Microsoft Fiji beta over; final 'TV Pack' due soon

Microsoft is done testing "Fiji," its update to Windows Media Center and is preparing to release the product -- officially known as "Windows Media Center TV Pack 2008 -- via PC makers.

Microsoft is done testing "Fiji," its update to Windows Media Center and is preparing to release the product -- officially known as "Windows Media Center TV Pack 2008."

Microsoft notified testers that it had RTM'd (released to manufacturing) Fiji on July 17, according to testers who requested anonymity. From the alleged release note:

"Fiji, officially known as Windows Media Center TV Pack 2008, has Released! The input from Self Host testers has been invaluable to this product and the team would like to thank each of you for your bug reports and feedback.

"As the release team is taking a much needed break, our next focus will be to post the final build onto the Products servers. Please check the newsgroups for updates. Once the build is live, we will notify you.

"-Windows Media Center-"

(I've asked Microsoft to confirm officially the RTM of Fiji. If/when I hear back, I will update this post.)

Update: Microsoft confirmed the RTM of Fiji in a new Knowledge Base article (No. 955485). It says:

"The Windows Media Center TV Pack was released on July 16, 2008. Not all computers that are shipped by hardware vendors in the retail channel have the Windows Media Center TV Pack installed. "

I've also heard from a couple of testers that Microsoft is not planning to release Fiji publicly until September 3 at the CEDIA conference in Denver.

Microsoft has done its best to maintain an information lock-down about Fiji since it began signing up testers for the beta over a year ago. Microsoft sent Fiji beta code to external testers this past spring.

Recently, Fiji testers lashed out against Microsoft when Microsoft made it plain that the DirectTV support many had been expecting to be part of Fiji would not be in the product. Testers are now wondering if Microsoft is intending to wait until Windows 7, due in late 2009 or thereabouts, to introduce DirectTV support -- even though Microsoft signed a deal in 2006 to get DirectTV content on Windows PCs and Xboxes.

Some testers also were upset about Microsoft's expected distribution plan for Fiji. According to one Fiji tester:

"The (Fiji) release going to be OEM only on new machines. They have not been testing any upgrade scenarios whatsoever -- even when they were at RC (Release Candidate) 0. Did they not watch the whole Ultimate Extras debaucle? They put Media Center on millions of PCs thru Home Premium, and then give them all the shaft?"

(Ultimate Extras are the set of premium add-ons Microsoft promised to make available to Vista Ultimate users only as an incentive for them to buy the highest-end version of Vista. Microsoft has dribbled out slowly and sporadically the anticipated Ultimate Extras, angering many of the enthusiasts who were expecting more and better.)

Engadget reported earlier this month that -- even minus the DirectTV support -- Fiji will still deliver a number of new features to Media Center users, including new HD recording preferences; better ability to control the tuners; and the replacement of DVR-MS with WTV " so hopefully 3rd parties like VideoReDo and DVRMSToolBox can adapt to the new format."

Any Media Center Fiji testers out there who are still excited about "Windows Media Center TV Pack 2008"? Why/why not?

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