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Looks good...as has been discussed on this forum before.


Several forum members are working on simlar interfaces by either coding from scratch, using a shell modifier like Talisman or desktop X, or homegrowing an interface by combining several other programs like ZoomPlayer, Girder, Winamp etc..


I think that the feature list looks on target...DVD player, Music Jukebox, DVR and TV tuner capability, but how customizable will the interface be? Will we be able to use and combine our preferred codecs like in ZoomPlayer, or even better use ZoomPlayer in place of the included DVD player? How will its TV output match up against Dscaler? Will it let us catalog our video media as well as our music and enhance it with metadata on the content?


Probably most important...when can we test it?:D
 

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Yay!


All the features that I already have, but with digital rights management, product activation, and Microsoft Licensing Nonsense(TM)!


And what the heck does "10' UI" mean, anyway? That I'll have to get a projector and display the desktop on my wall? :D


The Mira tech looks like it will deliver some features that the community hasn't already provided, which is more than I can say for the "Freestyle" XP skin.
 

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Currently I can achieve all that Freestyle has to offer using separate "best in class" applications. Therefore Freestyle is not important to me from a functionality perspective. Where Microsoft would get my dollar is if they deliver on the integration aspect. All of my current applications have different interfaces since they come from different manufacturers. I've solved this in my setup by using a combination of Girder and Talisman but an "out of the box" solution would be nice.


One important other consideration would be the "openess" of the Freestyle approach. Can I substitute my own DVD player and audio player codecs as suggested by another poster? Microsoft is notorious for steering users to their own proprietary software. I don't want to be forced to use Windows Media for everything. My car player and mp3 portable don't read wma so I can't use it and I don't like software that assumes that I'm a criminal. So if Freestyle supports mp3, mpeg1/2, other DVD player codecs and is a clean integrated solution then I'll consider it. Otherwise I'll continue using the products I already have.



Cheers

Lester
 

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Gotta love freestyle.


MS takes control once again and makes sure you use THEIR browser, THEIR player, THEIR mp3 viewer, THEIR DVD player, and THEIR video player.


You can be sure like already mentioned this will tie into some Passport service, and rest heavily on forcing WMA and WMV/ASF down your throats.


I like to be able to pick and choose what my players and viewers are.


Freestyle will come out, there will be a lot of hoopla, and the few features that it may have that are not implemented in other apps will be quickly added.


Already, all of its purported functionality exists in other browsers and players, many of them freeware.


This seems like a good interface for the first-time village idiot (ignorant, rather) type PC user who barely knows what an mp3 is.
 

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Hi All:


___I love the concept w/ a remote capability out of the box but I heard it was going to be eventually called … Freestyle.net so that you can rent it forever and ever and ever ;) MS is going to meet some serious resistance eventually and this may be the straw that broke the camels back if they do not allow other SW vendors applications to integrate with the interface? Than again, MS is pretty darn shrewed when it comes to these GUI/OS/SW app strategies …


___Wayne R. Gerdes

___Hunt Club Farms Landscaping Ltd.

___ [email protected]
 

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Gee, I guess I am a real Trogolodite.


I actually use Media Player in XP and like it. I started playing with it when I was getting the BBC before Williams went bust.


I don't have any MP3 files, since I won't allow my security down far enough for peer-to-peer file swapping. I sandbox the MS stuff with my firewall, so we a have a one-way conversation.


So far, it is working for me . . .
 

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For me, it will have to be able to talk to my VFD display and allow me (as I currently can) to control my PC in 'headless' mode with a remote.


I currently use a small home-grown app to allow me to remote control CD playback & streaming MP3 via Winamp without firing up the projector.


So far, I've had little luck controlling WMP this way, so I don't use it.
 

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Looks interesting. As long as it has good integration in the rest of the home theater (meaning discrete IR codes for all commands) and had a gui that looks more like a set-top box (like tivo) rather then a computer I'd use it.


lance
 

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FWIW "10' UI" means a UI meant to be used from 10' away on your couch.


As far as MS "taking over:" that's the only way to get true integration in a product like this : one provider doing it all. And there's nothing stopping somebody else from doing the exact same thing. MS Freestyle, from the demo I saw, will bring the HTPC experience to Joe Blow and do it better than any of the hack jobs I've seen posted on this site. The HTPC community has had years to deliver this experience but all we have is Girdir, IRMan and a gob of lame ass VB apps.


On the demo I saw the underlying DVD decoder was actually from a well known vendor (you have all used the codec). The MPEG2 encoder was from a well known hardware vendor. The UI and music setup worked great with just a simple remote.


Go ahead, make fun of it. The folks who buy a FS box will be doing it all out of the box with none of the issues most HTPC geeks run into. And all the fucntions will look and work the same via a consistent control mechanism. No switching between apps meant to be used with a mouse and keyboard and trying to get them to work via some rube goldberg contraption of apps and hacks.


The demo I saw also showed it controlling sat and cable boxes, via a guide and timeshifting seamlessly.


Frankly, I liked what I saw. A clean, spiffy unified interface. A DVD player app that used the best DVD decoder codec out there and supported hardware decode via DXVA. Support for hardware MPEG2 encode and playback via DXVA and the hardware de-interlace built into modern video cards.


Like I said : the HTPC community has had years to deliver but has delivered nothing more than hacks. Don't like the MS offering? Then get off the pot and do one better.
 

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I do agree on the comments re: VB apps and hacks. Not the rest of your trolling however.


You're comparing the efforts of a couple dozen developers with funding, equipment, support staff and facilities against the efforts of most the time single developers with no funding and limited equipment.


So your argument is null and void.


