Tuesday, 29 April 2008

Windows Media Center sucks

The other day a friend came over with a divx movie of a live gig and his laptop. We got a few beers in, burned the movie to a DVD and settled in to watch the gig. Or at least, that was the plan.

I have my surround sound and TV hooked up to my xbox 360 and so placed the DVD into the 360's drive tray. However, it wouldn't play the DVD and said it was an unknown format. It was a standard data disc burned from Vista. So it was kind of surprising that the Microsoft console couldn't read a disc made by the latest Microsoft operating system. Still, not to worry, no problem, we thought. We can just use the 360 to stream the video right from Vista.

Only we couldn't seem to get his laptop onto my network. In fact, he'd never used his WIFI capabilities on his laptop before and had never successfully connected to any wireless network and he was unable to get onto mine, despite having all the right security credentials, the 360 being on it and my Macbook. Ah well, time to go grab an ethernet cable.

They connected with a cable fine and a few wizards later and windows media center was running on both platforms. Some confusing file dialogs later and we had got the divx video into the menu system, but alas, it wouldn't play it anyway, complaining about codecs. It even complained about codecs when selecting it on the Vista laptop - despite being able to play it fine in Windows Media Player. But that isn't the full story of why media center sucks. Oh no. While hunting around its (admittedly nice) user interface, we discovered some sample videos of things like a bear in a river. A quite strange selection, but they played fine, but my friend decided he didnt want the bear on his laptop, so deleted the file through the media center interface.

That was enough to totally confuse it on both platforms, giving us error messages about not being able to find and play the video. So get this. Deleting a file through the media center interface stuffs it up. How simple is it to program that kind of functionality? Answer - very simple. Microsoft, we found a bug in five minutes. Media center sucks.