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Windows 8 To Include Media Center

Steven Sinofsky today confirmed that Media Center will be included in Windows 8.  Read on for details!

Steven Sinofsky is in charge of development for Windows 8 and he has been blogging lately.  Today, he posted up an interesting tidbit or two about Windows 8 and confirmed that Media Center will be included.  Here is what he said:

Media Center

While not a central topic of feedback, I received about 50 emails about Media Center. I want to reassure customers that Media Center will definitely be part of Windows 8. No doubt about it. Knowing how strong the support for Media Center is among pre-release testers, we still have work to do to make sure the quality and compatibility with add-ins is what you would expect even in pre-release (as with any release of Windows, compatibility is a major effort and when we work on the underlying video engine, as one example, we have to make sure features that push these areas receive adequate coverage).

In the coming months, many folks will be testing pre-release builds of Windows 8. As everyone knows, two things are always the case early on. First, the software is not done and things will change—features will be added and removed. Second, the different editions or SKUs are not developed or announced until late in the development process (closer to market availability).

Media Center will not be part of the first pre-release builds. Some other features/capabilities will not be in the first pre-release builds including: Windows 7 games, DVD Creator, upgrade setup, Dot Net 3.5 (Note there are perhaps a couple of other relatively low profile items but just wanted to hit the major ones here). These are engineering decisions as well as business decisions.

As we get closer to market availability, we will make sure to explain how not just these specifically but all features of the product will be made available. As an aside, it is early to start the dialogue about a preference for one SKU with Windows. We’re well aware of this feedback and we always need to balance it with the feedback from our business partners who value a different approach. We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. Interestingly, the feedback about Media Center was predominantly “we will pay extra, just include it” based on the input directly to me. Today Media Center is part of “premium” SKUs for Windows, which means that is the case today.

In addition a lot of folks said “everyone I know uses it.” As I said, we’re completely committed to delivering Media Center in Windows 8, but I wanted to share some of the usage data. This data in no way influenced not delivering it as part of the first pre-release build—we are as committed as ever to Media Center.

Our opt-in usage telemetry shows that in July, Windows Media Center was launched by 6% of Windows 7 users globally with the heaviest usage in Russia, Mexico, and Brazil (frequency and time). However, most people are just looking around; only one quarter (25% of 6%) of these people used it for more than 10 minutes per session (individual averages), and in 59% of Media Center sessions (by these 6% of users) we see almost no activity (less than a minute or two of usage). TV was the most common scenario we observed, and not surprisingly, traditional media (DVD and CD) are less common (and declining over time) than streaming and file-based content. By comparison, Media Player (66% of Windows users in July) and IE (88%) are popular rendering engines for all types of media content, including an increased volume of “premium” and streaming content. This is another place we’re reminded of the tremendous diversity of Windows activity.

So while it will be included in Windows 8, it won’t be in the initial pre-release builds.  The data about usage is interesting: only 6% of Windows 7 users run it, and then only a small fraction of those users run it for any amount of time.  So good news that Microsoft is including it, even though usage numbers are small.

Sinofsky Blog Post