January 4, 2007 11:28 AM PST

Vista testers get unexpected holiday gift: No TV

Some people testing Microsoft's Windows Vista got an unexpected holiday surprise: their TVs stopped working.

Media Center, which is included in the Home Premium and Ultimate versions of the Vista operating system, allows remote-control access to a variety of entertainment options, including television, for machines that have a TV tuner.

However, for those running the "release candidate 1" version of the software--the most broadly distributed of the Vista test versions--the TV feature stopped working on December 31.

Microsoft blamed the issue on the fact that it has a paid license for the video decoder and Dolby sound technology, and it only licensed those through December 31. The overall RC1 software is not scheduled to expire until June.

"As of December 31, 2006, users running Windows Vista RC1 beta code will no longer have access to the Media Center functionality, due to the expiration of the MPEG 2 decoder and Dolby Digital components built into Windows Vista and used by the Media Center experience," Microsoft said in a statement in response to inquiries by CNET News.com. "Because these technologies are licensed and royalty bearing, they will expire within a certain time period, according to our license agreements."

A Microsoft representative declined to comment on whether the company could have extended its license, saying it doesn't comment on the terms of such licensing deals.

Windows wait
Some enthusiasts have installed their own third-party video decoders. But that won't solve the TV issue, as many have discovered.

"There is not a solution Microsoft can provide around this in RC1, as it is not within our rights to extend the trial period for these licensed technologies," the company said in its statement.

The representative noted that Microsoft did recommend that users not try Vista on their main machines. The software maker said that testers who are members of its MSDN developer network have access to the final version of Vista. That version, along with a revamped Office suite and new Exchange e-mail server, went on sale to business customers in November.

However, many consumers who installed RC1 won't have access to the final version of Vista until it is made broadly available. Microsoft has said that it will release Vista and Office 2007 to consumers worldwide on January 30.

The first release candidate version of Vista arrived in September, and it was eventually made available to more than 5 million people, including technical beta testers, developers, corporate customers and tech enthusiasts. A second release candidate was issued in October, but only about 100,000 consumers were able to upgrade to that version.

Microsoft has high hopes for Vista adoption in the coming months. CEO Steve Ballmer said this will be the most widely marketed launch of any set of products that the Redmond, Wash.-based software maker has ever done. It will spend "hundreds of millions of dollars, a very big number," on Vista and Office 2007 marketing, he said in November. "It's more than we spent of Windows 95 and Office 95."

Both Vista and Office had originally been slated to arrive on store shelves and new PCs in time for last year's holiday season. However, last March, Microsoft said it would delay the mainstream launch of the products and instead make the software available to businesses only in November 2006.

See more CNET content tagged:
tester, Media Center PC, Microsoft Windows Vista, Microsoft Office, Microsoft Office 2007


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This is a preview of things to come...
What else will suddenly stop working in Vista?
Posted by jp10293847 (25 comments )
Reply Link Flag
It's just Microsoft being Microsoft
The DRM issues and time bombs and other user-defying actions will just continue as long as people keep buying their monoplistic software. There's a simple answer to Microsoft - make a personal choice to use something else... Mac OS, Linux...
Posted by kylegas (81 comments )
Link Flag
I won't say it...
but probably the Mac you're secretly dual-booting Vista on. This issue is not a concer to most people. They know that trial software isn't permenant. And for your simple mind, think of it this way. this issue is like some of the software from this site's downloads page. It's free to try, but it cost $x after y days.

Besides, why should anyone expect Microsoft to pay to entend the license on something that won't be available for legal download in less than a month?
Posted by aka_tripleB (2211 comments )
Link Flag
I don't care much for vista...
But with all due respect people, this is RC1 they're talking about. The liscensing is going to expire on trial software, it's the way things are. Get over it.
Posted by mattumanu (599 comments )
Link Flag
I keep wondering what part of BETA TEST do people not
understand. Its also a licensing issue - not a technical one and its
one that would have hit *any* other group incorporating licesnsed
software into their product.
Posted by rapier1 (2722 comments )
Link Flag
"What else will suddenly stop working in Vista?"

