Windows 8 Media Center Confusion

I've been using Windows Media Center (WMC) on a Windows 7 PC connected to my TV for over 4 years now. WMC is very underrated software. It is by far the best PVR available, in terms of ease-of-use, performance and aesthetics (and I've tried them all, from MythTV to Media Portal to PowerCinema, XBMC and many others).

So I was very eager to continue using this and upgrading to Windows 8 on my HTPC. However, Windows Media Center no longer comes pre-bundled with Windows 8 -- you need to purchase it separately as an add-on for $10. No big deal I suppose, I'd happily pay the $10 given how much I use the software. And Microsoft is actually waving that fee and making it free "for a limited time".

What's really strange though is that this optional add-on is only available in the Windows 8 Pro version. So just to re-cap, there are three editions in Windows 8:

  • Windows 8
  • Windows 8 Pro
  • Windows 8 Enterprise
A comparison of these editions is available here. In short, most home users would be just fine with the standard Windows 8. This is especially true for a HTPC,  which basically just records TV and maybe downloads some videos or  plays some photo slide-shows, etc. There's not a single Pro feature that I would want on my HTPC -- but the kicker is that WMC for some odd reason is ONLY available on Pro. So I would need to spend an extra $69 to upgrade the Windows license to Pro, just to be able to purchase or download the add-on.

This is even more irritating when considering that the Enterprise edition doesn't get access either. So if for some reason you have the premium enterprise license, which costs more than the Pro and has all the features of Pro -- you'll still get locked out from downloading WMC...

I'm not sure where the logic is here... just make the bloody thing available on ALL Windows editions! It's brilliant software, so let people actually use it! What's with all this intentional gimping? I'm sure that for many this would be reason enough to stick with their Win7 HTPC setups. 

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