Introducing Windows 8 Pro with Media Center

Last Updated on Friday, 4 May 2012 11:30 Written by Mire_B Friday, 4 May 2012 11:30

Microsoft clarified the addition of a, let’s call it twist, to Windows 8 Pro with extra Media Center bells and whistles. The new Windows 8 Pro with Media Center is more of a designation than the moniker for a fresh SKU of the upcoming OS, argued Windows boss Steven Sinofsky.

Sinofsky also tried to make it clear why Microsoft decided to sacrifice support for MPEG-2 and Dolby Digital, essentially killing DVD playback for Windows 8 devices. Windows 8 is adapting to the evolving world of content consumption, and part of this adaptation is the discontinuation of support for what Microsoft calls traditional media experiences, such as DVD playback and TV broadcast on PCs. The Redmond company has done the math and figured out that it’s simply not worth paying the IP royalties for codecs such as MPEG-2 and Dolby Digital, at the heart of DVD playback, when less and less users actually consuming content in this way.

Honestly, I can’t remember the last time when I popped a DVD into one of my computers to watch a movie, so I can’t say I’ll be shedding a tear for the loss of support for MPEG-2 and Dolby Digital.

Bernardo Caldas:

Given the changing landscape, the cost of decoder licensing, and the importance of a straight forward edition plan, we’ve decided to make Windows Media Center available to Windows 8 customers via the Add Features to Windows 8 control panel (formerly known as Windows Anytime Upgrade). This ensures that customers who are interested in Media Center have a convenient way to get it. Windows Media Player will continue to be available in all editions, but without DVD playback support. For optical discs playback on new Windows 8 devices, we are going to rely on the many quality solutions on the market, which provide great experiences for both DVD and Blu-ray.

We will offer two ways to acquire Windows Media Center:

Starting point OEM pre-installed, clean install, or upgrade End-user upgrade Acquire & install via Add Features to Windows 8 Ending point
Windows 8 Pro > Windows 8 Media Center Pack > Windows 8 Pro with Media Center
Windows 8 > Windows 8 Pro Pack >

Windows 8 Pro is designed to help tech enthusiasts obtain a broader set of Windows 8 technologies. Acquiring either the Windows 8 Media Center Pack or the Windows 8 Pro Pack gives you Media Center, including DVD playback (in Media Center, not in Media Player), broadcast TV recording and playback (DBV-T/S, ISDB-S/T, DMBH, and ATSC), and VOB file playback. Pricing for these Packs, as well as retail versions of Windows 8, will be announced closer to the release date. To give you some indication of Media Center Pack pricing, it will be in line with marginal costs.

Steven Sinofsky:

Are you adding another Windows 8 edition called “Windows 8 Pro with Media Center”? The Windows 8 Pro edition that includes Media Center will be named and branded Windows 8 Pro. The only difference is that it will include Media Center and you will also find a different string in the system properties where it will say “Windows 8 Pro with Media Center”. This is not a new edition of Windows 8.

Why do I have to upgrade to Windows 8 Pro to get Media Center? Trends in Media Center usage show a decline in the number of customers that use it on a regular basis, starting from a relatively small base as we previously blogged about. When we look at actual usage, most customers using Media Center and playing DVDs used Windows Ultimate and XP Pro/Media Center. We believe those customers will also be interested in the additional features provided in the Windows 8 Pro edition, such as Boot from VHD, Client Hyper-V, etc., especially if they are using Media Center on a PC used for general tasks.  Considering the audience and current usage, we conclude the vast majority of Media Center customers upgrading to Windows 8 will be to the Windows 8 Pro edition. In our efforts to keep the Windows 8 editions plan as simple as possible, Windows Media Center is only available on Windows 8 Pro. If you already have Windows 8 Pro and want to add Media Center, you just need to acquire the additional Media Center Pack as an in-place upgrade available via Add Windows Features (formerly Windows Anytime Upgrade).

What is the Windows 8 Pro Pack and why does it include Media Center? Windows 8 Pro Pack is an upgrade from Windows 8 to Windows 8 Pro. Like we described above, Media Center is only available on Windows 8 Pro. When you acquire the Pro Pack, we make it a single step that takes you to Windows 8 Pro with Media Center. The cost of the Media Center Pack is essentially built into Pro Pack. Again, this is an attempt to add simplicity to the process of acquiring Media Center.

What version of Windows Media Center will be included in Windows 8? The version of Media Center included in Windows 8 is what we shipped in the Windows 8 Consumer Preview. It is much consistent with what shipped in Windows 7.

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