Our new startup, Media Browser

about 15 years ago


I have spent a lot of time thinking about Media Browser. I would like to thank the community for all of your help and great advice. I would like to thank the developers for all their patience and trust.

I am very proud and happy to announce that I am forming a new company that will make sure Media Browser development continues.

We will also be charging money for the previously free-as-in-beer Media Browser.
Which brings me to the Q&A section …

So, you may ask, why should you be happy about this?

  • The company will be able to better support the community and continue to evolve the product.
  • I will be able to continue working on Media Browser.
  • We will be able to compensate the contributors.
  • We will be able to buy equipment and perform more extensive testing.
  • We will be able to form alliances with other companies and perhaps, who knows, give you a legal way to get things like imdb metadata.

How much is Media Browser going to cost?

We are still working out all the details. My current preference is a yearly fee of sorts. Something very affordable. I would prefer not to go down the path of a one time fee for the life of the product, I don’t want to enter a support nightmare where we are stuck supporting legacy products. I don’t want people to purchase a license only to discover they need to buy another one in 3 months, in order to get the latest and greatest.

A yearly fee is simple and sustainable.

h3. What are you paying for?

The short answer is, you are paying money so Media Browser does not die. Support will be better but not perfect, at the start my work load will be pretty high so I would actually expect support to get a bit worse, while I make it sustainable. This mean I will need to focus on a usable bug tracking system, cleaning up documentation and lots of administrative stuff.

Does this mean we will be focusing on implementing lots of new features?

Stability, ease of use and a very low bug count are our top priority. There will be very few new features in the upcoming months, instead we will focus polishing up our current release and ensuring that all our current features work as expected.

What about about the source code, does it remain open source?

I am hoping to keep the majority of Media Browser open source. Media Browser’s hackability has been a great source of strength. I really appreciate all the hard work that was so graciously contributed by the community.

What about a trial version?

We are still working out all the details on that, this is something I would really like some feedback on, do we need a trial version?

Why not go with donations?

There are lots of reasons, the main being I think Media Browser has a value which is more than $0. A lot of time was invested in it, something our users fully appreciate. Donations are not fair, it means the general population receive free software because a bunch of philanthropists decide to donate. Also, people donate a lot less than you would expect. If we went down the donation route and later decided to change to a paid model, we would have a logistic nightmare.

What about advertising?

There will be no ads built in to Media Browser to help fund it, I always championed usability and this would be a big loss on that front. I will consider ads on the mediabrowser.tv site, which is great for complimentary income, but there is no chance it will cover our costs.

How can you help?

We are are looking to hire a designer on a short stint to help us revamp the mediabrowser.tv website, if you know someone, contact me.

Be patient, it is going to be a little slow for the next few weeks while this stuff is being set up. Once all the administrative tasks are completed, I will be focused on shipping a stable release of Media Browser.

The bottom line is, that selling Media Browser is the only feasible way for it to continue evolving, its either this, or I quit working on Media Browser and find another project.


Ofek about 15 years ago

Congratulations man! it's both the right and the brave thing to do. Good luck in the ISV world!

Sam Saffron about 15 years ago
Sam Saffron

Thanks Ofek

Kikuchiyo_Ali about 15 years ago

I wish you much success in this endeavor. And this is not the only factor in my decision – but I am moving to Plex on my Mini.

Josh about 15 years ago

So if the code base reamins open source, are you essentially charging for a build and installer?

I respect and appreciate the work you've put into MB, but I hope your new endeavor becomes more of a fork off of the existing MB source, rather than the closing of a previously open source code base. This would give other developers the chance to embrace and extend what is already there, and keep the open source spirit alive.

Sam Saffron about 15 years ago
Sam Saffron

We are still working out all the details, but that seems like one of the approaches we could take.

Dave about 15 years ago

Good luck Sam. It's a GREAT product, and I think it has enhanced Windows Media Center more than everybody ever thought possible.

However, I think making it pay software is going to result in the end of the ride. The last great software push of this type was myHTPC, which was an awesome shell.

It evolved into “Meedio” which was a pay product, sold some copies, couldn't keep up with the DEMAND for bug fixes and customer service, and then it promptly died.

I don't know if you are prepared for the headaches that will come with a full product. I hope you are, and of course, I wish you the very best!

I'll surely be buying a copy, but remember, whereas before I was a donator, and was happy when you fixed a bug… as a customer, I will be EXPECTING bug fixes with one foot tapping, and too many bugs will leave me more angry than thankful.

You rock Sam… there are sharks in the water though… bring a harpoon. smile

Hmmm about 15 years ago

Screw that. I'll take the current source code, and start a fork for a free version where everyone can participate, as in your previously free version!

Sam Saffron about 15 years ago
Sam Saffron

Hmmm are you a developer or a contributor to this project? Do you honestly think our work is worth no money?

User about 15 years ago

I have basically been working for free for the last 2 years on multiple failed projects, so I feel your pain on needing to get paid.

A yearly subscription service sounds good on paper however like what was previously stated, you will end up with a bunch of people expecting too much. I would be more inclined to charge for every new version as it is released. Obviously you will need to provide be free bug fix updates for each version, however any and all new features would be pushed to a new version. The new versions will help you continue to make money as well as only release staple applications. Offering a trial version that limited the total number of videos to be displayed would then allow anyone to see what they are getting and how it works. No surprises after purchasing the software.

I hope you are rewarded for creating such a great application, but you are going to be running on thin ice. I wish you the best of luck, because you deserve it.

Jcalton88 about 15 years ago

Screw what everyone else said about this being a mistake. I think you are doing the right thing. When a stable version is released, I will be first in line. I hope you have great success with this.

If you are prepared for the support end, I think you will be fine. Be prepared to lose that customer base that doesn't really care if the softwares good, just that its free. And start looking into new features(not many to bloat the software, but something that the end user just can't do without) to help put a damper on those that will fork off free versions.

Good luck, and think about starting a RSS Feed or e-mail newsletter to update the paid users on new releases, happenings of the company. I will be interested to follow along. Debit Card/Paypal are waiting, just give me a place to send it to, :-).

