Microsoft said Thursday that the Windows Media Center available as part of its next-generation Windows 8 operating system will no longer provide playback support for DVDs and Blu-ray discs or broadcast TV.
"Globally, DVD sales have declined significantly year over year and Blu-ray on PCs is losing momentum as well," noted Bernardo Caldas and Linda Averett, who are members of Microsoft's Windows Business Group and Developer Experience team, respectively.
Whether measuring unique users, minutes, percentage of sources or other parameters, DVD and broadcast TV consumption are in sharp decline in comparison to where they stood when Microsoft launched Windows 7, Caldas and Averett wrote in a blog post Thursday.
"Our telemetry data and user research shows us that the vast majority of video consumption on the PC and other mobile devices is coming from online sources," they said.
The New Age of Online Delivery
According to a recent study by IHS iSuppli, paid consumption of movies online will reach 3.4 billion views or transactions in the United States this year. By contrast, U.S. consumption of video delivered on physical media is only forecast to reach 2.4 billion views.
The growth in online consumption is part of a broader trend, noted Dan Cryan, a senior principal analyst at IHS. The total number of movies consumed from services that are traditionally considered 'home entertainment' grew "by 40 percent between 2007 and 2011 -- even as the number of movies viewed on physical formats has declined," Cryan said in March.
The driving force behind the rapidly changing U.S. media landscape is the unlimited online media delivery plans being offered to subscribers by companies such as Netflix, Amazon and Hulu, which accounted for 94 percent of all paid online movie consumption in the United States last year.
"The year 2012 will be the final nail to the coffin on the old idea that consumers won't accept premium content distribution over the Internet," Cryan said.
Still, the transition from the era of movies on physical media such as DVDs and Blu-ray discs to the new age of online delivery is likely to take time, Cryan noted. "Almost nine years after the launch of the iTunes Store, CDs are still a vital part of the music business," he said.
Saving Partners Money
Microsoft's decision to jettison physical media and broadcast TV playback capabilities from its next-generation Windows Media Center offering is based in major part on feedback from the software giant's hardware manufacturing partners. The playback of optical media and broadcast TV requires the addition of a specialized set of decoders, which command significant royalty payments.
"Our partners have shared clear concerns over the costs associated with codec licensing for traditional media playback -- especially as Windows 8 enables an unprecedented variety of form factors," Caldas and Averett said.
Microsoft's decision is also based on customer feedback about Windows Media Center with respect to displaying movies, Internet TV, broadcast TV, and other multimedia content. "Many said in comments and e-mail to us, that so long as the feature is available somehow it is fine," noted Steven Sinofsky, the president of Microsoft's Windows business division.
The bottom line is that Windows Media Player will continue to be available in all editions -- but without DVD playback support. "For optical discs playback on new Windows 8 devices, we are going to rely on the many quality solutions on the market, which provide great experiences for both DVD and Blu-ray," Caldas and Averett said.
Posted: 2012-06-11 @ 10:02pm PT
Media Centre, they still make that? I thought it died back with XP years ago. Never saw the point myself. It was always a windows environment with some clunky additions, so few will care. TV playback was always better from third party software and hardware anyway.
I think the real motive here is pressure from the movie industry to try and limit piracy, which MS have been paying lip service to since they tried to limit what optical drives would do as far back as XP.
It never did really have much effect and I doubt this will either.
Posted: 2012-05-07 @ 12:25pm PT
That was the very last reason I have a use for Windows of any version. Buh-bye Microsoft...