Everything will stop working. This is how betas go. Eventually, the entire OS will cease to function.

You are so very prescient.
Posted by KTLA_knew (385 comments )
Link Flag
Anything that MS thinks it can...
Anything that MS thinks it can siphon more money out of you for.
Posted by mjk1971 (5 comments )
Link Flag
read the article moron
What are you retarded? Its a beta version. They expire!
Posted by Ah_knaa (19 comments )
Link Flag
This is a preview of ignorant comments to come...
In answer to your question: nothing, because the Vista versions to come are final versions, not Release Candidate versions like the ones affected by this problem.
Posted by Ryo Hazuki (378 comments )
Link Flag
OS X already has been part of my home for a year. I am going to buy a laptop for my wife and she is sick of Windows and no longer wants any.

I have one machine that I have to keep for work related stuff, but otherwise I even my self see using it less and less.

:- )

The office 2007 is a nightmare, I wouldn't use it for free, let alone pay the licese, I loved Office 2003, and the upgrade ruined it pretty much. I guess I have to learn now SQL Server, as that is the only thing left that I like.
Posted by RompStar_420 (772 comments )
Reply Link Flag
It sounds like you have it together pretty well.
Stay with the course you are heading to.

Mac, Linux and BSD are all a better path to follow.
Posted by slim-1 (229 comments )
Link Flag
Office 2007
Are you sure you have given it enough time? It supposed to
have a drastically different user experience by design. The fact
that it works differently (or much differently) than previous
versions of office doesn't necessarily mean it is poorly designed
or broken.

I haven't used it myself, but I haven't heard such an unqualified
panning of the software yet. The reason I bring this up is that
people experience nearly identical thoughts when switching to
alt operating systems. They see they're different and assume
Posted by scottk0640 (23 comments )
Link Flag
Why would anyone want to force their PC or Laptop into a early grave.
This is what will happen when you install Vista on you current.

Their are many current OS options such as Linux and BSD that will work on even a unit 10yrs old.

Do you really need all the Vista eye-candy. Every Windows after 3.1 has been nothing but a broken promise. With every upgrade we have been told how it will be the best one so far.

Lies, lies, lies and more lies.

How long must the mainstream PC user get abused before the can see that their are other real options.

Quit listening to the Windows Techs. They will also lie to you. Most have a financial interest in sticking with Windows.

They don't have to retrain and they are the ones who get paid for Microsoft's shortcomings.

Use anything but Windows. Use Linux, BSD or Mac.

There is life after Microsoft and also life a without Microsoft.

I know of at least a dozen or so people who were die hard Windows supporters that have now moved on this month alone.
Posted by slim-1 (229 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Yes because
all of the alternatives are perfect and have no shortcomings whatsoever. Your post is an example of a reason why people aren't switching. You are calling for people to switch to anything but Windows and yet you have no reasons at all as to why they should switch. Most consumers who purchase Vista are going to do so with a new PC which will be fully capable of running the OS. OSX is great but until Apple decides to relinquish full control of the hardware you aren't going to have mass migration. Certain Linux distros are really good too but for the average user it's too difficult to obtain and install. Sure - just download the .iso, burn it to a CD and install. Your average user is going to have no idea what an .iso is much less how to burn it correctly. Until you can readily walk until Wal Mart or Best Buy or any store that is selling computers and purchase a PC with Linux or OSX pre-installed on it, the majority of people will continue to use Windows.
Posted by Charleston Charge (362 comments )
Link Flag
Save your money
M$ is spending "hundreds of millions of dollars" promoting Vista!? That's crazy! Cut the marketing budget and cut the cost of the product! It costs too much anyway - as much as a computer. And why would we want to pay to advertise it to ourselves?

I'm not upgrading anyway.
Posted by robbtuck (132 comments )
Reply Link Flag
MCE2005 Music Purchases not yet supported
Anxiously waiting for a fix for DRM upgrade path. Any purchases made from MSN Music, Puretracks or Walmart Music in MCE2005 will no longer play on Vista MCE.
Posted by motorush (15 comments )
Reply Link Flag
humor alert!
Why did this article remind me of a Bill Gates joke I heard?