Lil about 15 years ago

Sam Check your PMs. You got mail regarding a designer.

Hmmm about 15 years ago

Jcalton88 you big sucker

Sam Saffron about 15 years ago
Sam Saffron

Is that really necessary?

Rich about 15 years ago

I really don't think this is something you can pull off with open source software. If there were some truly major technological innovations to launch soon, then you'd have new features that a fork may not provide. But, as is, it seems there will be little to offer.

I think your original decision on the matter was the right one. There's no way this software would die off if left open source, it's great software! Trying to outgun the community as a whole when you've given them such a head start by providing open source in the past is a poor wager, I'm afraid.

Personally, I'd drop the idea and leave the program open source and look for income elsewhere.

Davinleeds about 15 years ago

I would pay if it were simpler to set up. Your last version helped alot. I haven't tried My Movies – I tried Media Portal, not for me.

Make Meta Browser part of your $$MB. Lock out the code now!

You'll need a nitch that separtes you from MyMovies. But look at VidaBox, they sell that Media Add on for big $$. So hook yourself up with an htpc seller for exclusive rights and do charge for your work.

Good Luck.

Thewarm about 15 years ago

I have paid as other 3rd party plugins went “commercial”… but it was to support their “server costs”. Would paying for Media Browser ensure that the TVDB and TMDB databases continue?

Sam Saffron about 15 years ago
Sam Saffron

I contacted Travis and am waiting for a reply, IF MB starts making money THEN a certain amount would go to supporting TMDB and TVDB either in donations or some sort of fee.

Niz_Z8 about 15 years ago

I'm all for it Sam… Your team should get paid for your hard work and help sustain the project for future features and updates. I posted to the other thread that i think 20-25$ for a lifetime license is pretty fair (to me at least). Either way, thanks for this great piece of software that i use on a daily basis!

Niz_Z8 about 15 years ago

Lol, i should have read the full post before posting my thoughts above :)… Yearly subscription is OK by me.

Dewinter about 15 years ago

I'll surely be buying a copy, but remember, whereas before I was a donator, and was happy when you fixed a bug… as a customer, I will be EXPECTING bug fixes with one foot tapping, and too many bugs will leave me more angry than thankful.[/quote]

I totally agree with this.

sam , maybe you're a genius in coding stuff, but considering the business modal, i don't think $MB will survive.

there's a lot other choices like XBMC, OML and I really think that you should take a good study of the customer psychology.

maybe i'll take a snapshot of the code and start a branch to keep the free MB alive , too

Sam Saffron about 15 years ago
Sam Saffron

Go for it, its open source good luck to you.

Look, I don’t know what will happen, as it stands I’m taking a break, setting up a business and getting lots of feedback. Making sure that the business is set up to support customers, and phpbb is just not good enough for that, its killing me. It’s impossible to keep every person on the planet happy. All I do know is that as stuff stands I will not be working on MB for $0 anymore same goes for Jas and Paul H.

I do not think anything is viable before MSFT fix the Vista SP2 bugs. It will cause way too many problems.

I am looking to be paid for my time, I don’t think that is such an abomination.

Also, I think people are forgetting that we have been providing BETTER support than Microsoft and better turn around times on bug fixes when it comes to Media Browser.

Ml about 15 years ago

Yea, I don't know either. It better be pretty perfect right of the bat because when I ‘buy' software as a ‘customer' I expect you to be at my service. I haven't yet installed your latest version because it seems to be riddled with bugs, now thats not exactly making me want to buy your next one.

Sam Saffron about 15 years ago
Sam Saffron

Riddled with bugs, offends me.
The software has some bug.
There are 4500 downloads, obviously some people are having issues … the people having issues are the ones that are most vocal

Damian_P about 15 years ago


Whether or not people want to see MB stay free, I don't understand how anyone can have issue with you taking up this idea. I work 60+ hours a week and you can be sure I expect to get paid for my work, so I respect where you are coming from. I have commented on my blog and a few other sites. The biggest challenges I see are:

1) Will the people who say they are willing to pay for MB actually pay (it may sound good to say yes right now but when you have to eventually pull out your credit card…)

2) How to get new users involved? New users are less likely to try MB if they have to pay upfront.

3) Increased competition, not only from the free software apps, but if you have to pay for MB you might as well look at paid alternatives as well.

I have been very impressed with the work you and the other contributors have put in to get MB to where it is. I have been running the latest MB without issue, and look forward to seeing what you have in mind for the future.


Rich about 15 years ago

You know, I have to clarify that I don't think all that many think it's in the least “unfair” for Sam and the other contributors to be compensated, far from it! But the truth is that even when we want to be paid for something, and truly deserved to be paid for it – sometimes we just aren't going to be paid for it.

I can understand the difficult position these people are in. They don't want to work for free, or perhaps more apporopriately, don't have the luxury of working for free. That's completely understandable, and surely they shouldn't be expected to.

However, the truth is that it's going to be very difficult to pull off. It will be easy to make some money. It will be much harder to make a significant amount of money.

But, if Sam and Co. are looking at this from an “either people pay for it or it's going to die off anyway” angle, then I suppose there is no alternative.

I'd like to say that it will all work out because people should certainly be fairly compensated for their work. But when you make something open source, it's hard to get the genie back in the bottle later. I do think that free alternatives (many of which use MB's previous open source) will end up taking up the role MB has had to date.

Ml about 15 years ago

Yep, I'd call the ImagesByName issues a fairly big annoying bug ATM (genre images, startup image – I get no startup image upon first run, but when I go back to the main screen, it magicaly appears). Now that you are contemplating taking MB to the market, does that mean we are stuck with the current version not being fixed? You really should get 2.1.1 100% working first, then you would have a great launch pad to expect paid customers. Right now, the new Diamond theme is great (where you have put the little menu at the top of the screen), but I'm stuck deciding whether to go back to the previous version (yes, tonight I have tried 2.1.1). And WHY doesn't Diamond have the coverflow reflection feature. Then agian, the only thing that sucked about Vanilla was the way you had to go through the config menu to filter.

James about 15 years ago

I totally support your decision. Good luck, and let us know as soon as possible what price will be. I'm certainly willing to pay a reasonable fee on a yearly basis.

