Friday, January 05, 2007

Windows Live for TV Review Part 2

Windows Spaces

I apologize in advance for the horrific layout of this review, it's actually due to the stupidity of Blogger's layout system, go Google!

Alrighty, as you guys see from the earlier screenshot, I need to take another approach to this beast, I quickly disable all of my ram hogging programs, (Windows Sidebar, IE, etc.) and prepare to dive right into this. After initially crashing on my machine, I go head first into Spaces to meet.. A white screen, apparently ending the 600+MB Ram hogging service crippled the program from running in MC, probably until a reboot. Anyways, as mentioned before, this is an add on for Media Center, so it adds new menu selections to MC. Windows Live, with Messenger, Spaces, and Call underneath. Going to Messenger, or Call, will result in a Coming Soon screen appearing. Which I guess they'll add later, but hopefully they'll throw in a good performance boost to the program before then. Going into Spaces will give you, at least right now, a download prompt, which will fetch the files for you from the server. Now, from the way it looks, this uses WinFX as it LOOKS like it runs in a browser window that's fused into MC.

Above: screenshot is of the Windows Live menu item in the main screen of Media Center. Left: Coming Soon screen that greets users when they navigate to Call, or Messenger. Below: Spaces running in Media Center.

After a bit of trial and error, I get the darn thing to run again, and it starts, opens WLM, and uses the log in information from that program to actually sign into spaces. Which can cause a problem for users of MC on the TV, as it will force minimize MC and open up WLM, of which you'll need to sign in before you can continue. After that, you eventually get to this screen, now my computer isn't exactly the youngest thing on the earth, but it runs Aero Glass smoothly and efficiently, and I hardly ever get slowdown. Unfortunately, this isn't the case for this add on, as it appears to struggle just to even function. Initially it shows a random subset of Spaces users, of which have absolutely nothing to do with your user list, you'll have to search for your contacts manually, which can become a pain because it doesn't allow search by email, only by first and last name, gender, age, and other various information that you just happen to have on the top of your noggin. (sigh)

Now I do believe there MIGHT be a function that will allow you to filter out your contact list from the editor's picks, however, navigating to that seemed a bit.. non-existent, and cumbersome. I was barely able to get search to work as at this point, the program ran at about 700MB (Yes, I'm serious.) of RAM usage and was effectively strangling my PC into submission. After browsing in the program long enough, it hangs and you have to force out the program, which also ends the whole "OMG SPACES ON TV!!11one" experience as you need to go to your machine to end the program.

I was also unable to find any real content from these spaces, I mean, wouldn't it make sense to actually be able to VIEW their spaces? Instead when I hit enter, or presumably, the enter button on the MC remote, I was greeted with basic information, which for most of the users, appeared completely blank. -laughs- I'd get a screenshot of this, but alas, it crashed again. The lack of information could be a side effect of the program twitching horribly, but at this point, I just couldn't tell.

The conclusion for now is that this is an early look into what has the real possibility of becoming something great, but at this point, is presented very poorly and is hindered by horrific program program lag. I will be updating on this program as much as I possibly can, PC abiding that is.

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