Windows 8: Media Center functionality likely to cost more

Windows 8: Media Center functionality likely to cost more

Summary: Microsoft pushing Media Center users to Pro version.


Yesterday Microsoft outlined the different editions of Windows 8. There are two editions aimed at consumers, Windows 8 and Windows 8 Pro, another one for ARM devices called Windows RT and one for Software Assurance customers. While no price details have been announced, if you make use of the Media Center functionality in Windows 8, then it is likely that your next PC purchase is going to cost you more.

Currently, home users have a choice between three Windows 7 editions - Home PremiumProfessional, and Ultimate. Most home users go for Home Premium as it's the primary edition offered by the OEMs, while power users go for Ultimate.

Under Windows 7, Media Center support is included as standard with Home PremiumProfessional and Ultimate editions. This changes with Windows 8, as Media Center support will, according to Microsoft, only be available "as an economical 'media pack' add-on to Windows 8 Pro."

This has two effects. First, it removes the cost of licensing Dolby support and codecs from the base price of Windows 8, or at least one would hope that Microsoft reflects this saving in the price. This should mean a cheaper base version of Windows 8, although by how much remains to be seen.

However, for those users who actually use Media Center, things are going to get more expensive. Not only are they going to have to shell out for the Pro version of Windows 8, which will undoubtedly come with a Pro price tag. Currently on Dell's website, the difference in price between Windows 7 Home Premium and Ultimate is a whopping $100. That's a hefty tax for consumers to have to pay just to have access to one feature. Not only that, but consumers are also going to have to purchase the 'media pack' add-on. That's a dual kick in the teeth for those who have supported Microsoft's Media Center efforts over the years.

I can come up with no compelling reason -- other than profiteering -- why the Media Center option couldn't be offered available on the standard edition of Windows 8.

For a complete listing of feature differences between the editions, check out the table here.


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

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  • Makes no sense to me.

    Why even bother to upgrade to Windows 8 Home edition if you already have Windows 7 Home Premium which comes with Media Center?
    • Straight to the point...

      And you can also add that if he Consumer Preview version of Media Center is any indication of the new product, we're in for a big deception: almost nothing changed in there. At least, on the surface.

      Clearly a sign that Media Center reached the end of its life cycle.

      I really wonder if Microsoft will straighten its connected ecosystem and media consumption platform.
    • @TRIMTI .. this is a blatant overplay

      It seems like it's a quiet day on the story front, so ZDNet chose to make a mountain out of a mole hill.

      It's almost certain MS based the move on a long period of usage statistics, for MC, to date. If the numbers were below a certain (very low percentage gauge) level, they would remove MC from W8. Why would someone view that as a major issue or disservice?

      There are so many older versions of Windows (i'm referring to anything right back to the original, 2002 MCE), with MC, that this is really just nitpicking. To begin with, there's no obligation to get / upgrade to Windows 8 - if you're already running a version of Windows with MC. I really don't get why some people are trumpeting this move as, again, somehow being a major issue or disservice.
      • If you're invested........

        I have a network M card cable tuner. The only way to access this tuner with all the capabilities of premium channels (HBO, Cinemax, Showtime, etc.) and all in their high definition (1080i) glory is to have the availability of Media Center ver. 7 and higher. This is a kick in the teeth to anyone who has invested in cable card tuners by either Ceton or Silicon Dust. Windows 8 seems to suck more, everyday I read about it.
  • How dare MS charge what it wants for its products

    While Apple dwarfs Microsoft in revenues and profits and is cheered for doing so, we should demand that Microsoft lets us set the price for its products, or we shall accuse Microsoft of profiteering.

    Did I get that right?
    • How dare I refuse to pay more for their products

      than I am willing to pay.

      There are free alternatives to Windows Media Center. The only reason I went with WMC is because it's there anyway and it works just fine. I'd pay $30 or so for the privilege to keep it, but any more than that then I'd just as soon use another product. By letting MS know this now, I am giving them the opportunity to change their minds before they lose me as a customer, which up until I started using Media Center I used only Linux at home.

      Free speech. Everybody wins.
      Michael Kelly
      • No one is asking you to pay more

        I was talking specifically about this line in AKH's blog:
        I can come up with no compelling reason ??? other than profiteering ??? why the Media Center option couldn???t be offered available on the standard edition of Windows 8.

        Why is it that when MS sets a price it is wanting to charge, it is called "profiteering"?

        Don't buy MS products if you don't want to. Shout it from the rooftops. Go back to using Linux full time, isn't it great to have a fantastic array of choices in the desktop OS market? But to suggest that MS is profiteering by removing a bundled product that very very very few people used anyway is odd to me, especially when there are far more profitable companies out there that, for example, don't give out free Apple TVs with every Mac. How dare Apple charge $100 for Apple TV when I'm not willing to spend any more than $30?

