back to article Remember Windows Media Center? Well, the SDK is now on GitHub to be poked at your leisure

One of the original managers of the Microsoft's ill-fated Windows Media Center has made the SDK available on GitHub. Uploaded by GitHub user "retrosight" (aka former Microsoft staffer Charlie Owen), the original installer had apparently gone missing following one of Microsoft's recent purges and so the SDK is now in the code …

  1. Waseem Alkurdi

    The last, and most complete, version of Windows Media Center sported a clean interface familiar to Windows Phone users

    Windows Phone? You probably mean Windows Mobile. Windows Phone 7 and beyond were TIFKAM (even if it wasn't even called Metro yet) ... Probably the only design element that reminds one of actual Windows Phone was the large, lowercase titles stacked next to each other (like the example contact details page in the second screenshot in this picture)

    The rest of the interface was beautifully Windows Pre-TIFKAM, mostly Windows 7 and Windows Mobile 6.5.*

    As a side note, I used to LOVE Windows Media Center (and Windows Mobile). Just beautiful, just simple. Although not 100% aesthetically or functionally perfect, it's not the mess that's in a modern TV-connected gadget, Apple TV included.

    (Of course, just like most forms of art, it's quite functionally crippled).


    * Of course I'm referring to the Windows 7 implementation, not the XP one. The latter was ugly. Damned ugly.

  2. Alister

    It's a shame that when it was introduced, the available hardware wasn't really capable of meeting the necessary requirements of a quiet, powerful PC in a form factor that would fit under a TV unless you spent thousands on a custom build.

    You certainly wouldn't want the average mini-tower PC of the time, with noisy fans and power hungry CPUs, and even the DVD drive mechanisms fitted to most PCs sounded like a Tornado MRCA on full reheat whilst playing a DVD.

    I remember at the time playing with MythTV and MediaPortal as alternatives, but none of them got over that hurdle.

    Nowadays, you could shove a Raspberry Pi under your TV and run a virtually silent HTPC.

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Nowadays, you could shove a Raspberry Pi under your TV and run a virtually silent HTPC.

      But not running Windows as it would probably melt down.

    2. Tom 38

      Why would you need a powerful PC? I ran a mythtv instance for many years around that time, and it certainly didn't run in to thousands in build costs. The most powerful component you needed was a video card capable of vdpau (feature set B) - I used a GeForce 8400 GS Rev. 2 with a fanless heatsink, £20 in 2007 - and a CPU and hard drive capable of reading and writing at bitrates not greater than 20Mbit. The first one I built used junk bits from my desktop PC, and a few quiet fans.

      1. phuzz Silver badge

        Yes, but the original MCE came out in 2004, and a TV card alone would set you back the best part of £100 then. Once you'd added a mid range P4, half a gig of RAM and massive harddrive (which were only just dropping under $1 per GB at that point) and a pretty case to go under your TV, you were racking up quite a bill.

        Even more if you splashed out and went for one of the ATI All-In-Wonder combined graphics and TV tuner cards. Those things were great :)

    3. Dave K

      Virtually silent? I'd say completely silent. I run a Raspberry Pi as a media centre with Kodi on it. Makes zero noise, tiny little box buried out of sight, yet can stream and play high-def content over the network from my PC (or a NAS if you prefer this). It's also handy for viewing photos if you get family round, plus I've used it occasionally as a jukebox during parties for background music. For £30, it's a great choice.

      Problem with Media Centre is that it required a full blown PC (noise, cost etc), and in typical MS fashion its format support (at least initially) was somewhat hit and miss. Kodi though has handled pretty much any format I've thrown at it. AVI, MKV, MP4, all manner of various codecs etc.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Nowadays, you could shove a Raspberry Pi under your TV and run a virtually silent HTPC.

    And many do.

    Although even as far back as 2002, MS would have done a lot better to have started from scratch (well, started with Linux) than trying to shoehorn the bloated slurpy Windows codebase into a lightweight console.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Nowadays, you could shove a Raspberry Pi under your TV and run a virtually silent HTPC.

      The Windows kernel layers aren't so bad, it's just all the intrusive telemetry, compatibility hacks, the fifteen+ different implementations of UI controls, and intern-standard coding slathered on top that ruins everything.

  4. Captain Scarlet Silver badge

    Probably would have used one but

    I didn't want to fork out for more licenses for Windows and even with autologon, the moment you went back to the desktop the experience was far to clunky.

