Originally Posted by Sammy2
Reggie14, Without repeating your whole post, who's fault is it that WMC has such low usage numbers.
I'm not reggie but I'll take a whack.
It's part Microsoft's fault, and part nobody's.
The "nobody's fault" part is easy. The HTPC is just a fundamentally flawed concept from a "product" standpoint.
What do I mean by that? People don't want PCs connected to their TVs, they don't want to fiddle, they don't want to try and figure out what the difference between a HD Homerun and an HD Homerun Prime is, they don't care about QAM vs ATSC. When it comes to TV and movies, people just want to plug in a box (or have the service provider plug it in), pick up a remote and watch TV or a movie. You just can't do that with an HTPC, either you roll your own, and have to deal with the support issues (why'd my tuner disappear) yourself, or in order to cover the supports costs commercially you have to sell an HTPC at a comparatively enormous price (eg Niveus Media).
When it comes to work, people don't want to strain to read what's on an HDTV from across the room or fiddle with a mouse on your lap or waving your hands in the air (Gyration) that's just not productive. So when you go back to the beginning, with Media Center Edition, nobody was going to buy one of those just for MCE and put it in their living room, and likewise those that did buy it were going to have it in the office, at their desk with a PC monitor where MCE is basically worthless.
There's also the fact that people really just don't care to look for more than just basic functionality. Look at Tivo, it was a way better DVR than anything you could get from a service provider but it never really caught on, the company's been struggling since the beginning. If people can't be conviced to buy into a dedicated, simple, inexpensive box, they're not going to bet a much more expensive, much fiddlier PC to do the same thing.
The Microsoft side of things is a bit more complicated. I really don't think marketing could have helped them, or at least that was the least of WMC's problems. I've really got to go back to the beginning to explain my thoughts on WMC, back to Windows XP Media Center Edition.
I remember back in 2002 I think it was, watching Microsoft's CES Keynote when they unveiled Windows XP Media Center Edition. By that time I'd been using my PC as my DVR for a while, but I'd been using really basic software for my Hauppauge card. Watching that keynote I was amazed and excited and I couldn't wait to get my hands on it. That brings us to:
Windows XP Media Center Edition was only available on a prebuilt PC. I'm an enthusiast, I'm not going to buy a crappy HP or Dell at like $2k just to get Media Center Edition. I really don't know what MS's thought process was, but MCE was something that was really only going to appeal to enthusiasts, especially at first, and without letting those enthusiasts get a hold of it directly, they definitely stunted it's growth.
Eventually MCE was released into the wild via "OEM" copies that anyone could buy, but there was another problem. MS didn't allow MCE machines to communicate. MCE was powerful multi-tuner DVR, that's nice for one room, but it really doesn't shine until you can use a central DVR in multiple rooms. The lack of a software client, inter-MCE communication further hurt WMC's adoption.
The example I have is myself, were it not for these two early issues, I would almost certainly be running WMC right now, I'd probably have a few Echo's (ha, got the echo into the discussion
), and I'd be a WMC fan. But due to these two early MS decisions, I, and a lot of other folks went with other solutions, SageTV in my case.
Extenders, these should have been the best thing ever to hit WMC. Extenders can be awesome, they can give you all the great functionality of a PC based media system, without any of the headaches. But Microsoft decided (in true Apple fashion) that it knows better than it's customers, and Extenders would only support those things MS deemed worthy of supporting, which paradoxically is a subset of what even Windows Media Center will handle (DVD rips anyone?).
Windows Home Server. Much like Fumble 1, I remember hearing about WHS early on before release (may well have been another CES Keynote reveal). Probably my first thought was WHS + WMC + Extenders = whole home media nirvana. I mean how perfect would that be, you could go buy a box, from a company with support (or ideally for enthusiasts buy a copy of the OS and put it on our own hardware), plug it into your home network and your cable line, stick a few little boxes at each TV, and you're off to the races with a whole-home DVR. Personally I think this is the biggest fumble of all. WMC + WHS + Extenders could have solved the "Nobody wants a PC connected to their TV" problem, it would have made the WMC market immensely larger, it would have made WHS much more attractive as well.
I think WMC's fate may have been sealed at that point, they might have been able to save it by making extenders good, or allowing PC clients, but I think without WMC running in a server in a closet I think you've lost the mass market before you started. Marketing might have helped a bit along the way, but I think it really comes down to two fundamentals, the "mass market" just doesn't care and there's nothing anyone can do to change their minds, and Microsoft just isn't in tune with the people who do care, the enthusiasts who are stymied by the choices MS made on where to take the product.