        I agree with others who suggest that WMC is dead anyway. This addon won't sell well at all which will tell MS everything they need to know: stop throwing good money after bad and kill WMC. Note that I'm not saying it is a bad product (though I prefer XBMC) it just wasn't a successful product in the market at $0. MS is being very smart here.
      • Fine....

        If those same free alternatives work with the very expensive Ceton and Silicon Dust M card cable card tuners which now require Media Center 7 for operation and streaming to Media center extenders.
  • Stop the Press!

    Is that really the case, or is the post poorly worded?

    Don't forget, we are talking about two different products, aimed at different user bases.

    We have the consumer "Windows 8", which is aimed at home users, so I would expect WMC to be included.

    Then we have Windows 8 Pro for business and enthusiast users. Generally, a majority of these users don't need / want the Media Center, so it is a wasted additional cost to the majority of users of that version. Therefore, sinking the comparative price of Windows 8 Pro, then offering those users who need it the Media Center as an additional add-on makes perfect sense.

    The key wording is:
    *Windows Media Center will be available as an economical ???media pack??? add-on to Windows 8 Pro.*

    They don't say that it will or will not be part of Windows 8 (non-Pro).

    So, back to my original question, has Balmer gone balmy? Or was the blog post poorly worded and the internet has gone off in its usual tizzy, without waiting for clarification?
    • You have to understand who's doing the blogging

      sometimes it's not what was said, but how the person hearing it, heard it.
      William Farrel
  • This is dumb on so many levels

    If users have to pay extra for WMC, then there better be bug fixes and updates and just all around work being done to improve the product. It's a It's great product but hasn't changed in years
  • lol

    Maybe it's the cost of all the codec's and decoders used in the program? "You see no other reason" is BS.
    The one and only, Cylon Centurion
  • Cost more to have access to just one feature? So what you're saying is

    that the [b]only[/b] difference between Pro and Home is Windows Media Center?

    You better go back and brush up on your info.
    William Farrel
  • If thats true its bad. But Im not certain it is yet

    But if so then Id say if there's something that MC needs thats in pro and not consumer then that should be bundled with MC so you can add MC to consumer for one price without having to upgrade to pro for a second price first. MC is awesome, MS should be nurturing it with fixes and enhancements and pushing it, not abandoning it. The last thing we need is android malware/spyware on our tvs too.
    Johnny Vegas
    • Here is the direction I'd rather see MS go

      Kill WMC and put the resources into making Xbox an even better media center. I don't think WMC on Windows is a bad product, don't get me wrong, it just makes far more sense for MS to focus on a product that actually is selling really well and is even profitable (Xbox) than on a product that MS can't even give away.
  • I have a perfect solution to this problem...

    Win8 VM (for drm) + MythBuntu (even supports MCE remote controls) + Any number of VM software - i had a laptop with XP MCE for 6 years, never once i started Media Center (well, clicked it once by mistake).

    But really - if Microsoft ever wants to make inroads into living room, they should give MC away for free.
  • Makes no Difference when you think about it.

    Why do you need media center? I think Microsoft is capitalizing on the XBox here if this is the case. The XBox is everything this 'rumored' Apple TV is supposed to be and it is supposedly selling a half a million units a month right now. It has gesture control, voice control, media streaming, and gaming all wrapped up in a $200 package. As far as media center goes I don't see a big need for it going forward. The public has pretty much assured that this type of thing will be deferred to mobile devices anyway. Maybe Microsoft wants to get you to stream your films and music from your phone/tablet instead. LOL That would get rid of the need for an ISP by allowing you to do more with your phone and make the entire deal cheaper. You could tether your computer to the phone where applicable and wind up spending far less. I know folks who do this and end up paying less while getting 4G speed everywhere and only paying 1 bill (usually through Sprint's Unlimited plan).
    • Big difference!

      If you paid $400.00 for the Ceton multiple tuner for cable card and lose all the functionality!
  • An alternative, more optimistic view on this news... posted here:
  • As usual

    Microsoft isn't very clear. Again they did not spill the beans about Windows Media Center. I believe they already hinted that mce would not be part of Windows 8, what doesn't make sense is that it would only be an add-on for the pro version, it should really be an add-on for the regular version as well. Let's wait and see what will be left of mce and in what form, it might go metro after all and I doubt we will see the same mce as was in the CP, as that one is exactly the same as the version in Windows 7 and Vista. Yeah the win7 mce hasn't seen any advancements over the Vista version, so since the fuiji pack, development of mce is standing still. It would not surprise me on bit if we will see a metro version of mce.