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back to article Windows Media Center EPG has SWITCHED OFF, wail Euro users

Europeans using Windows Media Center to watch TV have been upset to find that all TV programme guide data has disappeared from the service as of 1 January. For affected users, live and playback TV still works, but all programme guide information has been wiped as of 11am on 1 January, leaving users unable to plan recordings or …

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Sounds deliberate to me. MS are none too subtly trying to kill Media Center, after the whole farce of it not being available in Windows 8 without a paid/temporarily free add on, and totally unavailable to Volume License customers.

I decided just before Christmas to switch to XBMC, and have not regretted it for a moment. I suggest Windows Media Center users embrace the change sooner rather than later, before Microsoft totally murders Media Center.

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If you mean remove it along with other not-really-used-much stuff to make Windows 8 cheaper for most people that can't be bothered with it, then I'm all for it.

People who need that stuff can still pay and download it, they'll be paying a similar or less price than they did for previous versions of Windows with it included.

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A spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down

If your suspicions are correct it's still striking that it was done in such a hostile way: rather than notifying the world & detailing the "necessity" of the action this smacks of a Soviet secret trial quickly followed by bullet. The MS of old was ruthless and overbearing but with plenty of marketplace smarts as well; for a large part the consumers felt they were going on a good ride. But today they seem more like a moody adolescent: sulks and breast-beating with climbdowns when they've really painted themselves into a corner.

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It's only the DVD codecs that make Media Center cost more. It wouldn't be terribly difficult to make just the codecs a separate cost.

Many of the elements of Media Center would work without DVD codecs, such as live TV and PVR functionality as well as playing video files with other codecs.

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Facepalm

Hmmm... XBMC

If I'm understanding the XMBC web site and wiki correctly, the production version of XBMC does not have any Live TV/PVR capabilities, so it's hardly a replacement for WMC today. It appears that such capabilities are imminent (if I'm understanding the description of the beta version that's WIP), but I don't "do" beta s/w on my main PC (if at all possible).

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Did I miss something?

Freeview in the UK uses MPEG2/MP2 for SD content and h.264 and AC3 for HD content...

DVDs primarily use... MPEG2/AC3, though there is sometimes DTS and also CSS that you probably have to pay a license to unscramble.

These are the same decoders, other than the CSS and DTS, so I'm unsure how TV could work without the DVD codecs?

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Re: Hmmm... XBMC

You're correct that the current non-Beta version doesn't support PVR. However currently the next release is at RC2, so I'd expect the final version very soon.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I don't "do" beta s/w on my main PC (if at all possible)

are you new here? Customers are part of beta and have been since ... when did Microsoft start? 1982 ish...

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Linux

Excuses for the Tyrannt

It costs ~ $20 per year to provide guide data for users of non-commercial PVR apps. Instead of just being a jerk and cutting everyone off, Microsoft could have just done what the "hobbyists" have done and provided a means for current users to continue to get data.

They could even charge money for it.

One simply does not need to be the biggest jerk possible. You don't need to abuse "minorities".

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Mushroom

"DVD codecs"

Modern digital TV uses the same codecs as DVDs. There's really no getting around supporting DVD playback in a PVR. You can skip the DVD navigation stuff and the CSS decryption stuff. However, the "meat" of the DVD format is unavoidable.

Also, selling the end user half a solution just makes the result a usability nightmare.

It's far better to build a complete product and charge extra for it if necessary.

Although based on all of the noise that gets directed at Linux, any modern OS is supposed to be able to handle DVD playback and BluRay playback and Quicktime playback all without any placing any burdens on the end user.

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Re: Hmmm... XBMC

If you search for the XBMCHub wizard and install that, it will add loads of tv/movie/music etc channels. Both live tv and recorded.

Hope this might help.

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> It's only the DVD codecs that make Media Center cost more.

That's a seriously rubbish excuse (not yours, MS').

They should have added/absorbed the codec costs to provide an OS which can use the DVD drives installed in millions of PCs. This is the kind of thing Apple really means when it says, "it just works."

