Remember when Microsoft said Windows 10 wouldn’t support Windows Media Center? Well, that’s only kind of true.

While the latest version of Windows doesn’t ship with the software, it turns out you can install it… unofficially. The process for doing this isn’t officially supported by Microsoft, so there’s no way to know if it will work indefinitely. But the folks at the My Digital Life Forums have come up with the tools needed to load Microsoft’s Windows 7-style Media Center application on computers running Windows 10.

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Windows Media Center is an application for playing music or movies, watching live TV (when used on a computer with a TV tuner), or displaying photos. What makes it different from Windows Media Player, VLC, or other media players is that while you can run it in a small window, Windows Media Center is designed to run full-screen and give your computer an appliance-like user interface that can be easily navigated with a remote control while you sit on the couch.

Basically it turns your PC into a TiVo.

Microsoft introduced Media Center with a special edition of Windows XP called Windows XP Media Center Edition. The company baked the software into Windows Vista and Windows 7. But with the launch of Windows 8, Microsoft did something different: Media Center was available as an optional download for folks who purchased a “Pro Pack” or “Media Center Pack.”

When Microsoft launched Windows 10, the company announced that Media Center had been discontinued.

There are a number of alternatives, including the open source Kodi and Media Portal media center utilities. But if you have a collection of TV recordings from Windows Media Center, it could be a hassle to export them for use in a different program. And if you use a CableCard for watching and recording live TV, there aren’t many other software-based solutions.

So many home theater PC (HTPC) enthusiasts have been looking for ways to get Windows Media Center to work with Windows 10… and now it looks like you can.

Note that the installation process involves using software that used to be included in Windows for free, but which is not open source or freely available, so this might not be entirely legal. The installer will also modify your Windows registry settings, so if you’re not comfortable with that, you might want to stick with Kodi or another alternative.

That said, if you do want to install Windows Media Center, here’s how to do it: Register for a free account at the MyDigitalLife forum to view the download links for the latest version of the installer, and once you’ve downloaded the x86 or 64-bit version, follow these steps:

  1. Use Windows Explorer, 7-zip, or another utility to extract the file.
  2. Open the Start Menu, type “cmd” and then right-click on “Command Prompt” and choose “run as adminstrator.”
  3. Navigate to the directory where you’ve unzipped the installer. (If you’re unfamiliar with the command prompt, you could technically use Windows Explorer to find the files you need, right-click on them, and choose “run as administrator,” but you might not see all of the messages before they close this way).
  4. Run the _TestRights.cmd program.
  5. When it’s finished, reboot your PC.
  6. Repeat steps 2 and 3 and then run “Installer.cmd”
  7. Once that’s done you should be able to find Windows Media Center in your Start Menu.

I tested a few audio and video files, and they played perfectly. I haven’t tested the DVR capabilities of Windows Media Center on Windows 10.

Note that I did try using Windows Explorer instead of the Command Prompt the first time I ran through the steps, but I missed a note telling me to reboot my PC, which is why I’d recommend using the command line.

Want to uninstall Windows Media Center? There’s also an Uninstaller.cmd file included in the utilities.

via Windows Central



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2 replies on “How to install Windows Media Center on Windows 10 (unofficially)”

  1. I plan to test this out on my new laptop when it gets here. I’ve been pissed off since they announced the end of support back in May. I just got my HTPC setup along with a HDHomeRun Prime this year to escape the atrocious TWC rental fees. If TWC didn’t flag everything for DRM I would have rolled a Linux setup.

  2. Cool, but I still wouldn’t upgrade my old MCE machine from Win 7. Consider that what makes WMC tick on the TV and DVR sides (the only part I actually use) is the electronic program guide (EPG) that MS provides and updates constantly, for free. This is a service that on many other DVR platforms costs money. MS could easily disable this on certain ‘unauthorized’ machines or just do away with it entirely, which they probably will do eventually.

    Hey MS, if you really want everyone to upgrade to Win 10, you might want to stop removing features and crippling things we find essentially useful. I mean, WMC is THE REASON I bought and maintain that computer. And Windows 10 pointedly DOESN’T INCLUDE OR SUPPORT IT. Doesn’t exactly sound like an upgrade to me!

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