I have been reporting on Microsoft’s Media Center since the start all the way back in 2004 when Bill Gates and Queen Latifah launched the product in LA.
My opinion of Media Center has never changed. I think it's a great product and it has evolved nicely over time. The media extender devices has made Media Center the best operating system for your flat-screen TV. But, one of the issues I’ve had with Microsoft executives is their out right denial that Media Center could be an effective way to mix Web site viewing with your regular TV show watching.
My point was that sites such as YouTube can be as entertaining as CBC, CTV, ABC, NBC, CBS, Global, CNN, PBS, etc. And, the fact that you could switch over from your stored media, TV and the Internet was a great feature of the Media Center.
But, Microsoft Canada executive never wanted to discuss the Web as an alternative viewing environment. I could never figure out why the staunch refusal until now. Within the next few days Google, Sony and Intel will announce they are joining forces to create Google TV. Google TV will take the form of a set-top-box for Internet-ready TV. And, if you surf around the Web there is a lot of TV content online from CTV.ca or Hulu.com (not available yet in Canada). Google TV will use its mobile operating system Android for Google TV.
Today, I can hook up my laptop to a projector and watch live content on a pull-down screen or the wall. For example, last summer’s World Baseball Classic game between Canada and the USA played at the Skydome was unavailable where I was so I watched it on my hotel room wall through a notebook/projector combination.
So why wouldn’t Microsoft want to embrace this concept? Well, the fact that there isn’t an MSN TV is your answer. Google is out in front and with Sony on board I can see Sony devices and flat screens that carry Google TV. I think with nine years under its belt with Media Center Microsoft should have had a Web TV platform by now, but they wanted to play by the rules and not upset the TV networks. They were not aggressive and now Google may supplant them in this area.
Two quick hits before I go. Cisco Canada has hired two senior level executives: Mark Kummer, vice president, Service Provider and Ron McDougall, vice president, Commercial Sales and Central Region. Kummer was formerly with 3M, while McDougall worked at Nortel Networks.
Also HP Canada has narrowed their search for a new channel chief down to four candidates.