Bill Gates eventually arrives at the the day of judgement.

St. Peter greets him, and explains that while he did contribute a
lot of money to charities, he also ripped a lot of people off when
they were forced to pay for his software if they wanted to buy a
piece of hardware from a store.

St. Peter says that under the circumstances, he will give Gates
the choice of going to heaven or going to hell, and offers a tour.
Gates accepts, and first St. peter takes him to heaven. In heaven,
Gates sees a very serene place, with people discussing
philosophy and walking together through a wooded landscape.

They then move on to hell. Gates sees a big beach party, with
everyone fornicating, smoking cigarettes, eating gourmet food,
and drinking.

When Gates is asked, he chooses to go to hell, and is
immediately plunged into a firey furnace with the screams of
tortured souls deafening him.

"Hey, St. Pete, what's all this?" screams Gates "Where's the beach

"Oh, I only showed you the demo version." St. Peter replies.
Posted by Dalkorian (3000 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Trash journalism
What utterly contemptible trash journalism. The headline tantalizes with suggestions of some colossal screwup in the Vista system. But instead, it is just a perfectly reasonable expiration of a capability within a beta version of the software intended only for evaluation. And the attempt to spin it into an entire "story" is even more contemptible -- a teeny factoid of little important, posturing as News.
Posted by baisa (126 comments )
Reply Link Flag
The only thing approaching "trash" here is your level of reading....
The only thing approaching "trash" here is your level of reading comprehension. Now get lost preteen monkey.
Posted by anarchyreigns (299 comments )
Link Flag
I read the headline and thought otherwise also until it said RC1. Sneaky Cnet writers. Next time I'll know better and downplay their headlines.
Posted by bobby_brady (765 comments )
Link Flag
This is some funny stuff.


Made my day.
Posted by rmiecznik (224 comments )
Reply Link Flag
MS Propaganda.
This is just another one of those MS Propaganda articles, to
convince XP users of the worthiness of Vista. Again, Microsoft
has payed their way, to appear legitimate with these
ADVERTORIALs labelled "HIGH IMPACT." Hopefully, their aren't
too many idiots out there who'd actually believe in this garbage.

For the uninformed, "HIGH IMPACT" is a CNET moniker
(advertising product) designed to elevate (to the masses) the less
than exciting developments of a company (like Microsoft) into
legitimate ones.

Advertise here:
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.cnetnetworks.com/advertise/gallery/index.html#" target="_newWindow">http://www.cnetnetworks.com/advertise/gallery/index.html#</a>

High Impact articles here:
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://news.cbsi.com/2320-12359_3-0.html" target="_newWindow">http://news.cbsi.com/2320-12359_3-0.html</a>
(And yes, it is true, they are still pushing Origami. Shhhhh!)

MS Marketing knows no bounds usually. And yes folks, they are
trying to convince you (their cash cow), the importance of
upgrading. But when all is said and done (while exercising a
healthy skepticism), is there really any legitimate reason too?
Other than keep Microsoft on top of the tech world, with their
"self-labelled" innovation.

For the really bright tech people of the world, this teaser should
be considered a TURN OFF. Don't get me wrong some CNET
articles are legitimate, but when the articles are about Microsoft
you can usually tell where reality ends and the bull**** begins

Yes we get it, Bill, for the last time, for Pete's sake, we know you
spent more money in developing Vista than you did with
Windows 95. Now cut the crap.
Posted by ServedUp (413 comments )
Reply Link Flag
MS and Apple Conspiracies?
Well, it seems Apple has more "fan sites" than any other company I know.

I guess your justification for that is that they pay for those sites, too?

No offense, but without solid proof of either you sound like a conspiracy theorist to me.
Posted by toosday (343 comments )
Link Flag
Re: MS Propaganda
Well, as much as I like some Microsoft products, I'd have to agree with you that it just seems they toss out operating system upgrade after upgrade simply because there are so many people who "have to have the latest thing". People just don't learn.

Mainly because of their latest licensing garbage - I will NOT purchase Vista. If my company has me using it, fine, I'll use it - but certainly not for my own personal computing needs.

