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Comcast Drops Microsoft

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the blue-screen-of-television dept.

Television 146

Frosty Piss writes "Comcast plans to drop Microsoft's television software and on-screen program guide from its digital cable boxes. The cable company will replace the Microsoft technology with GuideWorks software — Comcast is a part owner of GuideWorks. Comcast has been the lone cable company in the US using Microsoft technology for set-top boxes, and only in the state of Washington, Microsoft's back yard." The Microsoft offering has a solid presence in Latin America. The company is no longer trying very hard to market it here at home.

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Clues spotted at Comcast? (0, Troll)

jcr (53032) | more than 7 years ago | (#19134603)

Well, I've got to say I'm surprised, but very pleased at this development. Good job, whoever convinced the management at Comcast to abandon a Microsoft product in a mission-critical application.

-jcr

Re:Clues spotted at Comcast? (1)

dfoulger (1044592) | more than 7 years ago | (#19134687)

Doesn't look like it was "mission critical". It looks more like one of several Comcast experiments in this kind of technology for which Washington was the testbed. The competition appears to have done better in the experiments.

Re:Clues spotted at Comcast? (2)

PhrostyMcByte (589271) | more than 7 years ago | (#19134799)

Mission crticial? It's a set-top box for christ sake. This is all about reducing complexity for them, so they only support one thing, and have one feature-set to worry about upgrading.

Re:Clues spotted at Comcast? (2, Informative)

lgarner (694957) | more than 7 years ago | (#19135269)

"Mission-critical" doesn't necessarily equate to something of life-or-death importance. For a television-delivery company, those components which directly affect the delivery are mission-critical.

Re:Clues spotted at Comcast? (4, Insightful)

ChronosWS (706209) | more than 7 years ago | (#19135455)

Perhaps if you cared more about customers than promoting your anti-Microsoft agenda, you'd realize that the Comcast software is, without reservations, worse in every way that the Microsoft software. This is a bad thing for consumers all around. Comcast will now have one less input on how the system might be improved for consumers. You may consider the evil of Microsoft absolute, but Comcast is even more evil when it comes to "serving" their customers.

Re:Clues spotted at Comcast? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19135821)

Agreed. Microsoft > All when it comes to what consumers ACTUALLY want.

Re:Clues spotted at Comcast? (2, Funny)

The Great Pretender (975978) | more than 7 years ago | (#19135865)

"you'd realize that the Comcast software is, without reservations, worse in every way that the Microsoft software"

Oh my freakin' God, you're kidding me right! I'm a user of the Microsoft/Comcast thing now and it's horrible. Now you're telling me that we going to be subjected to worse?

Re:Clues spotted at Comcast? (1)

MrAnnoyanceToYou (654053) | more than 7 years ago | (#19136121)

Comcast boxen definitely suck. Buying a Tivo is a good idea.

Re:Clues spotted at Comcast? (1)

Mockylock (1087585) | more than 7 years ago | (#19136415)

I completely agree with this. My guess is they'd rather save money than make something more reliable. Comcast of all companies doesn't give a shit about the end user, as much as figuring out how to avoid blame and save money.

I could only imagine if it goes worldwide and what type of garbage they'll conjure up to save a buck.

Amen with the anti-MS bullshit... it gets really old. It doesn't matter if any product they have is the best and most efficient in it's class... douchebags across the globe will flame it just because it's MS.

BSOD jokes (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19134611)

Will they ever die? Or are these horribly dated "jokes" going to live on forever, when it BSODs are virtually obsolete on Microsoft products.

It's funny how Microsoft failures live on in the mind of slashbots, but Apple's and Linux's shortcomings are quickly forgotten.

Re:BSOD jokes (2, Insightful)

jcr (53032) | more than 7 years ago | (#19134647)

BSODs are virtually obsolete on Microsoft products.

Not sure what you mean when you call them "obsolete", but they still keep happening, Mr. Ballmer.

-jcr

WRONG!!! MOD FUD DOWN (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19134783)

Not sure what you mean when you call them "obsolete", but they still keep happening, Mr. Ballmer.

That simply hasn't been true since 2000, and you are flat out lying.

Almost everybody outside the world of slashdot acknowledges that Windows doesn't crash anywhere near the frequency they used to. Whatever faults you can pin on Windows, stability isn't it.

Now that I've utterly and completely owned you, i expect the moderators to mod your FUD down.

Re:WRONG!!! MOD FUD DOWN (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19135077)

WRONG!!! MOD FUD DOWN

[...]

you are flat out lying.

[...]

Now that I've utterly and completely owned you, i expect the moderators to mod your FUD down.


What are you, a Scientologist?

Re:WRONG!!! MOD FUD DOWN (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19135405)

NOT wrong! I had to reinstall my copy of XP (that I paid good money for) just last month. It got the "reboot blues". My PC dual-boots between Mandriva and XP, and whenever I run Linux (and very often after I've been running Windows), booting XP results in a BSOD.

