It’s the end of the road for Windows Media Center. Microsoft has confirmed that not only will Windows 10 not ship with the media center software built-in, but you won’t be able to pay for any sort of upgrade pack to obtain it.

Die-hard Windows Media Center fans might want to stick with an earlier version of Windows for now… or to switch to an actively-developed media center app such as Kodi, MythTV, or Media Portal.

Update: Looking for an alternative to Windows Media Center? Check out Liliputing’s run-down of other media center and DVR solutions.

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Windows Media Center made its first appearance in Windows XP Media Center more than a decade ago, offering users an optional user interface designed to be used with a TV-style remote control and to look good from about 10 feet away. Plug your PC into a TV, sit down on your couch, and you could use Windows Media Center to play music or movies, view photo slideshows, watch, pause, or record live TV (if your PC has a TV tuner), and do much more thanks to third-party plugins.

Microsoft included the software in Windows Vista and Windows 7. But when Windows 8 came around, the company removed Windows Media Center from the core operating system. Users could still pay $10 to add Media Center functionality.

Microsoft tells ZDNet’s Ed Bott that there won’t be any option for Windows Media Center at all in Windows 10 when it launches this summer. And if you upgrade a PC to Windows 10 from an earlier version of Windows, you’ll lose Media Center.

The move’s a little disappointing, but not particularly surprising. Microsoft ceased development of Media Center in 2009 at a time when home theater PCs and media center extenders were falling out of fashion and standalone internet media devices were starting to gain traction.

These days Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Google Chromecast, and other devices allow you to easily turn a TV into an internet media center for between $35 and $100. But it’s kind of disappointing to note that Microsoft is killing off Media Center just as Windows-powered TV sticks like the Intel Compute Stick are starting to hit the market.

At least there are alternative software packages for HTPC enthusiasts. But few offer one of the key features of Windows Media Center: free TV guide updates for life. If you’ve been using Windows Media Center as a DVR, you might want to stay away from new versions of Windows for a while. Microsoft will continue to support Windows 7 through 2020, which should give you plenty of time to watch all of those TV recordings you’ve got on your hard drive while you try to think of a new solution moving forward.

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30 replies on “Windows Media Center is dead, won’t be available in Windows 10”

  1. HOPEFULLY HDHomerun DVR will live up to what they are saying, because I still need WMC to watch LiveTV and being on TWC… all the damn channels are DRM. As of right now, only WMC can decode DRM channels

  2. Looks like we’re cutting the cord at exactly the right time! Without CableCard support on anything else, I guess that’s the end of SiliconDust, Ceton and others too. Shame – wish they had invested in building out apps for the Mac.

  3. They seem to have mostly switched the media center functionalities over to the Xbox. An ‘XBox Media Center’ if you will.

  4. They have not officially ruled Windows Media Center dead. At build 2015 they stated they are currently not developing WMC for W10 but may in the future. This is just another article about something not true. If only online journalist and bloggers would verify the information before publishing articles.

  5. I too am a WMC die-hard … I use it for live TV using an OTA antenna … I also use it to play movies from my HTPC (NUC i5). I would love to find an alternative … but until someone can come up with a better live TV layout than WMC I’ll stay with it … even if it is dead. This set-up paired with my Roku3 pretty well takes care of all of my needs … with no monthly Comcast cable bill.

  6. I have a feeling the reason Microsoft is not bringing media center back is because Windows 10 (and its arsenal of full-screen apps) will to be well suited enough serve as a 10-foot-interface.

    I don’t know if there will be a Windows 10 equivalent to the Windows 8 Start Screen, and I know alot of people hated it. But if there was one thing it was good for, was being a remote/keyboard friendly couch interface.

    The problem was that alot of the apps were not so remote friendly (ie: Netflix was only mouse and touch friendly).

