Windows Media Center

Windows Media Center (WMC) is a discontinued digital video recorder and media player created by Microsoft. Media Center was first introduced to Windows in 2002 on Windows XP Media Center Edition (MCE). It was included in Home Premium and Ultimate editions of Windows Vista, as well as all editions of Windows 7 except Starter and Home Basic. It was also available on Windows 8 Pro and Windows 8.1 Pro as a paid add-on, before being discontinued in Windows 10, although it can be reinstalled unofficially through a command script installer.

Media Center can play slideshows, videos and music from local hard drives, optical drives and network locations. Users can stream television programs and films through selected services such as Netflix. Content can be played back on computer monitors or on television sets through the use of devices called Windows Media Center Extenders. It is also possible to watch and pause live TV. Up to six TV tuners on a tuner card are supported simultaneously. Both standard- and high-definition unencrypted video are supported through DVB-T and ATSC standards. It is possible to view encrypted cable television channels by using an internal or external tuner that supported CableCARD.

Shortly after Windows 7's 2009 release, Microsoft disbanded the Media Center development team, thus abandoning any further software developments. Consequently, the Media Center interface remained unchanged for Windows 8 and 8.1 users. In May 2015 Microsoft announced that Windows Media Center would be discontinued on Windows 10, and that it would be removed when upgrading; but stated that those upgrading from a version of Windows that included the Media Center application would receive the paid Windows DVD Player app for free to maintain DVD playback functionality.[1]

Windows Media Center
Windows Media Center logo
Windows Media Center on Windows 8 Pro.
Windows Media Center on Windows 8 Pro.
Developer(s)Microsoft
Operating systemWindows NT
ReplacesDVD Player (Windows)
Replaced byWindows DVD Player (Windows 10)
TypeDigital video recorder and media player
Websitewww.microsoft.com/windows/windows-media-center/

Version history

Windows XP Media Center Edition

Windows Media Center, codenamed "Freestyle", was first included with Windows XP Media Center Edition.

Windows Vista

A new version of the WMC was included in the Home Premium and Ultimate Windows Vista editions. The user interface was redesigned and tailored for the 16:9 aspect ratio. Support for multiple tuners was added in later releases and varies depending upon the version of the operating system purchased. Support for many Windows Media Center Extender hardware devices, that had been released pre-Vista, was also dropped leaving many owners out of luck if they did not upgrade to one of the supported Windows Vista versions from the Windows XP Media Center Edition. Also introduced to U.S. users was Internet TV, which allows access to streaming content through WMC. It also allows video game content.

Each button in the main menu, which contains sections such as "Music", "Videos", and "TV", gets encased in a box when selected, and for each selection, a submenu comes up, extending horizontally. When any of the options is selected, the entries for each are presented in a grid-like structure, with each item being identified by album art, if it is an audio file, or a thumbnail image if it is a picture, a video or a TV recording, and other related options, such as different views for the music collection if "Music" is selected, extend horizontally along the top of the grid. Similarly, other items are identified by suggestive artwork. The grid displaying the items is also extended horizontally, and the selected item is enlarged compared to the rest. Other features of the WMC include:

  • Support for two dual-tuner cards.
  • Native DVD/MPEG-2 support.
  • Addition of Movies and DVD button which lists all the movies on the hard drive and DVD.
  • Tasks button that provides access to jobs such as setting up and configuring a media center extender device.
  • Any video playing is overlaid on the background of the user interface, if the UI is navigated while the video is still playing.
  • Support for high-definition (HD) content, and CableCARD support.
  • Uses the .NET 2.0 CLR.

