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It is not available to end-users and only comes with certain HP or Alienware PCs. I've yet to read anywhere here actually buying one.


The advtanges it offers are mainly in the UI area. With other software you can achieve quite similar results. I'd have to say this is marketed towards less knowledgeable users...
 

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Actually it seems to be getting quite good reviews from the people who actually use it. It is available from ABS, Alienware, CyberPower, Gateway, and HP. The HP model is available online or through Best Buy, Circuit City, or CompUSA. I don't have one (yet) but to me it seems to be the most elegant, robust, and easy to use package available - at least for my needs. You can check out the following links to see if it may be right for you:

http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/mediacenter/
http://groups.google.com/groups?grou...ws.mediacenter
 

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Yes, I know its not available to end user.

But I seem to remember an earlier thread on this forum, where some members had tested XP MCE. Maybe it was a beta, or something?

Anyway, I wanted an opinion on how it compares to other HTPC-sollutions. Maybe an end user version will eventually become available if the HTPC community signals interest in it???


Well, just wondering...


P..
 

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As the older thread in question suggested, it is possible to download and install the requisite files on regular XP Pro machines. It is merely a shell on top of XP. It ties into the TV tuner driver in a particular way however, which means most tuner cards (except those certified for use with it like the ones installed on the above mentioned vendors' media center PC's) will not work with it. The newest ATI All-In Wonder cards' tuners might work however.


The group at Microsoft responsible for the Media Center shell is not the same as the folks working on Windows Media technologies. In fact, they step on each other's toes office politics wise (a typical MS story). Therefore there's no meaningful integration / interoperability to speak of with Windows Media player / encoder video wise, and you e.g. cannot edit your TV recordings captured in Media Center, with Windows Movie Maker. The video quality of the time shifting recordings lags behind what's possible using Windows Media codecs version 8 or 9.


It is a pretty looking shell however for an HTPC; however, in plain vanilla XP you can set up default actions for whenever any media is inserted (be it a DVD or VCD movie, a CD with pictures or music, etc.) - making any prety screens to make these particular selections by hand irrelevant.


Alec
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by Alec
It ties into the TV tuner driver in a particular way however, which means most tuner cards (except those certified for use with it like the ones installed on the above mentioned vendors' media center PC's) will not work with it. The newest ATI All-In Wonder cards' tuners might work however.
In a particular way? It uses the windows driver model and supports cards that provide an MPEG2 stream. Although that is a "particular" way in that it's a specific way, it's also a standard way (and I would argue, a good standard). In the past, there have been lots of different formats and interfaces on the existing tuner/capture cards. Hopefully this will help the HTPC world by getting folks to use a standard interface. In theory any card that supports WDM and provides MPEG2 encoding should work. In reality, as we all know, the drivers for the cards usually have issues, so there are only two that are being used in MCE PCs.

Quote:
The group at Microsoft responsible for the Media Center shell is not the same as the folks working on Windows Media technologies. In fact, they step on each other's toes office politics wise (a typical MS story). Therefore there's no meaningful integration / interoperability to speak of with Windows Media player / encoder video wise, and you e.g. cannot edit your TV recordings captured in Media Center, with Windows Movie Maker. The video quality of the time shifting recordings lags behind what's possible using Windows Media codecs version 8 or 9.
You must work in one of those groups to have such insight. Interestingly enough, as mentioned above, Microsoft supports tuner cards that provide MPEG2, not their own proprietary standard. That's why the video quality isn't up to the WM9 quality. I also don't know of any cards that provide windows media 9 output on board. Doing it in software would require too much bus bandwidth, not to mention the CPU. Maybe as boards appear with hardware WM9 support MCE will support that as well. Personally, I'd like to see that, but who knows, if MCE switches to WM9, Microsoft will probably get blasted for not using an open standard. Damned if they do, damned if they don't :)
 
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