Is Windows Media Center Alive? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 117 Old 02-23-2012, 05:03 PM - Thread Starter
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Is Windows Media Center Alive?
Author - Mark Anderson


Windows Media Center is one of the best and most underrated products produced by Microsoft. As a cord-cutter, I use it as my TV guide, DVR and a whole lot more. In the last few months, I’ve attempted to find three key plug-ins. Not one exists. It seems developers interests lie elsewhere these days. So is this a nail in WMC’s coffin. I hope not.

I use it with four tuners (SiliconDust’s HOmeRunHD) as my main set-top box and DVR, and it works fantastically: better than any cable DVR I ever had. I use the Netflix plug-in for streaming Netflix content, which (apart from its terrible TV series episode navigation) works extremely well.

Read the complete article at HomeToys.com
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post #2 of 117 Old 02-23-2012, 05:35 PM
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Did you mean http://www.hometoys.com/ezine/12.02/...on06/index.htm as the complete article link?

Bazinga!

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post #3 of 117 Old 02-23-2012, 05:43 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks, I put in the wrong link. Fixed now.

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post #4 of 117 Old 02-23-2012, 05:52 PM
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The article mentions under the Hulu Plus that the WMC plugin which launches Hulu Desktop quits WMC to launch, and causes the DVR to stop recording in the background. Isn't this incorrect? I thought recordings are not dependent on WMC being open?
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post #5 of 117 Old 02-23-2012, 06:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SLAYER6669 View Post

The article mentions under the Hulu Plus that the WMC plugin which launches Hulu Desktop quits WMC to launch, and causes the DVR to stop recording in the background. Isn't this incorrect? I thought recordings are not dependent on WMC being open?

Yes, completely incorrect; the recording service stays open no matter what.

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post #6 of 117 Old 02-23-2012, 07:12 PM
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Yep, one of the things MS does a better job of than almost anybody else and it is going to whither on the vine.

I've tried MythTV and XBMC only to return to MCE pronto. When Hulu first hit the scenes I sent an email about an MCE plug in. Nary a word.

Netflix's plug-in came about due to a very young developer writing a screen scraper from scratch and integrating it. At least Netflix hired him.

As a developer and owner of a software dev company I don't get the business decision behind with holding talent from what is most likely a 3 month project for a pair of developers to get a functional beta release.

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post #7 of 117 Old 02-23-2012, 09:31 PM
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I am just setting up my 1st HTPC and am shocked by the lack of plug ins too. I recently subscribed to Pandora. For $30 a year, commercial free music streaming. It would be great if there was a plug-in for it in WMC.
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post #8 of 117 Old 02-24-2012, 05:18 AM
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I generally like WMC but I find it lacking in few areas also. Since I watch almost all TV and movies on my laptop, WMC does the movies just fine with better SQ than VLC or any others. It's not very good with TV though. All my TV is ripped from my DVDs or downloaded via youtube and I haven't found a way for WMC to recognize them yet so for that I use VLC.
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post #9 of 117 Old 02-24-2012, 06:14 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jinjuku View Post

Yep, one of the things MS does a better job of than almost anybody else and it is going to whither on the vine.

I've tried MythTV and XBMC only to return to MCE pronto. When Hulu first hit the scenes I sent an email about an MCE plug in. Nary a word.

Netflix's plug-in came about due to a very young developer writing a screen scraper from scratch and integrating it. At least Netflix hired him.

As a developer and owner of a software dev company I don't get the business decision behind with holding talent from what is most likely a 3 month project for a pair of developers to get a functional beta release.

Hulu has done it's best to discourage people from using it's free version on tv's. They want you to pay for Hulu+. I've had Hulu Desktop on my htpc since it was released. I'm not using WMC for it, but it works with the same remote.

Amazon's streaming service doesn't work through WMC, but downloaded video from them does. I've been watching Amazon dl video through WMC since it's original XP days. Long before I had a Netflix account.
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post #10 of 117 Old 02-24-2012, 06:24 AM
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I've been using WMC and some form of extender since XP Media Center was released. For the last 3 years, I've been cable free with WMC, (2) XBox 360s as extenders & 1 HDHomeRun.

Though I toyed with the idea early, I have little interest in running a full HTPC at each TV or even at my primary TV. An Xbox 360 or lightweight extender is a much better option for me.

