So last night my family and I go to watch some scary movies that had been recorded and find out that our media center computer is not working. So like a dutiful geekdad, I march into the office to see what is wrong. I remote into the media center with no trouble but no matter what I try the 360 just won't connect to it. Running the network tuner it reports poor network performance, way below the 'Acceptable for TV' line. Hmm. So I spend the next hour running wires from various ports around the house, switching ports on the switch in the media cabinet, everything I could think of. Nothing.
I never really paid much attention to the activation prompt that it was giving me when I remoted into it. Surely MS would not be that stupid. Surely.
So this morning I tried to connect to a media center computer I had running in a virtual machine (yeah VirtualBox) and it worked without a hitch. So I remote back into the non-working media center computer and run through the activation process. Bingo. 360 now connects perfectly and the network tuning wizard shows the exact same network as maxed out on quality.
Lesson learned? Instead of just disabling Media center functionality and just telling you that until you activate it won't work, MS apparently just cripples it so that it doesn't work but doesn't tell you what is wrong. Absolutely ridiculous.