Brian about 15 years ago

I´m sorry to see this, you just lost a long time user.

Flavio_Campos about 15 years ago

Wow!!! That's bad! I feel this knife in my back…

Jim about 15 years ago


Great app that I want to continue to use, and I'll pay. People have posted many thoughts, most of which are constructive and thoughtful. Ultimately, the only way to know if this will work is to try. Do it.

- Jim
Jcalton88 about 15 years ago

I've thought about it, and it does suck having to go from a great free app to a decent paid app. The reason I said “great to decent” is because when you pay for something, you do expect it to be free from bugs. BUT, I have two machines running Vista and one I finally reverted back to XP on, and there are bugs all over the place. I also have a nvidia 9500 GT that their driver update screwed and now the only way I can get any video to display is with a generic video driver that basically makes the HD part of the card useless.

My point is, if I'm paying, do I want it to be bug free? Yes. But is it? Rarely. And this is with companies that have millions of dollars to work with and thousands of employees to do the work. The few minor bugs in MB are nothing compared to those.

Sure there are things I'd like to be different, like taking the ability to sort by genre in Diamond(in the details page, being able to click the genre in the details, or the actor, director, any other metadata) and put the same ability in Vanilla. I like the Vanilla theme better but a couple functionalities of Diamond. But again, its the same with everything else, there are things you want and you can't just demand it and it happens. Sam and all the other senior developers have done a great job listening to our suggestions and implementing them, free of charge. Its high time they get paid for their effort.

And Sam, I'm not the best programmer, I'm still in school for it as of now, but when I'm done and comfortable with it all, I'll get a hold of you and see how MB is doing, maybe even try helping out.

I think it will be really hard to turn this into a profitable venture, but only because it is open source. But if any free app out there deserves to start making revenue, this would be it.

I appreciate all the hard work and effort, and the nearly perfect application. I said it before and I'll say it again, how much and where to?

Oh and @ “Hmmm”, you may think I'm a big sucker, but how often do you work for free? Or better yet, how often do you do something worth paying for?

Tim about 15 years ago

Good luck, however i am not convinced that a subsciber model is the way to go. PlayOn uses a one time fee with upgrade support. i hope a fee based product will include better support and a more stable product. time will tell if the value proposition will pan out. either way good luck.

Mike_Petersen about 15 years ago

I support this 100% and have no problem paying for a product that makes the whole media expereince so much better! You deserve to get paid for what you have done just like anyone else. Congrats!

Matt about 15 years ago

Sounds fine to me, count me in for a yearly subscription? But would like to see easier meta data management within, or coming with media browser, something simlar to media centre master.
thanks for the hard work!

Jack_Luminous about 15 years ago

Good luck Sam! I am a little annoyed at users who claim to feel betrayed, etc.,etc. and so on and so forth. Those folks saying this don't realize nor appreciate just how much time and energy it takes to do this stuff. You really don't. You want and want but aren't willing to drop a few $ for something you actually enjoy using. If Media Browser can pay for itself and earn its creators some duckets then that's great. I had to shake my head at the ‘you just lost a long time user' comment. C'mon now.

Sam Saffron about 15 years ago
Sam Saffron

Thanks Jack

Andrew_D about 15 years ago

I can't say that I didn't see this coming. No-one (if we're all honest) wants to pay for any software from the internet. But I would definately pay for media browser when it is up to a commercial release standard. I would also like to be able to recommend and resell this to some of my clients, at the moment i have told a few where to get it from and they have downloaded and installed it, only to call me (some at odd hours) when they have an issue, leaving me to only mention it to ones I think are sufficiently PC literate, and that's not many.

Please continue to work on and improve it and don't sell out to M$ or especially Yahoons! as they both know how to kill good work. If you guys could integrate Music/mp3's into the package it would truly be a “media” browser.



Gus_M about 15 years ago

I would recommend you have 2 versions, a free one with the features you already have on this version and a pay version with extra features such as Audio, Pictures and maybe some other add-ons and such. This way no one would be upset and people can continue to help with the free version while you guys concentrate on making the pay version better. Just a suggestion – I wish all the luck

Total_Havoc about 15 years ago

Gus M makes a valid point. Why not go the DVD rebuilder route. Paid users get the latest and greatest, while free users get an older release. This seemed to work well for Jdobbs.

Personally, I'm on the wall about paying right now since I had to downgrade to 2.0.11 because of a few annoying bugs. Especially the sort bugs that I have yet to receive a response on in the forums.

Manuel about 15 years ago

Well it first surprised me, but reading the reasons now I do understand and agree with your thoughts… Please just make sure you also accept Euros :)

Good luck and keep us posted (maybe also via Twitter?)

Niall about 15 years ago

Hi -

I spotted this blog post/news via Ian's blog – and was dissapointed (but not all surprised) to see such statements of ‘stingyness' from end users.

As much as I try – I just don't get the mentality of end users baulking at the idea of paying something for software that they are obviously getting so much usage and enjoyment out of.

I've no doubt whatsoever that each and every user who made these comments would have spent significant amounts of $$$ for hardware setting up their HTPC's (probably at least USD$1000 per user at minimum) – but then find the idea of spending $20 (or whatever it is you intend to charge) such an offensive idea. The one's that do actually pay will then suddenly demand utter perfection and expect you to provide huge amounts of free ‘tech support'. (something which you'd normally pay hundreds of $$'s for with any of the big companies).

As a fellow Media Center developer – I truely appreciate just how much time and effort it takes to make a product like this. It's not just time spent optimizing and perfecting the thousands of lines of code (for a very poorly documented platform) – but the MCML itself which may look simple/short to a lay person – is a mammoth effort getting that design and usability ‘just right'. (and even harder due to their being no WYSIWYG designers you'd get working with other technologies).

The sad reality is that while you'll get a small handful of people who will be happy to pay for and support your endevours – the vast majority will simply switch over to using an inferior product by someone else that happens to be ‘free'. (and also likely you'll end up competing with products that are basically ripping off copyrighted material – something that you won't be able to do since you're going to be a ‘sueable' commercial entity).

