...one less thing to support and others do it better.
Windows Media Center has come to the end of the road with Windows 10. Microsoft’s next client operating system won’t include Redmond’s media software, for recording and playing TV, music and video. General manager for OSG data and fundamentals Gabriel Aul Tweeted: We can confirm that due to decreased usage, Windows Media …
Whilst that's a fun hobby a FireTV will do pretty much everything the average person needs and work straight out of the box.
Plus it looks a lot better too.
For the record I setup a Pi2/Kodi as a media centre for a customer a few weeks ago. I still don't know why he wanted it as he isn't technical at all. The FireTV or Roku would be far better.
I know folks come up with a legion of reasons not to use a dedicated box but at the end of the day just quit worrying and just watch some damn TV/movies on your £60+ purchase.
It's entertainment, not politics or something that's meant to be difficult/stressful.
Whilst that's a fun hobby a FireTV will do pretty much everything the average person needs and work straight out of the box.
Does it support local (DNLA) media? Think not. But there are similar devices out there that are not tied to the services of a single company and are optimised for the purpose (the RasPi spec was low when it was released and most of the Chinese sticks are already beefier than the RasPi 2).
So far on my FireTV I'm running -
Prime/Netflix/iplayer/DLNA/PLEX/Spotify/YouTube etc. etc. All standard FireTV fare. No rooting or hacking. As I said, should cover the average and above average user for most things.
So yes it can. Simple and stress free. Maybe you need to read some reviews or something?
Superb voice search too!
>Just wait a few months and watch it all in one go without adverts and no need to record it all.
Record and skip the ads, possibly with advert detection/cutting. Am I the only one who doesn't like sitting down and watching a whole stream of episodes together? I did it once, "24" season 3 I think, but I found that it just highlights the show's formula and predictability. I run into marginal utility issues after two consecutive episodes.
Given that a TV-based media centre is basically a media converter from radio to disk-based MPEG/x264 streams, it really shouldn't be that hard or a cost option. The problems is that MS wants to charge for Windows to host it (whereas all the linux-based PVRs are free) and then they wanted to charge again for the application software in W8. That was never going to work. MS is so proud of their work, they fail to understand that most people just don't care about the OS. For a PVR, they never want to even see it.
They should have thrown some money at hardware providers to make something like AppleTV/Chromecast, leveraged WindowsRT and given the software away (in ARM and x86 format) for free with every x86 desktop license. Having a single frontend/backend with an x86 box isn't practical given the cost, size and noise involved.
If I were MS, I'd also be giving away GUI-less server licenses for machines with under 4G RAM (for non-commercial use) with every desktop license. If they really want to push the cloud, follow the Steam example - unlimited installs but only one (or two) simultaneous GUI logins. Even if I liked Windows, I couldn't afford to license it for all my home systems. The value of the systems is too low to warrant paying cash (and after XP, piracy wasn't an option) so I dropped Windows from both the desktop and the server-side. True, I was unlikely to ever pay for Windows for those functions, but now I'm a *nix enthusiast. MS should have integrated cygwin-type functionality into Windows from NT3, perhaps provided a site-license for Windows-home. It may have stalled my defection.
Yes, that's mine, with MythTV in the pocket and a chameleon on the lapel.
Well lets see.
- current events shows.
- sporting events like when the Olympics is half way round the world and something you want to see is on in the middle of the night or while your at work.
- Local programming that's not going to show up on Netflix any time soon.
An antenna + some kind of PVR for a few local stations, plus streaming and who needs rip-off cable.
I ran with OpenElec on a pi for 6 months or so but eventually became frustrated with the lack of power and sporadic plugin support. It handled the basics fine but struggled with some codecs and high resolutions.
Now I have Kodi running on an Intel NUC, which also has Steam and a few other useful bits. It came with Windows 8, which is meh but it's been no trouble getting any peripheral (rf remote, various keyboards and mice and game controllers) hooked up, which was a pain on the pi. It works so well that it's now become our primary gaming platform as well as media consumption device.
