Windows Vista’s Media Center in Review
Windows Media Center is one of the biggest improvements and most significant new features in Windows Vista. The new interface (which we cannot take screencaptures of – read on) is really nice, and far surpasses the rest of Windows Vista in terms of true style and nice effects, not overdone, but great looking nonetheless. It appears that in between build 5472 and RC1 somewhere along the way Microsoft decided to switch from the native Windows forms API to a DirectX-powered rendering engine (which cannot be captured with Print Screen).
The interface hasn’t changed much (at all) since 5456 however, so these old captures show how it really is. The only reason Microsoft would switch to a different rendering engine is in an attempt to improve Media Center performance, which has thus far been absoloutely dismal. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to have been of any use. Media Center still bogs down even our powerful test machine (Core 2 Duo Inspiron), takes forever to load, and is laggy at the best of times.
Windows Media Center is now a complete OS Shell in its own right: without leaving it you can connect to wireless networks, search the web for music and videos to watch, configure your display, resolution, and audio (independantly of the rest of the OS), as well as tune in to your cable or sattellite TV channels. In a word, it’s complete. But it’s terrible.
There may still be hope for it, after RC1, technically speaking, all a company should do is optimize, and optimize some more. But at the same time, RC1 is full of optimizations for other parts of the OS, and nothing hasn’t been optimized.. except for Windows Media Center. It’s a real shame because it’s far better than it’s predecessor, Windows Media Center Edition, and all it needs is a bit of effort to make it great..