Media Center PC

Microsoft kills Media Center for Windows 10

If you're a Windows user and Windows Media Center is your media player of choice, there's bad news coming with the future release of the Windows 10 operating system. Microsoft has confirmed that the software will not be included with, and is in fact incompatible with, Windows 10. While Media Center has been a part of the operating system up until the latest version of 8.1, active development on the software actually ended back in 2009. Speaking to ZDNet during the Build developer conference last week, Microsoft stated that any PCs updating from Windows 7 or 8.1 will lose all Media Center functionality.

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ASUS VivoPC and VivoMouse make a high-design play for your living room

Lest you think ASUS' Computex 2013 range is all tablets and glossy ultrabooks, never fear: the company also has some new desktop PCs, kicking off with the Mac mini-rivaling VivoPC and its matching hybrid VivoMouse controller. Angling for a spot under your TV, the ASUS VivoPC is a compact Windows-powered media center, while the VivoMouse tries to take on the duties of a mouse, a touchpad, and a remote control all in one.

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Microsoft buys video-searching VideoSurf for Bing and Media Center

Microsoft has snapped up intelligent video search specialist VideoSurf, in a deal worth around $70m that could see Bing and future Media Center releases dig through streaming media content more accurately. VideoSurf uses computer vision to actually scan through footage hosted by YouTube, Hulu, DailyMotion and others, indexing them by content rather than just whatever tags uploaders have added; the deal, Calcalist reports, is expected to primarily improve Microsoft's Bing rivalry against Google search.

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Apple axes Front Row from OS X Lion

Apple has quietly retired Front Row, its media center interface for Macs, which has disappeared as of OS X Lion's release earlier this week. Added back in October 2005, Front Row was arguably Apple's answer to Microsoft's Media Center builds of Windows; today, it seems the Cupertino company would rather you just bought an Apple TV since, as Macworld notes, hitting cmd + esc in Lion no longer brings up the familiar sofa-friendly interface.

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Verbatim Announces home network box MediaShare Mini

This is what you're going to want if you want to have Netflix streaming content to your television and you basically have no idea how to do that. This is Verbatim's MediaShare Mini network box, and it's made for basically just that: allowing users to connect TVs and/or computers to stream multimedia content OR use connected USB drives to play local files (if you're a downloading sort of person.) You get a browser based interface to run the media hub, the box supporting as many as four connected drives.

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Linksys Media Extenders temporarily bricked after Microsoft server shut-down

Linksys' ill-fated Media Extender devices for Windows Media Center are suffering an ongoing bug that has rendered them useless in the US, with what appears to be an offline update server leaving the DMA2100 and DMA2200 showing nothing but a black screen. The issue has been reported by multiple owners, though is apparently not affecting Europe (the update server for which is apparently still active).

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Boxee Beta announced: faster performance & tweaked GUI

Boxee have announced the new beta of their media center software.  Among the changes include a new homepage, with clearer menu options together with a recommendations pane showing suggestions from Twitter and Facebook, improved handling of files with live searching, and filtering by genre and cost.  The new Boxee beta also combines local and streaming files and organises TV series by episode, while third-party developers can now use OAuth authentication to log into web services.

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Media Center for Windows Deserves Some Respect

When I first was briefed on the Media Center edition of XP by Microsoft, I thought MCE was a pretty bad idea. A lot of my skepticism had to do with the market they claimed they were going after, namely college students in dorm rooms and yuppies living in cramped apartments with no room for both TVs and PCs. Of course, college students mostly buy laptops, and no matter where you live most folks don't watch TV on a small computer monitor from across the room. The short-term market were enthusiasts who understood the value of a DVR such as a TiVo.

Over time, Microsoft tried a few approaches with MCE – from extenders to allow you to view content on other TVs in the home over your network, to creating extender technology for Xbox (which is already hooked up to a TV set) – as well as working with a host of OEMs to create "living room" form factor home theater PCs. The result of these efforts was less than a stellar success and few vendors actively build home theater PCs; these days, if a consumer uses media center they're either an enthusiast or they've tripped over it by mistake trying to do something else. That's a shame, as MCE has evolved over time to become a great technology, one that few people even know exist.

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Maingear Axess HD Gamer: Core i7, dual GeForce 9800 GT and Phantom Lapboard

Maingear have announced a new PC that can't decide quite whether it's for gamers or HTPC enthusiasts.  The Maingear Axess HD Gamer has its sights on your living room, and uses a low-profile aluminum case; however inside there's an Intel Core i7 processor, up to 12GB of DDR3 memory and dual NVIDIA GeForce 9800 GT graphics cards in SLI configuration.  The Axess HD Gamer is also the first system to come with the Phantom Lapboard.

Averatec D1200 1080p All-in-One PC

Averatec have announced another all-in-one PC, this time a 25.5-inch model with a full 1080p High-Definition display.  The Averatec D1200 is, according to the company, the largest all-in-one available for under $1k, and comes with a standard hybrid TV tuner, 2.5GHz Intel Pentium dual-core E5200 processor, 4GB of RAM and a 320GB hard-drive.

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