As Microsoft reveals details of the new Windows 8 editions, it drops the ball by excluding a major feature.
On Microsoft’s Windows blog, communications manager Brandon LeBlanc outlined the new Windows 8 editions. This time, instead of presenting a half dozen choices, Microsoft streamlines its offerings. While this appears to simplify matters, it actually confuses things because Microsoft totally dropped the ball by omitting Media Center from both releases.
Media Center ought to be included with everything Microsoft does. Now, it is a vague add-on only for the Pro edition. Why? I’ll get to that. First, let’s look at the more obvious screw up: Windows RT, the Windows on ARM offering.
Windows RT is the third version of the product. It’s built specifically to run a faux-Windows on the ARM chip. It should not be named Windows at all. You cannot run any x86 code on it and it’s designed specifically for tablets. Perhaps it should be named Win-blet or Tab-dows or WARM (Windows for ARM). WARM would actually sound commercial. Or how about dredging up the old WinPAD moniker and actually using it?
And what, exactly, does RT stand for? In the blog post, it’s never revealed, so I did some research and discovered that it means Windows Run Time. It’s based on some new code that sounds more like an old-fashioned program loader with a nifty front-end than an operating system. Whatever it is and whatever the case, it’s confusing. Why would Microsoft waste the letters RT when it should be eventually used to mean “real time?” Microsoft should be working on a real time OS someday rather than “run time” cheats. Windows RT also represents a confusing call back to Windows NT. Isn’t this obvious to Microsoft? Seriously, the company needs to rethink this Windows RT nomenclature.
But back to this apparent gaffe regarding the Media Center software. This should have been built into both major releases and whatever OEM product the company manages to produce. We know that Microsoft has been promoting the idea of the PC as the center of the entertainment complex within a home. There’s been talk for years about media servers in the home, in fact.
Instead, the Xbox 360 has become the epicenter of the home entertainment structure. It plays movies and it downloads entertainment. It is the conduit for Netflix and various IPTV functions. It does work in conjunction with a Media Center PC but few users actually set up Media Center on the PC because Microsoft has done a poor job of explaining how to use it.
When you try to use a Windows phone with a PC, you quickly see that Microsoft has you load up Zune software to do any file transfers or music loading. How does Zune fit into the scheme of things with Windows 8? Well, it probably relates somehow to the Windows Store, to which all the versions of Windows 8 will connect. The Media Center should be the boss of the Windows phone.
Microsoft is clearly playing Follow the Leader with this store concept in the same way that it developed the Zune software as a mediocre clone of Apple’s already miserable iTunes. If Apple jumped off a cliff, Microsoft would jump shortly thereafter, only with less elegance.
Windows 8 will be getting a lot of attention and excess analysis over the next month. In past columns, I’ve explained why I think the entire tiles paradigm is a loser and I hope to find other things to complain about. But right now, I’m wondering exactly what’s up with Media Center. There is something going on and it isn’t good.
By John C. Dvorak, PCMag