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October 6, 2015


Microsoft ships Windows Media Center TV Pack update - to OEMs only

by Brad Linder, posted Jul 18th 2008 9:04AM
Windows Media Center TV Pack
As reported last week, Microsoft has been working on an update for Windows Media Center that adds support for international users and removes the restriction on the number of TV tuners you can use. The update, which has often been referred to by its codename, Fiji, has been veiled in secrecy. Now it looks like there's good news and bad news.

The good news is that Fiji has shipped. A Microsoft knowledge base article refers to a "Windows Media Center TV Pack," which was released on July 16th. The bad news is, the update was released to OEMs, not to end users. In other words, there's no way for you to download and install the update on your Windows Vista Home Premium or Ultimate computer. You'll have to wait until Microsoft either issues a wider release or until you purchase a new computer with the software preloaded.

[via Geek Tonic]

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Windows Media Center H.264, DirecTV support coming later this year

by Brad Linder, posted Jul 9th 2008 10:03AM
Wi ndows Media Center update
There's good news and less good news and then some more good news on the Windows Media Center front. The good news is that Microsoft will be releasing an update soon, the bad news is that it won't include support for things like the H.264 codec or the upcoming DirecTV tuner. The good news (again) is that EngadgetHD reports those features are on their way, they just won't be ready by the end of July, which is when Microsoft plans to issue the next update to Windows Media Center.

A tipster also sent EngadgetHD a few screenshots of the upcoming update, which adds a few new features like the ability to use as many TV tuners as you want, and to use a combination of tuner types such as NTSC, ATSC, QAM, CableCARD, DVB-T, PAL, or DVB-S. The update includes additional features for international media center users, such as support for ISDB-T and BML standards in Japan, and DVB-T and DVB-S in Europe.

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HP MediaSmart Connect looks like a media center, acts like an extender

by Brad Linder, posted Jun 17th 2008 9:56AM
HP MediaSmart Connect
HP has unveiled the MediaSmart Connect, a set top box that looks an awful lot like a full fledged media center, but which is actually a Windows Media Extender. What that means is you can plug the MediaSmart Connect into an HDTV, connect it to your home network, and use the device to stream content from your PC to your TV.

While you can use it to play videos, music, and photos stored on your PC, the MediaSmart Connect has a few other tricks up its sleeve. You can access online radio and video streams using Windows Media Center. And the MediaSmart Connect has 2 USB ports and an HP Pocket Media Bay for additional stroage which lets you access media stored on a hard drive.

The box supports a bunch of formats including MPEG2/4, DiVX, XViD, DVR-MS, WMV, WMV-HD, MP3, WMA, AAC, JPG, BMP, GIF, TIFF, and PNG. You can connect it to your home network via an Ethernet port or over a wireless 802.11a/b/g/n network.

The MediaSmart Connect should be available for preorder later today for $349.

[via The Windows Experience Blog]

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Microsoft releases cumulative update for Windows Vista Media Center

by Brad Linder, posted Jun 12th 2008 5:54PM
Windows Vista Media CenterMicrosoft has rolled out a cumulative update for Windows Vista Media Center that addresses several known issues. The update is available for x86 and x64 systems running Windows Vista Home Premium or Windows Vista Ultimate. It doesn't matter whether you have Windows Vista SP1 installed or not: the update will work either way.

Here are some of the issues addressed:
  • Improvements for recording teleivion programs on systems with analog TV tuners
  • Fixed a bug that sometimes caused a blank screen to appear when switching between full screen and windowed modes while playing a video
  • Empty removable media devices should no longer be displayed in the galleries
  • Solved a memory leak in extender sessions
  • Regional fixes for Chinese media center users
[via Aaron Stebner]

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CinemaNow movies now available in Windows Media Center

by Brad Linder, posted May 22nd 2008 6:29PM

CinemaNow MCE

Raise your hand if you'd kind of forgotten that CinemaNow existed. Go ahead, don't be shy. While Apple, Amazon, and Netflix have been making headlines for distributing digital movies and TV shows over the last year or so, CinemaNow's been doing this for ages. Along with MovieLink, CinemaNow was one of the first digital distributors to sign deals with major Hollywood studios. (MovieLink had a bit of a leg up, since it's co-owned by several of those studios).

CinemaNow's not resting on its laurels. The company today launched a partnership with Microsoft to bring CinemaNow content to Windows Media Center. That means you can browser and purchase or rent videos using a remote control and a 10 foot interface. CinemaNow has over 3400 feature films, 3000 TV episodes, and 2900 music videos in its library.

If you don't notice the CinemaNow icon in the "more TV" section of Windows Media Center right away, try going into settings and forcing Windows Media Center to download updates.

CinemaNow isn't the first company to launch an MCE application. MovieLink and Vongo have had a position in the Showcase section of Windows Vista MCE for some time.

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NetflixMC: Support for media extenders coming soon (maybe)

by Brad Linder, posted Apr 2nd 2008 3:27PM

Like the idea of being able to watch streaming video from Netflix on your Windows Media Center, but wish it would work with your media extender device? It looks like the developer behind NetflixMC, a Media Center plugin for watching Netflix Watch Now videos has managed to get the pllugin to work with his media extender. But not without spending quite a bit of time tweaking the application.

