The Trouble with Premium HDTV (CableCARD) and Microsoft

The Trouble with Premium HDTV (CableCARD) and Microsoft Chris Lanier is out with a pretty good detailed post on the lack of HDTV in Media Center — a conversation that a number of us including Ed Bott and Charlie Owen have been talking about lately. According to Chris, Vista will change everything and finally give us, through our savior DRM, the closed box within an open box and the HDTV that I and others crave along with it.

It is one of the better posts and perhaps more on target than anything I’ve read about HDTV in Media Center yet. I’d be interested in Microsoft’s view of his post.

Two points though:

1. Chris says, “Windows Vista, as I keep saying, will bring a world of new opportunities to the PC and hopefully will provide Thomas (and everyone else) with the platform he wants with the features he wants. If you look at some of the functionality that Vista will be able provide it easy to see that Microsoft does care about HD, and they are working towards solutions for Media Center and the PC in general.” Fine. Then let’s see Microsoft come out and say we’ll have native HDTV in Vista. What possible harm could come of giving us this kind of mild generic statement? Even if something got in the way later they could always point it out.

2. “DirecTV and Dish would not be great partners, any solution built now would cost too much at the start assuming the boxes were to support MPEG-4 and MPEG-2. ” Perhaps at this point and if in fact Vista will support HDTV this is true. But Microsoft has had a long, long time to be working on this and I think that they could have had a partnership closed box system (like Foundation) built into Media Center had they planned for it much earlier. Yes, it would have been a bandaid until Vista and been expensive to build but it would have perhaps given us HDTV two or three years earlier and I think this would have been preferable for the product. I’m sure there is a case to be made though that it wasn’t. I personally think that the price paid for waiting and for all of the people that have in the past year (and will this next year) opt for freebie cable and satellite HDTV boxes over Media Center is greater.

Thanks for the insight Chris.

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