How can an OS as smart as Vista still be so dumb?

NtscI like Vista. Really, I do. In fact, I’m very impressed with the latest build as I’ve used it all day on my desktop. I guess where I’m struggling is in the decision-making we sometimes see from Microsoft on the new operating system. See, on the original partition of the desktop, I’m running Microsoft Windows Media Center Edition 2005. With WMCE, I watch free HDTV via an over-the-air ATSC tuner card; I even stream that HDTV signal via WiFi to another HDTV by using an Xbox 360 as a Window Media Extender. That configuration works great but there was one issue with it: in order for me to configure the digital TV, or ATSC, tuner in WMCE 2005, I had to have an analog, or NTSC, tuner card. This is a requirement in the 2005 edition of WMCE and I sullenly complied, even though I haven’t watched analog television in my home since November of 2001. So what’s my beef with Vista and it’s Media Center functions? The analog tuner requirement is still there.

I’m really hoping that this requirement is just in there for the beta and that the final product doesn’t have this silly limitation. And it is silly from a end-user point of view, although I can’t speak to the technical reason it’s required.

It’s silly because Vista will have a life-cycle of four or five years, minimum. Does Microsoft know when analog television signals will be shut down by law? Maybe not, but I do, and this shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone who wants to provide the means for digital entertainment to our family rooms. On February 17th, 2009, all analog television signals in the United States will be gone. Not all at one time on that day, mind you, since stations have been transitioning their analog systems to digital for some time.

Perhaps there’s a technical reason for the requirement, although I would find that hard to believe since I don’t think third party DVR apps like BeyondTV, Sage TV or Myth have the same requirement. Perhaps this is just a beta requirement as I said (and hope). Worst of all: perhaps this is just poor decision-making that will force consumers to buy an NTSC hardware card that will become obsolete. Thoughts?

-kct

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