I presume digital TV picks up the broadcast EPG - is this turn-off just for analogue?

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FAIL

RE: MS are none too subtly trying to kill Media Center

Smells like what they did with Plays For Sure a while back.

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Re: Excuses for the Tyrannt

Why pay for it when you can just tap into the Electronic Program Guide?

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Coat

Curious...

...I've had absolutely no interruption in service from my Gen2VDR system.

Gen2VDR gives you Klaus Schmidinger's excellent PVR software VDR, plus XBMC, Freevo, a KDE desktop, Firefox and more over a Gentoo installation. Installs off a DVD in half-an-hour or less.

What is this "Windows Media Centre" of which you speak?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Curious...

Yes, yes, and I've had no interruption from my MythTV box.

Apart from a catastrophic corruption of the root filesystem, that is, but that's another story.

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Meh

Re: Curious...

And I'm not experiencing any problem with my W7MC either (presumably because of the OTA EPG data being available).

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Re: Curious...

"What is this "Windows Media Centre" of which you speak?"

This "Windows Media Centre" is something that drives three TVs in my home and passes the "wife and kids" test. Well, except when it hasn't got an EPG.

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Linux

Re: Curious...

I have seen exactly ONE media center machine in the wild.

It was being sold by the local uber-geek computer shop. It came with a DVD carousel too. Only time I ever saw that in the wild either. It was an expensive beast that made me glad I opted for a ripper based alternative.

People not knowing about MCE is a little like people not knowing about Archos media players and pre-iPad tablet PCs. You can't blame people for not knowing about that which is not advertised or available in OEM form.

Now that I think about it, it's a tad like Linux. '-p

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Linux

Re: Curious...

Nor have I using YaVDR. Consider for the moment that what I want is a HTPC (e.g. A Home *THEATER* PC), why in Hell would you want to continue to use windows that takes ages to boot hangs forever on the Desktop only to manually have to open the WMC App?

When Gen2VDR, YaVDR and or EasyVDR will cold boot to TV in under Ten Seconds flat!

And if you are unfortunate to have DVB-C well Microsoft has no doubt hear of it, but that doesn't mean that they support it why is any ones guess. That I relay on DVB-C for TV meant I had to find an alternative. At first this was MythTV, but at the time MythTV had tended towards Analog or DVB-T Sources, plus the fact that I found it impossible to actually manage my Channels fiscking MySQL! So then I got a (SD) Full-Feature Card and went on to Gen2VDR and slowly moved 'round the other Distro's since then (i.e. ca ~2007). I'm currently using YaVDR 0.5 with XBMC 12 Frodo RC3, with 2x DVB-C Cards and the One DVB-S2 Card for 28.2°E.

And the cheap nVidia (VDPAU) HDMI-Out Card makes it all complete.

In closing VDR>WMC

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Really?

I hadn't noticed. The EPG is transmitted, no need for third party TV guides, at least I don't have a need for them. But then again I don't use Windows media player, so why should I notice?

For watching DVB can I recommend DVBViewer? 15 Euro

No I am not affiliated, it's just awesome software. It really is. Just search the Internet.

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Re: Really?

"I hadn't noticed. The EPG is transmitted, no need for third party TV guides, at least I don't have a need for them. But then again I don't use Windows media player, so why should I notice?

For watching DVB can I recommend DVBViewer? 15 Euro"

Fantastic. Shame I don't get any DVB signal where I'm located and have a set-top box between my sat dish and my Media Centre. Some of us depend solely on third party guides.

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@ChrisC - Re: Really?

So there is no EPG transmitted via satellite?

I have never used sat so I genuinely don't know. It does seem odd that EPG data not be transmitted with the programming. I could search the nets to find out for sure, but I care not.

DVBViewer does sat too.....

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DJO
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Red Bee

Red Bee provide the subtitles for BBC programming and they are rubbish. The subs are often out-of sync and the people who make the subtitles are seldom knowledgeable on the subjects the programs are about causing daft errors such as having racing drivers on "poll" position.

