Microsoft has admitted that people just don’t use the Media Center interface in Windows all that much.
Media Center gives people a special remote-controllable interface for watching TV and video, listening to music, and viewing photos.
It was introduced as a special version of Windows XP almost a decade ago, and later put into the high-end versions of Vista and Windows 7. PC makers sold a lot of copies of Windows with Media Center, and it has a devoted and vocal fan base.
But toward the end of today’s post on the Building Windows 8 blog, Windows chief Steven Sinofsky shot down comments from Media Center enthusiasts who claimed that lots of people use it.
In fact, only 6% of Windows users ever open Media Center, and most just look at it for a minute or two. As Sinofsky wrote:
Our opt-in usage telemetry shows that in July, Windows Media Center was launched by 6% of Windows 7 users globally with the heaviest usage in Russia, Mexico, and Brazil (frequency and time). However, most people are just looking around; only one quarter (25% of 6%) of these people used it for more than 10 minutes per session (individual averages), and in 59% of Media Center sessions (by these 6% of users) we see almost no activity (less than a minute or two of usage). TV was the most common scenario we observed, and not surprisingly, traditional media (DVD and CD) are less common (and declining over time) than streaming and file-based content. By comparison, Media Player (66% of Windows users in July) and IE (88%) are popular rendering engines for all types of media content, including an increased volume of “premium” and streaming content.
Sinofsky insisted that Microsoft is still committed to Media Center, and it will be released in Windows 8 in some form. But it won’t be in the early test versions — including the build that Microsoft is showing off at its BUILD developers conference later this month.
In the same post, Sinofsky also addressed the feedback Microsoft has gotten about some parts of the Windows 8 interface, like the Windows Explorer, and said that the company is already making some changes based on that feedback.
Whether or not you agree with all the design choices Microsoft is making, this blog is proving to be a very interesting spotlight into how Microsoft works.