I'm sticking with Macs running OS/X and/or Linux after this.

Their licensing tactics have already gotten stupid on XP with their "WGA" program. My sis-in-law came to me with a laptop I purchased for her with XP on it. Somehow her date had gotten pushed up in the future (bad enough, I know) and it was telling her she was possibly using a pirated copy of XP. Had to jump through a minimal number of hoops to fix it, but nonetheless, I don't appreciate Microsoft making me do it when nobody was doing anything illegal.

This has gotten ridiculous. Go after the people ripping the software off and stop screwing over legitimate customers.

Charles R. Whealton
Charles Whealton @ pleasedontspam.com
Posted by chuck_whealton (521 comments )
Link Flag
Beta for Production Use?
Am I missing something here? Isn't RC1 considered beta software? I've been brought up believing that you should never use beta software in a production environment. And YES, home use is considered a production environment. According to Wikipedia:

"A beta version or beta release usually represents the first version of a computer program that implements all features in the initial requirements analysis. It is likely to be useful for internal demonstrations and previews to select customers, but unstable and not yet ready for release."

Note the "unstable and not yet ready for release." Sure, Microsoft should have told people that this-and-that will expire at so-so date. But still, people who applied for RC1 use should have continued to use earlier versions of Windows for their production use, and have Vista RC1 running only in a test environment.

Sure, some people will say, "Well, golly gee, how are you supposed to test it unless you actually use it in a production environment?" Two answers to this:

1. If you do use RC1 for production use, you have absolutely no right to complain about it if something doesn't work.

2. If you need zero-downtime, then don't even consider running RC1 in a production environment.

I was a RC1 beta tester myself. But once I was done testing for two months, I re-formatted the hard drive and gone onto other things. Beta Software 101, people!
Posted by groink_hi (380 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Excellent post.
Posted by Sboston (498 comments )
Link Flag
Yes and Vista will be in Beta until they stop support
This was the biggest discovery I ever made about MS Windows.

They have bad Quality Control and the OS is basically faulty at the base level so they never truly leave Beta.

They also have no real desire to fix it. They talk about fixing it and make all sorts of promises but don't deliver on them.

All Vista is is Eye Candy and lies. So was XP, Me, 2k, 98 &#38; 95.

Microsoft takes about being the best OS ever.

Yet more lies.

and they know it.

That's why they are so afraid of the alternative OS's available.

Their business model only works when you are a monopoly. If they have real competition (and they do now) they will fail.

It's time for the lies to stop.
Posted by slim-1 (229 comments )
Link Flag
Actually, according to Microsoft, DRM will get even worse...
This IS just a taste of the DRM-FUTURE...

According to Microsofts white-papers (and EULAs), the "DRM" elements within "Vista" will actually allow post-sale deactivation (revocation of access) to almost ANY "media" (or OS-component) for any number of different, alleged, "copyright-issues" (or, potentially, ALMOST ANY legal-dispute)...

...in other words, "MS-Windows Vista" (specifically Microsofts "DRM", and "Trusted Computing" elements) ARE actually specifically designed to allow Microsoft to render virtually ANY "media" (music, video, software, applications, functionality, or even, YOUR-OWN-DATA, etc.), on YOUR-OWN computer, UTTERLY USELESS... at "...Microsofts discretion" (whim). Or, more frighteningly, this could be invoked at the arbitrary order of ANY court that decides to issue an "injunction" because of, say... some future "copyright", or other "intellectual-Property", "dispute".

Thats one of the VERY-REAL THREATS of "DRM".

Common-sense says that everyone should JUST SAY NO, to "DRM", ...and NO to "Vista", ...In fact, essentially, everyone should just say, ...NO to ALL SUCH RABIDLY ANTI-CONSUMER technologies and products.
Posted by Had_to_be_said (384 comments )
Reply Link Flag
that is the scary part
Maybe the new Democratic congress will start putting an end to DRM. If it dies in the US, it will die everywhere else as well.

Until then, figure out a way to make analog backups.
Posted by gggg sssss (2285 comments )
Link Flag
This number 3 on my Top 10 list of why I boycott Microsoft
Number 1. They make obsolete software.

