Thurrott: Apple Front Row software copies Microsoft Media Center

“I’m surprised that there was less outrage over Apple’s Front Row software, which is a complete Media Center rip-off (albeit one that offers only a subset of Media Center features). Joe Belfiore, the general manager of Microsoft’s eHome division, is in New York this week for Digital Life for the soft-launch of XP MCE 2005 UR2, and he’s surprised about a completely different issue. ‘I was surprised that it took them as long as this to do a feature like Media Center,’ he said. Indeed. But this lengthy gestation–Media Center has been out for over three years now–suggests that Apple isn’t all-powerful. Furthermore, Apple is only now dealing with issues Microsoft first solved four years ago–IR interfaces, for starters–and has yet to figure out all the issues involved with TV tuner cards, TV recording, and so forth. In short, they have a long way to go before they can ever catch up with Media Center. Most tellingly, perhaps: Why is Apple’s interface so text-based? It looks sad next to Microsoft’s highly-visual approach. Which, frankly, is what you want with digital media content. Just a thought,” Paul Thurrott writes for WinInfo.

Full article here.

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Long before Microsoft began pushing Media Center computers, before most Wintel PCs even had sound cards, Apple made a Mac with a built-in TV tuner. Macintosh TV, introduced by Apple in 1993. More info here.

Like the GUI, the mouse, FireWire, Wi-Fi, ad infinitum: Apple leads. Microsoft tries to follow. As usual.

So, Apple was not “slow” with the new Front Row, more like “waiting for the right time.” The Front Row interface is instantly familiar to iPod users for a reason. Obviously, Apple has a way to go, but if you think Steve Jobs doesn’t have a grand master plan, you’re wrong. We’ve only seen pieces so far. By the way, if you want TV tuners and recording and so forth for your Mac, take a look at Elgato’s offerings here.

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  1. Apple couldn’t “figure out” IR remotes and TV tuners?

    Have some integrity man. They didn’t SELL a TV tuner, but that doesn’t mean they’ve been trying for years and unable to “figure it out.”

    Don’t give the guy hits.

  2. First off, that’s Elgato, MDN, not Elgatp…

    I agree with Steve that the slide they showed comparing the Apple remote with that of M$ MC controls demonstrated the simplicity behind Apple’s approach to the Media Center.
    Wouldn’t including a TV tuner allow people to capture their favorite shows for free? Where is the value in a one time sale of hardware when you can get recurring sales of downloads?!?!
    I would like to see the remote get upgraded next year to Bluetooth, so you don’t have to maintain a visual line with the device you’re controlling. this would allow you to store a mini out of sight or change the song from another room. I’d like to see what functionallity Apple could develop by using a scrool wheel and screen on the remote, mimicing the mini more than the shuffle.

  3. Why copy a dud like Media Center? There’s a reason it has gone nowhere in 3 years.

    Apple will do it different and it will work. It won’t just be Media Center without the viruses and spyware.

  4. The market hasn’t been ready for media PCs, as sales have shown. To Microsoft’s credit, they were ahead of the game, but as usual, their “can do everything” approach only brings complexity to a system that should be fun and exciting. Apple’s approach is baby-steps. The market doesn’t understand full convergence, but that day is coming.

  5. I’d honestly rather stick to VHS than suffer through using MS’s Media Center. Sure, Apple’s offering might be a little light in the feature department, but for one, it’s early, and two, it actually works. You can bet your bottom dollar that in the months to come, Apple will have complete solution for the living room that is far more enjoyable to use than anything by MS. In fact, just using these Apple products is often more entertaining than the content they deliver. Using MS products make it so by the time your content is queued, you’d rather just go to bed.

  6. copy? what didn’t they think about the same copy operation system from Apple? you know Windows is F***ing copy from mac os x. now, they talk about media app like fron row is copy? why interface is so texted? they don’t really understand the link between ipod and itunes, other apps in ilife in terms of interaction pack. the text you talk about is ipod interface inspiration, you idiot!

  7. Apple used to ship TV tuner cards in its Macintosh computers almost ten years ago. The reason there isn’t a TV tuner inside the iMac is because of lack of worldwide standards. Today people get their TV from a number of sources including, traditional TV, cable TV, Satellite TV, digital airborne TV, etc. The technical problem to solve here is how to address all these sources and connect easily to all of them. The business problem is how to do it without upsetting the content providers. Apple is trying to create a viable economic model for digital media whereas Microsoft tried to focus only on the technical aspects. Microsoft so far has failed because it has not analized the business impact and because their technical solution is complex for the normal user. This does not mean that Apple will succeed because consumers will have to demonstrate that a market exists for digital video content but it is a better approach.

  8. “Furthermore, Apple is only now dealing with issues Microsoft first solved four years ago–IR interfaces, for starters–and has yet to figure out all the issues involved with TV tuner cards, TV recording, and so forth.”

    October 1993: Apple Computer announces Macintosh TV, which combines an Apple Macintosh, television, and CD-ROM.

  9. I was associated with an internet radio provider who got themselves listed in the Windows Media Center directory when it first came out. My recollection is that there didn’t seem to be any significant upswing in listeners reorted from broadcasters arising out of that particular association. Hopes were high initially but frankly, nothing notable seemed to ever happen.

    Interestingly, some of those same internet radio broadcasters also had the good fortune to become listed in the iTunes Radio directory. For those lucky few it was like going to broadcaster heaven. They consistantly reported a phenomenal deluge listenership from their iTunes Radio directory listing.

  10. I think part of the reason we’re not seeing TV tuners is because Apple is gearing toward delivering more “on demand” content. Sometime in the next 5 or so years, “cable TV” will all be internet based anyway. The step from analog cable to digital cable has revolutionized the way that cable companies can deliver content, and just like the telephone companies, cable will slip into the internet, instead of running side by side down the same wire.

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