Windows Media Center Envy

It’s been a hell of a long time since I’ve tweeted or blogged anything. Heaven knows why, I just haven’t found the time as I have been busy all evenings lately, but I thought I would drop my head in the door just to say hi with this one.

Since my last writing, a lot has been going down in Microsoft town: Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 RTM announcements and Windows 7 RTM being available to Partners and MSDN and TechNet customers by August 6th (yes please), Office 2010 Technical Preview, updates for Windows Home Server, Silverlight 3.0, Expression Studio 3.0 and more products to cover in numerous blog postings.

In this post though I wanted to mention my envy for Americans. I’m not normally one to think the grass is indeed greener on the other side but this is a bone of contention for me – TV.

In the UK we have quite a few choices: Freeview, Freesat, Cable (Virgin Media) and Satellite (Sky). Freeview and Freesat are working their way as integrated components on modern HDTV’s. Virgin Media only allow you to use their equipment because you are leasing it, and Sky use encryption and other techniques to force you to use their equipment.

Jump to the other side of the great lake and you get things like this: http://www.engadgethd.com/2009/07/27/windows-7-media-center-review/

I’ve looked at the features in Windows 7 Media Center previously however I’ve never spent too much time on it because the UK market doesn’t warrant its use unfortunately.

As the review states, Windows Media Center in Windows 7 is the best PVR you can get and has some excellent features which make Virgin and Sky’s offerings like pre-industrial revolution, however due to the lack of support by UK product vendors we get the raw deal.

My request to anyone at Virgin or Sky reading this?

Make your own TV tuners and charge over the odds for them, give us the option to use MCE officially and explain how we can do it without CAM’s and modules and hacks or whatever, just let us use a superior product please.

Sure I could use Freesat or Freeview with MCE but what really is the point?
We have Sky in our home and we don’t get the premium packages (like Sports or Movies) except for the Eurosport bolt-on for MotoGP but the channels available with the package we do have still outweighs the idea of going back to Freesat.