It's not clear at this point whether media extender support will be included in a future release, because it's possible that the solution he came up with only works on his particular system and it's not clear if it can be automated.

For anyone who got lost in the first paragraph, a media center extender is a set top box that connects to your main Windows Media Center computer over a home network. So if you have one PC that you use to record and store TV, you can place extenders in other rooms in the house that will let you watch recorded TV shows and other content. In other words, some people don't have a PC in their living room, they just have an extender box, which is why it's pretty significant that someone figured out a way to stream Netflix videos over one.

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Yougle 0.4.0 brings YouTube, Flickr to Vista Media Center

by Brad Linder, posted Mar 18th 2008 9:02AM
Yougle 0.4.0
Yougle developer Steven Harding has released a major update to his Windows Media Center plugin which lets you access online video and image sites like YouTube, Soapbox, and Flickr. Yougle 0.4.0 includes a slew of new features including an improved menu layout, improved parental controls (and an option to enable adult video channels if you're not worried about that kind of thing), and a slew of other updates, including:
  • Yougle 0.4.0 automatically saves your data more frequently so you don't have to worry about losing your saved filters or other information in the event of a crash
  • New content sources have been added
  • Google Video has been removed from the list of sources, due to problems with playback
Youtle 0.4.0 beta is available as a free download.

[via Ian Dixon]

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Save $100 on Linksys media extenders

by Brad Linder, posted Mar 14th 2008 12:29PM
Linksys media extender with DVDIf you've been meaning to pick up a new version 2 Windows Media Center Extender but you've been waiting for the price to drop by, oh say, $100 you might want to pull out your wallet. Michael Walker at The Green Button forums has discovered a promotional code that will knock $100 off the price of two different Linksys media extenders available from Amazon.

The Linksys Media Extender normally runs $250, while the version with a DVD player goes for $300. But if you use the promo code MSFTDEAL when you checkout, you can get the former for $150 and the latter for $200.

In case you're not familiar with Media Center Extenders, basically you can plop one of these boxes down by your TV set and hook it up to your home network via a wired or 802.11b/g/n connection. Then you can access all sorts of content stored on your Windows Vista PC elsewhere in the house. That includes live and recorded TV programs, photos, and music.

[via Chris Lanier]

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More ways to stream Netflix videos on your Media Center PC

by Brad Linder, posted Feb 14th 2008 5:27PM

MyNetflix isn't the only Windows Media Center plugin for watching streaming movies from Netflix. Well, not for long anyway. NetflixMC is an upcoming plugin that will work with Windows Vista Media Center and Windows XP MCE. MyNetflix is Vista only.

NetflixMC lacks some of the features of MyNetflix, like the ability to manage your queue. Pretty much all you can use NetflixMC for is finding and viewing "Watch Now" movies from the Netflix web site. But the application's slick interface makes up for its limited feature set. Not to mention that it's nice to see a developer who hasn't forgotten about Windows XP users. Most of the cool new applications I've seen in the last few months have been Vista specific.

Independent developer Ryan Gray is also working on a Netflix Watch Now plugin for MeediOS, an alternate media center for computers running Windows. You can check out a video of his MeeFlix plugin in action after the jump, or read more about it at the MeediOS forums.

[via Chris Lanier and Missing Remote]

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Media Center plugin tells Facebook contacts what you're watching

by Brad Linder, posted Feb 13th 2008 4:01PM
Facebook Media Center
If you're the sort of person who doesn't do anything without updating your Facebook status first to let all of your friends know that you're eating dinner, heading to work, reading a book, or updating your Facebook status, have I got a Windows Media Center plugin for you.

Developer Jussi Palo whipped up a little Facebook application that will automatically update your Facebook status to reflect what you're watching with Windows Vista Media Center. If you're watching a program called "News," your status will be set to ".. is watching News." If you're watching a DVD or listening to music, that will show up too.

In order to run install the Facebook Media Center plugin you'll need to download an executable file to your Windows Vista machine, run the installer, and reboot your system. Then you need to login to Facebook. Everything else happens in the background. Unfortunately you're login information won't be remembered, so you may have to login to Facebook every time you restart your PC.

[via Ian Dixon]

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MyNetflix plugin for Windows Media Center adds "watch now" feature

by Brad Linder, posted Feb 11th 2008 11:03AM
Anthony Park has released a new plugin for Windows Vista Media Center that lets you watch streaming videos from Netflix. But that's just the tip of the iceberg. MyNetflix also lets you manage your Netflix queue, browse movies by genre, new titles, top 100, or pretty much any other criteria, view your history and recommendations, and browse and play "watch now" videos.

MyNetflix is the evolution of the streaming plugin I told you about a few weeks ago. Developer Anthony Park has picked up on the work started by Ryan Hurst, and added the pretty MCML interface that makes MyNetflix look like it really belongs in Windows Vista Media Center.

MyNetflix is available as a public beta. As such, don't be surprised if not everything works perfectly. But development on the project has been pretty rapid, so I'd expect any major bugs to be stamped out pretty quickly. And of course, make sure to submit your bug reports to Park.