Unfortunately – the ‘enthusiast' community (and the only ones who will ever see/know about your product) is such a tiny audience makes it a really hard slog. We can only dream MS one day has the wisdom of Apple and sets up an ‘AppStore' to get your products out there to the mass market – but I wouldnt hold my breath on that.

As you're obviously a well seasoned developer – who does plenty of ‘commercial' work – you'll also likely struggle to make back the sort of $$ (over entire product lifespan) that you'd make in 1 or 2 weeks worth of work for a commercial client.

I've seen this happen time and time again over past few years with other commercial attempts at MediaCenter software (not just my own products) – but with lots of the great software we saw for MCE2005/Vista. And with each revision of Media Center – there ends up being less and less addins made available.

Anyhow – not meaning to have a ‘rant' – but I really hope those reading and leaving these comments will take a good long look at themselves – and try to understand just how damaging their attitudes and comments are to them actually getting good software in the future for Media Center. (and try to resolve why they have such a negative attitude towards paying such a small amount for something because it's ‘software' and not hardware).

Anyhow – I do wish you (and the other guys making this product) – best of luck with commercializing this. Maybe you'll have some success where pretty much everyone else has failed – but I'm not too confident on any major shift in the ‘enthusiast' sentiment.


Sam Saffron about 15 years ago
Sam Saffron


I agree with pretty much everything you said, if MS shipped an app store we would not even need to be having these kind of discussions. People would be used to paying and would not make such a big fuss about it.

Thank you so much for taking your time to respond to my blog post.

We should catch up for a beer next time you are in Sydney


Steve about 15 years ago

Love Media Browser.

Wouldn't mind paying for it. Not sure about yearly; I'm not big on contracts. If it was, I would hope it wouldn't stop working if you didn't resubscribe. Maybe when you initially purchase it, you get free updates for a year, and then a smaller yearly fee to get continued updates (if you choose).

However, I'll be expecting more features and as close to a bug-free product as can get.

I probably wouldn't put down any money soon until something new came along, as I am quite happy with the current version.

That said, if you think you can pull this off, give it a shot. Best of luck!

Daavid1 about 15 years ago

Bring it on – with great software comes great responsibility :P

Mik about 15 years ago

Niall, Its just bad timing. You are the Big Screen guy right? I actually purchased your Weather utility the day you launched (I even got a launch discount). Anyway, the reason I was happy to buy your program was because it seemed to be very solid, was the only option at the time to get what I needed (I was only gonna settle for BOM data), and your site offered accurate professional information about what you were planning. I was very happy (still am ;-) Now Media Browser on the other hand seems very uncertain about what to do and they have started paid discussions without actually finishing what they currently have on offer. IMO not very reassuring and not something I would at this minute be willing to pay for. I am even considering a downgrade to due to annoying bugs that at this stage feel like they are going to turn into a bargaining chip to get a paid version off the ground. Almost like they are saying, “no, bugger you all, we don't feel like working on it anymore, but we will if you pay for it”. And while I'm at installing again, why don't I just leave it there and not bother with any newer versions. It does the job I initially wanted.

Ed about 15 years ago

I don't have a problem paying for software. I have be using MB and My Movies going back and forth. What keeps taking me back to My Movies is support for DVD changers. If MB had this i would be on board. I also agree with the folks that say once paying i would be expecting a less buggy program.

Qomiku about 15 years ago

Good luck sam, seems like most are not gonna pay for it & if you cant get ur current users to pay how are u gonna get new users to pay for it?? – especcially since there are older, free, similar versions. You are gonna be competing with your own free product.

I like and use MB but i am not gonna pay for it.

Maybe u should spend less time on MB, develop it when you have time…and spend more of your valuble time and frustration on things that actually make u money!!!

Jim about 15 years ago

How many of us out here can't wait for the latest and greatest release of MB? Some people take holiday from work to install the newest version. There must be a dramatic peak in downloads every time a new version is released.
The temptation of having the latest release is too much for a lot of us. If a charge (reasonable) was applied we might moan about it but a couple of days later get our credit card out.
But what to offer the rest, the ones who might defect to another fee paying product? Offer a Lite version of MB? Access to older versions only? Added functionality on the paid version?
It is definitely the best product of its type in my opinion but there are alternatives. I reckon the best compromise would be to have a ‘gold' membership with access to the latest builds. I would probably join.

Dave about 15 years ago

I'm disapointed at the decision.

I'm a huge fan of community projects.

I know you have devoted time and you think this should equal $$$ but this time can lead to money other ways by getting recognition in the programming community.

Possibly get a job from this or other avenues.

If you do end up paying remember not everyone lives in the US or the Uk, and as such they have sucky exchange rates. 20 pounds can translate into alot of money elsewhere.

Denver_Trouton about 15 years ago


Out of interest, how do you reconcile charging for something which has been released under the GPL (according to the google code page)? This makes any business based on that code tricky at best.

As a software developer myself I can respect your decision, and there is nothing better than being paid to work on something you care about. You guys have done great work so far, but there are a few caveats.

Great for free is very different to great for money. Frankly, MediaBrowser is no where near stable enough to be a paid for product by my standards. As something I get for free I can live with the fact it needs restarting, or the cache clearing every now and again. If I'm paying a support contract (essentially what the year on year deal would be) my opinion is very different.

I'm also not convinced that this is something I'd pay for every year. I dislike those kind of schemes on principle — I'm sorry, but there is no incentive for you to really fix things if you are being paid continually for “support”. I want to buy something that works. If you then bring out a new version with new features and charge for that then all well and good — but paying for the same thing, or for new features I have no desire for, I don't like.

Also, you have to expect people to feel betrayed — they have spent time and effort setting up a system, under the impression it was free, to be now told they will have to pay for it — every year — to keep it.

I presonally feel you're on somewhat dodgy ground here — you wrote this software and distributed it for free, as you've said yourself, for your CV. Thats a good thing to do, and I applaud you for it. However, if you want to do some paying work, then fine, do that. Trying to charge for something you released under the GPL is iffy at best.

I like media broswer, and I thank you for the work you've done on it. I may even pay for it, but, to be honest, if it's an ongoing contract that is unlikely. Whatever I do I will look around at the many other free and paid-for options before I'd commit to continuing with media browser.