    Back then the under TV cases were around, fully with LCD's and looked at home under the tv.

    After getting the case and hardware (A Celeron with a low end Ati card or AMD card with a soundblaster would easily play DVD's no issue) it was easily going to cost to much. Going the Linux route I admit I chickened out as I knew the software was there but now how to plonk it all together into something that worked easily with a remote.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I wish I hadn't ditched WMC and replaced it with a Humax Freeview PVR.

    I've never seen an interface as responsive and easy to use as WMC.

    It's just a shame the extenders were so poor and unstable.

  6. Dr_N

    Still running it...

    ...on my NUC.

    The photo slide shows are great coupled with a projector and music playback.

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: Still running it...

      On your Nuc? What did those poor bees ever do to you?

      1. Dr_N

        Re: Still running it...

        Not being a bee nerd I actually had to Google that.

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: Still running it...

          "Not being a bee nerd"

          There's still time. I just caught three feral colonies[0], and hopefully I'll get a couple more ... It's spring, a good time to put out swarm traps ... ask a local beekeeper for details. It's a fun and rewarding hobby. Tasty, too.

          [0] Four, actually, but the queen for one of them was marked ... I tracked down their owner & repatriated them.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Still running it...

            jake, please start documenting some of this stuff.

            Like the greenhouse setup, the brewing, etc.

            I suspect that in Blighty, a need to become a bit more self sufficient is about to become needed.

  7. Pete4000uk

    If it was available in Windoes 10 I would have upgraded before now. Media Portal 2 seems a good substitute.

  8. ADRM

    Still using it on 3 TV's connected to my network.

    Two of them are modest Windows 7 Pro AMD Athlon systems that have been plodding away for almost 10 years. Both of those have 2 tuners giving us the ability of recording 4 shows at once in HD (never happens ). They have SSD for the system drive and largish 2 TB drives for recording media. Each machine has 3 DVD drives. One for Blu Ray, One for Region 1 DVD playback and 1 for Region 2 disc playback. I have a few Region 2 discs (The Corrs, Cybil (Don't ask) Other Brits on DVD not released here in USA) and with DVD burners being $20 it was a no brainer to slap in another drive. I have two Windows 8 licenses with media center licences that I will be upgrading to when 7 goes EOL. The 3rd machine only Core 2 Quad with SSD gets used to playback the odd thing in the lounge so maybe will just upgrade to 10 and use another program to playback TV shows. Anyone have any suggestions for a media center replacement that records TV shows to ATSC standard with a guide you don't need a masters in computer science to configure. What I like about media center is it works and just does its job.

  9. David Austin

    I have a soft spot for Windows Media Centre and indeed, still use it on a Windows 7 Shuttle PC Connected to a TV, with an Xbox 360 working as an extender.

    Still upset it got dropped from Windows 10, but writing was on the wall when i got my Playstation 3 to run network media better than the native 360...

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Still running WMC 8,1U1 here. So, didn't stop being a thang at 7.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    WMC works just fine on Windows 10. A group of enthusiasts has kept the installer up to date. I have successfully reinstalled it so far after each successive Windows update has removed it. Even the EPG still works for now.

  12. roblightbody

    I was a big fan, and it mostly worked very well.

    With a cheap dual-tuner TV card in the PC, the Xbox as a media extender, it was a neat solution that was faster and had more functionality than most telly boxes today. I was sad when they dropped it.

  13. WaveyDavey

    My Under-TV Box is a WMC, been running it for about 5 years now. I've tried a couple of times to try out Kodi and others, but getting it to recognise that the PC has a Hauppage Nova-T card has been nigh on impossible.

    Given that the box is primarily for recording and timeshifting freeview, I cannot countenance anything that cannos *easily* be set up to use the DTV card.

    1. Davegoody

      Pretty sure PLEX supports Hauppage TV tuners ?

  14. K.o.R

    Another die-hard WMC fan here. I gave up a couple of major updates back when something utterly borked the thumbnailing process. Maybe it's fixed now, but I don't have the enthusiasm to go back from Kodi (which has its own laundry list of annoyances).

  15. Torchy

    I still use it.

    I use the op sys in my music studio for running all the midi equipment.

    Unable to upgrade as the drivers for some of my software will not work with anything other than XP.

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