Editorials: Switching to Connected Entertainment Part 1

At the turn of the century Microsoft introduced what could only be described as one of the most underrated products of their entire portfolio. Indeed if anything the digital revolution we seem to be on the brink of started with Windows Media Center. Sure it was an epic disaster of an interface, and issues of hardware requirements and simplicity plague it to this very day but at the moment Microsoft took the covers off of their ambition to change the way we enjoy our favorite television shows, movies, pictures, and music. Now more than a decade later we nearly have the fruits of not just Microsoft’s labor, but of Apple’s attempts to take over your living as well, of Neflix’s rise to dominance. None of these advancements we’re as ambitious as Microsoft’s Windows Media Center, and none of them failed as spectacularly at changing the way we consume content. This isn’t however a review of WMC as it’s capabilities are well known and it’s worth noting that in all fairness WMC may have failed simply because it was ahead of its time. It was the beginning of enjoying content the way you want, where you want, when you damn well please.


Back in September I was notified by my local cable company that they would be discontinuing their basic packages and requiring you to have some sort of digital ridiculousness on every television in your house. In essence you can no longer just run into your local Walmart, buy a TV, and plug it in to your coaxial cable. I now have to call my local Comcast office and get them to send out a technician to use a service I’m already paying for and enjoying. Oh and don’t forget the 10 dollars per box rental charge that will be added onto your bill. A bill I would argue in many places is already high enough. “No”, I told the customer service representative, as I made my final decision, “You guys might as well have just walked into my apartment and taken my television.” Indeed if they had, I would have felt a lot less insulted.

Now don’t misunderstand me I have nothing against paying for something that could find easily other places, I have faithfully held a ZunePass for three years, at a 100+ dollars a year that should be a testament to my willingness to fork over cash for entertainment. What I will not tolerate is Comcast finding legal loopholes to gouge me out of 120 dollars a year more then what they are already conning me out of, for the same lame channels that they offered me before. The only channels I watch are TNT, USA, and ABC. Why the hell would I condone such a stickup?

So what am I doing to combat this and why is this story important to you Dear reader? Easy, starting last week I’m going to go for the alternative. I’m going to avail myself of Microsoft’s various entertainment platforms for one month, and you are going along for the ride. I’ll be using my Zune much the same way I use it now, to enjoy audio podcasts on the go and video podcasts in conjunction with my ZuneHD AV Dock. My XBOX 360 will take the place of my cable box allowing me to stream all the content I have purchased and will purchase right to my living room flat panel via, 1080p streaming or streaming for the Zune software on my computer. Lastly my Windows 7 computer, which will allow me to grab in a case of extreme boredom shows from Hulu. Join me on this quest to find out not only how much I can get accomplished when not distracted by living my life around a television screen, but also my in-depth week by week evaluation of Microsoft’s entertainment strategies and how they come together to create entertainment experiences that permeate throughout your home, and devices.

That reminds me. I may not be the most eloquent of writers so please allow me to say this in a way that even the addle minded shysters who run Comcast can completely understand: screw you sirs. I’m taking back my money, my television set, and more importantly my entertainment freedom.

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