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back to article Microsoft: We're SO SORRY for Media Center TV guide titsup

Microsoft has apologised for deleting TV guides on Windows Media Center. The data wipe left customers in the UK and Ireland "distraught" and struggling to record their favourite shows. After The Register raised the issue yesterday, Microsoft has now restored the programme guides in the UK and said it will tackle Ireland next. …

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well thats a surprise

didnt know anyone was seriously using WMC

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Re: well thats a surprise

WMC is a very good PVR, it's a shame Microsoft seem to be shunning it. I have mine set up with dual freeview HD and DVB-S2 for foreign football. Also works great with all the online catchup services.

As for the EPG I only noticed on BBC HD as all the other channels could still happily pull the TV guide from the freeview/satellite signal. Freeview HD has an encrypted EPG so media centre isn't able to access it.

The problem with media centre is that Microsoft never pitched it well. They gave it a go when Windows 7 came out, there was an advert where a women was really pleased she could watch TV on a tiny laptop screen when her partner threw a rugby ball through the flatscreen TV. What they should have been showing was a computer attached to the giant flatscreen. Almost noone is going to watch TV on a laptop via a DVB tuner when it's easier to stream stuff over the net. Microsoft needed to partner with OEMs to offer boxes specifically aimed for STB use.

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Re: well thats a surprise

I use it, with a Dell media centre remote with built in gyro for mouse control. Works pretty well and I've never had any problems with it. Could do to be a bit more user configurable, I know there are ways to make it your own, so to speak, but haven't got round to researching it yet.

Any suggestions on alternatives that work with my remote would be gratefully received.

Cheers

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Happy

Re: well thats a surprise

I've been using it for several years, it's an excellent piece of software for a PVR/media player PC.

GJC

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Re: well thats a surprise

I use it to stream mkv's to my ps3 via ps3mediaserver. I've got a 4tb HP Microserver that I dump all of my media and backups on, my tv' can play mkv and has a network connection but I've have to run a digital audio out to my my amp so I just run everything through the PS3 as it's easier.

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Linux

Re: well thats a surprise

First of all sorry to see all the hate your getting.

I guess those People have never heard of the far FAR superior MythTV or the even more SUPERIOR Video Disc Recorder (a.k.a. VDR i.e. YaVDR, EasyVDR Gen2VDR etc... etc...)

I tried I really tried to give WMC a chance, way back when, but M$ insistence to ignore DVB-C (i.e. Digital Cable), has left me little choice but to have had to look elsewhere.

VDR as a Backend with XBMC Frodo (i.e. v12) is just about the perfect light weight combination for any HTPC (i.e. Living Room PC), You can access anything you want beit DVB-T, DVB-C and DVB-S /S2.

Ya need Catch-up, there's a XBMC Plugin for that!

The only downside is that you will have to get to grips with Linux and its command line interface to actually get it working more or less. But with ever new version (of the above), this is getting less and less of a problem.

And unlike WMC Linux and VDR or even MythTV for that matter ARE FREE!

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Re: well thats a surprise

Agree with others about how good WMC actually is - we used it is our main TV for 5 years, it was only its non-wife-friendly need for tinkering whenever channel line-ups changed and a couple of DVB-S issues (which later turned out to be down to a faulty LMB) which finally made me decide to switch to a commercial PVR as WMC seemed to suffer it's glitches when I was travelling. I kind of assumed that with WMC having been around without too many interface changes for several years, that the commercial PVRs user experience would be at least as good, if not better. What a shock! Even the high-end models from the likes of Humax, Panasonic and LG are so cludgy, horrible and basic coming from WMC. After several false starts, I've gone the Sky+ route but I still miss the simplicity and diversity of WMC, just a shame that MS seem to have all but given up on it or I could see myself going back to it after I've served my sentence under Sky.

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Paris Hilton

Re: well thats a surprise

It shows how many people in Ireland use it, if it stopped working on 6th December and it has only just come to light... :-S

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Re: well thats a surprise

I love how the assumption is that a downvote for disagreeing with "your" PoV automatically makes the voter a shill.

I've been a Media Center user in various forms since 2005 - http://www.pcmediacenter.com.au/forum/user/163936-offbeatmammal/ - and while they all have their strengths and weaknesses over the years MCE has been one of the least troublesome solutions I've put together for friends.

Sadly going forward MS don't seem to have the same commitment they used to have so it certainly gives one of the alternatives to step up but it needs to "win" on it's own merits, not just because you hate Microsoft and can't look past that.

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WTF?

Re: well thats a surprise

"didnt know anyone was seriously using WMC"

But that's just you...

FYI our only cable box at home is a near-silent AMD A8-based Windows 7 box, equipped with couple of 2TB drives in RAID, an SSD and Ceton's 4-tuner InfiniTV CableCard device, and we are running Windows Media Center as our TV software.