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'Poll' position

I suspect that's just common or garden ignorance.

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pig

Re: 'Poll' position

Live subtitles are typed on a special type of keyboard which is phonetic.

This is why subtitles of live events will often have the correct word phonetically, but the incorrect spelling - like your Poll and Pole example.

In a live broadcast there is no time to double check these as they go.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Speech-to-text_reporter

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Re: 'Poll' position

No, it's because the live (and near-live) subtitling is done using similar machines to those used (formerly, now) in court reporting - they use a kind of phoneme-based shorthand which software then attempts to translate back into words.

The alternative would be to have no live subtitles at all, or no live programming.

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@Pig & Jon Press

Aha! Thanks for that, I have been wondering how it's done. In the old days live subtitles were minutes behind the talking, now I've noticed they're more or less in time but have some very odd spellings! Watching them deal with foreign names is particularly amusing ;-)

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DJO
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Re: 'Poll' position

Sure, fair enough for some live broadcasting, not where there is a script or where they work from a teleprompter or for recorded segments and not for replays on iPlayer which is what I am actually referring to. Take F1 for example, the iPlayer feed which is available long after the broadcast there the subtitles lag by about 10 seconds. It would be monumentally trivial to offset all the subtitles by 10 seconds to bring the subtitles a bit closer but they seldom bother.

For the profoundly deaf it does not matter unless they try to lip-read but for people like me who can hear but not too well and like to have the subtitles as a help it makes the programs almost unwatchable. Currently there is a "Highlights of F1 2013 season" on iPlayer, this could never have been "live" as such but the subtitles are hopelessly out of sync.

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DJO
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Facepalm

Re: 'Poll' position

Doh, that should have been "2012" season

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Re: 'Poll' position

I think DJO was referring to non-live programmes. Dramas are a good example. Though I have excellent hearing, the tendency of actors these days to mumble their lines means I frequently have to use subtitles. In the case of drama programmes, Red Bee would have access to a script to write the subtitle captions from, but even with these programmes, the spelling errors, incorrect grammatical syntax, and Grocers' apostrophes are legion. And seeing "poll" instead of "pole" is commonplace, along with many other similar-sounding words. It's basic illiteracy and ignorance. Not only is this not a handicap these days to getting a job, it seems to be a basic requirement.

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Anonymous Coward

Sounds familair

like how they left Windows Phone 7.5 owners in the lurch, and how they will continue to trample over existing owners in search of new ones.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Sounds familair

I just checked - My Win7 phone still works, albeit as my partner's Win7 phone now.

How exactly are Win phone 7 owners left out in the lurch?

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Re: Sounds familair

If your WinPhone 7.x already does absolutely everything you will ever want it to do, that's fine.

If you'd like to play some new games or use an updated/new utility - tough. Not gonna happen, not now, not ever.

What I don't know is whether you can take your purchased apps (and their upgrades) onto a WinPhone 8 handset - if you have to repurchase them you've been properly screwed over.

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Re: Sounds familair

I didn't hear of the development embargo placed on developers when creating applications for Windows Phone. Care to share your source?

Or are you making an assumption that developers just won't target WP7.x as it's now legacy? Because I think your statement is a little untruthful otherwise.

And yes, apps that you have on WP7.x can be moved to WP8 via the Marketplace as long as you use the same Microsoft Account on both phones. (Assuming the application exists / works on both platforms of course)

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yet more pseduo-news with a ridiculous headline

Who is wailing exactly? People running Windows Media Center on Vista/XP? Windows 7 was released over 3 years ago - it must have crossed these user's minds that they might have to upgrade at some point...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: yet more pseduo-news with a ridiculous headline

>> it must have crossed these user's minds that they might have to upgrade at some point...

I am curious at this mindset that when users _upgrade_ (not replace with a product from a different vendor) they should expect to lose functionality.