Microsoft later updated WMC with a feature pack known as TV Pack 2008.[2] This release, codenamed "Fiji", was only made available via OEMs for new computers that came preinstalled with the update. It is not available as an update for existing WMC users.[3][4][5] The update tweaked the user interface, added support for digital subchannels, QAM, DVB-S and MHEG, and increased the total number of each type of tuner allowed. It used .wtv files instead of .dvr-ms.[6][7] Beta versions also supported H.264 format but this feature was removed upon release to manufacturing.[8]

Windows 7

An updated version of the WMC was included in all the Windows 7 editions except Starter and Home Basic. Much of the functionality added with TV Pack 2008 was included with the version of Media Center included in Windows 7, along with an update to the user interface.[9]

The WMC has retained much of the design and feel of its predecessor, but with a variety of user interface shortcuts and browsing capabilities.[10] Playback of H.264 video both locally and through a Media Center Extender (including the Xbox 360) is supported.

Some notable enhancements in the WMC include a new mini guide, a new scrub bar, the option to color code the guide by show type, and Internet content that is more tightly integrated with regular TV via the guide. All Windows 7 versions now support up to four tuners of each type (QAM, ATSC, CableCARD, NTSC, etc.).

When browsing the media library, items that don't have album art are shown in a range of foreground and background color combinations instead of using white text on a blue background. When the left or right remote control buttons are held down to browse the library quickly, a two-letter prefix of the current album name is prominently shown as a visual aid. The Picture Library includes new slideshow capabilities, and individual pictures can be rated.

Also, while browsing a media library, a new column appears at the top named "Shared." This allows users to access shared media libraries on other Media Center PCs from directly within Media Center.

For television support, the Windows Media Center "TV Pack" released by Microsoft in 2008 is incorporated into the WMC. This includes support for CableCARD and North American (ATSC) clear QAM tuners, as well as creating lists of favorite stations.[11]

A gadget for the WMC is also included.[12]

The Public folder also contains a hidden Recorded TV library that appears in the Windows Explorer sidepane when TV is set up in Media Center for the first time.

Windows 8 and 8.1

The WMC was not included with any of Windows 8 editions.[13] Instead, it was part of a Windows 8 Media Center Pack add-on available only for retail versions[14] Windows 8 Pro, and Windows 8 Pro Pack that upgrades Windows 8 to Windows 8 Pro[15] available through the Add features to Windows 8 service. The Windows 8 Pro Pack was available for US$69.99,[16] while the Windows 8 Media Center Pack was available at no charge from October 26, 2012, until January 31, 2013, as a promotion to encourage users to upgrade to Windows 8.[17] After the promotion, the price of the Windows 8 and 8.1 Media Center Pack changed to US$9.99,[16] until it was discontinued on October 30, 2015.[18]

The WMC cannot run on startup or on top of other windows because of "new Windows OS requirements and behaviors".[19][20]

Discontinuation

During the 2015 Build developers' conference, a Microsoft executive confirmed that Media Center, with its TV receiver and PVR functionality, would not be updated for or included with Windows 10, thus the product would be discontinued. Those upgrading to Windows 10 from a version of Windows that included the Media Center application would receive the paid Windows DVD Player app for free to maintain DVD playback functionality[1] after the first Windows Update.[21][22]

Some users who wanted Microsoft to provide an official port of the Windows Media Center for Windows 10 created two change.org petitions and sent thousands of requests to Microsoft via their Windows Feedback app included with Windows 10.

Electronic Program Guide

In early July 2015, Microsoft announced that the Electronic Program Guide (EPG) for Windows Media Center was being updated on July 7, 2015 with new video data packages.[23][24] This update to the EPG changed the service provider from Zap2It to Rovi. Since the update a large number of reports have been posted to the Microsoft Media Center Feedback page[25] indicating that the EPG data feed from Rovi has significant data quality issues relating to incorrect channel lineups, outdated and incorrect program data and failure to download the EPG data from Rovi through Microsoft's servers. This update was not given to the early Insider Preview builds of Windows 10 even though they included the WMC.

