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Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Microsoft Takes on TiVo, AppleTV and Sling Media

Microsoft, which has more failed attempts at capturing TV viewers (see WebTV) than Pamela Anderson has had relationships, is taking on all comers with a new platform that wirelessly puts the Web on your TV.

Last week's announcement of new Media Center Extender (MCE) devices will take on not only AppleTV, but also TiVo and the SlingBox. Microsoft has transferred its user interface from the Media Center PCs using Windows Vista to the TV to provide DVR, media viewing and remote TV watching, all driven by a TV remote.

BigPictureBigSound has an excellent run down on the announcement, including descriptions of the hardware from partners Niveus Media, D-Link, Linksys and HP.

With one of these living room gadgets, you get TiVo functionality, can watch downloaded movies or clips and look at the family photos, or watch your recorded shows when you are on the road. This is as close to my dream DVRSS device as I've seen. The last piece is to be able to subscribe to an RSS video feed or save links to streaming video and make them easily accessible through the remote control.

As before I still see no reason to buy an AppleTV, and this could be the final nail in that boxes coffin. Media Center PC features are becoming ubiquitous through Vista, so the installed base will be huge within a few years. Video providers are abandoning iTunes with abandon. Of all of the companies to integrate TV and web viewing, I would not have thought that Microsoft would be the one to get it right, but just maybe they have.

By John Gartner at 08:49 AM | Comments (3)

(3) Thoughts on Microsoft Takes on TiVo, AppleTV and Sling Media

A dream DVR?

This won't kill TiVo, which has both dual CableCard tuning for access to 100% of the available content, as well as guide data rich enough to actually do automatic recording that works correctly.

This is a Zune for the TV, just like Apple TV is the iPod for the TV.

Neither of which will be more than a hobby until 100% of current content is available to them.

The ATSC tuner option isn't mass market ready, with it's lack of ability to tune in all of the encrypted digital content of cable channels, for the same reason El Gato's offerings have never been mass market ready since digital cable supplanted (and encrypted) analog.

Without CableLabs approval of CableCard tuners, or the ability to deliver closer to 100% of existing content by other means (downloads), these types of boxes are all a giant leap backwards in available content. Which is a far cry from a "dream DVR".

This 2007 version of "rabbit ear" antenna tv reception is nothing much to droll over.

Comments by T : Tuesday, October 02, 2007 at 02:13 PM

"Video providers are abandoning iTunes with abandon."
Eerrrmm...yeh...right, so NBC and.... ermm no-one else actually. Talk it up all you like, it's not going to happen.

Comments by giorgio : Tuesday, October 02, 2007 at 05:03 PM

The demo at Digital Life used CableCard-based tuners with Microsoft's integrated guide. I don't know if Microsoft's guide is (or will be) as advanced as TiVo's, but they were definitely showing premium cable channels in the demo.

Not sure whose tuners they were using, maybe ATI?

Comments by Home Theater Guy : Tuesday, October 02, 2007 at 05:52 PM

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