Posts Tagged 'Windows Media Center'

Microsoft Finally Discusses ‘Fiji’ – Should’ve Stayed Silent

My mother used to tell me, “If you don’t have anything good to say, don’t say anything at all.” Microsoft today responded to much of the rumors and criticism that has been circulating regarding it’s new Media Center TV Pack. Unfortunately, I didn’t much care for what they had to say. Chris Lanier (Microsoft Media MVP) sums it up nicely: “Fiji will go down in history as one of the worst coordinated projects to come out of Microsoft in a long time.”

Mary Jo Foley has been covering it in detail, if you’d like to read more. But for me, it comes down to these issues:

  • No h.264 support (though third party codec packages like the K-Lite Codec Pack will enable it. Check out MediaControl 5.3 if you go that route.)
  • No DirectTV support. I don’t use satellite, but this would have gone a long way towards increasing adoption.
  • No 16:9 or otherwise widescreen thumbnails! This is the biggest for me since I have a media collection with lots of widescreen videos and hate that my thumbnails all have black bars on the top and bottom.
  • It was delayed, a lot.
  • And last but not least, I CAN’T GET IT IF I WANTED IT (at least not officially, it’s OEM only and rumors are OEMs won’t release it for already sold computers).

All in all, way to go Microsoft! Media Center may be the only consumer product where you have true technological dominance. This isn’t doing much to reassure customers of that, nor build your lead over competitors.

Windows Media SideShow Gadgets – Now on Windows Mobile!

Not too long ago (7/3/2008) Microsoft released the “Windows SideShow for Windows Mobile Developer Preview”. This software allows you to connect via Bluetooth to a SideShow-enabled Windows Vista PC to access all sorts of features on your Windows Mobile device. This includes mail apps, picture displays, system performance monitors, and my personal favorite, remote controls for Office PowerPoint, Windows Media Player and Windows Media Center!

The Media Player and Media Center remotes are very similar. The true greatness of these gadgets come in their functionality, although they are lacking (especially the Media Player gadget) in UI. Too much of the interaction with the gadget is through Windows Mobile menus, and not pretty buttons in the gadget itself. But considering they are betas, and Microsoft seems to be focusing on functionality and reliability and not yet UI, they are very impressive. (Although I’m pretty sure if Microsoft really wanted to they could have one of the resident ├╝ber-geniuses whip up a pretty GUI for it by tomorrow. I mean, we talking about swapping a couple dozen menu items with graphical buttons instead…almost makes me think they are intentionally leaving the UI bare so as not to infringe upon partner companies building SideShow remotes.)

You can browse all of your media libraries, change the current playing selection or add items to the queue, view the TV listings, and change radio stations, all though these gadgets! Amazing.

Here’s some screen shots of the Media Center gadgets:

You can download the installation files for SideShow for Windows Mobile here, and download the Windows Media Center SideShow gadget from Microsoft Connect (you’ll need a Windows Live/Hotmail login).

The Office PowerPoint Remote and a Windows Mobile device is probably the best PowerPoint remote available. No other remote I know of let’s you control not only flipping slides forwards and backwards, but see the slide you are looking at, it’s notes, and the next slide in the queue all on one screen. Simply amazing.

Grab the Office PowerPoint Remote on the Windows Live Gallery.