Sunday, December 03, 2006

Webtv/MSNTV Alternatives

This writer at Endgadget is pretty objective in his analysis of Webtv and MSNTV.
http://www.engadget.com/2004/12/22/switched-on-microsoft-refreshes-webtv-for-a-curious-comeback/

I have not seen a PC running the Media Center Edition of Windows XP but it appears to provide a quite nice and similar interface as Webtv but also provides the power of a PC. Some of our users at http:.//www.fs-freeflow.com/ use the Media Center edition of Windows XP. I am not bashing the Webtv product as I think it is a great idea. But, one should always consider that the day might come when Microsoft
will no longer support the product. Hwoever, if you run Media Center for Windows as an option to MSNTV/Webtv, you open yourself to all of the problems of running a PC such as viruses, spyware, and disk maintenance. Endgadget says:

This is a nice-to-have product that simply won’t command its price for most users. Microsoft (or a competitor such as Opera Software) would serve consumers well by offering a good TV browser into other initiatives, particularly XP Media Center. It would be a great complement to the standalone TV-optimized Web sites being created for Microsoft’s modern-day living room beachhead.

If the day ever comes that they no longer support the devices there are many, many, options available. For example, I can build a diskless PC that runs a web browser entirely from a CD in the CD drive that provides a state of the art web browser and a TV display. All of this can be done for less money than a Webtv or MSNTV costs. It can actually make use of those $25 PCs one can pick up at garage sales or other used computer sources. This option of running a web browser from a LiveCD in the CD drive does not even require the system to have a hard drive. One only has to be able to configure the Bios to boot from CD. In addition, the fact that it runs using the Linux operating system means that even older computers run quite nicely and since it is running entirely off of a CD there is no possibility of viruses or spyware. It works quite beautifully and IMHO has many applications where web browsing and email are the primary uses of a computer.

This concept was used after Hurricane Katrina to get web browsers up and running quickly and inexpensively. See http://www.eng.uwaterloo.ca/twiki/bin/view/Linux/LinuxKiosk and http://www.desktoplinux.com/news/NS4984662030.html. It works really well. I know because I have tried it by burning my own CD and running it on my the PC I am using to type this. With a web based email account such as Gmail and the use of Google Bookmarks you have a nice, inexpensive web based browser for little or no money. So if you know someone with an old computer that wants to get rid of it after buying a new whoopdy do super duper machine tell them that you will gladly take it off their hands and run the Booth CD on it. You will be able to tell your friends that you have a PC but have none of the problems associated with them. It is a Win Win.

Click here for the complete guide to mastering a BoothCD to your custom needs at Matt's Tech Blog.

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