My advice - if you want to fuck about or have low requirements and not much cash then go for OpenElec. If you want a bit more umph, with the added bonus of making a (kind of) Steam box, go for a NUC or similar.
Windows Media Center that is.
The only media player I have ever used which doesn't use the space button as a pause / restart - but instead changes the channel to the previous channel you watched, thus ditching what it has been recording (for real time pause etc..)
Microsoft should've pushed this more.
Windows Media Centre is an excellent PVR. Take up was poor due to the cost. A decent media center PC with IR remote a couple of HD tuners and a fluid interface will set you back at least £300. That's a hard sell when you can get a box that does 80% of the same stuff for £100 or companies like BT or TalkTalk will throw a box at you for "free".
The other big problem with media centre is that in the UK you can't use it with Sky or Virgin, Microsoft needed to do deals with these companies if media centre was to succeed.
The final issue is that whilst the PVR stuff was very good, the rest of media centre is very poor.
I'm still running the windows 7 version I guess I'll carry on with that until Microsoft no longer support it and the EPG dies. By which time nobody will be watching broadcast TV and there will be something better to use.
- Custom, DRM-ridden recording file format and
- The binding of those files created on a given machine to that machine only, so you couldn't share, even with members of your own workgroup nor record onto exchangeable media...
- Poor 3rd-party codec support...
Never had any difficulties in shifting recordings from the mediacentre (originally XP, currently 7) onto other devices and still have them play, although I've only ever used the tuner side of WMC with FTA channels, so maybe things are a bit different (as you might reasonably expect them to be) with paid-for channels.
Things like CableCARD receivers are the reason for the .wtv format. It allowed for the CableCARD to encrypt the recordings, enforcing DRM. If you use a FTA antenna (meaning no DRM), then the recordings are not significantly encrypted and can be converted (say to .dvr-ms) or used with a video editor like avidemux with only moderate effort.
I personally like the layout of Windows Media Center, but after the cable companies encrypted all the FTA channels (on the basis that satellite companies do it to enforce locality restriction), it just wasn't really fun anymore. I now record with a USB-based Happauge box that can accept HD component inputs that allow me to record HDTV footage. It's a bit clunky to use, but I can't knock the results.
It was facing competition from dedicated DVRs, Video on Demand, more dubious sources of content from the internet, inexpensive media-playing dongles, older games consoles re-purposed as the same (indeed, that's how XBMC got its name), Blu-Rays a more practical source of HD video for many people...
The Media Centre interface worked well with a traditional IR-remote controller for local media. However, I find that touch-screen tablets and phones work better as remote controllers for selecting on-line content on a TV - because a virtual qwerty keyboard makes searching for content easier, and content and be selected and queued *before* it is sent to the big TV screen (the interface isn't obscuring what is currently playing). This functionality is available with many a combination of iOS and Android devices, modern games consoles and dongles like Chromecast.
I found MediaPortal sucked a few years back but now it's a very resource light and strong piece of software. I have it running on a laptop in the loft, with 4x HD tuners pushing HDTV around the house, the laptop is also running the music for the house, with no interuptions or stuttering. MediaPortal has a very light footprint and is very stable. If you have WMC then MediaPortal is the obvious choice in my opinion.
It looks like Media Portal has only partial CableCard support. I need something with full CableCard support since my cable company encrypts some channels. Windows Media Center provided full CableCard support but I've been looking for an alternative because I feared this day was coming. "Cloud first, mobile first, customer last" strikes again.
There are a lot of solutions out there, varying in capability, ease of use, reliability and cost.
Do you need to change your software for the time being? How many tuners do you need? Is buying new dedicated hardware out of the question? Do you have any special requirements, such as automation? Are you planning on buying a new TV in the near future - since some of them can record to USB media?
avforums.com might be a good place to look and to ask.
"Do you need to change your software for the time being?" Nah, I'll probably stay in Win7 for a long time, unless Win10 turns out to not be totally crap.
"How many tuners do you need?" Have 4 at the moment on a single PCIE card.
"Is buying new dedicated hardware out of the question?" What kind / what price?
"Do you have any special requirements, such as automation?" The most complex after record a TV series from EPG data is Can My Grandma Use It.
