Hosting a cloud service is a constant revenue stream regardless of what the service is. Even the current Zune Pass is one of those services and one that requires you to either break the law or keep paying to keep all of the “free music” you have downloaded. Still many do not and will not see the issue with this as it is “only $14.95 per month”. I have had a Zune Pass account for over two years and after adding up the cost of the music that I have only as long as I keep paying for the service it still has not even come close to equaling the $360 that has been spent on the service. In fact I would be willing to bet that I have not even covered half of that with the amount of music both I and my daughter had grabbed from the service. However, it is convenient and that is what Microsoft is hoping people will think about their other cloud services and pay the small monthly fees without thinking about the actual amount they are spending in the long run. And by keeping the media tied to the service it makes is hard to break away because you will lose all of your music 30 days after you stop the service.
However, there is more to this than just pushing Sky Drive and a Music service. Microsoft is actually pulling support for Media Center in ways that just do not make sense. As we have found out earlier this month they are pulling the ability to run Media Center on startup AND the ability to have it run “always on top”. Both of these are vital to using Media Center for the basis for a home HTPC system. We knew that Microsoft is not going to ship Media Center by default. You will still have to pay for it, but now you will be paying for a crippled version. They are showing the consumer exactly what they think about this and then offering you their easier to use cloud services. For most users the option for Media Center will simply not be there. If you downloaded the latest release preview it is already gone unless you go through the steps to add it (and many are reporting that the key they got with the release preview does not work).
Now some of the people at Microsoft have argued that they had to do this because of the way Windows 8 runs. On top of these two items Microsoft is scrapping the TV Tuner and Media Center Remote Control/Receiver tests from their HCK (Hardware Compatibility Kit. They do say you can still get a signed driver based on the connectivity type (USB, PCIe, etc), but they will no longer provide Logo Certification for these products. What make this less than believable is that the options were there in the CPP of Windows 8 so why do they have to pull them now?
“The TV Tuner and Windows Media Center Remote Control and Receiver categories and tests are not included with Windows Hardware Certification Kit (HCK) because we are retiring these programs. You can use HCK to obtain a Windows 8 signed driver for these devices by passing the applicable tests. For example, if the device connects via USB, then the USB tests would appear. The tests that appear depend on the features that are detected, but there are no Windows Media Center or TV tuner tests in HCK. Original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) can use Windows 8 signed drivers as part of their pre-installation image.
Partners can still make submissions for the Windows 7 Logo Program in these categories, by using Windows Logo Kit version 1.6.”
We will say this one more time; Microsoft has a faster, cleaner and more secure OS getting ready to hit the market. Unfortunately they are getting in their own way by forcing the use of Microsoft cloud services, Microsoft accounts AND removing what people really liked about Windows; flexibility.
Sources: The Digital Life Style and The Digital Media Zone.
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