold, dead fingers. Microsoft’s ‘Window’s XP Media Center’ can kiss my hind quarters.

  5. Good points about the modular components. Would be nice to have interconnectivity, though, I think.

    I can imagine Automator 5.0 years down the road: you walk in the door, your home network detects your bluetooth device, which sets off a cascade of pre-programmed operations. The lights dim, the music starts…

    Aw heck, I want my computer to chew my food for me too! ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”red face” style=”border:0;” />

  6. It’s a piece of sh*t and typically clunky.

    Another failure for Redmond. Nice work Monkey Boy ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”grin” style=”border:0;” />

  7. the whole media center idea is lame, because products already exist that do it all for us. microsoft does not understand that consumers need compelling reasons to adopt new platforms, not an amalgamation of multiple devices. if you have a tivo, a game console, an s-video cable, and a computer, there is no need for a media center pc. plus using multiple devices allows the consumer to purchase whatever abilities he wants; if you dont like console games, dont buy a console.

    microsoft sucks, everything they do is crap. yes, office sucks too (auto-correct is the devil)

  8. I can’t even begin to express how happy i am to hear that Apple may be attacking the entertainment industry on the game scale. I am a total Apple head, but when it comes time to play games, i jump right onto my PC. I been bitching on this site for a year, wondering when if EVER apple would try to enter this market witha serious effort. So, all i haffa say, is Jobs, coming from me, and all those other apple freaks who LOVE to play games. PLEASE let me play games on my stable G5 so i don’t have to worry about my games crashing everytime i try to play one!!!!!

  9. i dont think it says anywhere that apple is thinking of making a game console

    by the way microcenter bites. ever notice no one helps you until you have something in hand, and then they put their sticker on your stuff so they can get comission?

  10. With Windows in cars, computers, telephony equipment, running our infra-structures, it reminds me of the following lyrics when windows fail…

    “No phone ,no lights, no motor car,
    not a single luxury
    like Robinson Crusoe
    it’s primitive as can be. “

    We can have our own Gilligan’s Island all around the world.

  11. DBS
    It is Ok not to wear Apple products for all our everyday things. The gods in all their mercy will forgive us.

    Only speak for myself here, but I don’t see it so much as brand loyalty, but rather that Apple works hard to make it’s products interconnect with elegance and simplicity. Sometimes there are rough edges, but overall they tend to have more fit and finish than the rest of the industry.

    If you knew buying a product from Company A meant you’d get a simple and elegant solution that made sense in how it worked, and with Company B you have to try to decipher a 45 page manual and figure out what cryptic buttons did and as with many people and VCRs you’d end up having the flashing 12:00 lights on many features you’d normally use but cannot figure out how to get them to work… Which would you choose?

    I don’t think Mac users are a mindless cult, I think we just see value in Apple’s way of doing things, and we have better more productive uses for our time than figuring out how to use some piece of new technology. Just plug it in, it works.

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