"Are you planning on buying a new TV in the near future - since some of them can record to USB media?" Nop, happy with what I has.
The only other requirement is some form of device to stream from said media box. Preferably the existing Xbox or Rokus so as not to have to buy yet another device with yet another remote.
Same here... actually
1. (DVBViewer) Recording Service on an old netbook with a couple of USB TV tuners, on 24/7 for file serving/torrent and tv duties.
2. OpenELEC running on an AMD Semron 140 for the main TV/projector, with DVBViewer addin.
3. Various PCs with DVBViewer front end
4. Serviio on netbook to take care of local media (could use DVBViewer but serviio understands smart TVs better).
Generally we've found Windows on the front end sucks compared to OpenELEC as it';s far more intrusive and sensitive to change.
My DVD recorder went a long time ago. Built a quiet i3 based media PC in a nice case with a front display and card reader. Threw Ubuntu on it, added a dual freeview tuner card, HD webcam (for video calling). I use MythTV to schedule recordings and playback. It will also play DVD, (but I prefer VLC). Chromium for iPlayer/YouTube/4OD/5OD/GeekTV etc. Also acts as a file / web / squeezebox / Minecraft server and runs a suite of security cameras using motion (uploading the images offsite).
The only downside really is the hardware can be fiddly to get working - particularly the air keyboard/mouse, the sound routing and the TV tuner card.
I use Kodi and find it brilliant (as well as free!). It copes effortlessly with just about every format of media file I have tried. I spent a bit of time selecting a skin (!Transparency) as I found the default one a bit fiddly to use, and cutting out menu options that I never used. With those changes it is a really effortless UI - all of my family use it with no problems without having to ask how to do stuff.
I run it on a Gigabyte Brix, using a wireless keyboard, because I like playing with gadgets, but if you already have a suitable PC, there is no need to spend any money.
I use it just for movies and tv show, but it has good support for photos and music as well.
I have about 600 movies and 50 TV shows on a USB drive - should do for a while!
I also use Media Companion for cataloguing items because it does a better job than Kodi's built-in capabilities.
Emby + TVHeadend or any one of a number of other USB tuner supporting services that are available as plugins for Emby. Emby server aggregates your stored media, and there are Emby clients for Roku, Android, LG, Samsung etc etc as well as a web client, or you can use Kodi plus the Emby Kodi plugin.
You can run it on Windows, MacOS, Linux natively (more or less) and they have Docker instances to get you up and running very quickly. I have setups using variations of this running on pretty low powered Intel NUC styles devices with a couple of TB storage for a number of family members. Anything with over 2GB or RAM and a 5th gen or later processor is more than beefy enough for direct play. It can also serve media to remote devices (including live TV) as long as transcoding isn't required (on low powered hosts).
Set up requires a little knowledge so isn't the quickest but, more importantly, use once set up is easy enough for a 5 year old, or an older relative with little to no instruction.
There's an Emby fork called JellyFin that happened recently due to a disagreement with the lead dev on Emby re open source but it's too early to see if it will have legs. At any rate Emby itself is mature and stable. Plex is an analogous service, however at the time I switched it did not support USB tuners, age restricted profiles and a number of other things it has subsequently caught up on, and Emby for me has more consistently responded to the community with improvements and fixes.
Ummmm, Win8 shipped without it (a downgrade for many Win7 users) to avoid the codec licence fees. I wonder how Win10 upgraders will react if the MPEG2 and H264 codecs don't ship with it, it's not hard installing replacements but hard enough that ordinary users won't manage it.
Media Centre might have made it easy using TV tuners but it made very poor use of them and I believe had low limits on how many you could use. Possibly the only DTV current app that can't simultaneously pull more than 1 channel from each mux on each tuner.
The Media Center for Windows 8 is the addon to buy if you want the media codecs, that was the point (to not include it but to make it available for people who want it, therefore only paying licence fees according to how many people actually opt for it). For most people, this actually didn't affect them considering most OEMs ship third-party DVD players anyway, which come with their own codecs.
