Sunday, May 20, 2007

No More Portable Media Center Devices

If you have been reading this space, I work on the Zune team. The user interface of the Zune 1.0 release was based on the Portable Media Center (PMC) codebase. PMC was conceptualized in order to take the Media Center PC experience to hand-held devices, and to create an eco-system of Media Center devices, and establish Microsoft's presence in the living room.

To quote the article:

When Microsoft announced its line of Portable Media Center devices back in 2004, it did so amid speculation that the company was preparing one or more iPod killers. In theory, the combination of Windows XP MCE and a PMC device would create (or at least approximate) the sort of digital hub that Apple and other computer manufacturers have talked about creating for any number of years.
This idea has run its course, and since the vision document was first drafted, the PMC platform hasn't produced a single winner. To add insult to injury, PMC based devices have been consistently panned by industry watchers, and their tepid reviews have finally rung the death knell for the platform.

According to a post made by David Bono on the newsgroup:
Microsoft is no longer licensing the PMC software... As part of the ongoing review of our product investments, we have decided to take what we have learned from our investments in Portable Media Center and focus our product and marketing resources on building media experiences on connected Windows Mobile powered devices.
Here is my analysis of this announcement:

1. With the impending release of the iPhone, it isn't a stretch to realise that Microsoft is feeling the heat to release a device on par with the iPhone. There was a time when Microsoft wasn't renowned for its prowess in Industrial Design; with the exception of the great keyboards, mice and the Digital Sound System, Microsoft had no appealing customer releases. The XBox 360 has turned this tide; the success of the console has given us the expertise, experience, chutzpah even, to make the right and dare I say bold, Industrial Design decisions to woo customers. I am going to go on a limb and say that it isn't imperative that a Windows Mobile powered phone makes an appearance from the Microsoft stables in the immediate future. That would be a fool-hardy move. The first step would be to create a compelling software platform that trumps the iPhone's software stack.

2. As a Zune employee, this announcement rings in a happy note for me. There is now a distinct possibility for the Zune platform to emerge as the de facto consumer media device platform at Microsoft, like the XBox is for Gaming. Consumer devices is a nascent area of development at Microsoft. Being on the team that has the potential to become a standard within THE company known for creating multiple solutions for the same problem is both heartening and invigorating.

To the future...

1 comment:

  1. so its not really going away and there will be more devices but they will using the technology but it's been rebranded in house as Zune. thats awesome and I hope it works well for you and Microsoft.