Microsoft’s Charlie Owen on Apple’s Front Row

RetroSight :: Charlie Owen :: Windows XP Media Center Edition Development – Some Thoughts About Apple Front Row “Steve Jobs comparing the Apple remote control with the Media Center remote control was nothing but sheer marketing brilliance. It’s totally not about which remote control is better. Not at all. By making this comparison, Steve Jobs gave the illusion the two products were on equal footing EXCEPT for the remote. All things being equal, Joe Consumer will choose the remote with 6 buttons instead of 40.”

Yes Charlie, but at the end of the day it’s smoke and mirrors marketing and people are smarter than that. Apple: 1. No HDTV, oh yeah, no TV period (although you can pay for TV and download crappy low res unwatchable video). 2. No extender technology, 3. More expensive. 4. You have to buy a crappy monitor with every computer (it’s really amazing that they didn’t roll this out on the Mac Mini). 5. No dual tuner, heck no tuner, heck no PVR. 6. I’m assuming that their music only works with ITunes (something I’ve tried and would rather not have installed on my computer).

It may have been a smart marketing move to try and make it seem like the remote control was the only difference, and perhaps this is just their first step and they will rapidly improve the product, and you’re nice to try and be fair to Apple, but let’s face it this product sucks. And for Jobs to try and say the only thing different is the remote is the equivalent of The Wizard of Oz telling us to pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.

Yes, they created a product for the legions of Apple fanboys to blindly buy, but the smart consumer is better capable of doing a comparison than Jobs might give them credit for.

Oh yeah, I forgot, and I do prefer more functionality with my remote than less.

13 Replies to “Microsoft’s Charlie Owen on Apple’s Front Row”

  1. You may very well prefer the more complex remote (as do I), but for a lot of people a complicated remote control is seen as just another layer of complexity in an already confusing system (the computer in toto, not the media centre), and it’s going to appeal.

    Nevertheless, the whole thing annoys me. Here comes Apple (known far and wide as an innovator) with FrontRow, acting as if they’ve done the impossible. Jobs’s ego is out of control. It’s stupid stuff like this which will drive me into Bill Gates’s camp.

  2. in terms of the IR blaster issues, i think that some people have been able to get the firewire / USB ports of their cable boxes to change channels..

    In reading the PDF, it looks like the firewire port will be for remote control (changing channels, turning the box on and off, etc.), and “Home Digital Network Interface Specification with Copy Protection (incorporated by reference, see 76.602), with transmission of bit-mapped graphics optional. . .” In other words, you may or may not be able to download video from the box, depending on the Copy Protection that is used/required.

  3. I prefer the KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) method. Microsoft is always trying to make things more complicated than they have to be. Heck, their various wizard utilities are prime example of that unnecessary approach of treating computer users as if they’re really stupid while confusing them at the same time!

  4. Any content stored in the user’s Movies, Pictures, Music folders can be accessed via Front Row. It’s just a front-end to existing apps. If you add a DVR (Alchemy, El Gato, Plextor and others make them for the Mac) and have it save to the Movies folder, Front Row will display them in it’s menu system.
    The differences between them can easily be addressed with third party hardware and software. For example, the EyeTV 500 from El Gato will give you HDTV DVR ability and comes with a more complete remote than can be configured to add whatever extra control the simple iMac remote lacks.

  5. .and moving into Bill’s camp with viruses,et al. Apple always starts off simple and builds on the product. We’ll talk in 18 months to see how both compare.

  6. Amusing, I use both windows and mac, and for the experience that front row offers, I actually think it is much more elegeant, than windows media edition which is actually quite klunky. I also am mystified by by people that are constantly saying the mac is a closed system. The core is BSD Unix! So if you are any kind of code head, that should delight you. Also, the video iPod is capable of playing larger format videos, that can be patched out directly to a TV, look up an app called “handbrake”. I am not saying windows is bad, I use it all the time, but there is really no comparison to where Apple is headed. Also consider the simple fact that my iPod has nothing but MP3’s on it. Closed architectiture?? I don’t think so.

  7. The best part of Front Row is that it allows you to subscribe to vodcast feeds. Media Center is a closed environment where your cable operator still decides which tv channels are available and microsoft decides which online services you can use. Who needs a Tuner and a PVR when all content can be subscribed to online? Front Row has this potential. It’s demonstrated in this feed:

  8. i think it’s weird the amount of focus being put onto this whole remote thing.

    i have a MCE pc at home; i use every single button on the thing, but my father only uses the nav and playback controls, and never gets to the numeric keypad.

    i think eventually, apple will make a remote with more buttons, because you can only do so much with a remote (which is probably why M$ decided to release the MCE Remote Keyboard, because after asking my father, it turns out he hates multitap/teletext!!).

  9. OS X is not a closed system?

    QuickTime says otherwise.

    until i can play realmedia in QT, like i can with WMP…

  10. Hmmm. I’ve never been able to play that hideous realmedia crap in WMP. It’s always required a download of whatever platter of steaming rubbish Real has decided their program should be.

    RM is crap and never should be sued, and I’ve never seen it used in WMP.

  11. Windows Media Center is one of the few instances where Microsoft destroys Apple. Windows 7 with it’s Clear qam support and fully functional DVR with 2 week program guide blows Front Row out of the water. You can record shows for free Apple wants you to buy. This is why you’ll never be able to record TV with Front Row. Windows Media Center alone makes Windows 7 better than Snow leopard imo.

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