Of course, they (excuse me mr. microsoft employee, YOU) changed it so that the BSOD is on-screen for less than a second, then the PC reboots itself.

But the damned thing is still there. Anyone who says Windows never BSODs is either ignorant or lying.

Yes, it's more stable than 98 was, but I have yet to see the Linux side crash.

-mcgrew

Re:WRONG!!! MOD FUD DOWN (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19135633)

1) You either messed up the bootloader, or you partitioned incorrectly. My money is on bad partitioning. If XP booted before you installed Linux, how is this XPs fault? Oh yeah, probably because you're mounting your NTFS drives and writing to them. Hint: change your windows mount to 'ro' in your etc/fstab file.

2) Control Panel --> System --> Advanced --> Startup & Recovery Settings --> Automatically restart. Welcome to the default of Windows NT for the past 10 years.

Re:WRONG!!! MOD FUD DOWN (2, Interesting)

dclydew (14163) | more than 7 years ago | (#19135449)

Our company installed the PGP Universal Client and it caused a BSOD on about 40% of the systems. They all failed to recover and had to be reinstalled. This was less that 3 months ago on up to date builds of XP.

No matter what app I've installed on Linux, at worst I've only had to boot to single user mode and clean up the mess.

Re:BSOD jokes (1)

SparkyFlooner (1090661) | more than 7 years ago | (#19135311)

I haven't seen a BSOD in ages. Back in the Win98 days in college I did my assignments on linux and ported it because a core dump was more friendly than a BSOD. Once I moved to XP, BSODs virtually went away, so I didn't need to use linux anymore. I really only see them now when I'm adding new hardware and there's a conflict somewhere, or a piece of hardware goes bad. So, I see maybe one or two a year.

Re:BSOD jokes (1)

Vampyre_Dark (630787) | more than 7 years ago | (#19135823)

I honestly haven't had a single bluescreen since I moved away from Windows 98se.

Re:BSOD jokes (1)

pbailey (225135) | more than 7 years ago | (#19134767)

Shortcomings! What shortcomings?

Re:BSOD jokes (2, Informative)

eli pabst (948845) | more than 7 years ago | (#19135473)

Yea right, thing of the past. I just took my wife to the Martina McBride concert this past weekend as a Mother's day present and the main 10ftx10ft display directly behind her BSOD'd for about 10 seconds in the middle of a song before they could cut the feed to it. Don't kid yourself and pretend that current Microsoft products don't BSOD. They may not do it as much.

Re:BSOD jokes (1)

r_jensen11 (598210) | more than 7 years ago | (#19135647)

I continually got BSOD's for a while because apparently Windows XP didn't get along so well with my SATA controller's drivers until Intel issued a patch. Actually, it was pretty random between getting a BSOD or the damn thing instantly powering off. Choose your poison, but none of this has happened for me when running Linux, and the only thing while running Linux that has caused instability for me has been video drivers.

Re:BSOD jokes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19136439)

I remember when I installed Linux on my car's ECU and it ran so much better... freakin' $ubaru! I mean Micro$oft!

Post BSOD Stress Syndrome (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19135839)

Will they ever die?

No. It caused too many of us too much grief over too many years. It is a permanent scar on our collective psyche.

Now shut up and go away.

Linux? (1)

Constantine XVI (880691) | more than 7 years ago | (#19134635)

Guideworks sounds better than MS... ...but does it run Linux? If not, what?

Re:Linux? (2, Informative)

Afrosheen (42464) | more than 7 years ago | (#19135901)

Of course I'm subject to correction, but I'm thinking it runs on VxWorks. Alot of embedded devices use it these days.

Good riddance (3, Interesting)

Aqua OS X (458522) | more than 7 years ago | (#19134671)

I had no idea MS was to blame for that god awful cable box software. I thought that was Motorola's doing.

Nevertheless, good riddance ... nuff said

Re:Good riddance (1)

MontyApollo (849862) | more than 7 years ago | (#19134763)

The MS software was only used in Washington state. The rest of the country used non-MS software.

Re:Good riddance (2, Informative)

Richard McBeef (1092673) | more than 7 years ago | (#19135157)

If it didn't say "Powered by Microsoft" in the upper right corner, you weren't using Microsoft.

Re:Good riddance (4, Informative)

Fizzog (600837) | more than 7 years ago | (#19135433)

Not sure why the parent is Flamebait.

The previous software was cheesy but it had lots of options to customise how you used it. It didn't look pretty but it did a decent job.

I remember when Comcast were advertising that they were changing to the MS software. They claimed it would perform better and would have many great new features. It performs considerably worse, has no new features, and several features of the previous software were not available.

The MS software is really poor. Performance is terrible, navigation is a pain, options that should exist don't and it never does what you think it should.

I'm glad they are changing to something else, it *has* to be better than the MS guide.

