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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  1. Phil W

    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.

    1. Test Man
      Thumb Down

      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.

      1. Phil W

        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.

        1. Craig Chambers

          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?

        2. JEDIDIAH
          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.

        3. P. Lee Silver badge

          > 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?

      2. JEDIDIAH
        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".

        1. Michael Habel Silver badge

          Re: Excuses for the Tyrannt

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

    2. Mongo

      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.

    3. Steve Foster
      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).

      1. Richard 22

        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.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        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...

      3. regorama

        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.

    4. This post has been deleted by its author

    5. Fatman
      FAIL

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

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

  2. hamsterjam
    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?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      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.

    2. Steve Foster
      Meh

      Re: Curious...

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

    3. ChrisClifford

      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.

      1. JEDIDIAH
        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

    4. Michael Habel Silver badge
      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

  3. adnim Silver badge

    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.

    1. ChrisClifford

      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.

      1. adnim Silver badge

        @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.....

  4. DJO Silver badge

    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.

    1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

      'Poll' position

      I suspect that's just common or garden ignorance.

      1. 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

        1. DJO Silver badge

          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.

          1. DJO Silver badge
            Facepalm

            Re: 'Poll' position

            Doh, that should have been "2012" season

      2. Jon Press

        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.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          @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 ;-)

        2. Richard 45

          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.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    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.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      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?

      1. Richard 12 Silver badge

        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.

        1. The Original Steve

          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)

  6. MchJ
    Thumb Down

    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...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      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.

      1. boltar Silver badge
        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.

        1. Vince

          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.

          1. JEDIDIAH
            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.

    2. MrJOD
      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.

    3. Lamont Cranston
      Thumb Down

      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.

      1. adnim Silver badge

        @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>

    4. Neil Cameron-Rollo

      Re: yet more pseduo-news with a ridiculous headline

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

    5. Nate Amsden Silver badge

      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.

  7. Richard Rae
    Thumb Up

    Mythtv Backend + XBMC

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

    No interruption etc.....

  8. jowlymonster

    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.

  9. Mark McNeill
    Thumb Up

    Another vote for MythTV

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

  10. Anonymous Coward
    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?

  11. Efros
    Thumb Up

    MediaPortal

    Does the job, much nicer and much more configurable than WMC.. oh and it's free.

    1. jowlymonster

      Re: MediaPortal

      The new Titan skin in 1.3 Beta is really nice actually. If I can solve my HD problems it'll be happy days.

  12. Sloping Shoulders

    Another MythTV user

    We have been using MythTv on Linux now for a few months - the PC sits on the landing with a quad tuner card plugged in. And the recordings are available to be streamed through the network (wirelessly, and wired through homeplugs).

    I won't pretend Myth was easy to setup, and that we haven't had problems (it still occasionally records shows with zero length and requires a reboot to fix). But it is working well now - and solves the problem of needing multiple PVRs in a house with a number of people with different TV tastes.

    Selecting the right front-end is still a work in progress given I don't want a large machine for a front-end or a hard disk. WDTV is ok - but fastforwarding through the stream is a pain. And XMBC on Raspberry Pi might be good - but isn't there yet (FF problems as well, and frequent crashes).

    1. Jean Le PHARMACIEN
      Coat

      Re: Another MythTV user

      Old HP D530 slim desktops are OK (eBay £30+ a decent Nvidia card) for MythTV - bit noisy though. Better to buy second hand Zotac ION boards w 1-2GB RAM + Akasa Cryto case - can be done for under £100. Work well as frontends (my server is D530 CMT +3GB RAM + 3 tuners and in the basement...) and can happily cope with three / four frontends round the house. Don't forget - SSDs are your frontend friends

      1. P. Lee Silver badge

        Re: Another MythTV user

        > SSDs are your frontend friends

        Nice. However if you're feeling poor, a normal flash drive can be used. If your frontends are wired and not rebooted often, PXE is your friend - just point it at a mythbuntu DVD image.

