interview with a Microsoft Engineer of Windows MCE

Posted by bink on October 5 2003, 5:27 PM. Posted in Windows XP Media Center.

Thanks Olcay of for sending this in. had an interview with a Microsoft Engineer of Windows Media Center Edition 2004.

Olcay: What was your job in the MCE 2004 team?STE: Software Test Engineer, Windows Media Division: DVD, Timeshifting, Analog TV group

STE: Building 50

STE: Redmond Campus

Olcay: Which were the hardest parts of MCE 2004 to realize? We heard that you guys had problems with the european EPG-system is that true?

STE: Well, the PAL systems were tough because we had to hardwire in PAL singnals into the lab. There are different PAL singles between Europe and Asia, so TV cards had to be tested differently.

STE: Teletext in Europe was also a challenge and we had to setup a special Teletext feed to test that as well.

STE: There was also an issue with DirectX 9.0b that slipped by us concerning an issue with PAL cards no longer functioning after the 9.0b upgrade.

STE: This was because of a regression in, but a patch has been released to solve those problems.

Olcay: Where there any conflicts you really didn't expect?

STE: All of the time. There was a major problem that we ran into with Pixela TV Tuner cards that were being sold in Japan using the NTSC-J singnal, which was different than the US singnal, so we had to set up special feeds just to find these issues. A Pixela rep and translator even flew all the way to MS for a few days to fix the problems on-site.

STE: Also, sometimes with new DVD Decoders, things like ratio aspects and timeshifting stopped working correctly, so we had to bug those.

STE: Slow motion was taken out of MCE 2004 because of a Timeshifting coding issue.

Olcay: Did you guys get into crunch mode?

Olcay: Because of less time...

STE: Yes, some features had to be cut and a few bugs had to be pushed back, but nothing too major. I cant go into details there.

Olcay: Ok, no problem.

Olcay: How many people worked on MCE 2004?

STE: That's hard to determine, but all of Building 50 is Windows Media, so most of those people worked on it... I was say anywhere up to 500.

Olcay: Awesome!

Olcay: Did you guys planned to support more TV-cards? because, I'am sure there are a lot ATI users who would like to use their ATI card with their own remote.

STE: Yeah, there are only a certain number of supported cards.

Olcay: Whats the main component which says what card is supported? The application ehshell.exe it self or the drivers?

STE: It's in the way the drivers are contructing a TV graph. MCE does it a specific way, and if the drivers dont support that specific way, then the card fails to work in MCE.

STE: So yes, the short answer is drivers.

STE: DirectX 9 SDK comes with a program called GraphEdit. You can use that program to construct TV graphs for your specific TV card. If you cant construct a TV graph in that program, then the drivers definately won't work in MCE.

STE: Most new cards will eventually be supported, but older ones will not. It's really up to the manufature of the cards/drivers to make sure it work properly with MCE.

Olcay: So it depends on the manufature who release the MCE machine / TV-card? So it's the work of the manufacturer to code the special MCE-drivers?

STE: Yep.

STE: It really doesnt have much to do with MS unless the drivers are to be included with MCE.

Olcay: Ok.

Olcay: What do you think about WinFuture's Customizer for MCE machines? 30-40 tweaks to customize MCE-machines :)

STE: I think that anything that helps power users customize MCE or XP machines is great. Customizable machines is what makes computing fun and powerful.

STE: I hope WinFuture's Customizers machines helps improve users experiences even more, although it's not officially supported by Microsoft. source: (in german)