Re:Good riddance (1)

mauryisland (130029) | more than 7 years ago | (#19135813)

My Microsoft powered Comcast DVR is very unstable. It spontaneously reboots three of four times a week, and regularly becomes utterly unresponsive (generally when the thing is fast forwarding - maybe that's a nefarious scheme to make me quit skipping commercials). About ten percent of my recorded programs get interrupted by something or other. This thing doesn't provide anything close to the user experience that a Tivo does; it's not even close.

Re:Good riddance (1)

Riverman5 (1018024) | more than 7 years ago | (#19136063)

The reboot is triggered by Comcast, software updates, technical support fixes, etc. It is unresponsive when it is deleting something. Cheap hardware is the main cause of this. Software won't be able to fix it. Your programs get interrupted by the emergency broadcast system, Amber alerts and what not. This is something they need to work around. The emergency broadcasts could pop up a software alert, it doesn't have to interrupt programming with the on-demand capabilities. That way you wouldn't have to watch the same alert over and over every 15 minutes of your show. This issue is no better with Tivo, Tivo just doesn't tell you that 3 minutes of your show is an emergency broadcast. Now all the ads that they keep adding to the guide, and the way they abbreviate show titles while they haven't yet used HALF the length of the guide entry, now that is stupid software problems. Having to press 3 numbers (002) to change the channel, while the "enter" button does nothing, now that is stupid. I liked being able to press "2" and sit and wait for it to change the channel.

Re:Good riddance (2, Interesting)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 7 years ago | (#19136423)

"This issue is no better with Tivo, Tivo just doesn't tell you that 3 minutes of your show is an emergency broadcast. Now all the ads that they keep adding to the guide, and the way they abbreviate show titles while they haven't yet used HALF the length of the guide entry, now that is stupid software problems. Having to press 3 numbers (002) to change the channel, while the "enter" button does nothing, now that is stupid. I liked being able to press "2" and sit and wait for it to change the channel."

Dang!! My tivo series2 has been unplugged and out of the 'stream' since Katrina..almost 2 years. I'm now kinda dreading plugging it in and getting updates like these!! Ads in the guide?? When did they start that?

I guess I may go clone the drive first before plugging it all back in...

Does the 'hidden' 30 second skip feature still work after the select-play-select-3-0-select key sequence?

Re:Good riddance (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19136103)

The MS software is really poor. Performance is terrible, navigation is a pain, options that should exist don't and it never does what you think it should.


Congratulations, you've just described my experience with the steaming pile that is Guideworks.

My favorite bit is that you can set the guide to "double" or "single". The "double" setting has five bars per page that are twice the height of the "single" bars. Guess how many bars "single" shows on a single page. Did you say 10? Wrong! It has 6!

If you really are an MS user and not just a confused Guideworks user who didn't RTFA, don't hold your breath for Guideworks to be any better.

Re:Good riddance (1)

pyrbrand (939860) | more than 7 years ago | (#19136195)

FTA:


"Some Comcast customers have encountered glitches when using the cable set-top boxes running the Microsoft software, such as a lack of responsiveness. However, Kipp said there haven't been any out-of-the-ordinary problems, and he said nothing along those lines played into the decision to make the switch.

"Graczyk said some problems were caused by the firmware on the cable devices, which Microsoft doesn't provide. He noted that Communications Technology named Comcast's Washington region overall the "System of the Year" last year. The trade publication cited factors including the Microsoft TV technology."

If I remember correctly, some of the issues were also the result of the set top boxes being out of spec for the requirements of the software. MS TV is just the software, not the device.

Re:Good riddance (1)

Octopus (19153) | more than 7 years ago | (#19135825)

You didn't notice the "Microsoft Enhanced" logo in the corner?

Good riddance. Awful interface, very laggy on user interaction. I have it here in Seattle.

Re:Good riddance (1)

Riverman5 (1018024) | more than 7 years ago | (#19135879)

No, that guide you're using isn't Microsoft, it's probably the same one I have to use, where they recently released an update that replaced one of the lines of programming in the guide with an ad bar that you're forced to scroll over now. You have it backward. Yeah I hate that software too, I wish I could use the MS software. I guess they're making more ad revenue with this guideworks crap.

Re:Good riddance (1)

lag00natic (982784) | more than 7 years ago | (#19135959)

Hallelujah! My dual-tuner HD box from Comcast running the M$ s/w SUX! I was hoping they would license Tivo, but anything will be better than what I have now.

Re:Good riddance (1)

popeye44 (929152) | more than 7 years ago | (#19136349)

Apparently I don't have the MS guide, I know it was available on the motorola dvr in some areas. However in the last 2-3 weeks apparently I have received an "upgrade? bah" to my system which now allows me to have to click an Extra step to get past their asinine commercial at the bottom of the screen while I am in the Guide. What a horrible fuckin design, as if they don't over-advertise their shit anyway. Oh Well.. It's not like I can get the same connectivity speed for the same price or less anywhere else and I do enjoy the dvr. Comcast still sucks.. but then they always have and I've just lived with it.