I'm very disappointed at the market support for WMC and MCEs. Early on, with XP Media Center, MS marketed the product and pushed hard to get companies to develop extenders. But today, it's almost as if WMC is just a leftover from XPMC.

I've read it will be included in Windows 8, but with no changes. Again, another leftover.

I wish they would at least push for extender integration into smart TVs.

Javry, for your DVD rips and Youtube, give TVersity a try, if you haven't already.
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post #11 of 117 Old 02-24-2012, 06:29 AM
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This guy has 80+ pretty good step-by-step illustrated guides on how to setup and use a HTPC including WMC: assassinhtpcblog.com

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post #12 of 117 Old 02-24-2012, 07:25 AM
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lack of plugins is the biggest disappointment to me in Windows Media Center. ESPN3 is one of the best. It's not an official thing from ESPN, but it is easy to use and easy to launch games from.

I've made pseudo-plugins by launching various websites like hbogo.com, xfinity on demand, and pandora.com inside wmc. The problem here is that you need a mouse/trackball/trackpad input device to navigate around, but it gets the job done.

My HTPC front end set up
Integration for whole home ATSC, CableCARD, FM radio, Blu-Ray, HD-DVD, DVD, VHS control & capture, video games, and archived & streaming media playback
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post #13 of 117 Old 02-24-2012, 08:04 AM
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With TV's now internet ready, I think WMC day's are numbered, if tv's are internet ready, all of the same functions will be integrated into the tv, streaming, HD storage, etc.

I've been mostly embarrassed about lack of support from Comcast, as they changed ther mind after they agreed to cable card support.
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post #14 of 117 Old 02-24-2012, 08:24 AM
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I think we're all anxious for a modern replacement to WMC (perhaps something on android). The problem is there just isn't an obvious candidate yet.

I will say though, that if games aren't important to you, you will probably be just as happy with a $180 Boxee Box then you will with building an htpc. It's worth considering.
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post #15 of 117 Old 02-24-2012, 08:27 AM
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Yea, I agree. I think my utopian vision would be an android-based tv with an android version of Media Browser. No htpc needed. Now that would be sweet.
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post #16 of 117 Old 02-24-2012, 08:57 AM
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For me to hitch to anything Microsoft, with their record of dumping technology, it has to be heads and shoulders above the rest. Besides my cable company/OTA options sucking compared to DirecTV (I have SiliconDust Prime (CableCard), big antenna, etc), WMC never got integration with DirecTV. WMC doesn't hold a candle to DirecTV except for certain niche areas like show archiving. My extenders (have Linksys and Xbox) are unreliable and slow, especially to start up. I've tried a fast PC for WMC, my latest recent attempt was as a virtual machine on a very beefed up WHS v2 box.

Still using it as a "backup", but I will probably soon get rid of the cable since the only thing I really care about that isn't on DirecTV is MusicChoice. Might still use the antenna SiliconDust tuner for OTA stuff.

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post #17 of 117 Old 02-24-2012, 09:04 AM
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I use it with my HomeRun tuner and I love it. Free is good right and it does the job.

One thing I dont like is that the WMC format cannot be used and played by another other player! MSFT said so. So the only thing is use another software to convert it to avi, mkv, etc

There is this software that will check the folder and will convert for you automatically. I forgot the name. It is free.
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post #18 of 117 Old 02-24-2012, 09:17 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by riverhawk79 View Post

I think we're all anxious for a modern replacement to WMC (perhaps something on android). The problem is there just isn't an obvious candidate yet.

I will say though, that if games aren't important to you, you will probably be just as happy with a $180 Boxee Box then you will with building an htpc. It's worth considering.

Does Boxee support OTA or Encrypted Cable Card?

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post #19 of 117 Old 02-24-2012, 09:19 AM
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i much prefer WMC myself over many of the other solutions i've tried. I would absolutely love it if they could split it out into its own very lightweight OS for pure HTPCs, could install it on one of those new $35 dollar rasberry pi computers.
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post #20 of 117 Old 02-24-2012, 11:07 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by riverhawk79 View Post

I think we're all anxious for a modern replacement to WMC (perhaps something on android). The problem is there just isn't an obvious candidate yet...

