With Windows Vista, Microsoft also made Windows Media Center an integer part of the operating system, instead of delivering it as a separate edition (which has been the strategy applied with Windows XP). Windows Media Center ships by default with the Home Premium and Ultimate editions of Vista. This was an interesting move from Microsoft, as it managed to pack everything but the kitchen sink inside its latest operating system only to increase the appeal of the product to the end users. Still, there are alternatives to Windows Media Center, and one of them is LinuxMCE. The Media Center solution for the Kubuntu distribution of the Linux
operating system is a fully fledged Windows Media Center competitor. However, Microsoft does not seem to
share this point of view.
“LinuxMCE is a free, open source add-on to Kubuntu including a 10′ UI, complete whole-house media solution with pvr + distributed media, and the most advanced smarthome solution available. It is stable, easy to use, and requires no knowledge of Linux and only basic computer skills,” reads a message posted on the official LinuxMCE website, also revealing some features associated with the media and entertainment capabilities of the product: “3D alpha-blended GUI optimized for displaying on a TV and using a remote control. Media browser presenting all content on all devices in the home on a 3D rotating cube. Plug-and-play detection and aggregation of network storage and DMA’s. Built-in NAS providing centralized backup and whole-house media server. “Follow Me” Media, each family member’s media follows him/her through the house.”
Well, believe it or not, Charlie Owen, Product Manager on the Media Center team, had a crack at LinuxMCE. Here is what he had to say: “I downloaded and tried to install LinuxMCE build 0704. This was another attempt to install one of the Linux based media center / personal video recorder solutions — this one in particular was interesting because of all the claims about how much better it was than Windows Media Center. The install of Kubntu was was seamless enough using the Quick Install DVD but it was all downhill afterwards. I couldn’t get it to load with alpha blending or masking settings — it kept failing due to the fact it couldn’t start the Orbiter. Finally got the setup screens to launch by selecting the basic UI. That’s where I got stuck — I couldn’t even get past the initial setup screens after trying to do so after an hour. Perhaps LinuxMCE is great if you can get over all of the hurdles.”
Owen works on the Windows Media Center team and was trying out a rival product; this is a man that is used to deal with technology at the most intimate level on a daily basis, and he failed to even get past the LinuxMCE setup. What does that tell you about an average user? If Owen’s experience is indeed genuine, then LinuxMCE is not an alternative to Windows Media Center, but still, the Media Center open source solution for Linux just got downplayed. Microsoft is currently hard at work building the next version of Windows Media Center, codenamed Fiji. At this point in time, Fiji is planned as a standalone product sometime in 2008. Microsoft failed to deliver any additional information.
Microsoft, Windows Vista, Windows Media Center, Vista Media Center, Linux Media Center, LinuxMCE