Microsoft Set To Take On AppleTV & Roku?

We’re still about 36 hours from Microsoft’s CES keynote. Yet the Seattle Times looks to have stolen a bit of CEO Steve Ballmer’s connected home thunder:

Microsoft’s going to make a splash in this market with a stripped-down version of Windows tailored for set-top boxes and connected TVs. The software is a version of its embedded device software, overlaid with the Windows Media Center interface, with media streaming and remote-control capabilities.

This doesn’t come as an entire surprise, and was alluded to last spring. Yet, it’s been a long time since we’ve seen any new Media Center extenders (beyond the Xbox) and Microsoft’s been conspicuously absent from the small form factor set-top play… somewhat surprising¬†their long history in this space.

In fact, this isn’t first time MS has attempted to port the Media Center experience onto a consumer electronic device – as they tried to take on TiVo in 2005/2006 with the LG DVR pictured above. Hopefully this latest foray into the living room fares better. The market is ready, assuming they can successfully execute and offer something compelling/competitive. However, I’ve said it before and I’ll probably keep on saying it, MS is best served by more tightly integrating their properties and initiatives, such as Mediaroom and Media Center.

(via Business Insider)

14 thoughts on “Microsoft Set To Take On AppleTV & Roku?”

  1. Just release the Asus Companion Box with embedded Windows Media Center. DVR functionality with a nice interface. We’ve been exclusively using Netflix and Hulu Plus (on a Roku) for our TV veiwing and it’s not “cutting it”. The Hulu player on the Roku stops, stutters, and reboots the Roku…which generally just pisses the Mrs. off… :-)

  2. So I wonder if these new STBs will be able to be used as Windows Media Center extenders too? Watch recorded shows, music, photos from a remote Windows 7 PC. I still don’t entirely understand why Microsoft gave up on that area that had so much promise a few years back.

  3. I want to believe. I just don’t. Media Center is one of (the?) best products Microsoft makes but they treat it so poorly.

    This sounds like another shot at extenders and that would be welcome, especially if it spurred creation of more plugins that work on extenders. I just don’t have faith Microsoft can execute.

    I am still upset they killed WHS by removing Drive Extender.

  4. If they offer models with CableCARD tuners for a reasonable price things could definitely get interesting. Of course last i checked this would present its own problems. One issue is currently PCs can’t be used as extenders iirc. While not a problem for copy freely content, copy once content can be streamed to 360s and extenders, but not other PCs. This of course means for most people having two of these in a home assuming they have CC tuners and can even work together, some people might have the same issues they have with TiVo and MRV.

  5. This is very interesting. There have been rumblings about Microsoft re-entering the DVR market, and this could be just what we need to put some pressure on the industry to support CableCARD. Remember, though, that they’ve done this before not just with LG but also for DirecTV customers under the name UltimateTV (the support site still exists at ). Failed history aside, I’d love to see this happen. The DVR space really needs to be primed, and consumers need a big name like Microsoft to help them understand that they have more options than just TiVo and their service provider.

  6. Well I have heard rumors of some Win 7 embedded boxes with Ceton InfiniTV4 tuners built in. Up until now they have been no show though, but this could also be that MS wanted to make their announcement first.

  7. I’d love to see a Microsoft DVR, as long as its versatile enough to add tuners (network, USB, pci), or act as an extender. Although I don’t need any crazy networking options, MoCA or 802.11n is a must for the masses.

    TiVo disappoints me, moxi doesn’t look like it’s going anywhere, so let’s see what Microsoft can do.

  8. I hooked up a relatively new laptop with Win 7 Ultimate on it, so it includes WMC. I connected it to a Homerun network-connected tuner to OTA. It was really more of an experiment on one specific TV to see if the family could be weaned off of cable. For the most part, it’s got everything we need …. local streaming, viewing family pictures (the modern equivalent of the slide show), access to Netflix, Hulu, Youtube, DVR functionality. We don’t use or care for all of the added Tivo functions, like wish lists or suggestions, so it works very well for us.

    The only problem is that it is using a newer, more expensive laptop. I’d replace it in a heartbeat with a $200-$300 dedicated device.

  9. I hope this is true, but doubt it. For the first time since I can remember the Media Center team isn’t taking meetings at CES. Mediaroom, yes, Media Center, no.

  10. Too little too late! So several years later we now see who and what was driving them. This isn’t a bash on MS but truely seeing a company so poorly mismanaged and now doing it right.

    Roku has the idea, slim, very cost effective EndUser station. Something that can be built up instead of stripped down.

    MS, Google, Apple, etc have all failed because we want access and choice. We want to watch and access this content when we want and no longer held to a set schedule.

    On a side note, physical media is no longer an option. We want permenate license to content and no longer care about the “format” of the same media / content.

  11. Hey I’d love them to succeed but I doubt there’s anything here. If it doesn’t support CableCard it won’t work with my cable subscription. If it does it has to use external Tuning Adapters that crash, etc. And it’ll be too expensive for the cable MSOs to deploy compared to the junk they deploy now. So it’ll end up in retail, and die there with the rest of these things. Until something happens, like AllVid becomes clearer or something this space is a wasteland.

    After all the money they’ve thrown at Mediaroom and their other TV initiatives they’ve still got so little traction. A few international deployments sure, and AT&T uses some of it, but that’s it. Isn’t even obvious they’re going to continue with their current investment in Windows Media Center given how little success they’re having. Maybe they should just give up on that and provide a way to use external tuners with the XBox or something.

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