Windows Media Center… err Vista Home Premium to be Available as Standalone Software

Charlie Owen Charlie Owen blogs about a little missed detail that those of us who follow Media Center missed in Microsoft’s press release about the skus on the Vista product. As previously blogged about Microsoft will have three flavors of Vista designed for the home user, Windows Vista Home Basic, Windows Vista Home Premium and Windows Vista Ultimate. Media Center will come standard as part of the operating system on Premium and Ultimate.

What we missed was that this will be the first time *technically* that you can actually buy and upgrade to Media Center on a standalone basis.

Initially when Media Center was launched, what seems like decades ago, it was a very closed product. The only way to get it was on OEMs that Microsoft partnered with who built Media Center specific boxes. This was done largely to ensure that the proper hardware was bundled with Media Center’s software in order to ensure a positive end user experience. Subsequently, although not *technically* released on a standalone basis, Media Center was opened up for any OEM system builder to use on any new PC.

Of course what quickly happened when they opened Media Center software to everyone was that copies quickly were made available on a standalone basis through places like eBay and effectively anyone who really wanted to could upgrade to Media Center by buying a copy that was theoretically supposed to be for a new PC.

Well with Vista anyone will be able to buy the software and upgrade to Media Center. This is a good thing and I suspect will be giving many people but yet one more reason to upgrade to Vista.

More from Microsoft’s David Fleishman who will be managing the standalone and upgrade Vista retail product.