    1. Start Screen is still there, Windows 10 just defaults on a desktop system to a more traditional desktop layout… while tablets still default to the Start Screen, but in either case you can override in the settings options to whichever you prefer…

      Keep in mind we’re starting to see the start of streaming services that are finally starting to include cable channels… eliminating the main reason to need a home DVR… though, channel selection and availability is still limited but it’s a start…

      Windows 10’s cross platform integration also means we will start to see XBox One support for media streaming (specifically Live TV streaming and PIP (picture in picture) support using Xbox One Digital TV Tuner (in 16 European countries and Australia) or a
      Hauppauge 955Q TV Tuner (available in the U.S. or Canada) attached to
      the Xbox One, allowing streaming of either cable or satellite) also becoming involved in the growing list of options… and will be able to work with SmartGlass or XBox Windows apps… and you could use the XBox controllers with your W10 device as the driver support will be native…

      Too bad I don’t own a XBox :-p

  7. I use Media Center to make my media available to my 360 and PS3. Is there anything else I can set up, index my files, keep my folder structure, and work on my game consoles? (I don’t use Plex because I want something to just stream, not transcode).

    1. The Plex DLNA client doesn’t have to transcode if your game console can natively decode the file you’re streaming. I assume that’s how you’re using WMC.

      1. Thanks for the info. Unfortunately, PLEX keep crashing my system as it tries to catalog my library. Too many files? Plus, I use my own folder based sorting system and their system of TV/MOVIE/MUSIC separation doesn’t work for my content. SO again, I’mm looking for something other than PLEX.

          1. Sorry for the late reply, but Mr Linder, you are incredible fount of knowledge!

  8. “Windows Media center is Dead”
    Good Riddance! It was about time!

    Sometimes I wonder if Windows will still be around 5 years from now.

      1. $30 a year isn’t that bad. SageTV probably used to cost that much on average if you factored in having to pay for software upgrades.

        1. Yes – I have no problem budgeting $2.50 a month for their service. I just need to know about using their recording engine on a PC instead of a NAS, if it will wake the PC to do the recording the way WMC did.

  9. From article: “These days Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Google Chromecast, and other devices allow you to easily turn a TV into an internet media center for between $35 and $100.”

    Or you can hook up a computer and use your browser for free.

  10. I used to be a die hard Media Center user for everything but I’ve gotten out of the habit since they obviously weren’t supporting it. I mean, it hasn’t gotten an update in several years. I can think of a ton of additional functionality I would suggest.

    I DO still use it for live TV, but no longer for for Netflix, music, or my local moves & TV.

    I’ve been holding out hope that they were developing an “app” version to announce. But clearly I’ll have to find a new TV solution.

  11. I am one. None of the competitors even come close. Most don’t support live TV at all, and HDHomerun in particular.

    1. I’ve been using BeyondTV for years… even though it’s been discontinued for years. Lately I’ve mostly made the jump to on-demand content from Netflix, Amazon and Hulu though, with a Fire TV Stick now serving as our primary device and our HTPC as more of a secondary system.

    1. There are. Lots of them. And with the rise of small fanless pc’s it is on a revival too…..

      1. Really? Nah, you and your imaginary “friend” barely qualify as “lots of them” LOL! XD

      2. That’s part of what is so ironic about this. Back when Microsoft first came out with WMC you needed a pretty high end computer with a high end video card and a fairly significant amount of computer skills just to get it to work. Now that almost any hardware is sufficient and setup is easy, they take away WMC!

    2. I think it’s the only computer based DVR option out there which supports Cablecard. If I’m wrong, I’d love to hear what the other options are.

      BTW, the reason for the $10 fee in Win8 was the cost of the codecs which otherwise wouldn’t be needed. A lot easier to charge the few who need it than to include them in ever version of Windows.

      1. MythTV supports non-DRM content from CableCARD-supporting devices such as the HDHomeRun Prime. Whether the lack of DRM support matters depends on provider; personally, I am able to record basic cable in HD on Comcast. I don’t know about HBO or anything like that, which I don’t subscribe to.

      2. WMC was the only application certified by CableLabs for making *recordings* of protected shows. The card-supporting boxes which stream over network (SiliconDust, Ceton) could still work with cross-platform wares such as VLC to stream/transcode, in theory. It seems the HDHR Prime won’t pipe a copy-flagged show that way, which setting is determined by your cable co (sometimes just premium channels e.g. HBO; sometimes all of them in the case of TimeWarner)

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