Mats about 15 years ago

I fully respect your wich for some kind of compensation for your work but making MB a pay software is just another way to kill it. Someone said Meedio earlier. Welton way is another example where free versions goes payware and goes down the drain.

Hate to see this happend to a good aplication but it seems to be a culture issue. If it's windows it should cost money.

Wouldn't it be a better way to create and charge for a premier support service? That would maintain the app as free wich keeps the userbase up and then you have a possibilty to sell support contracts.

El_B00ty about 15 years ago

Denver Trouton makes some good points. I, like almost everyone on here, love MediaBrowser. The main reason I started using it, though, was so I could have DivX/mkv/etc all in the same “area” as my DVDs (before I just used the DVD Library registry hack).

The thing is, if Microsoft came out with a way to accomplish this simple feature (all movies in one area, regardless of file type/format), then I really wouldn't need MB. Yes, the metadata, movie posters, themes, backdrops, etc are all very cool… but, at least for me, they are just bonus features. I could live without them.

It all really depends on what you charge… the more I have to pay, the more I'm going to expect. If I have to pay $50/year, I, personally, will probably just wait for the next guy who's doing this as a hobby to share his work (which WILL happen). If it's more like $20/year, and the project continues to progress as it has been, then I'll be happy to comply with a “force donation”. :)

One last thought… you're dealing with mostly enthusiasts now. As an enthusiast, I don't mind troubleshooting, tweaking, etc. But there aren't enough of us (enthusiasts) using the software for you to really make money. You need us to start recommending your software to our friends and family. We need to be able to feel confident about making that recommendation.

I'll be very interested to hear how your subscription and support plans are coming along… thanks for your hard work so far, and I hope you guys figure out a way to work this out!

El_B00ty about 15 years ago


“I've no doubt whatsoever that each and every user who made these comments would have spent significant amounts of $$$ for hardware setting up their HTPC's (probably at least USD$1000 per user at minimum) – but then find the idea of spending $20 (or whatever it is you intend to charge) such an offensive idea. The one's that do actually pay will then suddenly demand utter perfection and expect you to provide huge amounts of free ‘tech support'. (something which you'd normally pay hundreds of $$'s for with any of the big companies).”

If I buy a motherboard, I expect it to be 100% bug-free. If it causes instability, I RMA or return it to the vendor for a different board. Maybe I deal with some very small issues if it's bleeding-edge technology and I know the company is good about getting BIOS updates out there. The bottom line is, hardware usually just plain works or it doesn't. You pay X dollars for Y features.

Software just isn't the same animal… you're comparing apples to oranges. How often do you update your hardware (firmware)? By comparison, how often do you patch your applications? Can you build your own hard drive from scratch in your basement? Can you (in theory) write your own Media Center application down there?

It's not that it's offensive to be asked to pay for something (at least not to most of us)… it's that we're already getting it for free, and there are or will be other free alternatives. Software is really tough to put a value on in general, but MB's value in particular is especially difficult to quantify. Is it worth $50 when you only paid $150 for the whole OS? Is it worth $20 when you could argue that most of its functionality should have been included in Media Center by default (no one likes to pay for something they feel should have been included).

I'd think people would be more likely to pay for something like XBMC, which they could run on top of XP or some flavor of Vista/Windows 7 that doesn't have a media center included.

How many licenses do you expect to sell? 5000? At $20/year, will $100,000 cover the expenses of supporting developing and supporting a commercial product?

Maybe you should add some polls in the forums…

“How much would you pay for MB?”
“What functionality would you expect from a paid version?”
“Would you recommend MB to other users?”


T_Man99 about 15 years ago

As many others have said, MB is a great product and the team does deserve to be paid. As you have said it is in our best interest as we users must know that if it is free then it isn't as sustainable. The only issue I have is the pricing model you have suggested. I usually refused to do anything by subscription in the traditional sense. This is where the software will stop working when my subscription runs out. If that is the intent, I don't think it will fly. However, if you pay for a year and get updates while under subscription but cannot any longer once the subscription runs out then that is acceptable and understandable. Good luck in the new endeavor and my compliments on MB. It has really been better and better with each release. Getting some revenue flowing in hopefully will ensure it will continue to be developed.

Luke about 15 years ago

Love the product, but like many here, I am not interested at all in a subscription. Especially since the product you are charging a subscription for is drawing information and images from free sources. I like the concept of the Free (AKA Lite version) and a full version. The most I would want to pay is $20 for this add-on to Media Center if it were less buggy.

Have you guys asked for Donations yet? I do not see a link on your current site, and maybe just throw something out there. I would be willing to donate to the project and wanted to when I first installed it, but I could not find any place to do so. Jumping from GPL to retail overnight seems a bit drastic.

Keep up the good work! I really like this product, but I wanted to share my two cents.

Mike about 15 years ago

I will pay… were do I sign up?

Aaron about 15 years ago

I support a pay model and would gladly pay for a solid and stable version of MB, but I do have two comments:

1) Personally I just don't like subscriptions, especially for packaged software applications. I'd much rather pay a 1-time fee (even understanding the reasons mentioned above). For me this is true even if it means that I have to continue paying some amount for major new version releases.

2) Some kind of trial version is important to me. For example, I feel the MB experience still isn't quite all there when running on the X360, which may be understandable for various reasons. But I'd be really disappointed to pay for this software before discovering this. I run MCE only through extenders.

Anyway, good luck!


Chris about 15 years ago

I'll be more then happy to pay for Media Browser once the .wtv files and recorded tv can be populated with Meta Data and HQ pictures just like my movies.

I'm confident in you to get this resolved Sam.

Even though I just found MB within the last 4 months I've really enjoyed it and I can also say that I have NOT donated any money your way. I also do not pirate software because I know that I'm taking $ away from the developers who deserve to be compensated.
If you feel your product is worth $ (not your time) then time will tell. I wish you the best of luck.

-Chris (hopefully a paying customer soon)

Daz about 15 years ago

I love MB and so does my friends and family. I will definitely pay for it, providing it's a lot more stable and less buggy.

