As it stands right now, Windows Vista Service Pack 2 still won’t include TV Pack 2008.
I haven’t heard official word from Microsoft, but I can confirm that TV Pack 2008 is absent from SP2. It’s not clear why the Media Center team didn’t add this. Microsoft has confirmed to me that TV Pack 2008 will not be included in Service Pack 2, see update at the end of the article.
As I’ve noted in the past, TV Pack 2008 adds a lot of cool features, ClearQAM support, the ability to mix and match analog, CableCARD, ClearQAM, and ATSC tuners all in one system. In fact, it’s an excellent way to get around the CableCARD DRM problem that Media Center still haves. A user with TV Pack 2008 can have ClearQAM tuners record content from most channels, while the CableCARD tuners will still (needlessly) add DRM to CableCARD-only channels.
The only problem? Microsoft refuses to offer a public download of TV Pack 2008. It still isn’t clear if you’re breaking the law, in Microsoft’s opinion, if you download TV Pack 2008 elsewhere. It is clear that they’re only offering it directly to OEMs, with the purchase of a new computer.
Microsoft still says they’re getting back to me on this, and many other questions that you submitted. When they do, I’ll be sure to follow-up on this.
Also, I have no idea if Microsoft will about-face and add TV Pack 2008 to the final release of Vista Service Pack 2. I am simply reporting on what I have seen from the first wave of beta releases.
Update: Microsoft just confirmed to me that they have no plans to add TV Pack 2008 to Windows Vista SP2. I’m still waiting to hear back why this update is any different than the Bluetooth and Storage feature packs, which are being added to SP2. Doubt I’ll hear anything you’ll want to read.
Why would they make it OEM only and then turn around 3 months later and put it in a service pack? Seems kind of dumb to me.
Steve, the answer to that is simple: Compatibility, and not enough time to test the update for SP1 deployment.
It’s the same argument that Microsoft uses to say why the Bluetooth and Storage Feature Packs are OEM-only. Those updates are getting rolled into SP2, why not TV Pack 2008?
OEMs can roll/slipstream these updates into their new installs, with much less testing required.
Now, I am giving Microsoft the benefit of the doubt with this argument, I suspect the reason that they really did it was to encourage the sale of new PCs with features like Blu-Ray burning, Bluetooth 2.1, and ClearQAM. By forcing people to wait until next year for the software that enables these (unless they buy a new PC), Microsoft in turn assures some of them will go out and buy a new PC… just for the drivers.
And, that helps Microsoft boost a rather bleak picture for Vista sales.
Why didn’t Microsoft include features popular in other PVR software:
Virtual Channels – I don’t like to have to use the ‘*’ button to tune my QAM channels. I’d like to reassign it to its ATSC equivalent.
Favorite Lineups – Why can’t we set one of these lineups as the default when we click on the guide button and when using the channel up/down button for channel tuning
Channel Logos – I don’t expect Microsoft to provide them, but at least give us a directory where VMC will look for them so we can provide our own
Now, that it provides up to 12 sources for Ultimate and 6 for premium, why does the OK/Enter button only take you to the last channel on the same source. Last channel across all sources makes sense.
H.264/Direct TV support – I know they were working on this but it doesn’t seem like we will see it until Windows 7.
John, I think the virtual channel scenario is because TV Pack 2008 is supposed to be tuner agnostic. Meaning, QAM has to have a separate set of channels from ATSC, because there may be someone who wants to use both in their system. I agree, using * wasn’t the best solution (many remote controls don’t have * on it), the user should have been able to chose from a series of wildcards.
As to favorites… I agree, but TiVo doesn’t have that done well either.
I’ve read where Microsoft thought of Channel Logos. The basic problem came down to that the team was too busy to get permission (and a set of images) from each operator. Not a good excuse, since TiVo has already done all that in a single release…
Channel flipping is meant to replicate a traditional TV or DVR, which would only remember the last channel.
As to H.264… I’ve already ranted on that.
Because their all Whores to the movie industry!
My other computer runs vista home with service pak 2 and still has media center–back to previous. This one– my tv tuner doesn’t work after service pak 2–back to previous.