Q: What are the features — pros and cons — of Windows XP Media Center Edition, and what can you do with it? — Lisa
A: The digital media revolution for music, pictures and video was one that Microsoft identified some years back as a potential growth area.
This vision of the future is what spawned the original version of Windows XP MCE (Media Center Edition) in late 2002. The popularity of the DVR (Digital Video Recorder), especially from companies like TiVo, was in full swing, and someone at Microsoft thought that making a computer act like a TiVo was a great idea.
It’s no secret that Microsoft wants to own all the software that will control the connected home of the future, and products like MCE and Xbox are how they have chosen to begin that integration.
Because there is nothing more powerful than a computer for working with digital media, the thought at Microsoft’s home in Redmond, Wash., was that a Windowsbased machine that could emulate a DVR, a music jukebox and an electronic photo album in addition to the ability to run traditional computing applications AND display it all on a television screen was a sure winner. What could be better than having a computer with a remote control hooked up to your big-screen television with the ability to look at pictures, listen to music, record television shows, play DVD movies without ever having to touch the keyboard or mouse?
It all looked good in theory, and now that the platform has been around for a while and has had a chance to settle in, it’s pretty obvious who the primary customer for this product is: Techies!
One of the reasons TiVo is so successful is that it does one thing really well and does not require the user to spend an enormous amount of time to be productive with the device. In my experiences working with customers who have purchased computers that were meant to be used as a home entertainment center (not just Microsoft’s attempt) or a video editing system, most were not willing to invest the time it takes to work through all of the glitches and learn how to make full use of the system.
It is much like the voice recognition technology that has been included in the last couple versions of Microsoft Office; everyone would love to use it, but few are willing to spend the time it takes to make it a useful tool.
In the hands of an avid user MCE is fabulous, but the minute another member of the family has to use it, the trouble starts. As with all technologybased products, with power comes complexity and with simplicity comes ease of use. If you are considering this type of technology, be sure to assess all of the users who will have to interact with it so you don’t spend a pile of money to create turmoil in your home.
If you want to get more information about how others view Windows XP MCE, there are many Internet resources that have posted reviews. Use Google and search for ‘Windows XP Media Center Edition review’.