Comcast join the club (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19134675)

Everybody is dropping Microsoft.

So that explains it (1, Interesting)

joshv (13017) | more than 7 years ago | (#19134685)

Recently signed up for Comcast. I wondered why the on screen guide, and the On Demand features were so clumsy to navigate (and just plain ugly to boot) - now I know why.

Re:So that explains it (2, Insightful)

joshv (13017) | more than 7 years ago | (#19134755)

Actually, it seems that the MS version is used in Washington only. I am in IL, so I guess I don't have MS to blame for my poor user experience.

Re:So that explains it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19135415)

No. You most certainly have GuideWorks to blame. It's a piece, for sure. I'd be interested in seeing the Microsoft product.

Re:So that explains it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19136161)

unfair moderation, I hope the meta mods avenge you

Before everyone cheers..... (5, Informative)

LordPhantom (763327) | more than 7 years ago | (#19134701)

...I've heard that the COMCAST software sucks. It's more or less an out of the frying pan into the fire situation. And to be honest, given their incredibly lousy customer service, what makes you think they're going to develop reliable software? Or software that will allow you to do anything -more- useful than the Microsoft offering? A quick google search showed as much (if not more) complaining about Guideworks on -current- comcast boxes versus the Microsoft software.

Re:Before everyone cheers..... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19134903)

The old comcast software that the microsoft software replaced didn't look as nice, but it had more features, some of which were pretty buried within the software, and was generally more responsive. The worst thing about the old comcast software is sometimes it would hork downloading its program guide and render the fonts incorrectly, occasionally to the degree that they were illegible. Over all, while microsofts offering seems somewhat more stable, the lack of responsiveness and lost useful features is extremely annoying. Given that all my neighbors have switched from satellite to comcast (out of redmond wa no less) I can only imagine how truly horrible it must be.

Hold your horses kids (1)

tweak4 (1074671) | more than 7 years ago | (#19135673)

According to the summary (you didn't even have to read the article on this one), the MS system is only deployed in the state of Washington. That means that everyone complaining about how much Comcast's interface sucks that does not live in Washington has nothing to cheer about. So far on the page, LordPhantom seems to be about the only one that caught that distinction.

Comcast's software does indeed suck. It is clumsy, slow, and not terribly user friendly. Our cable box stops responding entirely on a regular basis, and the only way we've found to reset it is to physically pull the plug (after which it takes a good 2 hours to repopulate the on-screen guide).
I don't have any firsthand experience with it, but I'd wager even the defunct MS software would be a step up from what non-WA Comcast "customers" have now.

how is this informative? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19136015)

basically, you are saying you've heard something second hand, and that something doesn't even parse straight: you're saying COMCAST SOFTWARE sucks? the article is about comcast choosing between GUIDEWORKS SOFTWARE instead of MICROSOFT SOFTWARE. then you bash their customer service (which I've personally found to be in the 'just fine' to 'pretty good' range) without any details and finally, move on to use an off-handed google search to compare a nationally deployed package against one that is only deployed in washington state. of course, you probably didn't google for results in spanish or portugese, which would show a significant, maybe greater proportion of complaints.

you know nothing of the situation. you pretty plainly didn't even read the article. and the modpoinst are flowing. sad to see it.

Guideworks blows (5, Interesting)

hansamurai (907719) | more than 7 years ago | (#19134707)

Looking at the Guideworks website, it looks like the same crap that was part of the reason I dropped Comcast months ago. This really isn't a big deal as the Microsoft switch affects a relatively small portion of people compared to how many Comcast serves. The thing is, Guideworks software is a pile of crap, the UI is absolutely horrible, and I had mandatory updates to it remove useful functionality and even lose some of the shows I had saved on the box's hard drive. But really, the user interface is as bad as it gets. It's unresponsive, randomly locking up for seconds and sometimes even a full minute on end, and then all of a sudden all the buttons you pressed during the lockup (thinking maybe you just didn't press that remote button hard enough...) queue up and are executed immediately causing even more problems.

Comcast was supposedly talking to Tivo about replacing their Comcast/Guideworks software with the much loved Tivo software. Where is that?

Re:Guideworks blows (1)

Extide (1002782) | more than 7 years ago | (#19134979)

I have the same issue with my Comcast DVR -- its the motorolla one with DVI out (cant remember the model # right now) -- anyways constantly locking up, lagging, and doing everything you described. My friend also has another box just the same at his house, witht he same issues. I saw this article thinking they were finally moving us to something else, oh well guess not. (I am in UT)

So does the MS Interface on those Motorola boxes (1)

Jaborandy (96182) | more than 7 years ago | (#19135055)

I'm in WA, and I have Comcast's Motorola DVR boxes with the MS Interface. All the symptoms with the UI that you described are familiar to me with the MS interface. I bet it's just as much the Motorola hardware to blame.