In the article it says that there'll be a "DVD only" option. In other words, the current option will be stripped of the Media Center component but otherwise it'll be the exact same procedure as it is for Windows 8 and 8.1. Again for most people it's not going to be a problem anyway considering that again most OEMs ship third-party DVD players anyway.
That's the same trick the original XBox did concerning DVD playback. That decision was due to the licensing issues concerning the MPEG-2 codec essential for DVD playback. Basically, every company that built a DVD movie player had to pay the fee per device. Dedicated players simply figured the license into the cost. Sony ponied up for the PS2 because they figured it made a selling point (DVD was still young and fresh then), and Microsoft took this route and basically attached the license to the dongle. Notably, Nintendo refuses to pay which is why Wii's and Wii U's won't play movie discs out of the box.
If one wants to get anywhere with the PC as entertainment box , we need to add several functionalities call them modules that need to be made and which i experimented with a long time. A power amp to drive external speakers ,an audio preamp module , vga dvi and hdmi switches , decent remote control and software and last a good old controller ( rs 232 control ports ( projector, tv ) relays ( screen, curtains etc ) , http and ir ) with http built in server to interface with phones or tablet. Everything needs be in the same box. The problem is not software , the problem for a real media PC is that it's missing the hardware functionality to make it come of age.
Following your spec; all existing set-top box solutions including DVRs (service provider types also) fail as entertainment centres.
Looking round at most friends' living rooms; most have a DVD player plus DVR of some sort; a Skybox/Virgin media/BT Vision box connected to the t'internet. I'm not aware that any fulfil your specifications. I may be wrong as I have none of these, (no cable in my area but a BT Vision box is a possibility). Perhaps if they had them play audio output via their hifi/home theatre system we would be getting there, (not many do). Still, at that setup, most are using up to 3 remotes to control their TV/media Box/hifi (I know unify remotes are possible but few go down that road).
Windows Media Centre was never really pushed but if it had been - people may have bought into it and used systems such as the Medion media PC (but better overall spec would probably become available).
The problem with many set-top box solutions is that the media being captured is constantly evolving in terms of mechansim of media delivery (codecs) and distribution (shifting between broadcast/cable/internet delivery. A sing unified solution would be out of date almost as soon as it was out. At least a PC-based system could be capable of of this rather than several set-top boxes. Unless, of course, this freedom is exactly what the providers of entertainment media do not want you to have....
You like to over-engineer, don't you. For most MC users nicely integrated DVR option and maybe a DVD player were the essential features. Low crud, low cpu use, decent anti-aliasing for video, always on top (even this had to be hacked on Windows 8) etc.
For all intents and purposes Windows 10 (and 8 for that matter) is just a glorified web browser (home use). Less and less reason to "upgrade", not even at the price of free (there surely is a catch in this deal).
The biggest problem with alternatives is finding one that will control a Sky Digital box properly. EVerything else is fixated with DVB-T. Wile MCE was not ideal (I still miss my TiVo), it did interface very well with SKY and allowed me to have decent TV window running on one of the monitors in my home office.
I'm busy looking around for alternatives, but so far not finding anything that will do what I want.
... some Personal Media Players with the WMC logo on them? Part of MS's strategy around 2003 was to have portable devices with the WMC interface on them.
In practise, most people used iPods or other devices specific propriety user interfaces. Or they installed RockBox on their device.
The WMC logo was primarily centered around PlaysForSure, the means by which a portable device can be given the capability to play otherwise-DRM-restricted WMV files. When .wmv fell by the wayside (mostly because Apple won that round of the portable player wars, meaning MP4 became the dominant format), so did PlaysForSure and the logo program.
PC-as-tellybox just not a popular enough idea, it seems
Well, no, I don't think that's true, PC-as-a-tellybox-but-having-to-run-the-whole-of-the-Windows-software-stack-underneath was maybe not as popular...
The Linux based ones were/are much more frugal in their power needs, and will run on minimal hardware, meaning you don't need a big PC with lots of noisy fans running - not really something you want under your telly...