        Any old office PC is generally fine - its the home built ones with noisy power supplies you need to avoid. Also, Mac G5's are rather inefficient, though with the temperature hitting 40C today, those fans are going to come in useful! :D

  13. AhSoul

    If you're looking for clients I suggest having a look at Plex

    1. Sloping Shoulders

      Plex as a client?

      So you can install the Plex Server component on the PC running Myth and it plays nicely?

      1. JEDIDIAH
        Linux

        Re: Plex as a client?

        I have a Plex server running on my master backend (MythTV).

        It runs as well there as it does anywhere. Same challenges and quirks as running on a Mac or a Windows PC.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    MSFT Call Centers appeared unaware over Xmas - BDS had done their job though

    Just to comment - could see this coming over Xmas break...as I see it the OTA EPG is now/next or 7 days only - WMC was (hopefully still is once fixed!) good in that it would cover 2 weeks (great for longer vacation and series scheduled recording! :-) ) Only real problem I found is lack of response to real time programme updates/over-runs...that life I guess.

    I spent time (hours :-( ) talking to various (mostly Indian?) call centers trying to flag the problem over the break but they appeared ignorent of issue - I guessed it was a UK only problem and they seemed to have US view of life.

    OTA option only avalable n W7 if I understand correctly - I use old XPMCE05 as main TV and have a number of other desk top and laptop m/c's running MCE04 (as an old testbed), WMCE05 and W7.....problem is obviously with all platforms.

    I wouldn't blame BDS (Bee) on this - I was in touch with them prior to New Year (and data end) and they confirmed a data package was sent to MSFT (just that morning) so its down to MSFT I'm afraid......

    Sadly the wife & kids are now P1$$ed as loads of recordings are "Manual Recording" labels - which get lost in the mist of time......(e.g. try to fing UP! from NY Day will be fun....though record data of 01/01 may help ;-)

    ......is anyone from MSFT listening/tracking I wonder.......? (If so can they enlighten please!)

  15. Mage Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    DVBViewer

    XP Media and Vista Media centre are rubbish for European DTT or Satellite. The Windows 7 Media centre (built in MHEG5 too) was quite decent.

    But still not as a good as DVBviewer and MHEG5 plugin. Evidenced by fact than it's still bought by Windows7 users.

    DVBviewer or MS Media Centre on Win7 is though easier to set up than MythTV.

    A Freesat+ HD PVR set box is best, but quad tuner (2 x DVB-S2 and 2 x DVB-T) set boxes with real Freesat and/or MHEG5 don't seem to exist. Important for people not actually in UK wanting Local DTT and the Freesat channels. Then a PC based PVR is best.

    You can run HDMI over 2 x shielded CAT5e for quite a good distance by cutting a £1.50 HDMI cable in two and splicing.

    However I expect the missing EPG is a mistake!

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Xbox?

    "many people use a sitting-room Xbox to connect to a PC located elsewhere."

    I tried this. As much as I tried, running up and down stairs to input various codes, I just *could not* get my Xbox 360 to see the Windows 7 machine upstairs!!

    The machine later died a death (HDD - specifically the Windows partition, went) and I gave up on the whole idea.

  17. boltar Silver badge
    FAIL

    "I have the PC installed as my main TV,"

    More fool you.

    Muppet.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "I have the PC installed as my main TV,"

      @Boltar: Constructive comment & contribution I see :-) NOT

      Guess I should clarify as "...'connected to' main (Freeview/DTV) TV and acting as local PVR + longer term EPG" ! Fact is have been considering other options for some time and the rest of the posts here are useful inputs/guidance (thanks folks!) - this latest episode may tip me across.....possibly also going whole hog and heading to Linux (as running on several other machines).....main issue is family familiarity with MC ;-)

  18. ElNumbre
    Thumb Up

    TVHeadend

    If you just want TV Streaming and Recording, I've found TVHeadend an excellent little (free) install.

