DirecTV kills its Media Center tuner project

DirecTV kills its Media Center tuner project

Summary: Nearly three years ago, at CES 2006, DirecTV announced that it was working on a tuner that would allow Windows Media Center to receive high-definition premium satellite signals. Earlier this year, there were rumors that the project was in beta test, and several high-profile web sites even spotted the hardware in action at Microsoft's labs. Alas, the long-rumored project is now officially dead. I've got the details.


If you’re a DirecTV subscriber and a Media Center fan, I’m afraid I have some bad news for you: DirecTV has pulled the plug on development of its long-rumored HDPC-20 tuner.

The device was first announced at CES in January 2006, and I noticed that a driver for the device was included with build 6801 of Windows 7, which was handed out at PDC. The folks at Engadget HD even spotted some of the hardware in action at Microsoft's labs. But alas, it is not to be. Via e-mail, I just received this official statement from DirecTV Chief Technology Officer Romulo Pontual :

DIRECTV has suspended the development of the HDPC-20 tuner project that was designed to integrate DIRECTV service into Windows Media Center after assessing the impact of missing the August 2008 release of Windows Media Center update and considering timing of the next release.

Both DIRECTV and Microsoft understand the desirability of offering consumers an all encompassing DIRECTV programming solution via Windows-based PCs. We are continuing to explore ways to integrate DIRECTV service with Windows-based PCs in the future.

The HDPC-20 tuner that appears on the driver list of a pre-Beta build of Windows 7 is an artifact that was listed prior to the decision to suspend the tuner project. As our plans progress toward a Windows Media Center-compatible product, we will make an announcement at the appropriate time.

Windows 7 incorporates all the infrastructure needed to bring satellite signals from DirecTV and its competitors into Media Center. But without the necessary hardware, the two won’t be meeting anytime soon.

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

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  • Wow, that sucks

    As an avid Media center user/enthusiast this comes as a big blow for the platform. Personally it doesn't affect me as I live in Canada and don't get Direct TV. However, as heavy user and big fan of the Media Center Platform, this certainly doesn't look good. Hopefully Microsoft can come with an alternative to viewing HD content in media center. OCUR is a joke and offers nothing for the rest of the world. HD PVR support, Dishnet, freeview HD, etc. Windows 7 Media center was looking like a pretty solid release. Hopefully this announcement doesn't negate some of the positive buzz MS has generated for Seven.
  • Sad Indeed

    But is this just another example of the need to rethink how MC is distributed (ala Fiji)? Why can't new protocols, tuner drivers, an any feature be made available via sp download upon availability?
    Johnny Vegas
  • RE: DirecTV kills its Media Center tuner project

    Bad! Bad! Bad! Mr. Pontual your a bad person!@
  • DTV needs to make their products OS agnostic.

    Why limit themselves with MC when they could just make their product OS independent?

    DTV caters to more than just the US. Windows is loosing market share to other OSs (mainly OSX and Linux), so why limit your customer base?? (specially future customers)

    Make the process OS agnostic and let people use what ever the hell they want.
    • Losing market share, where? Probably in yoiur dreams..NT.

    • They aren't supporting any ....

      ... OS from the sound of things. Besides it was OSX and the Opensource crowd that was blocking adoption by not providing a robust DRM scheme dictated by the content owners.
  • DirecTV Has Lost a Potential (and Desperate) Customer

    I am a huge fan of the Media Center environment and actually use two of them every day (to many limitations to extenders for me). As a dedicated user, I had vowed to switch to DirecTV as soon as the HDPC-20 was available. OTA HD is great but limited now that the cable companies are really investing in good content. QAM would be great if they let me see more of the non premium content channels I pay for instead of encrypting them. OCUR just won't work for me as the purchasing of the equipment from an OEM as a package is not feasible with already owning two very nice home built MCE machines. SDV further makes existing OCUR implementations worthless (in the short term at the very least).

    PLEASE, someone launch a viable system to capture Component Video (or better DVI or HDMI) and bundle it with an IR bud and Windows HDTV tuner driver so we can move forward somehow with HDTV and MCE. Or even better, please reconsider DirecTV, and grow your audience with enthusiasts who are desperate for a real solution...
  • DirecTV is dying a slow death anyway...

    So I really think it is a moot point.

    One of the reasons they stopped putting resources into it was lack of $$$$ and of course the ever present DRM movement by broadcasters.
    • You couldnt be more wrong!

      Where cable is stagnet DirecTV and Dish have steadily grown their viewership. Stopping development probably had more to do with politics then anything else.
  • Direct TV made a choice.

    They could have kept Tivo and have a stable box or make their own and save. Direct TV decided to create the R series DVR boxes. I could swear the software was Windows based. It crashed enough to be Windows!

    It is a shame. Direct TV was once great. They added more channels than anyone. Then they created the most unstable DVR made by man or beast!

    Mark Heinemann
    • Not true!

      My R series DVR performs flawlessly.