IMHO JRiver Media Center comes awfully close. It is very full featured (including solid bluray support if AnyDVD HD is installed), supports most popular codecs, is constantly updated (often for free), and is very reasonably priced at $50. By the way, that $50 price allows use on multiple PCs. The big thing I'm waiting for is JRMC cable card tuner support (OTA tuners are already supported). JRiver is looking into CCT support but last I checked it was debatable if it is going to be implemented in the near-term.

I currently use WMC with the Ceton PCIe 4X tuner card at present and overall it works very well and serves as a excellent DVR but again, if JRMC added like support I'd drop WMC completely. On a related note, an interesting pair of items to keep an eye on are Ceton's pending Q tuner server and Echo extender, as preliminary information suggests they will function more like dedicated media players as opposed to tuner-only devices. There are threads on both products that normally stay toward the top of the HTPC forum.
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post #21 of 117 Old 02-24-2012, 11:29 AM
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I might get laughed out of the forum for this one buuuuut.... has anyone found WMC plugins for the major networks video players?

Assassin: Wow that front end tool in the guide is awesome!!! We have been playing our rips by selecting through windows explorer for years.

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post #22 of 117 Old 02-24-2012, 11:39 AM
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The ability to record new episodes only does not exist in the current version of JRiver Media Center. They are working on implementing this feature sometime in the future. Until then, I have to stick with MCE.
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post #23 of 117 Old 02-24-2012, 01:35 PM
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On my HTPC, I use WMC for Netflix, and PowerDVD 11. I have a media remote to go with it as well.

The thing that struck me about WMC is how easy you can navigate through things, and YES, I too have found a mysterious lack of plugins for WMC.

For instance, even my Onkyo receiver allows Pandora or Spotify, but WMC has nothing official for either one. Spotify has one third party open source project, but it's garbage, and simply runs the spotify application in the background. I swear I think it's just using sendkeys.

The other thing I noticed about WMC's lack of developer interest are the bugs in the netflix app. With the media remote, sometimes there will be a window in the foreground, but the background has the focus so there's no way to navigate what is on top (like the episode list window for instance.)

It's really strange to me that these issues exist, and my home theater junkie friend Kelly doesn't even use WMC. He uses xbox media center or "XBMC" and I honestly was not impressed by it. I find WMC to be better than XBMC, yet XBMC sees way more developer support.
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post #24 of 117 Old 02-24-2012, 01:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by moose517 View Post

i much prefer WMC myself over many of the other solutions i've tried. I would absolutely love it if they could split it out into its own very lightweight OS for pure HTPCs, could install it on one of those new $35 dollar rasberry pi computers.

Then you would need to get special drivers.

my htpc is an ATI crossfire build. I need those drivers lol
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post #25 of 117 Old 02-24-2012, 02:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rfbrang View Post

I might get laughed out of the forum for this one buuuuut.... has anyone found WMC plugins for the major networks video players?

Assassin: Wow that front end tool in the guide is awesome!!! We have been playing our rips by selecting through windows explorer for years.

Thanks! There is a lot more where that came from!

I have xbmc guides as well and am adding more all the time.
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post #26 of 117 Old 02-24-2012, 02:29 PM
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Does Boxee or any competing device allow me to watch and record from my 4 HDhomerun tuners with a free guide and play ripped network stored Blu rays and dvds (ISO full rips)?
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post #27 of 117 Old 02-24-2012, 04:59 PM
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I consider it to be a temporary solution and I use it for ota only. I wonder how long the guide data will be available for free? After that I will go all streaming before I buy a over priced tivo. Sage is gone now too which was a great alternative to media center.
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post #28 of 117 Old 02-24-2012, 07:37 PM
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It's silly, but I work around this by doing almost all of my streaming with a Roku. WMC makes a great Dvd and Dvd rip playback device. Roku for netflix, amazon, Pandora, etc. Harmony remote keeps things simple.
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post #29 of 117 Old 02-24-2012, 08:35 PM
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Would also be nice to see some 3D content available on WMC, too, for those that have 3D Vision PCs for HTPC use. Not sure if anybody was planning this in the near future.

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post #30 of 117 Old 02-24-2012, 10:11 PM
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XBMC make Windows Media look like a baby toy.
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