Microsoft SideShow — iPod Killer?

Just read an interesting article on Consumer Electronics Stock blog, it talks about SideShow (what used to be called auxiliary displays) and how they could be a route to unseat Apple’s domination of the music player world.
The piece explains that the displays are going to be more that just an extra displays on laptops they could be detachable devices with all your calender and contacts information on them that you can carry with you on the go.
It says the displays can also sync your music and video on the device and is an open platform for development.
This is where it gets interesting, the device does not have to be only on laptops, in fact at CES I saw a Silverstone PC running the display, and on Microsoft’s site it says they can be on "keyboards, LCD display casings, remote controls, and cell phones", so the components of it could be part of a mp3 player or a cell phone and it could be Microsoft’s way of developing there own hardware personal media players (PMP) as has been rumoured
The article goes on to say
"If this platform brought tight integration between Vista and PMP’s, that would be really bad news for Apple. Apple has been selling iPods to legions of Windows users who buy the iPod for its slick design and ease of use and are willing to accept Apple’s closed system as a tradeoff. Users will no longer need to make that tradeoff if the integration between Vista and the PMP is well done using SideShow."
The combination of Vista, Windows Media Player 11 and these devices could really unseat the ipod and its closed system
Interestingly they say that the guts of the SideShow are based on the same guts of the ipod (Portalplayer’s (PLAY) ‘Preface’ chipset.)

Cablecard Certification, What gets certified?

Ok, I am confused now.
I know that the operating system must be certified, so Vista is ok.
Now for the confusing part. Some people told me that the PC got certified, e.g Sony send there Vista Media Center PC off for certification and once thats done it will work. Other people told me that the individual components must be certified, e.g the Video card must be certified.
There is a lot of concern from DIY Media Center builders and small OEMS that they will get pushed out of the Media Center building market as they can’t or if they could its to expensive to get certified.
My guess is that there will be a minimum specification for cable card to work, eg Vista, the certified graphics card from ATI etc and then the certified cable card unit
Some OEM’s told be that they are cable card ready, and once the spec is ready they will put out cards for there PC’s

“According to my contacts at ATI, the OCUR device will be included as part of a "kit" that will be the box and a new PC. The PC is not certified by CableLabs in any way, instead MS publishes a minimum system configuration and the system has to meet these specs in order to be sold with the OCUR device. The OCUR device itself is the only thing that is actually certified by CableLabs."

This implys that OCUR units are only sold with new PC’s but any OEM could sell the OCUR unit


Any thoughts?




Coming up this week…CES Interviews

This week on the Media Center Show I have a collection of interviews I recorded at CES.
I interviewed Intel to get the details on the VIIV platform, I got an update Simplifi Audio about there new audio amps and I interviewed a  bunch of people at the Media Center Show Party including Thomas Hawk, Ed Bott, Ted Singh (guest from the first show) and many others
I will also have my first thoughts on the XBOX 360 as an extender

MCE Browser

(via Chris Lanier) MCE Browser is a new plug in for Media Center that enables you to browse the web via Media Center (an extenders)
It’s an interesting idea especially to read web pages on the XBOX 360. I still think RSS is a better way to read web pages but at least this way the site doesn’t need RSS support.

XBOX 360 Extender – it just works

Last night I finally got my XBOX 360. While most people would be dieing to get it connected up and shoot the enemy solders or race around the streets in a Ferrari I wanted to get mine connected as a Media Center Extender.
I got the unit plugged in to my TV (my new Sony TV is still on order), got it on to my LAN and selected Media Center from the dash board. The experience was amazingly simple. My PC prompted me to connect the 360, when I accepted the connection it downloaded the components from XBOX.COM ran the update and then prompted me to enter the code number that was displayed on the XBOX.
Within 10 minutes the XBOX was working as an extender complete with all my recorded TV, music and pictures.
I have never used a V1 Extender so have nothing to compare it with but compared to the "real" Media Center UI there are hardly any differences. You can use the standard Media Center remote and do everything you can do in the Media Center UI on the PC
Watching recorded TV was flawless and put very little strain on the host PC.
The whole out of box experience was very simple and straight forward, it just worked.
They tell me that the XBOX 360 also plays games, amazing

The Windows Media Center Show #42 Joe Belfiore (Microsoft)

The Media Center Show #42 (MP3 – 21.4MB – 1 Hour 02mins 22secs)
LISTEN HERE the RSS feeds are HERE

On this weeks show I have Joe Belfiore VP of the eHome division at Microsoft. I talked to Joe at CES and we chatted about how Media Center started, where it is now and where its going in the future. Joe is very passionate about Media Center and was good fun to interview.
I also have the Media Center Show News with Orb and email in to the show

Send your questions and feedback to (feel free to send your questions in mp3)
or you can send your questions and comments in to the show Skype Line “MediaCenterShow

Get your Media Center Show Gear


The forums are at

Show Times:

00:00 Show ident
00:46 Coming up this week
01:11 Email from Simon Worth
02:50 Is there a good Karaoke addin for media center
03:20 Photoshop Elements for Media Center?
04:09 Email from Al – HDTV
05:30 Updated URL for the show
05:46 Pictures of Vista
06:18 The Media Center Show news with Orb
06:34 Fix for DVB Radio issues
07:04 Google Earth on Media Center
07:25 Updates for Windows Media Center
08:40 Mix06 session with Windows Media Center
09:15 A message from TPN
10:24 Welcome to Joe Belfiore
11:00 eHome products
11:35 Media Center as part of Vista
12:26 The orgianl vision for Media Center
14:10 How Media Center came to the PC
16:15 Why does Media Center get regular update
17:20 V1 availabitly
18:37 V2 adding software and partners
19:36 Community feedback
21:00 Caller ID
21:38 Instant Messenger
22:47 HDTV in Vista
25:00 What excites Joe about Media Center
26:00 XBOX Extender
27:30 Success of Media Center
28:30 Media Center without TV Cards
31:30 Working with the Media Center community
33:20 3rd Party Apps
34:25 MyTVtoGo
36:55 Application Joe would like to see
38:40 Online Spotlight future
39:47 New ways of developing for Media Center
42:28 Other Media Center project at Microsoft
45:13 Media Center in Vista
47:00 Media Center in more that one SKU in Vista and in all Vista countries
48:18 DVD Decoders in Vista
49:07 Longterm view of Vista
53:26 New hardware
55:19 Thanks to Joe
56:00 Send me your feedback
56:25 Coming up next week
Music “Happy End” by Ian Dixon

DVB Radio “No TV Signal” Workaround

Peter Rosser has posted on his blog about a fix to the "No TV Signal" problem that can happen when tuning to DVB radio signals

"I am currently investigating a fix for two DVB Radio issues identified a workaround for those affected.  If you are getting a "No TV Signal" blue overlay when tuning to a DVB Radio station, particularly a low-bitrate station like BBC World Service, or you are seeing 15+ second channel change times for changing between DVB Radio and DVB Video channels, this workaround may apply to you."


DVB radio support is something that was added to Media Center with Roll Up 2 is still very basic. Most setup boxes display the channel logo etc but Media Center gives you a nice blue screen (not the BSOD!)

Details on the fix on Peter’s blog


Update thanks to Tricky for the updated URL

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