James about 15 years ago

I would pay for it, and I also would recommend it to friends and family. I have done so in the past. But everytime I recommend it, I show it to them(I run it on my laptop which I usually have with me) and tell them if they want it I will set it up for them.

Basically, what I'm saying is I love it and know most people will too, but it needs to be a little easier to set up. Even though many people are computer literate now rather than 5 years ago, a lot of people are just getting into it and wouldn't be able to get MB installed correctly much less set up to take advantage of all the features. Things like integrating the configuration wizard into the application would take it a long ways.

Good luck, and I will continue to recommend this software!

Haitham about 15 years ago

Dear Sam,

First of all, thank you for a wonderful piece of software that has greatly enhanced my Media center experience. Over the years, I have enjoyed all the new features added, and have appreciated all the hardwork put in by you and the development team.

I, personally, feel that it is only fair that after using your software so extensively, that I should pay for it; even if it's just some sort of backpay for all the utility I've recieved from it. I, as another person in the content business, can totally appreciate all the sweat, blood, and tears that go into making a product such as MB. And, I can certainly appreciate the need to get paid, to make a LIVING, for all the headaches of development, and support.

For all the Trolls, you've been using the software for years, without contributing much to its' development, and now, that the team needs to make a living, you have the audacity to point out bugs in the current FREE version? You're brazen enough to nitpick GPL articles, and clauses? You are shameless enough, after all these years to say “Hey Sam thanks for nothing, your software sucked, I never liked it, and I'm sure somebody will develop something better for free”?

If you like the software, and have gotten much enjoyment out of it, and would like to continue to use it then pay for it.

If you don't like the software, then why are you here?

If you want to talk about community spirit, and respect and all that other stuff, go hug a tree, as none of that stuff pays the bills. And, you're probably just hiding the fact that you're a cheapskate.

If you like the software, would love to continue to use it, but don't want to pay for it, you do have alternatives, go use one of them, and don't begrudge the man having to make a living.

Most of the others are just engaging in useless sophistry. Either you like it, and will pay for it; or, you don't want to pay for it, and should stop wasting the man's time.

To all doomsayers; your lack of vision, and business acumen will have no bearing on the real outcome of this venture. How many of you have actually started a company? Your prediction of the outcome, right or wrong, is irrelevant to the outcome itself, and therefore, inconsequential.

Moreover, the sense of entitlement that permeates the internet, and the world today is absolutely sickening, and has led to a generation of “me first, I want it all, for free, and I'm going to bitch about it either way” nitwits, that don't appreciate, or don't care that some humans are actually laboring to bring them this wondeful app. I'd expand more on that topic, but I think that I've ranted enough, and that you get my point.

Sam, good luck. I'll be first in line when you start charging, and I'll make sure to bring a posse.


Ysoserious about 15 years ago

MB is definitely worth paying for and I fully support that. However, I do not agree with a yearly subscription. A one time fee with the occasional small upgrade fee for major enhancements is tried and true. I do not think that subscriptions will negate the need for legacy support. If you go belly up then support stops, which is how all the other defunct software companies have gone.

I know that the idea of having a renewed revenue stream each year due to subscription renewals seems like a way to more or less guaranty a yearly income but in the end if folks find something better or go in another direction it will equate to about the same thing….subscriptions will stop and no revenue.

Slammers almost 15 years ago

Hi Sam,

I would and will pay for MB. Nevertheless I don't like any kind of subscription and would therefore stop recommending MB to others (which I did a lot :)

Moreover a trial Version is a must. I NEVER buy software without testing it in my environment.

As I mentioned in another post I like the idea of a free, basic version an a commercial “full” version. In my opinion this would be a win-win-situation for every user. Furthermore I'm absolutely certain that a lot of MB-users will hunger for full functionality, because MB is simply really worth every penny.

Maybe only the full version has the ability to get live updates on the internet databases. Would make it easy to vindicate it to the users: Program ist free, but service costs $$.

I like the decision not to create an ad-version, since it would destroy the whole MB-experience.

Just a few comments.

Whatever MB will be in the future, don't stop working on it!

Good Luck


Deee almost 15 years ago

Hi Sam

I want to thank you for creating such a wonderful application, it is so good that I have recommended it to my family, friend and colleagues. Once the new MB was released I installed it, played around with it, and went back to MB 2.0.1. This is only because MB 2.1.1 is a bit slower and there is a big delay with the loading of catch. I know you will eventually fix these issues and therefore I will defiantly pay for a wonderful product.

Stinkyhead almost 15 years ago

In the yearly subscription model what does one get for renewing? Continued use of the software? Withheld new features?

If renewal just entitles the user to continue using MB then I do not support “software renting” via yearly subscription. If it means new features then I do not support that either because one would have to wait until renewal time in order to get a new feature.

A reasonable one time fee with a small upgrade fee for major feature additions seems the most logical way to go.

MB is useful software that is works fairly well. A lot of work has gone into it and I am willing to pay for it. However, it really is only providing eye candy and there are fully functional alternatives, hence the price point should be lower than higher.

Johan almost 15 years ago

Hi, First of all i would like to thank you for all the time you spend in creating MB. I really like this sofware.

As for paying an annual supscription fee, i'm completely against it.

The reason why is that nobody knows what the future brings. If i like new features on future releases of MB, then i can choose to buy them paying for an upgrade. But if i do not like or need the new functionality in a future release, there would be no added value for me then. So at that moment i would be RENTING software. This i am not prepared to do.

I think it would be more fair to pay 1 time for the software, buying it. From there if i want an upgrade i would pay again, but at a lower cost.

Lsu_Tailg8er almost 15 years ago

Sam, I'd love to see you develop into a competitor, at a reasonable price point, to the Kaleidescape System. Big bucks there and if you remain focused on innovation you should do well. Open source is great for a very small percentage of the populace. There is a much larger percentage of the population that wants bug free, error free consumer and professional grade products that can be integrated into homes, yachts and businesses. If you can sustain Media Browser as a product designed for those who want to build their own system around an interface while researching and developing a content server with a fantastic GUI and user experience, then you have my support. In fact… drop me a note every once in a while and if I can offer any advice I will. I have nearly two decades of experience in channel sales and marketing at the high-end pro-sumer and pro AV channels. Love what you've done and you should at least have an opportunity to profit from your hard work. Good luck, best wishes and a toast to your future success as a Capitalist!