Features

Media Center uses TV tuner devices to play back and record TV shows from standard antenna, cable or satellite signals. Users can record television programs manually or schedule recording via the electronic program guide. Recordings can be burned to Video DVD or, barring copy restrictions, be transferred to a portable media player. Media Center supports both analog and digital tuners and allows up to six of each tuner type (analog, digital terrestrial, Clear QAM, CableCard) to be configured. All the tuners use the same guide data but it can be edited and configured to include additional channels such as Clear QAM not found or included in most Titan Guides. While playing live television, the program keeps a buffer that allows users to rewind or pause live TV and skip commercials. A third party program MCEbuddy allows automatic commercial skipping on recorded programs.

Media Center can stream both live and recorded contents to Windows Media Center Extenders such as the Xbox 360 console, but other Windows computers can just access recorded content. Playback of content on television is possible through Media Center Extenders or by directly connecting a computer running Windows Media Center to a television. The menus of Windows Media Center are displayed in a 10-foot user interface suitable for viewing on large screen televisions and can be navigated using various remote controls. Windows Media Center PCs require a sensor to be able to interact with the remote control. To advertise Media Center support, remote controls must also have certain buttons such as the Green Media Center logo Start button and buttons for navigation, playback and volume controls, power and channel flipping.[26][27]

Media file support

Windows Media Center organizes and displays videos and music found on both local and networked computers. Music albums are arranged with accompanying album art that can be downloaded off the Internet automatically or added manually into Media Center. Users can create playlists of different songs or albums as well. While playing music, the user can pause and fast forward songs and view visualizations. Analog FM radio support is also available if the user's TV tuner supports it.

Media Center allows users to browse pictures and play them in slideshows, as well as play video files. Media can be categorized by name, date, tags, and other file attributes. In addition, users can organize and play films through the "Movie Library" feature introduced in Windows Vista Media Center. Through the "Internet TV" feature, users can also stream television and web shows from select content providers.

CableCard support

Windows Vista Media Center introduced support for CableCard devices. However, CableCard was only supported on OEM hardware that had been certified by CableLabs.[28] Windows 7 Media Center supports adding CableCard to existing hardware, provided the hardware meets certain requirements.[29] Shortly after the release of Windows 7, Microsoft released the Digital Cable Advisor tool to verify that the requirements are met before activating CableCard support.[30]

Portable devices

Windows Media Center allows synchronization with certain portable devices. These devices include Windows Mobile Pocket PCs, smartphones, Portable Media Centers and other players that can sync with Windows Media Player. Microsoft's Zune cannot use the sync function, but can play Media Center recorder TV files when they are copied to a Zune monitored folder.

While synchronizing television shows, Windows Media Center encodes the shows using Windows Media Encoder to a Windows Media Video format at a lower quality than the original format used for viewing on the desktop media center. This is to complement the limited storage space and processing power of such portable devices. Optionally, music can also be re-encoded to a smaller file size upon synchronization.

Application development

Windows Media Center was designed as a programmable platform; other programs can tie into the Media Center UI using the WMC API, which is provided as a managed API. The functionality of Windows Media Center can be extended by three different types of applications:[31]

Presentation Layer Applications

These are managed applications written using the WMC API and packaged as CLI assemblies. Presentation Layer applications can have full access to both the .NET Framework as well as the Windows Media Center API, with the latter exposing a managed object model to access and manipulate the current states of the media management and playback, live television, video recording as well as the presentation capabilities of Windows Media Center. Presentation Layer applications are rendered using the bitmap-based Windows Media Center Presentation Layer, the user-input and presentation system of WMC. Presentation Layer includes support for animations, dynamic layout, keyboard/mouse as well as remote navigation. Presentation Layer applications can be streamed over RDP to Windows Media Center Extenders; so Presentation Layer applications run on the extenders without any modification. Presentation Layer, however, exists only in the Windows Vista version of WMC.[31][32]