I've used WMC as my main setup for most of the last 8 years. It had several things going for it - it was pretty reliable when it came to recordings, very easy to use for the non-PC literate and I had a hefty htpc running it and serving streams via DVBLink.
However, I recently replaced the htpc with a Chromebox running Openelec/Kodi, and tvheadend doing the backend, and I'm really happy. Kodi's PVR functionality is not exactly intuitive in places (Add Timer??) but it's a cheap, almost silent and lightweight solution that works really well. Though having all the USB tuners plugged into a hub behind the chromebox isn't quite as attractive...
I used the heck out of wmc for several years, but when my cable company started encrypting regular cable, I dropped cable and went fta. WMC does a fine job with recording fta, but since I moved I only can get one station, so I have it only recording news. XBMC is much nicer than WMC for viewing local media, but most media consumption is just using the browser in the HTPC now. I wonder when they are going to turn off the EPG feed? That will truly put the nails in the coffin.
I guess that's one PC in my house that won't be getting upgraded to Win10 then. :(
I've never really bothered with recording TV but we use our media pc and WMC on a daily basis. I have tried XBMC but didn't like it and I have a thing about not installing software that can't decide what it's name is today. I require something that will play DVD, BluRay, files downloaded from the internet in random formats and HD Flash streams so Chromecast, Fire, Apple bollocks, etc do not completely meet my requirements.
Why does every company seem to go out of their way to piss me off these days? Don't even get me started on Google's crap code screwing up my phone or Samsung and removable batteries...
Plenty of content on Freeview, more than I'll ever watch. Trouble is its scattered all over the schedules so how to harvest it. I've had hacked Series 1 Tivos for over 12 years and its ability to capture program series and other things via 'Wishlists' can't be bettered. The main problems are the lack of multi-tuner support and the faff of watching content on other devices. (Don't even mention Virgin Tivo - I'm in a not spot and pay TV would be very poor value anyway.)
I have messed around with various Linux media centres (XBMC, Myth TV, OpenELEC, etc) but they take the piss. Especially when it comes to tuner support. I've wasted days at a time googling, reading fora, wikis and howtos and still haven't had a working TV recorder. Great media players but nothing that will just sit in the corner and harvest programs from the schedules using the installed tuners.
Contrast that with the WMC I have sitting in the loft. Done and dusted and operational in a few hours. I'll need to sort a few add-ons to tweak it but the whole driver bit just worked. Don't get me wrong - I wanted the whole Linux thing to work and had useful outcomes using Smoothwall and Freenas but the media centre thing made me lose the will to live.
I've been using the Media Centre option for years, ever since the XP version, I've tried others, but always come back to WMC. I do not use it as a PVR (I tried but my original TV-Tuner card sucked and I have never bought another). I do use it to play music and movies. For the latter I use My Movies (http://www.mymovies.dk) which I think is great... I've submitted a heap of DVD's to their system over the years and love the value it brings.
I've installed Windows Media Centres for a number of friends and have a list of friends that still want this set up. I regularly have people visit who want to know what I'm using and want details on how to set it up. They are often surprised it is a Windows Add-on.
The great thing is this would work on old hardware... grab a second hand Core-2 system, slap in an SSD for fast booting, a graphics card with HDMI out, maybe a 3/4TB hdd for storage of movies, tv shows, music, photos... even a Blu-Ray or DVD drive.. This can all be done incrementally when budgets allow. Recently I got 2 X-Box 360 wireless controllers with USB transceiver and installed Steam, now my Media Centre is a gaming console too...
There is so much value Microsoft could have delivered in this space, Microsoft never positioned it properly. I've never seen a Media Centre in an electronics store next to the TV's, PVR's and DVD Players... Getting Windows Media Centre into these stores and some face time with the market would have helped.
I would rather MS make the WMC component open source and let the community develop it, or even just make it a free download with no further development to take place. I do not care for the DVD playing functionality, that Codec can be provided by installing it in other ways (e.g. PowerDVD). There is so much development that could have occurred to make this even better... it is a shame it is going to be dropped. It looks like my Media Centres will not be reimaged when Win 10 comes out.
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