    It streams to XBMC and if you install the transcoding branch, you can stream to Android devices over the Internet.

    Of course, you need Linux installed with a compatible TV tuner, but its not insurmountable.

    And it will fetch TV listings from the Radio Times too.

  19. DBTwo

    Live TV Subtitling is actually done by voice recognition: http://www.redbeemedia.com/blog/day-life-subtitler which explains the phonetic spelling that occurs at times....

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Windows

    Anybody who is described

    as "distraught" because of this is badly in need of a reality check....

    Slightly miffed, yes, distraught, no....

    1. P. Lee Silver badge
      Childcatcher

      Re: Anybody who is described

      "slightly miffed" doesn't justify hitting the torrents.

      'Cos that's what happens when the EPG fails.

      "I was out of my mind with grief, m'lud."

  21. Some Call Me Tim
    Angel

    So glad I'd already given up on MS and Media Centre

    Having used Media Center as my freeview PVR for many years I gave up on it when I moved to using satellite. The codecs in Media centre 7 are so out of date and slow they simply can't cope with satellite HD and after much pulling of hair I gave up installed XBMC for my media and got a slingbox for TV/PVR. I feel lucky not to be in the same mess those still using Media Centre are now in.

    1. .stu

      Re: So glad I'd already given up on MS and Media Centre

      I use it for quad tuner DVB-S2 HD + quad tuner DVB-T reception without any problems. I also use DVBLink to share it around the house, and EPGCollector to get the FreeSat epg. The only time I ever have to fiddle with it is when the transponders change (thanks Olympics!!). My friends are amazed whenever the come over for parties, what with the big screen music/video playback with photo slideshows and visualisations. Ripping cds to my network is as simple as putting them into dvd drive and clicking ok, then they are automatically synced to my families phones via google music. I am currently putting all my dvds on the network. But the most amazing thing is that even my wife can use it!

    2. Monty Burns

      Re: So glad I'd already given up on MS and Media Centre

      Really? Sky HD (movies, sports etc.) worked superb on mine when I lived in the UK, as did everything I downloaded (Shark007 btw).

      Now I live in middle east and sadly OSN use betacrypt which afaik hasn't been cracked :(

      1. Monty Burns

        Re: So glad I'd already given up on MS and Media Centre

        Yeah exactly Stu, Tim couldn't have pulled much hair as it's pretty easy to get DVB-S2 hd in wmc.

        1. Some Call Me Tim
          Headmaster

          Re: So glad I'd already given up on MS and Media Centre

          Stu. you must be running it on a high powered box the codecs you can use in WMC don't support offloading to the GPU so if you're trying to play HD on a nice quite little small form factor PC such as the Acer REVO you'll only get unacceptable jerky performance. The big gripe with WMC and MS in general is very poor performance browsing large folders once you start to get a lot of media files in them. As others have mentions there are far far better products to use now than anything from Redmond and a lot of them now are cross platform too.

          1. Fuzz

            Re: So glad I'd already given up on MS and Media Centre

            "Stu. you must be running it on a high powered box the codecs you can use in WMC don't support offloading to the GPU so if you're trying to play HD on a nice quite little small form factor PC such as the Acer REVO you'll only get unacceptable jerky performance."

            This just isn't true. The onboard h.264 codec uses DXVA to offload to the GPU. I had HD tv on an Atom Ion Revo. That played video fine but struggled a bit recording two streams whilst playing back a 3rd so I upgraded to an AMD APU based machine.

            If your computer wasn't offloading to GPU then most likely you had installed some awful codec pack that was using ffdshow for everything or you just needed to update your graphics drivers.

            I use the media browser plugin for accessing my media files I find it looks and behaves much better than the built in browser.

  22. Richard Lloyd
    Stop

    Does anyone use Windows Media Center any more?

