Tag Archives: Vista

Netflix Arrives for Vista Media Center

Netflix on VMCGood news for families (like ours) that use VMC (Vista Media Center) in their living room (or I guess anywhere you watch TV). Over the next 48 hours, Microsoft will be rolling out a new plug-in for their software that will allow you to watch content from your Netflix Instant Queue. I mentioned back in December when the NXE update arrived for the XBox 360, that it would be nice to have a better player for the PC.

I only wish that the PC player was as good. On a PC, you need to disable the screen saver otherwise you’ll be moving the mouse periodically. The quality is good on the PC player though. There are a couple Vista Media Center plug-ins for viewing shows, but they aren’t on the same level as the XBox player. I’m going to continue looking at them since the browser based player doesn’t work well from 10 feet away. Not being able to use the remote to pause and fast forward the movie is very unattractive on an HTPC.

Looking at the feature list, this plugin will support the pause, fast forward and rewind using the remote that I’ve been looking for and will also include a rather snazzy interface. There is a Microsoft video that will show the new VMC Netflix plugin in action. There are a couple of unofficial plugins that provide for Netflix viewing, but none of them look this good.

The only downside with the new plugin is the lack of extender support. However with Linksys and others discontinuing their extender devices, the whole extender ecosystem seems to be falling apart at the seams. Note to Microsoft: please produce a version of your XBox 360 that is quiet. Regardless, thanks for sharing the love with my VMC. Now we just need Netflix to step up to the plate and provide fresh content on a regular basis.

Windows 7 at RC1

This week Microsoft publicly released the first Release Candidate for the new operating system Windows 7. With this new operating system they hope to erase the bad image of Vista in the minds of computer users (an image that was helped along by Apple’s very successful commercials). From Anandtech:

Never underestimate the power of marketing – many people can tell you they don’t like Vista, few can tell you why. That’s marketing.

It seems that I’ve been living in an alter universe for the past couple years. While cries of anguish were being heard from people upgrading from XP to Vista, I was happily computing away on my 64bit Vista install. Even now I still prefer Vista to XP (including gaming). This doesn’t invalidate the experiences that people have had, but it does mean that it is hard for me to empathise. Regardless, Microsoft feels your pain and it is going as far as a total rename of the operating system to get that “V” word out of your memory.

A Peek at Windows 7So what’s new? Nothing major, but a whole lot of minors. The graphics subsystem is being tweaked to provide much better performance (especially with newer hardware). A new taskbar which resembles that of the Mac OSX is on the way as well. Expect it to be accompanied by a whole host of GUI tweaks. Unfortunately, the new Media Center application will now be more heavily loaded with DRM (digital rights management). Specifically, it is trying to manage the rights of the movie studios and other content providers. So we will finally get QAM tuning (HD television from a cable with the box), but we can’t edit the shows if they are marked as protected. Okay, I guess that’s fair as long as I can skip the commercials. We lose a couple things as well: email client, calendar application and Windows Movie Maker. These get booted to a separate download thanks to the Department of Justice (which is just fine by me). For a complete rundown including performance numbers, check out the Anandtech article that I linked earlier. 

Feeling lucky? Grab a copy of the new OS and give it a try. The Windows 7 RC1 is available for another couple months and will expire in June of 2010 (which will require you to purchase a license at that time). You can expect the final release around October or November of this year. Nothing like a fresh marketing campaign for the holidays.

Giving Netflix a Try

Netflix for XBOX NXEWith the release of the new XBox Experience (NXE) on Nov. 19th, Microsoft also released a Netflix Instant Watch software module. With this new piece of software, XBox Live gold subscribers that also have a Netflix account are able to watch shows on their Instant Play queue. I had tried Blockbuster’s plan recently, but when they changed their in-store exchange rules it seemed the value just wasn’t there for the lower plans. So I signed up for a NetFlix trial to see how it would compare. Continue reading Giving Netflix a Try

The Frustration of Live TV

It is amazing how different it is to watch live TV after having gotten used to DVRs (in my case Vista Media Center). Having a digital video recorder grab a copy of what we want to watch ahead of time is very helpful. I really, really don’t care for commercials and being “forced” to sit through them is frustrating. On Wednesday I was watching Game 1 of the World Series with Mimi (who is in town for a few days) and quickly lost interest in the game when my time shifting caught up with the actual game (i.e. I couldn’t skip forward anymore). Being able to quickly move through the breaks is very nice. Then there is the side benefit of not being surprised by the raunchiness of some advertisers. In the end, watching less “live” TV makes you want to watch less “live” TV. Two thumbs (way) up for DVRs.