The IT world is FAR too driven by the need for vendors to continually re-invent the wheel and make customers pay for the _same_ functionality over and over again to support their revenue models. For users who have become familiar with existing functionality, this is a pain. For organisations, it results in needless costs for re-training, redeveloping integration and, with the dumbing down of UIs, ongoing reductions in productivity.

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Stop

Re: yet more pseduo-news with a ridiculous headline

Err - issue also applies to Windows 7 and Windows 8. I paid for my Windows 8 license less than two months ago.

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Re: yet more pseduo-news with a ridiculous headline

Support for Windows Vista isn't due to end until 2017, so why shouldn't I still be using it?

Why Vista's Media Centre can't just pull the EPG from the transmission is beyond me, and has been ever since I set it up - the EPG that is downloaded from BDS (or whoever) is crap, and rarely matches up with all the channels, but it was, however, better than nothing.

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Re: yet more pseduo-news with a ridiculous headline

Maybe you should check your facts before launching into one...Win 8 is also affected

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@Lamont Cranston. Re: yet more pseduo-news with a ridiculous headline

Because Microsoft (and allowed partners) want to know everything about you, your computer and internet usage in order to provide a better customer experience.

</sarcasm>

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Unhappy

Re: yet more pseduo-news with a ridiculous headline

"The IT world is FAR too driven by the need for vendors to continually re-invent the wheel"

Or in Microsofts case, take a nice round highly functional and safe wheel called Windows 7 off of the users car and replace it with a square wheel made out of concrete called Windows 8. Oh , except it has some bling spinners you can flick with your finger that MS think will make up for its utter awfulness.

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Re: yet more pseduo-news with a ridiculous headline

Maybe you got an imposter/third party wheel then.

My Windows 8 "wheel" goes faster than the Windows 7 one, works better with my touchscreens than the Windows 7 one, offers great new features and tweaks that make my life less hassle when it comes to using a computer.

If you don't like the new app system (metro style etc etc) you barely ever need use it - everything else pretty much works like before, except faster.

On my ideapad yoga, Windows RT + metro stuff works really well and is perfectly suited to my usage on that device, on my work laptop, which hasn't got touch, I barely ever leave the desktop itself since most apps are normal windows apps, and on my home PC, I mostly use metro, and "venture" into the traditional desktop when I need to run some older app.

It's really not that big a deal.

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Linux

Re: yet more pseduo-news with a ridiculous headline

It really is "that big a deal".

It's disruptive to the people that stuff want/need to get stuff done.

The "features" are largely irrelevant.

As with GNOME, you simply don't need to break the old stuff to add new stuff. It's shameless incompetence all around.

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Re: yet more pseduo-news with a ridiculous headline

The Series 1 Tivo I purchased on April 21, 2001 still gets EPG daily w/o issue (lifetime service of course). I use this Tivo for about 1 hour/day. Long ago I modified it to use ethernet instead of a phone line.

MS should of done more work to make the data more platform agnostic so they could go through software iterations and not break compatibility. But that may be asking too much I suppose.

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Mythtv Backend + XBMC

runs really smoothly for me and they now integrate beautifully...

No interruption etc.....

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I'm suffering this too - last Sunday I started setting up MediaPortal again (which I used to use before it crashed a bit too often). So far so good asides from stuttery HD channels :(

Windows 7 may receive EPG data from the Freeview signal, but for those of us needing to use satellite it's sod all help.

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Another vote for MythTV

Except when the local freeview transmitter decides to renumber its channels. Again. [Not that that's a MythTV problem, exactly...]

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Linux

Mythtv ...

... probably not going to be much of an answer to those angry media center users, but if you want a *reliable* solution, albeit one requiring some patience, Mythtv is about your best bet.

I've tried pretty much every one out there, used media center for a while, tried sageTV, finally opted for Mythtv and haven't looked back.

It's NOT a simple setup, but then, anyone whose setup media center to record and schedule TV, should have the necessary patience and skills. Pretty much all of the capture cards that work on windows will work on mythtv - and for simplicities sake, there's even a dedicated linux distribution, mythbuntu.

So, if your not feeling the love from microsoft, what are you waiting for?

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