Aside of the tuner card's buggy drivers - it is really beyond imagination how on Earth Ceton couldn't fix them in ~2 YEARS now! - it is pretty nice, FAAAR BETTER THAN ANY CABLE BOX, period. Almost unlimited recording space - just keep adding disks -, optin to scale there if you have a crappy scaler in your TV, support any codec + it's a lot cheaper ($3/mo/CableCard vs $15/mo/DVR.)

It is really a shame that MS didn't pour more money into it, this could've been a big thing in living rooms (well, with MSFT VP Belfiore, ex-head of WMC, it's not that surprising, he managed to sink other products since too eg Windows Phone - a good UI guy won't necessary be a good manager, right?)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: well thats a surprise

@Michael Habel - I'm a MythTV user, I have been for several years. It's a good system, but it's too complicated for average home users. The support for tv tuners is better than it was and the product is generally better out of the box, but you still need to go to the command line way to often for average users. When I used to have a Vista Ultimate machine, I put a USB DVB stick into it (currently used for MythTV) and it just setup media centre for me, this is something that you can only just start to get with MythBuntu and even then adding a second tuner is a bit of a badly documented nightmare.

I love MythTV, but it's not something that I think my partner could operate, I suspect she would be just about ok with a Windows Media Centre.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: well thats a surprise

@Eadon - Stop calling everyone who disagrees with you a shill. Did you not learn that when you got comments removed by the moderator for doing the same thing?

There is nothing wrong with being pro-MS or pro-Linux or both, it's being willfully blind to any advantage that the other system may have which is the problem. Anyway, why do you persist in commenting on MS articles if you don't like them?

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Re: well thats a surprise

Totally agree with you. I used WMC for years. I found it to be a nice, fast interface that had the advantage of linking seamlessly with my music collection and picture archive. One day my media pc died and in a moment of madness I thought I would try a Humax Foxsat HDR (as every review I read said how good it was). What a piece of crap! It is so slow I don't know how people put up with it. The menus and EPG are a nightmare to use. This is supposed to be the best commercial unit out there which makes me wonder how bad the rest are. As soon as I have time I will be building a new WMC and going back to a nice, slick viewing experience.

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Meh

Re: ...its routine downvoting by shills...

Ooo, I must be a shill!

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Happy

Re: well thats a surprise

MythTV etc. may be far superior, but WMC came installed with Vista when I bought my PC, and (generally speaking) works without any faffing about.

After 30 minutes of faff, trying to get the EPG populated on MediaPortal*, last night (tragically cut short by a power cut), I'm rather glad to hear that I can expect to see WMC working as expected when I get home.

*all the settings in a completely seperate application, with a different interface? My, how convenient that isn't.

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Re: well thats a surprise @Eadon

No shill here, but anyone who still thinks "M$" is a sign of witty hilarity gets an instant downvote.

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Re: well thats a surprise

Give her the benefit of the doubt. We have a myth backend here with quad dvb-s feeds into it (this story reminds me of past battles with the radio times scrapers until I started picking up epg data from the dvb-s stream), and five front ends running on cheap fanless mini pc's from lidl's dotted around. My mrs and kids have their own frontends, and I regulary find my 4 year old has set some re-occuring record on justins house, or set the cbeebies christmas panto to not expire so they can torture us with it all year. In fact, I'd go so far as to say they know their way round the frontends + shortcuts etc far better than I do. They have to, we have no off the air capability apart from the myth backend.

The only time it ever needs any attention is when the tbs card locks all its tuners up and won't recover until its power cycled every two months or so. Mind you, I'm still on the last but one major version, don't want to live on the edge with something requiring WAF as much as tv...

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Linux

Re: well thats a surprise

Operating one PVR versus another is not the issue. They are all appliances once you've built them. The problem is buidling them and using monopolyware is no gaurantee that things will be trouble free.

It's like building any PC. YMMV. Your tuner may be unsupported (even in WMC) or your remote make have all sorts of problems (even in Windows).

My multi-room setup isn't even supported in WMC.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: well thats a surprise

@Edon - You're getting paranoid.

Obviously MS have PR agents, but I seriously doubt they're going to be as crude as employing people to post the same thing everywhere. Now, getting someone to rant on about MS all the time and just get stuff plain wrong for most of it, that would be subtle PR.

And stop calling people shills.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: well thats a surprise

Eadon, you really are a mong.

The thought that MS has people down voting on the Reg is so bonkers that I seriously question, well, everything.

Go back to Digital Spy.

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Silver badge

Re: well thats a surprise

> I love MythTV, but it's not something that I think my partner could operate,

+1 Mythtv is better, but that doesn't mean its a consumer system. Its rather like ipchains vs windows firewall.

If you can't fix it, you're better off with something else. Perhaps WMC isn't fixable on errors too, I don't know.

I used to use a PVR 350 with Myth, but there were always issues with ivtv on a kernel update. I've now got a silicon dust box which has great quality, is simple to use and support is built into myth itself. Its easy to configure, but for consumers you still want autoconfiguration.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: well thats a surprise

That's rather a major downside though - that they are Linux based. You just want to plugin and go - Windows is less complicated, far more easy to use and more reliable.