I've (and so have others) coded my own apps to do what I want them to do. So yeah, I have no use for theirs. Ofcourse YMMV.
 

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It's funny seeing that a Microsoft employee happen to say something, and people started bashing. He already said that he's not part of that team, and still getting bashed.


My 2 cents:

If FreeStyle can be mixed-and-matched (I can change the DVD decoder for instance), that will help FreeStyle becoming a shell-standard. That means it's still HTPC based, but since I can use the best graphics card (Parhelia for instance), the best Video decoder (Cinemaster), the best Audio decoder (PowerDVD XP), the best Audio card (Delta 1010), my current remote (RadioShack OFA), etc. etc.; people can taylor FreeStyle to fit what they have/want.


I can agree to a full out-of-the-box solution, but I would also like to be able to customize it. I would want to be able to use WinAmp instead of Media Player (could be just for the very simple reason of WinAmp visualization plug-ins are awesome) - everything just needs to be standardized, either COM or Service-based, it doesn't matter.


Of course, since we know that MS will NOT be that open, we'll just wait for someone to hack it and change it :).
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Thanks to those that provided their thoughts on the Freestyle platform- both pro and con.


As for the comments regarding Windows Media- I feel compelled to respond:


- Origin and strategy of Windows Media - Back in the late 1980's and early 1990's, Microsoft developed the AVI and WAV formats for the PC and introduced this in Windows 3.0 with Multimedia Extensions 1.0. Based on overwhelming feedback that users wanted multimedia support on the PC, Microsoft continued to improve what it had started. The evolution of this is Windows Media Audio and Windows Media Video. We have a good sized team working on this across research and development in the New Media Platforms Group. Microsoft goal is simple- make Windows the best place to experience digital media and offer the highest quality at the smallest size. Corona will up that to 24-bit, 96khz, 6+ discrete digital channels.


- Consumer Rights & DRM - Balancing between Consumer Fair Use Rights and those of the Artist or publisher isn't easy for any organization working in the AV industry. So we tend to try to stay out of the middle and recognize we have customers who are consumers who should be able to do what they want with their media according to the law, and customers who have the desire to distribute and protect their original works. With WM Player, copy protection is entirely optional. Even WMA is optional as of MPXP based on good feedback from users like some of you here. If you want MP3 encode, add it for about $15 and still get album art, valid media info etc. in ID3 tags. We'd offer it for free except for the licensing cost for MP3 (that's not free either). So if you don't like Digital Rights Management - read the dialog box the first time you go to rip a CD, uncheck the only box on the screen. If you download content that is protected- it's been done by our customer- the artist or label.


- WM vs. X,Y, or Z. It's all about choice. It's not required, it's an option and a natural evolution of the AVI and WAV formats Microsoft developed for the first multimedia PCs as I mentioned above. It's about consumer choice. Where possible, we've licensed other formats for playback in our player. Anyone can license Windows Media easily. In fact, Windows Media has been licensed for use in AOL/Nullsoft WinAmp, RealNetworks RealOne/Jukebox, Lycos Sonique, Yahoo Player, Musicmatch JB and many others- you aren't locked into one player. We heard you wanted more MP3 support- we added it. We even made changes in Windows XP to put the choice of application back in the hands of the end user via AutoPlay- when removeable media such as CD is inserted to ask which application you want to use for playback. Now other 3rd party players bordering on malware have deliberately taken this choice out of your hands and force their own players to take over your autoplay and file type settings but Windows Media Player is an optional component of Windows- if you don't like it use another and it will honor your wishes.


- Open MPEG vs. Closed Windows Media. MPEG-2 is not free. Next-generation MPEG-4 is not free. A large portion of the video compression IP in MPEG-4 was contributed by Microsoft. Apple provided the file container. Both have been modified since. Windows Media is continuing to improve and is at least 30% more efficient today than MPEG-4. If you don't believe, I encourage you to attend a Streaming Media conference or NAB where you can see industry-standard tests in process using recognized methods.


-Motives - I'm concerned with one thing: continuing to improve the quality of AV compression, the end user experience, and make Windows the best place to experience it. If you don't agree w/ it or don't like Microsoft or Windows Media- entirely your right and we can respectfully disagree. I'm an enthusiast just like most of you and really appreciate constructive feedback-good or bad. I like making the things I'm passionate about better.


-Visual Basic "hacks" vs. Professional Development - BIG supporter of both. Maybe that's because I used to work on VB? ;)


I could go on for hours- but that's not a good use of anyones time. If anyone has specific questions regarding Windows Media, I'm happy to try to answer them via post or PM.


Respectfully,

Sean
 

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Sean,


I'm personally very happy with the way that MS has handled various media in XP. I have experimented with many different apps on my HTPC and never had any real problems. And I've always been able to get back to where I was if there was a problem. My HTPC has been running for about 4 months WITHOUT a single crash. Not bad.


Now onto a thought (desire?). I am currently struggling with setting up a whole house audio system. I decided on MP3 because, at the time, it was easier to have it everywhere. So I now have 4 Rio Receivers, various PCs, a Portable and a car MP3 player. If I could have a way to stream MP3s to all of my Rios and my PCs simultaneously, I'd be in heaven. The idea is to have the same stream playing in all rooms during a party, but then be able to play them seperately when desired.


See what you can do :D


Sam


PS. I also run a recording studio fully on (believe it or not) Windows 98. Unfortunately some of the hardware I'm running is not supported by XP, so it'll have to wait. BUT, it has been flawless. I've had as many as 40 tracks on a 750MHz PC with tons of breathing room. That's using Cakewalk Sonar which uses WAV files folks.
 
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