If I had another choice in the market for High-Def DVR, I'd take it. Anything would be better than Comcast. You hear me, nebulous market forces? I said I'd pay for your service if you offered it. Hearken to the pent up demand.

Why don't I have another good option? Why is your pet option not what I need? Well... I can get a good view of any one area of the sky from my roof, but I can't simultaneously from one dish location see all the satellites required for good high-def programming over satellite. I can't get FiOS yet, but it's coming. I can get OTA programming well enough, but neither Tivo nor any PC solution will integrate with digital cable to allow me to tune multiple channels of cable or off-air high-def programming.

Dish Networks offers the closest thing to what I want, but they make you pay through the nose if you have two high def TVs. They optimize multi-TV HD sales packages for one high-def TV and one low-def one, and no other options are affordable. That kind of "we know what you want" mentality is annoying, and I bet it turns off a lot of the geeks on this board. Grrr.

-- Jaborandy

Re:So does the MS Interface on those Motorola boxe (1)

cxreg (44671) | more than 7 years ago | (#19135127)

What's wrong with the Tivo series 3, other than the price? It takes cable card (no cable box!), has 2 tuners, records HD, works with Comcast in WA (I'm doing it right now).

It is pricey, but it was worth the cost just to ditch the lame ass Comcast DVR

Re:So does the MS Interface on those Motorola boxe (1)

cuban321 (644777) | more than 7 years ago | (#19135159)

Lack of "on demand" is the serious issue.

Re:So does the MS Interface on those Motorola boxe (1)

cxreg (44671) | more than 7 years ago | (#19135175)

Oh. I don't personally care about that, but I can see your point. It isn't a tivo problem, it's a cable card problem and when (if?) they introduce 2-way cards, Tivo will support them

Re:So does the MS Interface on those Motorola boxe (1)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | more than 7 years ago | (#19135273)

on-demand is the biggest joke out there.

if you already pay for movies, geeze, man; how impatient do you have to get? your movie channels will get all your OD movies, sooner or later.

I fail to see how this money-grab called OD is worth anything. mostly, it seems like you pay for movies and then pay AGAIN to get some of them sooner.

what a racket!

Re:So does the MS Interface on those Motorola boxe (1)

Kemanorel (127835) | more than 7 years ago | (#19135507)

On Demand for channels that you have a subscription to is free. It's only the newest movies that aren't on the premium channels that cost extra.

Re:So does the MS Interface on those Motorola boxe (1)

hansamurai (907719) | more than 7 years ago | (#19135183)

Few questions for using your Tivo 3 with Comcast...

Do you get ESPN HD? Can you record it? Is there a way to get ESPN HD and other HD channels that are not OTA without the Comcast cable box?

Honestly, the initial price for a Tivo Series 3 is very high for me, and is simply not worth it for the amount I watch.

Re:So does the MS Interface on those Motorola boxe (1)

cxreg (44671) | more than 7 years ago | (#19136317)

Since ESPN has decided that hockey doesn't exist, I have no use for them, so I don't know if I get it or not.

I'm not sure I understand your question, but I can record, for example, Discovery HD without the use of a cable box.

Re:So does the MS Interface on those Motorola boxe (1)

gleffler (540281) | more than 7 years ago | (#19135365)

That, and 'no box' isn't really a feature when to get the cablecards you have to pay the same (or MORE, in Insight territory) that you would have to pay to get a box.

Re:So does the MS Interface on those Motorola boxe (1)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 7 years ago | (#19135165)

I'm in WA, and I have Comcast's Motorola DVR boxes with the MS Interface. All the symptoms with the UI that you described are familiar to me with the MS interface. I bet it's just as much the Motorola hardware to blame.

Not surprisingly, I sometimes encounter similar issues with Windows MCE. Thankfully I only use that for watching TV in HD or for watching the occasional downloaded video, so it's not like I deal with it on a daily basis. My TiVo doesn't do this, though...

Re:Guideworks blows (1)

Richthofen80 (412488) | more than 7 years ago | (#19135221)

The 'queue up' time that I experience and many other experience is not at the software level. Its either the hardware level or the network level. Every command that is performed through the Motorola box, every single remote button press that is received by the box, is recorded back into large databases. Comcast gets at least 20 million rows of data a day from its boxes, and that's just the Video-On-Demand activity. That's about 240 transactions per second. When a ton of people are doing interactive cable things, it hammers their equipment. So its probably a failure to gracefully handle a timeout or network latency.

Re:Guideworks blows (1)

smitty97 (995791) | more than 7 years ago | (#19135319)

My local cable co switched from Passport Echo software to Guideworks iGuide about a year ago and it sucks. Crashes, loss of simple features like using the guide to see what i just missed, user interface hell, and hard drive that says "21% remaining" yet wont let you record. I want my passport back!

