The media is in a knot this morning over a bit of back and forth confusion surrounding Windows 8, its beta (to be called a ‘consumer preview’), and the existence of Media Center as part of the operating system. We’re here to clear this up for you. Here’s the skinny, briefly:

  • Media Center is part of Windows 8. Microsoft made that plain in September. There has never been any issue on this point.
  • However, what versions of Windows 8 it will be included in is now in doubt. There is a chance that it will not be built into ‘lesser’ versions of the operating system, perhaps finding a home only in the more expensive, and powerful, editions.
  • It is unclear whether Media Center will be part of the consumer preview. A tweet from Microsoft that showed a screenshot of Media Center running in Windows 8 did have text blurred out exactly where we would expect the words ‘consumer preview’ to be. Hint hint?
  • The screenshot of Media Center running in Windows 8 showed an app comically similar to what exists in Windows 7. The implication? That development on Media Center has slowed to a trickle or halted, and that it has probably been put on ice; leave it in Windows 8, and then axe it later, once the new, unified media solutions for Windows, Xbox, and Windows Phone are complete and ascendant.

The company took to Twitter to express annoyance with the controversy: “Good grief. We said “Media Center will definitely be part of Windows 8″ in [this blog post from September] http://blogs.msdn.com/b/b8/archive/2011/09/02/reflecting-on-our-first-conversations-part-2.aspx.” It should be noted that in that post, Microsoft does say that “Media Center will not be part of the first pre-release builds [of Windows 8].”

Here’s the screenshot that the company shared:

AlJI5hqCMAAO4Yt 520x428 Media Center remains a tumultuous, and rumor ridden component of Windows 8

Microsoft declined to comment further.

The Windows team has run a very tight, and well guided PR ship since Windows 8 was announced. However, now that the beta of the operating system looms, the company seems to have decided to stop giving out new information, likely until its formal ‘coming out’ of the next stages of Windows 8. The media cycles that it has endured lately, therefore, have been tilting negative, for no reason other than a lack of information. Here’s to hoping that the beta comes out soon, giving Microsoft a chance to follow its strategy and clear the air at the same time.