It is an open secret that the next version of Windows Media Center, code-named Fiji was to be the update that would bring the major updates in functionality that Vista Media Center users were hoping for. Unfortunately, all anyone has heard about Fiji in the last couple of months is that it is in beta testing, that it might be released late this year, and rumors that Fiji would bring support for the HDPC-20, the DirecTV tuner for Vista Media Center.
First, the bad news. Turns out the good guys over at EngadgetHD have learned the first release candidate of Fiji has just been issued to beta testers and that it lacks the native H.264 support that was necessary for the DirecTV tuner. Piling on the bad news are rumors that this H.264 support and the DirecTV support are being pushed to Windows 7, the next version of Windows due in 2010, and that Fiji will be called the Windows Media Center TV Pack and will only be available through OEMs.
The bad news is somewhat tempered by rumors that the DirecTV beta is being handled in a smaller private beta to avoid leaks, but Microsoft has not responded to EngadgetHD’s request for information.
There is good news too, according to EngadgetHD’s sources. Evidently the Fiji release candidate is packing native QAM support, expanded tuner support for international users, the ability to assign over the air channels any channel number you want, and additions to the UI and recording preferences for HD. There are also reports that DVR-MS, the file format that Media Center uses for recorded television is being replaced with a new format, WTV.