Have fun trying to get media center IPC to work reliably. I have an old contract that prevents me from helping out with these types of projects but I will say you picked a very difficult platform. WMC is designed from the ground up as a media center, once you start digging into the sdk you'll realize how brutal that can be for a carPC FE.
Windows 7 is WAY more flexible than the older ones, and I'd say the building blocks are there.
Microsoft of course has no incentive to extend MC for automative use, as they already have a product (Windows Automotive, which powers the Ford Sync and the likes) for that. However, Windows Automotive is for the most part not a DIY option, as most people can't even get it, and it's an embeddable type system.
I do believe that MC can be "made" to work the way we want, for automotive use, even though the integration may be less than ideal. However, I don't think that's any different from a lot of the integration being done with most of the popular front ends. As Mitch said, it just requires more work than normal.
I going to try to run Media Center 7 for a week in the car and see what happens. As I said, I don't use phone or nav since I have the OEM units. My MAIN concern is library management, specially playlist selection and media playing. Reliably. My OBDII stopped working, I think I'm just going to miss G.Earth and Traffic. My Minicam Starts with windows, so no problem there. What else I'm missing? Twitter, all those toys...
Let's see what happens.
I wish my carputer was that reliable - and usable. My wife knows everything about the WMC, but the carputer, she is only interested in Media playing.
Windows 7 and MC as a front end, and I have been running it for close to a year. The acid test came when we took a cross country road trip last year. 6000 miles in 2 weeks, with just me and my wife, and my wife operating the AV side, while I drove... Suffice it to say, that we never encountered an issue with a "novice" operating it.
That's the power of a good front end, I literally gave her a 5 minute primer, showed her how to use the SpaceNavigator, and that was that.
The question I would ask is: Will Microsoft use MC as the foundation of it's automotive media management? It seems like a logical move, and they certainly have the development resources to make it happen. Of course, you would only be able to get it in a Ford