How could anyone release a product this bad? In particular, MediaCenter is completely unuseable as part of a multitasking desktop on a computer monitor. Maybe it could be tweaked to work better but if I load it on a single display PC it MUST not behave like I am viewing on a TV.
This would not matter if Vista was a platform to support third party applications but it is not. All new TV hardware depends on MC or includes software that is an MC clone.
Here are things that should work out-of-the-box but do not.
Two dimensional grid with at least 10 channels and 3 hours should be available with right-click
Non-maximized display should be 4:3 when only a 4:3 tuner is active
Grid and Control dialogs should be in pop-up windows OUTSIDE of the TV viewing window (DUHH!!!!!)
S-video and Composite video inputs should be selectable with right-click. They are currently not available by any means. When cable providers shut off analog, S-video is critical. How do people view and capture family videos?
MC should start up viewing the same channel that was last being viewed.
Option must exist to record video to a simple file. Again, what happened to right-click at Microsoft? There is no excuse for a right-click/record-to-file option to be missing.
Full control over codec and parameters should be available when record-to-file option is used.
Any configuration that asks for display size MUST include 16:10. Where have these morons been? How can 4:3 and 16:9 be the only selections? That is just confusing. And why ask at all? If just the primary monitor is connected, MC can tell what the size is.
I think you misunderstand where MC came from. People were complaining that Windows Media Player did not act enough like a television. MC was originally a complete OS extension to look mainly like a television with a few PC functions that were controllable by the remote - that was the intent. That was why people built MCE boxes for that purpose alone. Now it is a resource intensive app inside of Vista that is similar to a media portal, but the intent is the same. I can place MC in a window, however the PC is placing most of its resources into media output. There are alternative MC apps out there, but like you said they are all following the original intent of the MS app. As far as some of your other issues, it may be your hardware. I have s-video and composite viewable via two HD tuner cards and capture record video all the time. If there is a reason for me to change the default codecs or viewing size, I just run it through a codecs converter (I usually run them through commercial skippers as well) and it's done in a few minutes and is playable with any player I choose. That is a much easier option if you've ever seen how poorly written most third party plug-ins for MC usually are.