    I'm surprising anyone's using WMC when there are better alternatives if you really must use Windows for TV recording e.g. Mediaportal for one.

    The best setup is surely a Linux nettop (e.g. Acer Revo) or even a Raspberry Pi plus tvheadend (the best media centre Web configuration interface bar none, IMHO) and XBMC as a front-end (possibly on the same device as the tvheadend server if you only have one box).

    With XBMC available on far more platforms than WMC (including Android now), it's a no-brainer to ditch WMC completely.

    1. MrJOD
      Meh

      Re: Does anyone use Windows Media Center any more?

      TV tuner support in XMBC is still Beta - right?

      I actually like J River a lot, but the TV support is nowhere close to WMC.

      WMC 'Just Works' (or used to).

      1. Michael Habel Silver badge
        Linux

        Re: Does anyone use Windows Media Center any more?

        There was and never will be Tuner support in XBMC.

        There has however been a PVR Branch that WILL go mainstream in the next release (i.e. Frodo).

        The PVR Branch requires that you have something like MythTV or some version of VDR installed.

        Most likely at some point One would imaging that even WMC would also be available if only for the Windows version.

        But, no XBMC is not likely to have in your World "native" support, anytime soon if ever.

    2. ChrisClifford

      Re: Does anyone use Windows Media Center any more?

      I can't see a Raspberry Pi driving three TVs as Media Center does in my home. XBMC is getting better but still has the feel that it's made by techies for techies. It didn't pass the "wife and kids test" last time I installed it.

      I tried Media Portal on my laptop for the first time this morning and it does look very promising, although again the interface isn't as straightforward and slick as Media Center. When people design this stuff they really need to think what the typical gadget-shy person does and does not want to see pop up when they're using their TV. Still, Media Portal is going to be a strong contender for providing TV when Windows 9 approaches and the death of Windows Media Center becomes nearer.

  23. dvblogic

    Time to switch to DVBLink and its Digiguide EPG loader?

    Those preferring to continue using MediaCenter not only for live TV, but also for its recording function can switch to DVBLink with either its EPG Collector integration or Digiguide EPG loader.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Windows Media Center has never been a huge success for Microsoft: despite being available since XP and included in all but the lowest-end editions of Windows."

    That's not quite true is it? Media Centre was a specific edition of XP, it didn't come with standard copies of Home or Professional.

    1. Al Jones

      The vast majority of PCs running XP came from Dell or HP or some other large OEM. And from 2006 on, most of those boxes shipped with XP Media Center Edition.

      So you could argue that the boxed version of XP Home was a "lower end" version than XP Media center edition!

      1. Grease Monkey

        No matter what "you could argue" the fact is that the statement made in the article was untrue.

        I particularly like your "from 2006", lets see now. Windows XP launched in 2001. Vista launched in early 2007. So for one year of a five year shelf life some PC manufacturers only shipped Media Centre Edition. Not really a convincing argument.

        If we ignore Embedded IIRC there were only three editions of XP. Home, Professional and Media Centre. The latter was never available retail, BTW. Fair enough, excluding Embedded, Home Edition was the lowest spec version, but to describe Home and Professional together as "only the lowest spec versions" is hardly true is it?

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Never was a huge success because it's crap

    1. You have to wait ~4 seconds for it to start up because it's playing its ridiculous start-up animation and sound

    2. You have to wait another 5-10 seconds to see a simple list of your recorded programs as your hard drive is apparently put through a stress test (WHAT IS IT DOING?!)

    3. Your 1-dimensional list of programs is presented in a confounding 2-dimensional matrix that's confusing even to somebody who's been using the product for years (let's see, to get to the next program I press down, unless I have to press right and then up 3 times)

    4. Many features are only accessible by clicking on faded out words that are often literally half-invisible and certainly don't look like anybody should be clicking on them

    5. There's enough lag when fast forwarding and skipping backwards that the features might as well be worthless for skipping commercials

    6. The keyboard shortcuts were chosen by somebody who apparently hates customers... you have to press Control-P to pause instead of just hit the spacebar, etc.

