Now that Vista and its updated version of Media Center have been released I’m seeing people listing the benefits of upgrading from Media Center 2005.
But what about the alternative? Are there reasons to stay with MCE 2005?
I would say absolutely yes. Vista MCE is certainly new and improved, but depending on your situation there are some very good reasons to hold off upgrading for a few months, if not longer.
- Cost. Aside from any required hardware upgrades, Vista will cost between $100-$400 depending on the version you choose. This isn’t going to change, but if you’re considering a new machine it could be worth waiting a bit longer, especially with CableCard supporting machines on the horizon.
- Extenders. It can cost less than $100 to put a wireless MCE2005 extender in a room, but the only Media Center Extender (MCX) that works with Vista is the XBox 360. Cost of a 360 + decent cables + remote + wireless adapter? Around $450-$500. Do you really want to spend $500 to watch recorded TV in the bed?
- No Remote Desktop. All versions of Vista come with a Remote Desktop Client, but only Vista Ultimate has a server (which surely should be the other way!). Unless you buy Vista Ultimate, which is overkill for a dedicated MCE box, you won’t be able to use Remote Desktop to administer a headless machine.
- Functionality. Sure, in many ways the interface is nicer but there’s little Vista MCE does that is not already available on MCE2005. CableCard support require you to buy a whole new PC, and although Vista MCE is a better platform for developers there are few, if any, must-have applications at the moment.
- Stability. Aside from some recently fixed overheating problems, my MCE2005 box has been running unattended for months (with a scheduled reboot and defrag). Upgrading to Vista and having to install new drivers is almost certain to cause a period of instability, and there are already hotfixes appearing for MCE issues in Vista.
I’ve been using Vista on my desktop PC for a while now and I’m HUGELY impressed, as far as I’m concerned Microsoft have really hit a homerun. However, until there’s some real benefit to upgrading, and I can put extenders in rooms for less than $500, my Media Center will be running MCE2005.