Musings of a PC

Thoughts about Windows, TV and technology in general

Google buys SageTV – does this mean anything for Windows Media Centre?

The recent acquisition of SageTV by Google ordinarily might have been something that just passed me by as I’d probably be the first to admit that I generally don’t use Google products :-).

But then I started thinking about what attention Microsoft might pay to the acquisition.

I’ll be honest – I’ve been a bit nervous about my use of Windows Media Centre lately. Microsoft bought the web site The Green Button and has recently “merged” that into its Windows Experts community, much to the dismay of many TGB members. Since WMC became an embedded part of Windows, it has meant that it only gets updates as part of the OS timeline. It isn’t treated like Windows Live or even Office, where both of those families have development timelines separate to the OS.

There was a leaked slide deck several months ago that suggested some of the areas that Microsoft might be thinking about taking WMC but WMC is one of those bits of Windows that, oddly enough, really doesn’t get much of a mention. If you look at all of the talk going on about Windows 8 at the moment, there isn’t anything being said about WMC. Indeed, at CES this year, it almost looked as if the only roadmap for WMC was as part of Windows Embedded.

Will the acquisition of SageTV by Google change that? I don’t know. All I can hope is that (a) it shows that Google want to improve their own TV offering and that (b) this leads Microsoft to revitalise their efforts to deliver a really good Media Centre product – and preferably one that is still part of the mainstream Windows Client OS.

I know that WMC has been and still remains a pretty niche product. Part of the difficulty is the cost. You can buy Freeview recorders for a lot less than it costs to buy a pretty good PC with TV tuner hardware and windows. But I love WMC for the fact that it does so much more than a single-minded bit of hardware. I love the fact that I’ve been able to transfer all of my DVDs and Blu-Rays onto hard discs and I can now browse my movie library – including the films I’ve recorded off TV – and effortlessly pick a film to watch from that collection.

I just hope that Microsoft don’t leave me in a cul-de-sac, wondering what I can use instead of WMC if they make a decision that means I can’t continue to use it the way I’m used to.


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