Number 2. They lie about competitors products.

Number 3. They encourage DRM because it is a way to eliminate other DRM free OS's like Linux.

Number 4. They don't do proper Quality Control.

Number 5. They attack their own Customers.

Number 6. They attack their own business partners.

Number 7. They overcharge for their products considering they never left the beta software level.

Number 8. They are a Dictatorial Monopoly.

Number 9. They refuse to make their OS secure at the OS level making security add-ons needed.

Number 10. They promote and install virus' on customers PC's and tell them they are doing them a favor.
Posted by slim-1 (229 comments )
Link Flag
It is DRM
MS is saying it is due to their license on a codec expiring--an expired license causing unusable licensed material is exactly what DRM is supposed to do.

Recently I recall music files being unplayable due to DRM, and MS's answer was to violate the license.

"Some enthusiasts have installed their own third-party video decoders. But that won't solve the TV issue, as many have discovered"

I bet the DOJ and EUC would have a thing or two to say about that--"Interoperability?"
Posted by hawkeyeaz1 (569 comments )
Link Flag
Windows Vista and Starchoice TV
It is included in the Home Premium and Ultimate versions of the Vista operating system, allows remote-control access to a variety of entertainment options, including television, for machines that have a TV tuner.

I am using Starchoice Satellite TV <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.highspeedsat.com/starchoice-tv.htm" target="_newWindow">http://www.highspeedsat.com/starchoice-tv.htm</a> and don't have any problem!
Posted by electronino (15 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Yes, watch the headlines
I used to write for CNET. Don't be quick to fault the reporters. CNET editors routinely create overly provocative headlines without the reporter's input, and rewrite the lede grafs of stories as well, to increase page views so they can report those higher numbers to advertisers. They don't care if you realize after four grafs the story isn't what you thought it was. They got you to click on it and stay on it for a minute. That's what they need.
Posted by P Ross (13 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Why would anybody EVER need to know how to burn an iso? Is that capability built into any version of Windows that you might use to download that thing? Why would you want to burn an iso to be able to watch TV?

If the linux crowd wanted to make it easy to convert, they would think of something easier. Heck, if quotes morons end quotes at MS can figure out how to do an OS replacement on the fly from a simple download / web connection you would think that the braniacs pushing comsumer linux would be able to. Wait - nobody is paying them to do so so they wont. But they will certainly b*tch about it every chance they get. ROTFLMAO
Posted by gggg sssss (2285 comments )
Reply Link Flag
If a person can't do something as basic as burn an .iso
They need more training before being put on a PC or Laptop.

Microsoft's OS for the masses is a utter failure. They have 90% of the market and product 90% of the problems by encouraging people to not get proper training before getting on a PC.

If the Jones' next door can do it so can they.

New Linux versions are simple. If people can't get them to work, they need to be supervised.

You start by firing anyone in business that doesn't follow security guidelines. That of course means you gave them proper training in the first place.

You go to a job interview. They ask you "Do you know Quickbooks" not "please define spyware, trojan and phishing ant then state how you would prevent them."
Posted by slim-1 (229 comments )
Link Flag
truly clueless
gggg sssss figured he'd show the world just how brilliant he is
with the following comment:

"Why would anybody EVER need to know how to burn an iso?"

Why would anybody think buring a simple iso is so hard? I did
this for my Debian disks, all it took was a little light reading (just
look for the key phrase "directions"). When all else fails, read the
directions. Assuming you CAN read.

Here I thought prostitution was illegal (except in Nevada, of
course). Only a Micro$loth paid SHILL would make a big deal
about burning an iso. Really, it's not hard at all.

"Heck, if quotes morons end quotes at MS can figure out how to
do an OS replacement on the fly from a simple download / web
connection you would think that the braniacs pushing comsumer
linux would be able to."

Are you telling us that you can upgrade to Vista "from a simple
download / web connection"? I thought you had to buy the disks
and install them through your dvd drive. If you were capable of
reading and following directions, you could save quite a bit of
money by staying away from the trashware that is Vista. Plus you
could make copies of the OS install disks in case the original got
damaged or lost - try that with Vista!

