Microsoft announced today that it is "making Windows Media Center available in Windows 8." But... this is actually a half truth.
The tech company is taking a number of steps to make sure Windows 8 supports Media Center just like in Windows 7. However, it's changing Media Center's integration into Windows. Rather than shipping it with Windows 8 -- as it has done in the last two versions of Windows -- users now have to buy the Media Center separately as an upgrade.
"Given the changing landscape, the cost of decoder licensing, and the importance of a straight forward edition plan, we've decided to make Windows Media Center available to Windows 8 customers via the Add Features to Windows 8 control panel (formerly known as Windows Anytime Upgrade)," Microsoft wrote in a blog posttoday. "Windows Media Player will continue to be available in all editions, but without DVD playback support."
Users interested in Media Center have a couple of choices. If they buy Windows 8 Pro, they can they purchase Windows 8 Media Center Pack to have full integration with DVD playback, broadcast TV recording and playback, and VOB file playback. If they have just Windows 8, they can buy the Windows 8 Pro Pack to get Media Center. Microsoft has yet to announce the cost for Windows 8 and the upgrades; it did say, however, that the Media Center Pack pricing will be "in line with marginal costs."
The separate pricing issue aside, Microsoft also said today that with the Media Center it is focusing on a "comprehensive video and audio platform for developers to build engaging and differentiated apps." The apps will use decoders specialized for system reliability, battery life, and performance. In addition, playback will include YouTube video, Netflix video, Amazon audio/video, Hulu video, MP4 video, and more.