    Anyway, I'd go on but I'm exhausted just thinking about it. It shouldn't be a mystery why this product failed. I still use it to watch ~2 programs per week because I already have it set up and it does work, but I hate every minute of it.

    1. Mark 47

      Re: Never was a huge success because it's crap

      Which is why I and others who use it in anger run it on dedicated hardware with little else on it. It's still Windows after all.

      I never experience any lag skipping back or forwards.

      And if you use one of the dedicated remotes (and the original MS remote is a wonder) then you don't need to use the byzantine key combos.

  26. Tom 35 Silver badge

    Another "Plays for Sure"

    Not making any money, can't be bothered, turned off the server.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    System back as of this evening....

    Looks like we are back in the game from tonight....though some systems have only dowloaded selected channels despite repeat attempts.....and looks like some listings incorrect (e.g. 10pm PICK TV showed Game of Thrones but actualy one of the Cop reality TV sessions!)

    Would be good to get full MSFT explaination (excuse) - back toyou Anna!......though no doubt chances slim......what will they do to stop repeat of this episode (excuse the pun?!)

  28. mattc2
    Thumb Up

    They're back! I have been fiddling with other options to get my WMC 7 listings back with not much luck so restored my ehome directory and run a bog standard WMC7 guide update and I now have listings up to 13/1/12. Let's hope that's an end to it...

  29. Mark 47
    Happy

    That explains it...

    ...kinda. I'd have expected some announcement, and since Win8 offers MCE I presume this is a cock up rather than a switch-off.

    I have said it before - in fact since about 2006 - and will say it again, Media Centre (Center!) has been the most reliable, useful, user-friendly MS product I have ever used.

    If you go to the effort (yes, it's a slightly bigger if than just getting a Sky box) it rewards you time after time. My MCE box is home built (and that's the problem for the mass market) but being in an Antec case it's quiet, not too ugly, and fairly cheap to run.

    This is a box that cost me about £300 to build in 2006 when I upgraded from XP MCE to Vista. It still runs fine with Win 7.

    Having just got a 46" telly I can assure you the interface is the cleanest and most responsive I have ever experienced in a PVR. Even when I use friends' Sky boxes I think MCE still urinates from a great height.

    It's speedy; the picture looks great; HD is perfect; SD upscales better than anything else; it worries about when to record things if it can't get the first transmission; plus it does the trick of being a PC if I need it to.

    Best of all? It does the supposed-Apple trick of *just working*. If Apple ever build a TV presumably the TV interface will be very MCE. Indeed I wish the whole UI of my Samsung telly was similar to MCE rather than the Korean abomination which I otherwise try to avoid.

    It is quite amazing that not only is it the same company behind MCE and Win 8 Metro - in many ways the origins of Win 8 can be seen in MCE, via the Xbox interface. They just lost the plot along the way.

    If they ever did get rid of Media Centre I don't know what I'd use in its place. I'd cope, but IMHO it's such a genuinely refined product I'd be hard-pressed to find a decent alternative. It's amazing to think I began this journey with Showshifter more than 10 years ago. For once, credit to MS for coming up trumps.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's back now

    EPG is back now - for me at least.

    Having used XBMC and MediaPortal, I find myself always going back to WMC. As Mark 47 suggests, it's actually one of the finest bits of software that MS have ever put out. Even better when combined with MediaBrowser...

    As a side note, it would be nice if MS were capable of sending me a Product Key for Windows 8 Media Centre Pack 9 days after requesting one...

  31. plrndl
    Linux

    Myth TV

    Another vote for Myth. It is a bugger to set up, you can't just install it and sit back, but everything you need to know is available on-line, and you will learn a lot doing so.

    Mythbuntu is the way to go for a dedicated TV/PVR system.

