Microsoft details Windows Media Center for Windows 8

02 Microsoft details Windows Media Center for Windows 8

Unlike previous versions of Windows, Microsoft is planning quite a change for Windows 8 when it comes to Windows Media Center. The company has explained the upgrade path from Windows 8 and Windows 8 Pro and it does hold at least one surprise, although it seems like Microsoft might've gone a little bit too far this time around.

Unlike previous versions of Windows, Microsoft is planning quite a change for Windows 8 when it comes to Windows Media Center. The company has explained the upgrade path from Windows 8 and Windows 8 Pro and it does hold at least one surprise, although it seems like Microsoft might've gone a little bit too far this time around.

No matter if you start out with a retail, upgrade or OEM version of Windows 8 or Windows 8 Pro, you can install Windows Media Center, but it will be available as two distinctly different upgrade packages. If you're on Windows 8 then you'll have to get what is known as the Windows 8 Pro Pack which upgrades your system to Windows 8 Pro with Media Center. On the other hand if you already have Windows 8 Pro, then you get the Windows 8 Media Center Pack which gets you to the same end result.

Microsoft hasn't come clean with the pricing as yet, so it'll be interesting to see what the upgrade costs are, especially from the more basic version of Windows 8, as you're in essence upgrading to Windows 8 Pro at the same time. However, there's a big catch in all this, as Microsoft has dropped native DVD playback in Windows 8, so you'll either need a third party solution, or Windows Media Center to be able to watch DVDs on your computer. That said, for many of us this is likely to be a non-issue, but it's still an odd move by Microsoft.

Windows 8 will come with support for H.264, VC-1/WMV and MP4 part 2 and it'll handle AVI, MPEG-2 TS (M2TS/MTS), MP4 and ASF video containers natively. Add to this support for non-disc based Dolby Digital Plus, AAC, WMA, MP3 and PCM audio in M4A, ASF, MP3 or WAV containers and you got all the formats Microsoft will support without additional upgrades. Windows Media Center will add DVD playback, although this will only be supported from within Windows Media Center itself and it will also add support for playback of VOB files and of course recording and playback of TV content if your PC has a compatible TV-tuner card.

Considering the vast option of third party programs to handle most of this, Microsoft might very well have shot itself in the foot here, as we can't see a lot of users getting Windows Media Center over some of the – in our opinion – much better options available. The only reason would be because of some obscure DRM limitation if you want to use your PC as a DVR, but that's really all we can think of. At the end of the day it'll all come down to cost and if Microsoft manages to price things right for once, it might not be all bad news.

Source: Microsoft

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