4 Responses

  1. Jon Deutsch
    Jon Deutsch August 10, 2008 at 3:25 pm |

    Wow, what a great opportunity. I honestly have more “preaching” than “questions” for the WMC team, but I’ll do my best to form my thoughts in the form of questions!

    1. Why was the decision made to link WMC so tightly to the PC experience? WMC is 90% the way to a STB (set-top box) experience, which is really what most consumers want connected to their televisions. What’s missing? Well, besides hardware specs and standards, WMC is missing a critical element: a “10 foot browse and install” experience for plug-ins. Think iPhone store on WMC. Imagine a 3rd party application ecosystem and a new WMC economy, complete with quality control and remote-control access to extensions to the fantastic baseline WMC environment. (see? There I go, preaching again! — sorry)

    2. How can WMC really compete if it’s not a profit-center for MSFT? As an element of 2 Vista SKUs, it’s relegated to being a ‘feature’ of a much larger beast. How can you really press for top-billing in investments and the best resources when there’s no distinct business model for WMC? It’s no wonder why the Xbox gets an official NetFlix client and WMC doesn’t — the Xbox model is around subscriptions to XBox Live! (i.e., $$) Are there any plans to develop a revenue model for WMC distinctly?

    3. Does the eHome team have a sense as to the number of users that interact via the desktop vs. 10foot experience? From some of the demos, it appears that the ‘softies still see WMC as an “application” in Vista rather than a “full-time media manager” for the family room.

    4. What’s the product roadmap? What’s the future look like? Why is there such a veil of secrecy? Sure, you want to protect good ideas, but WMC is still IN THE LEAD… and is quickly slipping with regards to mindspace. I’d be a much bigger “independent evangelist” if I knew what the future held for WMC. I’d even go out and buy a CableCard-ready system if I had ANY sense of SDV compatibility coming. But, alas, I have no idea if SDV will be supported.

    5. With the GUI and extensibility being the key competitive advantages over most STB DVRs, what’s the plan to further differentiate WMC from the competition? Or, better yet, what does the eHome team consider the competition to be??

    6. The future of content is software — so what are MSFT’s plans to further develop the platform to be a true, 360-degree media hub with built-in support for video servers like Hulu, YouTube, Break, and the myriad of other online content services emerging? The content distribution landscape is rapidly changing, and WMC is uniquely positioned to straddle the existing content distribution processes with the new, 2.0, approaches. I currently enjoy YouTube (via Yoogle) and a ton of Video Podcasts via TVTonic, but these are 3rd party add-ons with their inconsistent GUIs. Presuming we all agree on the future “softwarization” of content, when will support for these technologies be in the base product?

    7. The interactive ads in the Internet TV beta area are really good, and portend the future of profiting from the softwarization of content. Is MSFT interested in re-selling the enabling technology, or taking a slice for owning the eyeballs to the content, or both? These views will directly affect the future direction of WMC, and in this new era of crowd management, it’s best for WMC’s advocates to know what’s in the minds of the architects. We can help. Really, we can.

    8. We heard two years ago that CableCard restrictions would relax over time… any progress on that front? MSFT promised us that they would continue to press in this direction on their customers’ behalf. Just trying to keep it real.

    9. Why is the eHome team OK with releasing a product with the “buy” button on the Music playback screen not working? What a dropped ball — and a lost opportunity! I would really like embedded music try-and-buy service. Let me download/play any song on any participating/partner online music store, and then let me know that I need to pay if the trial period expires. I really want to spend money like this. I want WMC to help expose to me new content (a la Last.FM or Pandora) and then make it easy for me to buy it if I like it. Is this in the product road map?

    10. OK, a comment, and then a question: WMC is awesome. It’s the best in its class, and Microsoft should know that it’s fans will help them make it a success if they let us. It’s a solid framework, and a great platform for future home media management dominance. The business case is Microsoft owning the Home Theater — and WMC proves it’s possible. But we’re still far away from a successful implementation of a great baseline. Now, here’s the question: Are they up for the challenge?

  2. Jon Deutsch
    Jon Deutsch August 10, 2008 at 6:43 pm |

    Ah, I see some of the revenue models are being addressed with PlayReady:

    Good stuff. Never questioned Microsoft’s intelligence or ability to develop good innovative, profitable ecosystems. What I continue to question, though, is the “vision thing” for Media Center. Or, quite possibly, simply the inability or disinterest in communicating the “vision thing” to us.


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