Microsoft Australia is misleading Australians into believing that several content and recording capabilities are possible with their current Windows Media Centre offering despite the services not being available to Australians.
A visit to the Media Centre Section on the Microsoft Australia site offers an electronic program guide, access to content from MSNBC.COM. They even tell consumers that with Windows Media Centre, you can access Online Media via an innovative portal that offers a growing list of content providers.
See page HERE.
These services are not available in Australia and this only becomes apparent when one clicks through to links that reveal the following message.
“We did not find any results for Australia windows products in family media center features online services mspx. Microsoft then gives Australians this advice to visitors “Search tips: ensure words are spelled correctly, try rephrasing keywords or using synonyms”.
In what appears to be questionable marketing Microsoft is also using screen grab images taken from a Media Centre to promote the benefits of their media centre offering despite the Company knowing that these services are not available to Australians.
The promoted services are only available to US nationals. The Company also uses an image of a US movie service however they do say that this service is only available to US nationals.
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SmartHouse has also discovered that if a current Microsoft Media Centre user goes to “Explore” then to the so called online content section they are taken to a music and video download service for a web site called ChannelGo.com.au.
A message then appears that claims that this service is not available.
However movies from BigPond movies are available.
For Australians the only EPG service that is available is the IceTV service however Microsoft does not support this service in Australia despite promoting an EPG service.
When it comes to promoting the capabilities of the Microsoft Media Centre both Intel with their so called Vive technology and Microsoft with their lack of features have done a lousy job in Australia to the point that Australian consumers are treated like third class citizens when compared to the way that these two Companies suck up to consumers in both Europe and the USA.
Now a brand new Windows 7 operating system from Microsoft is due late in 2009 that contains several new media centre features that will deliver new TV capabilities along with new IPTV content.
However the problem for Australians is that based on Microsoft’s lack of support for the current Vista based Media Centre there is every chance that we will be denied access to capabilities that most other people around the world take for granted.
Features such as a basic electronic program guide (EPG), a good music and movie download service or even access to re run TV shows such as those found on the Apple iTunes web site. In the US consumers have access to Media Centre Sports Lounges, a full and integrated EPG that gives consumers access to resources similar to the EPG services fond in the new Seven Media Tivo.
At a press briefing this week in the US Microsoft said that the new Windows 7 Media Centre will be “anchored on television,” said Geoff Robertson, general manager of Microsoft’s eHome division.
Robertson pointed out that the TV and PVR functionality of the new Windows Media Centre is “key to the future and that TV will be a key part of all future PC offerings”.
He claims that Windows 7 Media Centre will feature easy access to IPTV content; integrated TV guides with IPTV, standard- and hi-def content; rich touchscreen capabilities; more customisable content; friendlier Media Centre features for PC users; and superior tools for finding, accessing, and navigating through a variety of video content.
The only problem is that the bulk of these features will not be available in Australia unless Microsoft cuts a content services deal with the likes of Telstra and Foxtel who could very well allow their subscription TV service to be made available via the new Windows 7 Media Centre offering for a monthly fee.
Last week we revealed that Tivo is looking to move to PC based service in a move that would take them head to head with Microsoft.
In the past, TV has been touted as just another feature of Windows Media Centre however Microsoft is keen to move into the content business via a TV based service delivered via new streaming capabilities built into the new Windows 7, the successor of the Vista OS.
In the US Microsoft has already started promoting the new features of Windows 7 in an effort to build momentum however in Australia the Company has done nothing to promote media centre.
When Vista was launched Microsoft Australia promised a brand new music and video download service in partnership with Sanity. This failed to materialise with one senior Microsoft executive describing Sanity as a “Nightmare Company to deal with”.
We still have at least another year of Vista before Windows 7 and in the USA Microsoft’s is working help third parties create applications (like SportsLounge) and hardware (like CableCard tuners) for Media Centre to develop new applications. In Australia it appears that nothing is happening.
One way Microsoft is generating interest in the PC-as-TV is through innovative content that is available only through Media Centre.
Microsoft’s first big investment in such content was SportsLounge – a Media Centre Mecca for US sports fanatics. There, enthusiasts can view current sports scores in real time, track their fantasy football teams’ performance, check out highlights at a glance – all with a few simple clicks of the remote control.
Microsoft upped the content ante with the Summer Games, working with NBC to deliver Olympics on the Go.
Available exclusively through Media Centre in the USA, Olympics on the Go provided an unprecedented amount of sports coverage accessible on the viewer’s own terms.
Table tennis lovers, for example, could simply subscribe to that sport and the Media Centre would download those matches for later viewing. No need to muddle through gymnastics and swimming, and no need to usurp a TV tuner that was set to record other shows.
Calls to Microsoft executives have not been returned however we are chasing answers from both Microsoft and the Fair Trading organisations in NSW, Victoria and Queensland to see if Microsoft is misleading consumers in Australia.