Windows Fiji – What’s the next Media Center update?

So possibly due later in 2008 is Windows Fiji. At least that’s the codename for it, I think. News about Fiji has died down, but I’m still wondering. Some of your tech blogs said it had to do with Media Center getting a pretty big update.

Now I’ve heard wonderful things about the new Media Center in Vista. I’ve even see some video showing off the gorgeous Media Center displays and all that. So it’d be interesting to see what big updates Microsoft has in store for Media Center.

So I’m making a list of things I hope to see come true:

  • Satellite Radio – How about getting XM or Sirius to offer their digital radio on WMC? I think there’s already XM, but they could do a better job.
  • Web browser – People are all about the Web these days. So putting in a web browser would be awesome. Allow it to port IE favorites, RSS feeds, and all the works that’s possible to hand with a remote. Make it fast and simple.
  • VOIP or Skype?
  • Radio recording – You can already record TV broadcasts, but not radio broadcasts?
  • Podcasts – Well first there actually needs to be a podcasts section in WMP 11, and then make a nice way to see podcasts on WMC
  • Customized UI themes – Blue is nice, but it gets boring. What’s wrong with other palettes of the rainbow? Like green, silver, black? And maybe some ways to tweak the opacity, the reflectiveness, the transitioning, use multiple colors, etc. Also how about popular created themes like maybe TV/Movie/Game inspired ones, like Halo, Hello Kitty, Terminator, Lost, or a bazillion other pop culture themes. Just let users really create themes, and share (with downloadables) on a dedicated Media Center site.
  • Dedicated online store – There’s a myriad of online stores with WMC, but not a store that just does it all so well. Apple TV does the iTunes store, and as everyone knows : the iTunes store has the king of all legal media. Microsoft really needs to step up with it’s online store strategy such as Zune Marketplace and Xbox LIVE Marketplace and combine them together, and get nice decent (maybe even HD) content from content providers going up. Because going to one store for this, another for this, and so on and so on is something people don’t need to deal with. Make a good one, and make it MC accessible.
  • Native BluRay support or HD-DVD support as well
  • The ability to customize the EPG. I suppose my main gripe is not being able to group certain channels together. Another change I would like to see is adjusting the number of columns and rows as well. Along the same line is the search capability. It really isn’t intuitive at all. It takes several clicks to find the search function from the EPG. I think Microsoft could do some work on advancing the whole PVR concept by adding rating systems, suggestions etc.
  • DVD Streaming. There is no DVD streaming for extenders. This is not a good thing.
  • A la carte channels – Please MS. Do something that cable/satellite services haven’t done for a long time. Let users browse through a mondo list of channels, and let them choose what channels they want. No premium packages, bundles, tying, or any of that nonsense. Give users full choice in channels we want to see for a good price. I don’t know how MS could do this, but if they can do this through Media Center, that will definitely get people more on this platform.
  • List View option – While having a showcase of pretty thumbnails to browse through is awesome, for some, it’s quite laggy. So if the WMC could at least offer the option somewhere to view items in a list, that would be nice.
  • Fix Rewind/FastForwards lag – Improve that, and also offer support for that on .avi files
  • Get more online partners – There’s nice 3rd party things to view from, but not a lot. It’s kind of sad. It’s like a beautiful building, with little or nothing inside it. Some big things people want to see is Netflix, Flickr, YouTube, and some other popular web destinations on their TV. Apple already has gotten Flickr and YouTube, but what about Microsoft?
  • Windows Live integration – somewhere at least. IM via WLM on WMC? View my calendar and e-mail? Something would be good.
  • Own set top box – With it’s own DVD player, inputs, and whatever. Make it affordable and in a way so you don’t need a computer to utilize it. Or at least make your own box for it.
  • Support more codecs – You can never have enough codecs.
  • Promote Home Automation uses – Lifeware does an awesome job for making WMC a nice home automation system. Show off Home Automation uses in the next version.
  • Visualizations during music playing – WMP 11 does this, so why can’t WMC?
  • Video Playlists – Video isn’t that much of a different media than music, so why not?
  • Mpeg2 (possibly other format) thumbnails not displayed – This has been recognised by MS as a problem but remains unfixed. Seems OK in WMP11.
  • Music Tags – MC Artist pivot should display all Artists regardless of whether they have an Album associated to them. Currently the MC Artist Pivot is pretty redundant as it displays the same info (in text form) as the Album Artist Pivot. WMP11 handles both the Artist and Contributing Artist tag info perfectly why not MC? They both read from the same tags after all.
  • Album art – No software should ever change your files without asking! If I decide to replace my folder.jpg’s with higher resolution versions that is what Media Centre should use. Instead it merrily overwrites them with low res versions. I use a workaround (VMC Album Art Fixer) but it remains an ongoing battle against Media Centre’s desire to degrade my user experience.
  • Embedded album art – If album art is present in a tag it should take precedence over the folder.jpg, if no embedded art is present folder.jpg is displayed. If for instance you have individual tracks from different artists you don’t really want to put each track in an individual folder with it’s own folder.jpg. WMP11 again handles this correctly.