The only reason to buy Vista is because you like being a slave or
are too stupid to realize you are a slave. Just wait until M$ drops
a bomb on you and locks you out of your own machine (it
happened to me already - on XP! It's called "WGA" for those who
live with their heads burried in the sand, look it up.) Then watch
as everyone LAUGHS at you for crying about being treated badly
by your master.

Posted by Dalkorian (3000 comments )
Link Flag
The real reason Microsoft supports DRM.
They are running out of ways to fight Linux.

By openly advocating DRM they have a way to say Linux is violating copyrighted materials since it doesn't support DRM.

Do you really think Microsoft cares about the music industry. When Microsoft is done using them, they will destroy them because they have a history of wanting to be the only one to decide the future of technology.

They won't give that power to anyone. That is why anyone making a business deal with them is screwing with their own future.

Do you here this Novell? Recording Industry? PC Makers? etc...
Posted by slim-1 (229 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Only Completely True Thing Ever Written on CNET
The MSFT lawyers probably have something diabolical cooked up for the music industry. One can only imagine.

Posted by Sumatra-Bosch (526 comments )
Link Flag
Microsoft's Digital Restrictions Management shows its true colors. Think this was frustrating? Get used to it if you decide to buy Vista.
Posted by mjk1971 (5 comments )
Reply Link Flag
really this had nothing to do with DRM. It had to do with a 3rd
party license to use a specific codec and really has nothing to do
with managing access to digital media information.

It does show what might be considered by some to be poor
planning but thats about it.
Posted by rapier1 (2722 comments )
Link Flag
No IP *but*
I will give you the AS number of the network I'm on.

That will pretty much tell you everything you need to know.
Posted by rapier1 (2722 comments )
Reply Link Flag
wrong about vista
and they sayed that windows vista was not going have problems and they wheir wrong.
Posted by computerguy_2001_rules (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
In all likely hood...
Microsoft only licensed the codec till the end of december as they
were expecting to have Vista shipped by now and when they
pushed the release back no one bothered to extend the license,
after all what's a few extra weeks when you can save a bit of cash.
It's just a shame that they forgot to tell anybody about the
Posted by The Governator (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Solution to Timebomb-CNET Editors
Just set the clock back to October and everything works properly. Granted, the guide does not work, but that is not a very big sacrifice.

Cnet Editors, put this fix on your homepage, so other users could benefit from it.
Posted by chat6196 (32 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Use Mythtv on LInux instead
Has 4 times as many features and is free.

You do need to get specific TV Cards that are supported though.
Posted by slim-1 (229 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Quite funny, unless it happens to you
Haha, probably a sign of things to come. I'm one of the people that gave RC1 a try. I'll tell you exactly what happened to the disk that was on: it has now been formatted with Mac HPFS ans serves as a n external USB-disk for my mac mini.
That in itself is also funny, although I imagine maybe not for Microsoft... Instead of saving my money to buy an expensive OS that I didn't particularly like, I got mysekf a mec mini with MacOSX. God, what a GOOD descision that has been!
No Vista for me, thanks.
Posted by canckaer (8 comments )
Reply Link Flag
It's a beta for god's sake ppl
Expect things to expire. Get over it.
Posted by spacydog (380 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Google is beta
Google is beta too.

There beta is obviously better than MS beta.
Posted by t8 (3716 comments )
Link Flag
and that's...
And that's why they call it Beta, people. Gotta get user feedback and work out the bugs.

Ash Gilpin
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.ashgilpin.com" target="_newWindow">http://www.ashgilpin.com</a>
Posted by ashgilpincom (30 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Yes but...
...not everyone has enough IQ to read a text and realize that by themselves.
Afterall, we're talking about bashing Microsoft, where any kind of logical thinking or valid solid argumentation is totally unnecessary.
Posted by Ryo Hazuki (378 comments )
Link Flag
Vista testers get surprise of the year: BETA software expiring
How unexpected to run with problems with BETA software.
Either Cnet doesn't know what a BETA is or these testers are not that favoured in the brain department.
Posted by Ryo Hazuki (378 comments )
Reply Link Flag

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