I’ve halfheartedly kept up with what’s going on with Windows 8. Those reasons have a lot to do with Media Center, but not entirely. See, I’m positive I will end up using Windows 8. Just like I used Windows ME and Windows Vista. They were considered utter failures, but they were still on my systems, at least until the next version became available. I will use Windows 8 for the same reason. However, I will not be using Windows 8 as my HTPC platform, if I can help it at all. I have three reasons as to why.
- Media Center for Windows 8 available only as a paid add-on feature.
Yep, that’s right…Media Center is no longer a free add-on. It must be purchased unless you get in on the $39.99 upgrade to the Professional version, which will include it as a free download. Also, Media Center functionality now requires you to have the Professional edition.
So, what new stuff do we get with this premium feature? Zilch. Yep…once again, you read correctly. We’re getting NO new features. None at all. You’re going to be paying for Windows 7 Media Center usage on Windows 8. Also, according to some screen shots, they’ve removed the ability to even launch directly into Media Center. You’ll have to do some registry/shortcut hacking to get that simple functionality going on your HTPCs. I assume this is to force the new Metro look onto us. Does that work with a remote?
- Still no native Blu-ray playback.
What everyone thought was probably the biggest omission in Windows 7 Media Center is still not available in Windows 8 Media Center – native Blu-ray playback functionality. What a deal! Windows 8 also mixes it up a little by taking out native DVD playback if you don’t have Media Center also. This keeps getting better…right? Have to pay to get something that should be rudimentary, but still don’t get something that should be expected to be included at this stage of the game.
- Developers left out in the cold.
While drivers for hardware will still be able to be obtained, developer tools for new tuner and remote control technology has been stripped out and made unavailable. So, we are not going to be moving forward in using Media Center as a platform to watch live TV or even use from a 10-foot perspective. I suppose this can be taken in different ways, however. Microsoft did say they were doing away with the programs that provided logo-ed drivers for the Media Center compatibility list and that the Hardware Certification Kit can still be used to obtain signed drivers, but I suppose it remains to be seen how a phased out kit will last for us in it for the long haul.
So, there you have it. My three reasons as to why I will pass on using Windows 8 as my HTPC platform of choice. I will hang onto Windows 7 for as long as it allows me…then I guess it will be time to move onto something else. Maybe some dedicated networked media devices, XBMC, or something…I don’t know.
What will you do? Comment and let us know!