Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Desktop Computer Systems Morphing

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Desktop Computer Systems Morphing

Article excerpt

Microsoft revealed some information last week that points to the next stage of evolution of the desktop computer.

Windows big shot Steven Sinofsky wrote on a blog that the Windows Media Player included with the upcoming Windows 8 operating system will no longer play back DVDs.

Of course, Mr. Sinofsky tried to spin this as Microsoft listening to its customers.

"The media landscape has changed quite significantly since the release of Windows 7. Our telemetry data" (by this I suppose he means data collected from users' computers) "and user research shows us that the vast majority of video consumption on the PC and other mobile devices is coming from online sources ...

"On the PC, these online sources are growing much faster than DVD and broadcast TV consumption, which are in sharp decline ..."

In other words, increasingly you don't want to watch DVD content on your computer. But why not just leave the function there for those who do want it? (TechMan has lately been watching 1960s episodes of Julia Child's PBS cooking show on DVD on his computer. That woman was a hoot.)

Could it have to do with money? Bingo.

"These traditional media playback scenarios, optical media (DVDs) and broadcast TV, require a specialized set of decoders (and hardware) that cost a significant amount in royalties," Mr. Sinofsky said. And because Windows 8 is both a desktop and mobile platform, its different forms make the royalty problems even more complicated.

But do not fear. If you want to watch Julia Child on your computer, you still can -- as long as you are willing to pay more to do it.

Microsoft will now offer something called Windows Media Center that can be purchased as an upgrade to Windows 8. It is different from Windows Media Player, which comes with Windows 8 -- the main difference being that it allows DVD playback and watching live TV.

Hidden in all this kerfuffle about telemetry and reader feedback is the idea that Microsoft doesn't think the DVD drive will be around much longer as standard equipment on your desktop or laptop. …

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