When Will HDTV Cable Come to Media Center? More Wood for the Rumor Fire

Ed Bott writes about a previous report by Chris Lanier that we won’t see premium HDTV in Media Center until Longhorn and thinks that Chris might be wrong on this. Ed calls Chris’ theory based on the DRM problem interesting but flawed. Ed makes the point that CE devices can be hacked and that there is additional news from Cable Television Laboratories that might suggest cable or satellite HDTV support is coming to Media Center sooner than we might think.

I’d have to say that I think Ed is wrong on this one and that Chris is right. Pure speculation my part, but here’s why.

Chris is pretty close to the inside of Microsoft. He’s one of the moderators over TGB, he’s a former (and should be current Microsoft) MVP, a Microsoft Certified Professional, and he’s most likely on the current MCE update beta. My guess, and again, pure speculation on my part, is that Chris’ post was Microsoft’s way of letting us down gently — of telling us that it was not coming without violating launch marketing protocol and making an actual announcement to this effect.

Chris’ post was probably meant to quell the hype (contributed to by myself as well when I wrote that Microsoft exec Jim Allchin said that we’d “probably” have cable or satellite HDTV support by the end of the year based on what he said at a dinner I attended).

In order to offer HDTV support in MCE this would definitely need to be beta tested prior to an actual release. While it is certainly possible that this is being tested as we speak I think that someone in the know like Chris would have a pretty good sense as to the likelihood of a release in the update. If nothing else, if his post were incorrect I’d expect someone from Microsoft or someplace else to let him know off the record and have him adjust accordingly.

So being the conspiracy theorist that I am, I see it this way. Microsoft sees speculation that cable HDTV support will be offered in Fall. They know this is not true. They let Chris know some of the details and allow him to post on the subject without attribution. Again, all just pure speculation on my part, but my guess is that it ain’t happening.

Of course someone from Microsoft or Chris feel free to correct me if I’m wrong.

Cable HDTV support probably will happen in Longhorn and as anyone who has read my blog knows no one would be happier with cable HDTV support in the Fall than I would, but I just don’t see it happening. Until then I’ll have to continue to subside on my HDTV TiVo.

By the way, hot damn, I’ve really been getting into the new season of Six Feet Under in high def. Although I’m a week behind I decided to watch the 2nd episode about 4 feet from the 43″ plasma screen last night and it was simply stunning. The vivid colors in David’s dream sequence were remarkable. Way to go TiVo. Way to go DirecTV! Anywho…

Gate’s has gone on the record at Engadget saying cable HDTV support is coming so it’s hard for Microsoft to take it back at this point. Microsoft walks a fine line trying to negotiate with it’s Hollywood customers and it’s Media Center customers. It’s a shame because Microsoft certainly has the power, legal prowess and money to tell Hollywood to pound salt — they just have a little more business savvy than this and we will all probably just have to sit tight until the Titans of Media figure it all out.

As for the rest of Neowin’s speculation on the Windows Media Center Update. Yawn. “Content Protection” “Running Third Party Apps Out of Proc” “Platform Security” “Playback reliability” Please, somebody wake me up from my nap.

Give me HDTV. Give me Flickr. Give me instant access to my music without having to wait 5 minutes. Give me a PVR and a guide for radio. Etc. etc. and I’ll be thrilled.

“Additional languages and locales?” Eh, ok. Maybe at least Ian will finally get the extender unit that he and the rest of England deserve.

Update: Chris says no one within Microsoft has led him to believe anything about additional HDTV support in Media Center. Nor has anyone tried to correct or lead him to think differently. So much for my conspiracy theory. I still think Chris is right though. But like Chris I too will be ecstatic when we see cable HDTV support.

3 Replies to “When Will HDTV Cable Come to Media Center? More Wood for the Rumor Fire”

  1. I can honestly say that no one inside of Microsoft has led me to believe anything about additional HDTV support in Media Center. Nor has anyone tried to correct or lead me to think differently. 🙂 I based my theory off of publicly released information that has either appeared on my blog at some point or that can be found via Google.

    Of course, I want Ed to be right!! As Im sure you will agree, Thomas, Cable HDV support is a must for Media Center to be a player in the market. Seeing the word “CableCARD” on the Release Notes for the update would make my day, week, and maybe even year!


  2. Microsoft supporting QAM decoding (HDTV via cable) is only one of the requirements. What you’d also need is a tuner card that implements QAM/cable card. Does anyone know of such a card being imminent?
    The usual suspects, Hauppauge, ATI, etc., haven’t given even the slightest indication that they’re ready to release such a card.

  3. I have had a few Microsoft guests on the show and non would comment on HDTV time frames. I pretty sure we will have to wait till Longhorn.

    At least we have our extenders later this year.

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