September 21, 2010
| by Julie Jacobson
Niveus Media, one of the early champions of Windows Media Center, has discontinued its line of WMC-based hardware, including Media Center PCs and extenders.
Back in 2003, when WMC – then known as Media Center Edition – showed some promise as a living-room PC, Niveus began making products that compensated for the platform’s shortcomings. The pricey Niveus boxes employed high-performance processors, quiet fans, and special software that masked the bad stuff that comes with Microsoft territory.
For a few years, WMC was all the rage in the custom installation market, and Niveus was the go-to brand of Media Center hardware.
By 2009, however, Microsoft apparently lost interest in owning the living room via WMC, and it became clear that the platform probably would not move beyond niche status.
Like countless other WMC purveyors along the way, Niveus ceased development on media-centric computers to focus on software. The move becomes official on November 1, when Niveus will stop selling Media Center systems to consumers and dealers.
Introducing Project Snowbird OEM Software
For the past year, Niveus has been working on Project Snowbird, which “brings premium television and movies from a user’s television set top box (e.g., DirecTV, Dish, cable), and on to their PC,” said CEO Tim Cutting.
While Niveus brought scores of software innovations to its WMC hardware – for streaming DVD movies, organizing content and integrating with automation systems, for example – the Project Snowbird technology is a brand new invention, Cutting says.
“Now that Intel has a System on Chip design with the Atom processor, we can also bring this technology to smart TV and connected devices like the Google TV box,” he explains.
One of the first public demos of Project Snowbird was at the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) show in April, where Niveus showed the platform working with Dish Network. The company is now showing Project Snowbird with DirecTV support (below).
Niveus’ Project Snowbird
Cutting suggests that Microsoft “lost interest in Media Center on the PC around the Windows 7 timeframe.”
He adds, however, that the software giant has “continued to pursue embedded opportunities, such as Windows 7 for Embedded Devices.”
And that is where Niveus is heading as well. Cutting says, “Niveus is focused on bringing Project Snowbird to embedded Windows Media Center, as well as other platforms such as Android (Google TV), iOS, and Mac.”
Cutting says Niveus has found some takers for Project Snowbird, and he expects to announce some deals in the first quarter of 2011.
Currently, Niveus is pursuing mass-market opportunities, but if niche manufacturers in the custom channel want to license Project Snowbird, says Cutting, “We’d be there to help them market the solution in the [custom] channel.”
In the meantime, Niveus will continue to support and honor warranties for all Niveus systems, according to Cutting.
Julie Jacobson is co-founder of EH Publishing and currently spends most of her time writing for CE Pro, mostly in the areas of home automation, networked A/V and the business of home systems integration. She majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin, and has never taken a journalism class in her life. Julie is a washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player with the scars to prove it. Follow her on Twitter @juliejacobson.