Yes the missing thing for everyone is support from Sky or Virgin media - but that's the case on Linux too AFAIK.

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Re: well thats a surprise

Actually you can do Sky HD in WMC.... google it along tvsource.

When i lived in the UK it was our main TV with it's 4 tuners

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Anonymous Coward

Re: well thats a surprise

@Phil 27 - Just to be clear - It's not the frontend or the web config which is the problem, it's the backend which will occasionally (rarely these days, admittedly) just freak out, or if something needs to be done, such as re-scanning the channels, these sort of operations are fairly cludgy, particularly configuring multiple sources.

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Linux

Re: well thats a surprise

There is nothing reliable about Windows.

Once you've got things set up so that your box is booting straight into your app, ease and complexity are no longer a factor. You might even be using the exact same app.

Unix tends to be much better at staying in place and is much more maleable beforehand.

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Re: well thats a surprise

"The only downside is that you will have to get to grips with Linux and its command line interface to actually get it working more or less." Well, for an awful lot of people, that's a pretty big downside.

By the way, 'you're getting', not 'your getting', and the correct second person singular/plural in English is 'you' unless you especially want to sound like a teenager.

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WMC is the central hub for all my media throughout the house. It is brilliant and the best kept MS seecret out there. If more people knew about it, and if MS actually put enough resources into it, it could take out Apple TV completely. I can remote control it and stream recordings out to my Android (and iOS), but probably not WinPho bizarrely.

I have twin Freeeview HD tuners and feed my AVR via HDMI with 7.1 sound. Fab!

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Thumb Down

"A solution for Ireland is in the works and expected shortly. "

Translation: The cheque to RedBee in the post and will arrive tommorow.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Windows apology too?

@Eadon: Epically tedious, once again.

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WTF?

Re: Windows apology too?

Anyone who is genuinely "distraught" about not being able to video a TV show seriously needs to get a life.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Windows apology too?

@Eadon - As I've pointed out many times: I don't know that you're not also posting AC, I don't know that you only post as Eadon, for all I know you post as RICHTO as well. You are just an anonymous as I am.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Windows apology too?

Oh yeah, and I'll be happy to post here under my real name, should The Reg mandate that for everyone, until then I'm staying anon.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Windows apology too?

"Windows 8 / Win Pho 8 / Surface left customers in the UK and Ireland "distraught" and struggling to run their favourite programs."

Umm, ignoring the functionality of Windows 8 aspect, those customers bought the system as is. They did not buy a Windows 7 machine and wake up to find Windows 8 forced on them.

If they didn't want Windows 8/Phone 8/Surface, they shouldn't have bought it.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Windows apology too?

You think can recognise all the ACs and you specifically know who one is? Really?

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Meh

They did a similar thing

With the HD-DVD Drive attachment on the Xbox. In the last system update they removed the ability to use the drive add-on which has left many people (myself included) unable to view their collection of HD-DVDs. Normally this wouldn't be so much of a problem given the short lifespan of the project but for those like me who built up a sizable collection of films on the cheap it was bloody annoying - especially as there was no reason to do such a thing. Sometimes those who play with these things don't consider who they're going to affect...

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Linux

Re: They did a similar thing

HD-DVD? Really?

You should have seen that one coming a mile away and just ripped everything.

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Meh

Re: They did a similar thing

Not so, I still use my HD-DVD drive to watch movies on the xbox, the new dash hasn't stopped that. Maybe your drive is knackered.

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Anonymous Coward

XBMC...just sayin'....

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Anonymous Coward

"A solution for Ireland is in the works and expected shortly. "

Flip me, about time too.

At least Microsoft can do what the Folks on the Hill couldn't.

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Stop

They had no idea

that they could buy Radio Times/newspaper/other listings rags/look at schedules on tinterweb...

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Re: They had no idea

I cut out TV entirely, and now force my children to perform plays of my choosing, in the living room. It's sooooo much more convenient.

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Re: They had no idea

"now force my children to perform plays"

You should see Hamlet performed with alien creatures made of Plasticine, models made by the kids, models moved and voiced in real time by the kids.

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Linux

With MythTV or VDR you have a dedicated HTPC OS that when cold booted goes straight to TV in ~10 seconds Flat. Try that with Windoz and then manually double click on the WMC.exe to start it up. All the while enjoying your stay on the Desktop.

Given how expensive Electricity is, the "idea" of a 24/7/365-1/4 Server seems to me to be way outta the question. And WMC can never be what VDR is.

And even VDR will eventually give itself over to XBMC and that will be a good day indeed

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Happy

For a dedicated box the lounge, I probably would move to an HTPC OS.

As a bedroom TV, WMC on my PC is ideal. On the rare occasion that it deigns to start in response to the remote that came with my TV card, it's damn near perfect.

Horses for courses, I suppose.

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