It's unclear if Microsoft will include Media Center in the "Consumer Preview" version of Windows 8. The software maker originally removed the application from its Windows 8 Developer Preview, released at BUILD in September last year, and explained "Media Center will not be part of the first pre-release builds," at the time. However, Media Center fans expected to hear more during the beta (Consumer Preview) phase.
We are hearing that Media Center will still be included in Windows 8, but that it will remain relatively untouched from the Windows 7 version. Unlike Windows 7, it will be separated into an edition (or editions) aimed at enthusiasts. Microsoft's TV strategy has shifted towards Xbox so the existing Media Center product will be removed from most editions of Windows 8. The separation means Microsoft can eliminate licensing fees that the company and OEMs have to pay for certain technologies used in Media Center, pushing the core cost of Windows down. Microsoft's Windows chief, Steven Sinofsky, hinted at this strategy in a September 2011 blog post, explaining that Media Center is part of "premium" SKUs for Windows.
Update: Microsoft reached out to us to confirm Media Center will remain in the final version of Windows 8, but could not confirm if a version will be included in the Consumer Preview. The software maker tweeted an image today (see above) confirming that Media Center will be similar to the Windows 7 version. We have updated our headline to reflect this.