Last 5 came from anonymous user in the comments. (Thanks!) As he points out, most of what WMP 11 does has been pretty well, but the syncing/porting between WMP 11 and WMC doesn’t work as well.

I ran out of ideas. Can you come up with anymore for me to add?

 

I really hope the next version of Media Center will dazzle even more people. WMC is one of the better products Microsoft has shown us.

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2 thoughts on “Windows Fiji – What’s the next Media Center update?

  1. A fair list, containing none of my biggest gripes! My preference would be for MS to concentrate on getting the core program functioning correctly and fix some basics and bugs, namely:
     
    ·         Video Playlists – Come on this is essential stuff. Video should not be treated any differently form audio i.e. add to queue, create playlist etc
    ·         Mpeg2 (possibly other format) thumbnails not displayed – This has been recognised by MS as a problem but remains unfixed. Seems OK in WMP11.
    ·         Music Tags – MC Artist pivot should display all Artists regardless of whether they have an Album associated to them. Currently the MC Artist Pivot is pretty redundant as it displays the same info (in text form) as the Album Artist Pivot. WMP11 handles both the Artist and Contributing Artist tag info perfectly why not MC? They both read from the same tags after all.
    ·         Album art – No software should ever change your files without asking! If I decide to replace my folder.jpg’s with higher resolution versions that is what Media Centre should use. Instead it merrily overwrites them with low res versions. I use a workaround (VMC Album Art Fixer) but it remains an ongoing battle against Media Centre’s desire to degrade my user experience.
    ·         Embedded album art – If album art is present in a tag it should take precedence over the folder.jpg, if no embedded art is present folder.jpg is displayed. If for instance you have individual tracks from different artists you don’t really want to put each track in an individual folder with it’s own folder.jpg. WMP11 again handles this correctly.
     
    Personally I feel the tag pivots should be configurable by end users. Everyone’s requirements are different, I for example don’t use ‘Year’ or ‘Composer’ ever. If I find other info contained in a tag (‘Keywords’ or ‘Mood’ for example) more useful and WMP can read this tag, I would like to choose this as a pivot rather than composer or year. In fact you mention customisation and i totally agree there really should be more in general that users of MC are able to configure for themselves. It’s just too restrictive as it stands and will never cater to the majority unless they give people more control over it. If MS are worried about Joe average messing things up then release a nice add on for those who want it.
     
    Most of the above are handled well by WMP11, and as Media Centre uses WMP11 and shares it’s library you would expect them to behave in a similar fashion. Seems that the features more useful in a Media Centre PC environment have been left as WMP11 only or do not function properly in MC.
     
    Visualisations by the way work fine for me, and i don\’t really have an issue with thumbnail lag, however, if you do you can already choose to display as a list instead.
     
     

  2. Thanks (no name). I appreciate your comment. I added them to my list. I\’m not the more technically inclined user, but it\’s nice to have some thoughts on that. Thanks.

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