I'm not going to say, "I told you so" but what my first thought was upon reading this is that this is a way forward beyond WMC and opens up sales of the echo to people that do not even know about it or use it because it can be advertised as a streaming box with CableTV capabilities.
er...Sammy...the Echo IS a Media Center extender. Whether it can play other things or not, but it's primary function is an MC extender. And that requires a Media Center PC somewhere. It will not work without one to offer "CableTV capabilities". Now, what Silicondust is doing with DTCP-IP is interesting, however, Ceton has not indicated that the Echo will ever support DTCP-IP and even if it did, there would be no recording system, since it's a Soc based device with no possibility of adding storage capabilities.
So, if Media Center dies, the worst thing as far as the Echo is concerned, is that it continues functioning as a streamer box with a kludged up UI. The absolute worst thing would be that it is unusable. There is no better scenario if Media Center dies.
I also suspect that this may allow for the reincarnation of the Q in a platform totally independent of Windows
The Q IS a Media Center PC, whether it uses an embedded version, custom hardware or whatever, in the end it HAS to run WIndows and Media Center to provide what it needs to provide, currently
. Now, could the future be different? Sure. But Ceton's ecosystem is built around WIndows/Media Center and Extenders. You can't change an ecosystem easily and without a lot of downsides. Look at what happened to HP and Linksys' extender business... That should be an indication.
and possibly a DVR solution that works in any OS but that will be even farther down the road.
Ceton has to do something like this if they are to survive as a company going forward.