Re:Guideworks blows (1)

Kemanorel (127835) | more than 7 years ago | (#19135447)

Same issues here in Southern California on my Time Warner (nee Comcast) Motorola DVR/HD box. I'd lay even odds that it's the hardware in this case. Having to unplug and plug back in to hard power cycle the box is a pain but generally gives me a week or two of stable operation. Having the audio on my HDMI connection drop occasionally on channel changes is a bother too.

The Time Warner sticker placed over the Comcast imprinted logo on my box was a nice touch though. I'd love for more choice in cable or the hardware we can use with their service at the very least.

Re:Guideworks blows (1)

hxnwix (652290) | more than 7 years ago | (#19135767)

Comcast: Microsoft would pay us to use their software, which we don't, since it sucks ass. So why should we have to compensate you?

TiVO: Because our stuff is better? Isn't it normal to pay for value?

Comcast: Not when you value fucking people over! So I guess you'll just have to go fuck yourselves, you selfish bastards.

TiVO: Wow... OK. Just... wow.

Re:Guideworks blows (3, Interesting)

Chris Kamel (813292) | more than 7 years ago | (#19135809)

It's not the software's problem, I'm a Comcast customer living in WA. Everybody around here complains about the box (including those making the MS software themselves) and nobody is expecting things to get better with the switch because most of the problems are with the firmware of the box, not the software.
That's why your complaints about the box with the Guideworks software are exactly my complaints about the box with the MS software, same locking up, same queuing up of the button presses, same everything.

Re:Guideworks blows (1)

stonefry (968479) | more than 7 years ago | (#19135835)

>Comcast was supposedly talking to Tivo about replacing their Comcast/Guideworks software with the much loved Tivo software. Where is that? It is in the works still, but they will charge an extra $10 per month for it.

Re:Guideworks blows (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19136169)

Well, I consider TiVo's UI to be a hard requirement. Not "DVR" -- specifically TiVo! All the other stuff is just garbage.

Therefore, not being able to offer me TiVo is costing Comcast sales: I was forced to choose between HD and Digital/On-Demand on the one hand -- all of which are incompatible with my current TiVo -- and basic analog cable and TiVo on the other hand. I chose TiVo.

Comcast is probably missing out on $50/month from me because of that.

Comcast had better get their butts in gear on this, before Apple releases an AppleTV that's good enough to replace regular broadcast TV altogether!!

So that's why it failed so often (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 7 years ago | (#19134735)

It seemed to have no ability to look forward more than a day or two, failed to understand that when you search for shows, you might be interested in others with the same title, and fried out way too often.

This great news (dumping MSFT on my cable box), combined with the planned rollout of 400 Mbps cable modem service for the same price as I pay today, is fantastic!

Re:So that's why it failed so often (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19135079)

My Scientific Atlanta and Pace boxes all crash randomly and there's no Microsoft software on them. They also lack the ability to look forward more than a day and the UI looks like some ugly interface they took from the 90's. Oh, and when the software gets updated, some options change or disappear. Cable set top boxes are all crappy.

Re:So that's why it failed so often (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 7 years ago | (#19135409)

The original versions (before the MSFT version) used to see a week out. The current version frequently can't look out more than one day - and sometimes not even that.

I for one welcome our non-patent-overlording non-MSFT overlords.

Now only (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19134749)

if they drop G4....

Bringing it in (4, Interesting)

Applekid (993327) | more than 7 years ago | (#19134795)

This probably has less to do with Microsoft's guide sucking as it has to do with Comcast already having an on-screen guide software suite. For something so critical, one would think that Comcast would have been 100% behind the home-grown option.

Re:Bringing it in (1)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 7 years ago | (#19135663)

This probably has less to do with Microsoft's guide sucking as it has to do with Comcast already having an on-screen guide software suite.

Perhaps, but what I think is interesting is that Comcast was the last (hell, maybe it was the only>/i>) US cable company to use it. I'm just surprised that Microsoft, with all its cashola, couldn't muster better numbers in its home country. And strong in South America? What's with that?

The Chemo Is Working (2, Funny)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 7 years ago | (#19134843)

Now if we can just get MS software out of our ATMs and voting machines, the country might be safe to watch TV in again.

Re:The Chemo Is Working (1)

loganrapp (975327) | more than 7 years ago | (#19136305)

Don't worry, even if we can't figure it out, Micah [nbc.com] will.

Good thing? (2, Funny)

e2d2 (115622) | more than 7 years ago | (#19134891)

I was gonna say this is a good thing, but I dislike comcast so much that I actually wish more problems on them so I vote NAY.

hate hate hate hate

Comcast fee reduction? (0, Troll)

macraig (621737) | more than 7 years ago | (#19134921)

Does the fact that Comcast is no longer paying the Microsoft Piper mean that customers can expect a fee reduction? Their profits are already more inflated than Bush's ego.