Lsu_Tailg8er almost 15 years ago

I have one last comment that I'd intended to make previously. I subscribe to 1ClickDVDPro to back-up my DVD's. The software is a purchase once, get free updates for the next year and then thereafter if I want to continue receiving updates I pay a small fee for the automated update service. I receive notification of an update whenever I open the software. This is perfectly sound and logical as the DVD manufacturers are constantly slipping in issues to be dealt with. As Microsoft evolves its product that yours revolves around, it only makes sense that the cost to continually update should be born by those that utilize it. I don't agree with an annual subscription fee, but do agree that an annual update fee is reasonable.

Troy_Scorer almost 15 years ago

I have thought several times that I would pay money for this as it is by far the best program for my media centre that I have ever used. However I wouldn't pay a subscription for it. I would pay a once off fee. The reason for this is because you aren't actually providing the meta information. The product itself provides a method of retrieving, organising and displaying that meta date from other sources. If you provided all the meta data and had a team of people colating and updating that data then yes, obviously that business model would work as customers would see this as a necessary expense to your company. Essentially you could only charge for the program and not the data as the data is not yours to sell.

Gary_Morris almost 15 years ago


I too would like to compliment you on a “great” product and also compliment you on making it open source as well.

I am a former “C” and Unix programmer, (TCL/TK, SQL, C++, etc), with a B.S. Degree in Information Technology, who has since retired and gone into a retail business with my son.

I mention this because I still love to write applications, (Mostly in Visual Basic), but also because I would love to get into programming in C# and MCML, and would be willing to pay a premium for email support on my own branch. Have you though about asking how many others might be willing for your team to be “teachers” or “tutors” in helping some of us that are new to MCML and C# in our own branch?

This approach might be enough to sustain the product and at the same time actually grow the number of people actually capable of doing bug fixes. Once you helped me with some of the fundamentals, I would then be willing to work on bug fixes in the area of my interest.

One other thought along this same line….The three of you might consider writing a book on “How to Program in C# and MCML” while using Media Browser as the base example and one of the requested new features as the project for the book. I know you wouldn't have much trouble convincing a publisher that you know what you are doing!!!!! You have my vote and probably a few thousand others. :)

I would not be willing to pay for a yearly subscription just on principal. I think I could “live with” the current version until something else came along that I would either get for free, or I would pay a one time fee for.

This program is well worth a one time fee and if you decide to go that route, my suggestion would be to just keep the source out there but not the fully working compiled version. That way the casual user would probably not be willing to compile it, and you could offer a “Trial Version” as the only available compiled version until they “bought” the fully functional compiled version that would only be “visiable” after getting an email with a link, (just like you get when you join a “forum” with a valid email address.

Just my 2 cents worth.


User almost 15 years ago


Just a few more thoughts about your teams email support as a “tutor.”

I would be willing to pay $20.00 per month for reasonable access to email or phone support in learning how to write my own new features, or fix bugs for my own branch.

Also I would pay $49.95 for your book on writing C# and MCML.


Sam Saffron almost 15 years ago
Sam Saffron

Thanks Gary, thats an really interesting idea. My concerns around writing a book about MCML is that the market is just way too tiny at the moment, and the people writing Media Center plugins do not have a clear outlook on where this technology is going or if it is here to stay.

Jon almost 15 years ago

Media Browser may be the first piece of software I buy since Counter-Strike :)

Brent almost 15 years ago

Go for it Sam.

I know Sam and if he has time to work on it this will be solid software. Look at what you have gotten with only part of his attention.


User almost 15 years ago

I support the idea of a paid-for model.

Media Browser is the primary piece of software in my HTPC setup, therefore I'd actually be happier paying for it because then at least I'd know there'd be a level of official support and a greater frequency of updates and bug fixes.

I recently paid for intelliremote for the same reason.

I'm not mad about annual subscriptions however; I prefer paying for major revisions. eg. pay for Media Browser 2.x, get free 2.x updates, but pay to upgrade to 3.x when it becomes available.

Looking forward to the next update!

Jonathan almost 15 years ago

I'm very excited about this as well, it's a little strange that I'm looking forward to “purchasing” software… Any estimates on when we can expect the final release?

Terry almost 15 years ago

Not too keen on the subscription model however mabey buy a 1 year licence, you receive all updates and support for 1 year, then if you want to continue support and receive new versions then renew your subsciption.

However even if your subscription has expired you will still be able to use to product, just wont have support and new releases.

Sounds fair to me?

Kenshin304 almost 15 years ago

Sounds good to me. Been using your product since the early beta and am very happy with it. I cant imageine were my HTPC would be without it.

Fuchi_K almost 15 years ago

I think this is a fantastic idea. I see no reason why Boxee, Hulu, Secondrun, etc should have all the startup fun.

I would suggest though that you sit down and have a very good plan over the long term goal of this project. Based upon my personal usage, as well as the expected usage I think that others in this online distributed world we live in would probably be using, you need to start examining where people are getting their media from and try to integrate that without too many clicks.

Ie, my sister and her kids get pretty much ALL their movies and TV eps from itunes now.

Considering that WMC comes with every non-basic flavour of windows, your market could be well sized. I would think that MB could effectively become the “media playback and management” solution for WMC. And as I see that more and more people are likely to be buying HD TV cards and usb sticks and I think that windows 7 is the windows for WMC uptake. (fingers crossed)

Pricing and price structure is where you are going to hit the most hurdles. Obviously there are other free solutions available (though not in WMC), and if you look at the startups that are getting a lot of publicity atm (ie those mentioned above) it is clear that they are geared towards the raising of venture capital or affiliate partnerships. Unfortunately, you are in Australia not America and so you don't even have access to local streaming media for integration.

I can't help but think that that it still the best avenue for you to travel. I would seriously consider a free product with income from partnerships. I'd be surprised to find that Hulu for example doesn't offer some sort of affiliate/commission system to sites/programs that refer traffic in the way that boxee does. Alternatively there are various pricing models already mentioned.

