Microsoft's Windows chief: Media Center will be part of Windows 8

Summary:Windows Media Center will be part of Windows 8, though it won't be in the first pre-release builds, Microsoft Windows President Steven Sinofsky acknowledged in a new blog post.

For all those wondering whether Microsoft would pull the plug on Media Center with Windows 8, the answer is no

Windows Media Center is a digital video recorder and media player developed by Microsoft that has been part of Windows since it debuted as part of Windows XP Media Center Edition.

.In a September 2 blog post on the Building Windows 8 blog, Microsoft President Steven Sinofsky addressed the issue head-on. (Scroll down about two-thirds of the way in his latest post to see the Media Center information.)

Media Center will not be in the first pre-release Windows 8 builds, Sinofsky acknowledged. Neither will some other features and capabilities, including Windows 7 games, DVD Creator, upgrade setup and "Dot Net 3.5" -- which means .Net 3.5 -- I guess? (Not sure why he's talking about .Net 3.5, when supposedly .Net 4.5 is being rolled out alongside Windows 8, according to what I've heard.)

Sinofsky said the rollout cadence was both an engineering and a business decision. He explained:

"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)."

He also noted that the different editions, or SKUs, are not typically developed or announced until closer to market availability. (I guess that's "confirmation" that there will be more than one Windows 8 SKU, as I'd expected, but many had hoped would NOT be the case, preferring Microsoft to take more of an Apple-like approach.) With Windows 7, Media Center was part of three SKUs, not all of them.

Media Center is not one of Windows' oft-used features, according to Microsoft's own telemetry data. In fact, in July, Media Center was launched by 6% of Windows 7 users globally with the heaviest usage in Russia, Mexico, and Brazil (in terms of both frequency and time), Sinofsky said. And even when the feature was launched, most users were "just looking around," he added, with only one quarter (25% of 6%) of these people using it for more than 10 minutes per session.

"Interestingly, the feedback about Media Center was predominantly “we will pay extra, just include it” based on the input directly to me," Sinofsky said.

I am somewhat surprised that Microsoft is keeping Media Center, given that it is expected to provide DVR capabilities as part of its coming Xbox Live TV Service. I (and others) were thinking Microsoft might make this service available on Windows 8 instead of providing it via Media Center. That said, I know a number of Media Center enthusiasts who will be, no doubt, relieved, by Sinofsky's disclosure on Media Center today....

Topics: Hardware, Microsoft, Mobility, Operating Systems, Software, Windows

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Mary Jo Foley has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications, including ZDNet, eWeek and Baseline. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008). She also is the cohost of the "Windows Weekly" podcast on the TWiT network. Got a tip? Se... Full Bio

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