Microsoft has television software? (4, Funny)

wumpus188 (657540) | more than 7 years ago | (#19134957)

I wonder what it shows when it's late and between channels...

Movies.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19135885)

Killer chairs from outer space!
IT came from Redmond.
The blue screen of DOOM!
How to be EVIL.

This is bad news for Washington Comcast Customers (2, Interesting)

hawks5999 (588198) | more than 7 years ago | (#19135141)

Hey, I can hate on Microsoft with the best of them, but having been on a DirecTiVo and having to switch to Comcast, I can tell you that the Microsoft product was at least usable. I was fearing that I'd end up with the home grown OSD when we switched, having seen it at relatives in other states. I was relieved to see the Microsoft label when we turned on the new STB. Teh suck is now I'm in a place that can get DirecTV, but they've ditched TiVo so that's not a much better option. I guess it's time to start reading books. :(

Re:This is bad news for Washington Comcast Custome (1)

CallFinalClass (801589) | more than 7 years ago | (#19135257)

They haven't ditched it... but new boxes are a bit scarce. Find one, and they'll let you have the service no problems. Worst case is they would make you buy new access cards.

Hmmmm (1)

Atari007 (847408) | more than 7 years ago | (#19135147)

Does that mean my On-Demand may actually work when they change it over? heh... yeah right...

opportunity for improvement (4, Insightful)

fred fleenblat (463628) | more than 7 years ago | (#19135205)

Well, I hope the transition to the new software enables comcast to not make the same mistakes as most other digital set top boxes. Let's see if I can remember all my complaints.

- widescreen support somewhere between zero and none
- menu tree overly deep and wide, with a bad bad case of feature creep
- distracting ad banners in every corner of the screen
- video-on-demand jerky and unresponsive to ff/rew/pause buttons
- huge fonts means you can only see listings for 1 hour and 5 channels on the screen at once
- huge overscan margins which is not required for LCD or plasmas anyway
- horrible play-skool color choices for the buttons, lists, menus, overlays.
- cheesy 3-D looking buttons that look like windows 3.1 or motif 1.0 at best
- showing channel number and station ID in pop-up or overlays instead of spending $5 to display it in LED's on the front of the box
- button only remotes--how about a jog/shuttle scroll wheel like VCR's used to have
- remotes with 60 buttons of which you only use 8 most of the time
- the 1/4 size live picture when you pull up the menus or the guide is cute, except for those rare occasions when you're trying to read the menus or the guide
- the box that supports DD5.1 or component video costs way more than it should...you can get the same outputs on a $30 DVD player at wal-mart, why should it cost so much more on a STB
- how about an open protocol so i can access the cable feed from myth tv directly instead of having to use an IR emitter or cable card
- maybe not charge so much for PPV movies since they're $1/day to rent at Kroger
- when you do the triple-play, how about not sending me two or three boxes, how about just one box with a telephone jack, an ethernet port, and component video jacks?
- why do you have to have some guy come out to "install" this thing when I can connect cables together just fine myself
- how about HD actually being the same bandwidth as what I can get for FREE from rabbit ears instead of compressing the living daylights out of it
- set top box can't actually set on top anymore if you have a flat panel TV, how about some brackets or let it look decent mounted in a vertical position
- record button should be able to start my VCR (or should have 10 years ago) like directv receivers can, not just change the channel
- even if the STB was flawless and seamless to use, the actual content is crap. i swear i spend more time using the cable modem to view stuff on youtube than i do watching TV.

Re:opportunity for improvement (1)

MontyApollo (849862) | more than 7 years ago | (#19135275)

Um...I don't think they will be transitioning to "new" software. They are just switching Washington residents to the same crappy Comcast software the rest of the country has been using.

Re:opportunity for improvement (2, Interesting)

British (51765) | more than 7 years ago | (#19136119)

I have a Comcast HD box, and yes, it indeed sucks. Let's add to the list shall we?

- How about have on-screen guides in HD? After all, the box is for HD, why not bring the program data(descriptions, etc) and re-render it in 720 or 1080? C'mon, it's 2007.
- enable the composite in ports in the front? I'd love to have access to those to hook up a video game console, etc.
- enable the Ethernet port so I can watch downloaded videos(okay that's a pipe dream, but that dang Ethernet could be useful).
- make the god damn DVI port work with my HDMI port on my TV? I have one of the HDTV models it's not compatible with.
- USB port: woudln't it be cool if we could put video files on a thumbdrive and it would play them on the television screen?

Yeah, I know. I'm coming up with ideas for ports they for some strange reason decided to include(which costs money) but make absolutely no use of.

As someone who lives in Washington... (2, Interesting)

CloudsSpaz (824168) | more than 7 years ago | (#19135321)

I have to say, I didn't mind Microsoft's software at all. It was pretty easy to use, and it seemed far better than the TV Guide software that my out of state friends who have Comcast use. So I'm hoping this switch is an actual improvement, because I was actually quite happy with my current software.