Incidentally, there's also a new plugin for SageTV that lets users of that media center suite browse and view Netflix videos as well.

[via Chris Lanier and Brent Evans]

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Niveus releases Media Center Companion software

by Brad Linder, posted Feb 3rd 2008 1:57PM
Niveus Media CenterNiveus has publicly released its Media Center Companion software for Windows Vista Media Center, which lets you control Windows Vista Media Center using a second PC as a virtual remote control.

I first looked at the MCC software back in October when it was in beta. At the time, I was pretty certain Niveus was going to slap a price tag on the final version, but it turns out it's still free.

The Niveus Media Center Companion comes in two versions. The basic version is available for anyone with Windows Vista, while the full version requires a Niveus branded computer. The full version includes controls for media extenders and television features. But the basic version will let you control your picture and music libraries. Probably the coolest feature is the on-screen remote control that essentially lets you control your entire Windows Vista Media Center system without buying a separate remote. You know, if you happen to have a spare computer lying around.

The software comes in two parts: a server which you set up on your Windows Vista computer and the companion software which can run on any Windows XP or Vista machine. It's great for laptops or UMPCs.

[via Chris Lanier]

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Ikanos software lets you control your PC with an iPhone/Windows Mobile

by Brad Linder, posted Dec 22nd 2007 3:57PM
iPhone SideShowOne of the coolest features in Windows Vista (for Media Center users anyway) is SideShow. This new protocol lets you interact with your PC from a secondary device. For example, there are a handful of pricey remote controls that let you browse your media library and play music or movies without turning on your primary display. But these are niche devices for serious home theater enthusiasts who are willing to spend over a hundred dollars on a remote control.

But what if you could turn your PDA or cellphone into a SideShow device? We've been hearing for ages that Microsoft plans to add SideShow features to Windows Mobile devices, but it looks like Ikanos Consulting has beat them to the punch. The company is beta testing its Go Gadgets software that lets you use any Windows Mobile 5.0/6 phone or PDA as a SideShow device. That means you can use it as a remote control, or if you're away from home, you can schedule TV recordings, check a grocery list, or access other features on your home PC.

Ikanos is also developing an iPhone compatible version of its software. While turning an Apple product into a Windows SideShow device might sound a bit crazy, it actually makes a lot of sense. Ikanos is developing a web-based service for interacting with Windows Vista SideShow. And since Apple's vision for the iPhone was all about web-based software applications, all Ikanos has to do is ensure that their service works well with the iPhone's Safari browser. The iPhone application isn't available for download yet, but you can grab a beta of the Windows Mobile by emailing Ikanos at beta _at_ ikanosconsulting.com.

Check out a video demonstration of the Windows Mobile software after the jump.

[via Mobility Site]

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Ricavision launches pricey SideShow-enabled PC remotes

by Brad Linder, posted Dec 3rd 2007 11:31AM
Ricavision SideShow remotesHow much would you be willing to pay for an attractive remote control that lets you interact with your media center PC even when your monitor or TV set is turned off? If you said upward of $250, have I got the remote control for you.

Sure, you can pick up a low end PC for less these days, but... yeah, I've got no but. That's just a lot of money any way you slice it. Still, if you've got $274 burning a hole in your pocket, you can preorder Ricavision's new VAVE100 SideShow remote control.

What makes the VAVE100 so special?
  • Universal learning remote control capable of controlling over 20 different devices from 50 feet away via IR
  • BlueTooth enabled with support for audio streaming
  • 2.4 inch 240 x 320 pixel LCD display
  • Windows Media Center support
  • SideShow support (meaning you can use it as a secondary display for a Vista PC
The VAVE100 won't actually be available until late February. Ricavision is also announcing the VAVE50 remote control with support for Windows Vista Media Center, but no SideShow features. It's not clear yet how much the VAVE50 will cost or when it will be available for purchase.

[via Chris Lanier]

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Windows Vista SideShow coming to Windows Mobile?

by Brad Linder, posted Nov 23rd 2007 9:00PM
Windows Mobile SideShowOne of the coolest underutilized features of Windows Vista is SideShow. Essentially, SideShow lets you access certain Vista feature from a secondary display. For example, check your email or calendar on your laptop without actually opening your lid. Or better yet, schedule a recording in Windows Media Center using a touch panel on the front of your PC case.

But very few hardware makers have really taken advantage of SideShow. We don't see it in many media center remote controls, which is where it would really come in handy for a PVR nut.

But the::unwired suggests that we could be seeing a whole lot more SideShow action soon if Microsoft develops a SideShow application for Windows Mobile. Suddenly your phone or PDA could turn into an awesome remote control for your Windows Media Center. You'd be able to play music, schedule recordings, or perform other basic actions without turning your TV on.

There've been inklings that Microsoft was going to launch a Windows Mobile version of SideShow since May. But now that Microsoft has released a new SideShow SDK that features support for QVGA screens and Bluetooth (read: features that many Windows Mobile devices already have), we wouldn't be surprised if a full release was just around the corner.

[via Engadget]

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