Engadget HD posted an article that really was disingenuous, in my opinion. I’d link to it, but that would be giving them a SEO benefit for poor work. Basically, the article initially claimed that it had found out why Microsoft never released Vista Media Center TV Pack 2008 to end users.
Unfortunately, when you hit the Read More link, the article was nothing more than an editorial… and even concluded that its initial premise (of getting to the bottom of this) wasn’t really found. Great way to lure in readers, Entrapet?
Even that said, I don’t buy the premise which they were making. That premise was that TV Pack 2008 was meant to train OEMs in the United States on what Windows 7 Media Center would entail, and give European customers DVB-T tuning support. And, also that OEMs were informed that they would want to avoid shipping TV Pack 2008 to customers, because of its unreliable state.
This is the point where I put my hand on my face and sigh a lot. First, OEMs must never have gotten that memo, if Entrapet HD is to be interpreted correctly… because everyone from HP to top-tier premium HTPC manufacturers have been shipping TV Pack 2008 since when it started shipping. Two, bad behavior doesn’t justify good intentions. TV Pack 2008 is buggy, everyone knows that… that’s why Microsoft starts to stutter when you ask about it. It doesn’t mean that it was a beta or developer preview.
Why? Because Microsoft releases developer previews and betas all the time. If they wanted OEMs to not ship a product, they’d do that like they always do. And, unlike Entrapet’s assertion that only enthusiasts are ticked about TV Pack 2008… that’s quite false. Many average people bought into the Vista Media Center and CableCARD waves, looking to replace their TiVo. Now they get nothing but FUD about the solution, well until recently. Now they’re told to just wait (and pay) for the bug fixes in Windows 7.
Here’s my take. And, this is only my take, not something I’m going to write off as “getting to the bottom of it.” I think that at some point, Microsoft realized Vista had failed. So, the team began working on Windows 7.
But, at the same time, they realized that they promised Europe DVB-T, and Hauppauge wanted to offer the HD PVR with Media Center. Oh, and the CableCARD people were fuming about their $3,000 systems not working right. An update had to be made.
And, so it was made. Unfortunately, like the rest of Vista, it too was a failure, due to countless bugs and problems (those are the bugs and problems that we TV Pack 2008 users suffer/suffered with… and Microsoft still has yet to fully admit to… and probably won’t until legal obligations/memories are long in the past). So, faced with splitting the difference, the HD PVR support was gutted (removing the H.264 components) and TV Pack 2008 went to the OEMs in Europe. Everyone else got the code bits to look at, but only because Microsoft wanted something to show for three years of work.
My advice to Microsoft: Give any CableCARD owner a free upgrade to Windows 7. That will start to heal the awful track record of TV Pack 2008, even for those still waiting for its features.