But you know, down with M$!!! rah rah rah...

You are attempting to change the channel (4, Funny)

Dancindan84 (1056246) | more than 7 years ago | (#19135363)

Cancel or Allow?

That's funny... (1)

stubear (130454) | more than 7 years ago | (#19135505)

...I'm anxiously awaiting CableCards so I can dump the sh*tty Comcast guide and replace it with my Windows Media Center guide on the MCPC connected to my HDTV.

AT&T (2, Informative)

sTc_morphius (948420) | more than 7 years ago | (#19135551)

While AT&T is not a cable company, their uverse TV system is using Microsoft's Software here "at home". It is not to shabby really, and I do like it more then the Comcast box I just kicked out of the house.

Ballmer says Comcast violates 235 patents (3, Funny)

IGnatius T Foobar (4328) | more than 7 years ago | (#19135571)

He won't say exactly what patents they are, but they probably include things like "Method and apparatus for sitting on your couch eating cheesy poofs while watching television" and "Method and apparatus for displaying television programs which contain blocks of programming separated by commercials."

Re:Ballmer says Comcast violates 235 patents (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19136443)

I know you're trying to be funny, but isn't it possible that this is actually connected to the patent threats Microsoft has been generating lately?

Could Comcast be a FOSS consumer?

Did they really drop it? (3, Funny)

xlation (228159) | more than 7 years ago | (#19135621)

Yesterday my Comcast provided cable modem died. I stopped by the local office after work and exchanged it for a new one.

It did not just plug-and-play with my router, I had to plug it directly into a computer first and run their configuration. So, I plugged it into my powerbook. I expected trouble when the Comcast website came up telling me I would have to download some software, but when I clicked the button, the file it downloaded was actually a mac file--wow.

After unpacking the install program a warning message popped up telling me I needed to use Internet explorer to continue the configuration. It then installed IE 5.something, which promptly froze up and died.

Bring Back UltimateTV, Microsoft! (1)

harlows_monkeys (106428) | more than 7 years ago | (#19135679)

Microsoft clearly can make good set-top box software. Their UltimateTV product was very nice. I had it with DirecTV. When I first got it, it was a little behind Tivo in some features, and ahead in others. First update, a few months after I got it, put it ahead of Tivo on most features, and next year's update made it even better than that.

Then Microsoft shut down the UTV group, transfering the people off to, I think, the XBox group, apparently planning to someday integrate games and set-top boxes.

The only problem UTV had was that the interface was a little slow. But they overcame much of that with good interface design. E.g., the buttons on a page might have been slower than the equivalent on my current Comcast box, but the UTV interface only required a couple button presses to accomplish the task, whereas the Comcast box requires about 5 times as many. Two slow buttons are a lot faster than 10 moderately responsive buttons!

How about 3rd-party boxes? (2, Insightful)

r_jensen11 (598210) | more than 7 years ago | (#19135689)

I've got a brilliant idea: let us choose which boxes we want. Here's a better one: Let us choose which software we want as well. I'm sure they'd gain a lot of goodwill and credit amongst customers if they allowed us to use MythTV with a cable card and 2-way communication with said cable card.

There's still ads though no doubt. (1)

Suzumushi (907838) | more than 7 years ago | (#19135831)

I canceled our Comcast about 8 or 9 months ago because they started putting ads in the guide menu. Let me know when they discontinue this behavior and I might consider getting cable again.

Or perhaps someone could make an adblock addon for these cableboxes?

Guideworks is terrible (1)

dlemay68 (912235) | more than 7 years ago | (#19135851)

The Guideworks software is terrible enough. The problems that TFA mentions of unresponsiveness doesn't just affect the Microsoft boxes. It happens just as frequently using Guideworks. I can't think of a time where my set top box from Comcast ever operated how it was supposed to. It constantly freezes, forgets to record things, or locks up when it is recording. Had my set top replaced 3 times, and it still does it.

Ouch (1)

Cctoide (923843) | more than 7 years ago | (#19135985)

Did Microsoft get hurt?

Whatever happened to Liberate? (1)

cutecub (136606) | more than 7 years ago | (#19136205)

This is a bit off topic, but the discussion about Comcast and Microsoft reminded me of liberate. [liberate.com]

Liberate made set-top-box software that competed with Microsoft but they seem to have fallen on hard times. When I interviewed there back in 2001 it looked like they had a chance of actually competing.

Today their web site is basically an e-tombstone.

Anybody out there know what led to their demise?

-S

Guide gone, but MS isn't out of the TV business (1)

pergamon (4359) | more than 7 years ago | (#19136367)

As TFA notes, MS certainly isn't getting out of the TV and STB business, only the relatively trivial software that just shows you guides and changes the channel for you. Their software is being used by a disturbingly high number of IPTV installations, so the chances that MS software will be ruining your (wired) TV experience is only going up.
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