Michael Gartenberg on Longhorn
Micheal Gartenberg: “Of course, Microsoft needs to make sure that it’s core business customers get on board and make the shift but it also must make Longhorn a consumer success for what’s at stake there is the future of the digital home. Considering that Microsoft has not done as well in some core consumer digital markets, such as music, the stakes are even higher.”
Gartenberg’s opinion is interesting and I’d tend to agree.
One possible way to blow this thing up is to make an already cumbersome Media Center PC even that much more cumbersome by loading it down with restrictions and DRM. Sometimes I really get frustrated because when I try to access files on my home network I’m told by my Media Center PC that I don’t have access to these files and to contact my network administrator. My network adminstrator? Give me a friggin’ break. I can get into some folders but subfolders seem to be off limits. This despite the fact that I’ve checked off on acknowledging risks etc., and have told my other PCs to go ahead and share their drives and all the subfolders in their drives. It’s little things like this that drive me crazy. I don’t know if it’s a bug or what but it’s frustrating.
Other times I’ll be copying files from one drive to another drive and I get an error message that an I/O device error has taken place and I have to start my back up all over again. It also frustrates me when it takes me days to get video working on my Media Center because I forget and don’t realize that I need to reinstall a third party decoder after I upgrade my MCE machines. Or it’s frustrating when my HP upgrade doesn’t include the files necessary to burn to DVD. etc. etc.
Now I’m by no means a computer programmer — but I’m also by no means a novice. And as these things frustrate me, I worry that as Microsoft continues down the path to the high school prom with Hollywood that this could have bad consequences for the end user. HDTV is important and maybe in the end there is no other way to get this done, but I worry that it will not be foolproof and that a time will come when Microsoft refuses me the right or complicates my ability to use media that I’ve purchased and then I’ll get angry and write about it as will others.
Microsoft should of course be aware that no matter how willing a partner Hollywood is at the dance it is much more desireable for them to see the Media Center PVR, digital media, etc. efforts fail than anything else.
Would a better solution be to create a technology to capture a HDTV stream between the cable box and the TV, record it without restriction (remember BetaMax?), and fight the bastards in court? Would a better solution be to completely empower the consumer and scorch and burn the rest of Hollywood, accept that digital piracy will take place and see what content survives (trust me it will)? Might Microsoft then sell millions and millions of copies of Media Center that could arguably claim fair use and in an age when TiVo wants to shoot adds at you, ironically as a liberator of the TV commercial, differentiate themselves in a crowded marketplace? Would the lucrative sale of operating systems make up for the lack of profits to be found in helping Hollywood protect their content? Irrespective of ethical or moral considerations which would make more economic sense for the company?
Gartenberg says that Microsoft will battle in the coming months for the hearts and mind of their users. How will Microsoft win my heart with Longhorn as it relates to digital media and most specifically music, photos, movies and TV? Time may tell.