  32. David Simpson 1
    Mushroom

    Short answer - upgrade to 7 or 8 you lazy bastards...

  33. David Simpson 1
    Trollface

    I still use Windows MCE I just gave up on broadcast television, it's all repeated crap and advertising. My brain feels so much better leaving all the ads behind.

  34. Fuzz

    XBMC

    I went to check out the XBMC PVR stuff in the new beta. I was always a big fan of XBMC right from the start out of XBMP so I'd love to use this. In short it looks like a nightmare. You have to install a backend and a frontend then manually load plugins and get the whole thing to talk to each other.

    Contrast this with WMC where you simply click setup live TV then agree to a few terms and 10 minutes later everything is done for you.

    It's a shame XBMC is so complicated I'd like to switch to a PVR that can record multiple shows from a single multiplex/transponder. It means that for freeview HD you only need 1 HD tuner and the rest can be cheap £5 jobs from ebay. With 6 tuners you'd be able to record everything that was on. I just don't want watching TV to be too much like real work.

    1. Richard Lloyd
      Meh

      Re: XBMC

      I'm not sure how else XBMC could work to avoid this "nightmare" you mentioned. Remember, that's it's purely a client that doesn't do any recording or EPG downloads or TV tuner config itself. That way, it can work on many, many different platforms, including Android. Want Windows Media Center on your phone or tablet - sorry, no can do. XBMC 12 is due out shortly and it runs virtually identically on Android as it does on Windows, Mac and Linux. Oh yeah, want WMC on Mac or Linux too? Sorry, no can do.

      The backend and client *can* be run on the same machine if you only have one computing device and only one TV in the house and WMC does score on initial configuration if that's you're tech-poor setup. For all other situations, XBMC plus your favourite backend (yes, you choose between half a dozen - amazing...you've got a *choice*) is far more flexible and convenient. Whilst Windows remains popular on desktops/laptops, media centre client-side it doesn't (think watching on phones and tablets that aren't running Windows), which is what lets WMC down.

      For backends, I personally think a good Web interface to set up your TV tuners, auto-downloading your EPG data and schedule/check recordings is the way to go. That means *any* device can access it and you can even (carefully!) open it up to the outside world so you can view it whilst out of the house, again on any device.

      This is why I prefer tvheadend on Linux - it really is a very easy to use (but still very configurable) Web interface that beats stuff like MythTV's equivalent. Yes, I tried MythTV as a backend and being a tech person, I still really did not like MythTV's interface at all. I also was surprised that MythTV's developers don't think you'd ever want to record more than 5 channels on a single TV tuner (yes, that's a hard-coded limit in their backend that I tried to get them to increase, but they refused).

    2. Michael Habel Silver badge
      Linux

      Re: XBMC

      Might I suggest to you to try YaVDR?

      You will need an nVidia (VDPAU capable Video Card anything from a Gforce 8400 should be ok)

      Other then that most common DVB-C / DVB-T / DVB-S(2) or even ATSC (for our 'Merikin cousins), should work OotB.

      Just scan your Channels in and start the XBMC (Disc Version 11 Eden) and IIRC the PVR should be pre-activated with the XVDR Protocol. It'll take a moment to import your Channels & EPG Data. And that's that really. Might take you all of an Hour or Two to setup depending on how fast your PC is.

      And updating to XBMC 12 Frodo RC3 is simple enough. But this was more to do with some encoded 10-Bit Anime that I have that doesn't run so well under Eden.

  35. Fatman
    WTF?

    RE:...the fault lies with Microsoft and some hapless admin bod has forgotten...

    $DEITY, I don't want to be that clueless (l)user!!!!

    S/He might end up with a chair ride out a window, courtesy of one Steve Ballmer.

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    For those looking for an alternative on Windows I use ArgusTV as a backend with an XMBC front end. Works a treat! The TV programme scheduling options are the best I've come across

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