Check out http://www.forbes.com/2008/10/22/boxee-internet-video-biz-media-cx_jea_1022boxee.html

“Avner Ronen thinks he can kill cable television. How? With software that aggregates all the Web's video, music and media into a slick interface.

What's more, Ronen thinks he can convince broadcasters and others to encourage cable's death by paying him a $.05 to $.10 fee every time someone watches or listens to something his software recommends. "

That's the future. Let people watch what they want when they want, and the software's job is to manage, suggest and beautify everything. Imagine using MB, I've just watched HellBoy and I would normall hitup imdb. Using MB I find a list of movies by the director, then link through to one of them, watch the trailer, then have the option of buy and streaming it. Ultimate solution. Plus integrated BT with a configurable RSS feed could potentially make it my goto for TV as well (well not mine but someone's … however that would be a more difficult bizness proposition).

Right now I have to say that bugs for w7 users and metadata correctness issues aside MB is probably the best application I have ever imagined for MC. If you can grow it to pull features from My Movies, radiotime, etc, etc, then you WILL be the goto program for MC users. Ultimately the purpose of MC is to act as a DVR, not a media management system, as evidenced by the fact that the media management is so poorly implemented. MB + the existing Tv functions of MC would turn it into a killer app.

So, if you decide to grow this into something and seek some venture capital etc give me a shout I'd be very interested in being involved.

Kirk_Davis over 14 years ago

Hey Sam – I really hope you guys are successful, I know I'd be willing to pay a fee for a stable version of MediaBrowser (I'm using the latest version from mediabrowser.tv). I think the movie and TV functionality is really awesome (obviously, you guys are already aware of, and were working on, the music issues).

I wish that I had had time to contribute to the project – the only thing I ever did was decompile the iTunes trailer plug-in, in order to patch my own copy when Apple changed the url (and you guys then posted an update with that fix anyway), but the code seemed pretty straight-forward for that.

Which brings me to an idea – have you already leveraging the pluggable nature of MB in order to get more revenue? That is – if you shipped a base version of MB for say, $50 or whatever (which would be a fair price, I think), maybe you could charge a flat fee to other companies that want to create plug-ins that seamlessly work with MB.

If someone wanted to create an RSS reader that showed the latest movie reviews and show-times for theaters, they would pay a flat $500 fee, in exchange for which you would review their plug-in to make sure it didn't destabilize MB, and to include it in a “plug-in directory” inside MB's UI.

After I built an HTPC for myself, and then for two friends, we talked about having a way to integrate a bit-torrent client into the UI, where only pre-selected torrents would show up (with the proper title, descriptions, etc), and then within MB, they could just click to start downloading, and when it's done, have the media auto-added to the library in the proper place (whether it's music, movies, or whatever).

I know Netflix already has integration with WMC on it's own, but if most of your users are living within the “MB” UI, and don't exit back to WMC itself, maybe Netflix would be willing to financially-support a plug-in for streaming their content as well.

The only issues I really hope you fix in the commercial version are stability (MB sometimes locks up after idling for a few hours, or sometimes after playing a video), and the “Music” functionality, which could just be removed as it is now (since WMC has a decent music player).

Anyway – at $50/pop, plus plug-in revenue from companies that want to build on your user-base, it seems like you could do well from this. Good luck, Sam.


Street over 14 years ago

Oh dear, not the best idea as there are a few apps who had great support prior to moving to a paid for model then slipped into obscurity as other free projects gained from developers jumping ship.

Media Browser is a great piece of open source software that because of it's root should remain as such.

If you need to make money from the project to pay for your investment in time then probably best to team up with other companies that will PAY YOU for others to download it!

Get advertising on the site for one then force users who wish to update versions either to the site or ad advertising into the updating module forcing user interaction & viewing of two or three ads in the process.

You will really clean up with a ad supported system if done correctly not spoiling the user experience.

Other ways of making some green (cash) is to create your own eco system around the free product. Maximise or extend the plugin framework to enable you to sell bolt ons/ enchanements to the core product like a imdb feed or other such data providers.

Essentially DON'T charge for the basic product but for the extra benefits you add to it and you will become the google of media browsers.

“If you ignore the dead programmers you stepped over you will soon become one”

In short, people like something free, give it to them, just monetize the luxuries in the world containing the air they need to breathe. Your product is the air.

Elmo about 14 years ago

Just want to throw in my 2c worth. I love MB. It really makes WMC come to life, IMO. If I didn't have MB, I'd go elsewhere, like XMBC or something I guess. But I'd try to stick to the WMC interface if I could. I came to MB because it was free – no doubt – I try out the free options before I drop cash, because I've dropped cash on crap before. If it was trialware, that'd have worked too – but it'd have to be more than just 30 days – more like 3-6 months – let me really get a feel for it. If I hate it, I'm gone in less than 30 days anyway. If I like it, then at 6 mths, I've tweaked it and the family knows how to use it, so I'm hooked and am ready to pay for it. If there's a base version and it works well, then I'm ready to pay for new themes, features, etc. I am not a fan of “Donate” buttons as that doesn't ensure much for me. It may get a cup of coffee and a bagel for the developer, but they could just walk away and I have nothing. The Donate button works fine for the little one time kinda apps, like the “channel logo app” for WMC TV; $3 was easy to pay for a little tool to tweak that for me. It worked and I'd only need it again if I reinstall, so no real need for updates. As for ads, well, IMO ad supported works fine for webpages – I don't want ads in my app. I pay for commercial free radio and I pay for commercial free TV too via DVR's and FF buttons. I don't want ads in my leisure time apps. I am not fond of subscriptions. I'd rather pay for releases. If the upgrade is of value, then I pay for that. I'd just hate to see it be left for dead. There's a good community built about MB and great users who provide their skills to enhance their setups and then share that w/the rest, like Xzener for instance. The community is a big factor for me. Best of luck on whatever you choose – just hope I can be a part of it!

Symowallo almost 14 years ago

Good luck Sam. I know you've got the ability to keep this thing going, and at the end of the day you need to be paid for your efforts.

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