Presentation Layer applications are created using an XML based declarative markup language, known as Media Center Markup Language (MCML). MCML is used to define the user interface, with animation, text input, navigation, data binding, and local storage support available from the markup itself. If custom code or other functionality is required to implement a certain feature, CLI assemblies can be referred. Any CLI language can be used to write the code-behind assemblies that implement the required functionality. An MCML document defines the interface as a collection of UI elements, each exposing four attributes: Content which defines what that UI element will display, Properties to control the presentation aspects of the element, Locals which enumerate the set of private state data for the element, and Rules which allow the attributes to be modified based on certain triggers. By modifying these attributes at runtime, either from markup or code behind classes, the interface is generated.[33]

Presentation Layer applications can either be locally installed, or downloaded from the web as necessary. However, in the latter case, the code is untrusted; only the .NET classes that are marked as safe for use by Internet-originating code can be used. Before an application can be used, it has to be registered with Windows Media Center. An application can either register itself as a top-level menu item, in any of the sub-menus (depending on the type of application), as an autoplay handler, into the Program Library (the menu category for all programs), or as a background application without a user interface running as long as a WMC session continues.[34][35]

XAML Browser Application

WMC can also act as host for XAML Browser Applications (XBAP), which are rendered in the WMC UI itself. XBAPs are rendered using the vector-based resolution-independent Windows Presentation Foundation component of .NET Framework 3.0. XBAPs have their UI written in XAML with code behind in any .NET language. XBAPs are also limited to Windows Vista. WMC provides limited support for streaming XBAPs to Windows Media Center Extenders. XBAPs have been declared deprecated in Windows Media Center SDK version 5.3.

Hosted HTML Applications

WMC can host Internet Explorer within its own UI (using WMC UI widgets) and can display web pages and web applications. This feature is supported in both Windows XP and Windows Vista. Web applications written specifically for being hosted in WMC can use a subset of the WMC API which is exposed via JavaScript. HTML applications are also not fully supported for streaming to extenders.

See also

References

  1. ^ a b Paul, Ian (July 29, 2015). "How to play DVDs in Windows 10 for free". PCWorld. IDG.
  2. ^ "Error message when you open Windows Media Center TV Pack and tune to a channel that is listed in the Electronic Program Guide: 'No TV Signal' (Revision: 2.5)". Microsoft Support. Microsoft Corporation. July 17, 2008. Retrieved December 31, 2010.
  3. ^ "Microsoft Corp removes 'Fiji' from Windows". The Fiji Times Online. Fiji Times Limited. June 28, 2008. Retrieved December 31, 2010.
  4. ^ Lanier, Chris (August 8, 2008). "Microsoft Makes Fiji Official, TV Pack for OEMs Only". Chris Lanier MVP blog. Microsoft. Retrieved December 31, 2010.
  5. ^ Price, Christopher (November 1, 2008). "Vista Service Pack 2 Lacks Media Center TV Pack 2008". Christopher Price blog. Retrieved December 2, 2008.
  6. ^ Drawbaugh, Ben (July 5, 2008). "No DirecTV HD for Windows Vista Media Center until 2010?". Engadget HD. AOL. Retrieved December 31, 2010.
  7. ^ Drawbaugh, Ben (July 17, 2008). "Windows Media Center TV Pack was released yesterday". Engadget HD. AOL. Retrieved December 31, 2010.
  8. ^ Foley, Mary Jo (August 5, 2008). "Microsoft sending mixed messages about Windows futures with 'Fiji'?". ZDNet. CBS Interactive. Retrieved December 31, 2010.
  9. ^ Drawbaugh, Ben (July 27, 2009). "Windows 7 Media Center Review". Engadget HD. AOL. Retrieved December 31, 2010.
  10. ^ Owen, Charlie (October 28, 2008). "Windows Media Center in the PDC Build of Windows 7". Microsoft. Retrieved November 11, 2008.
  11. ^ Drawbaugh, Ben (August 6, 2008). "Hands-on with the Vista Media Center TV Pack". Engadget HD. Retrieved November 11, 2008.
  12. ^ Thurrott, Paul (October 6, 2010). "Windows 7 Feature Focus: Windows Gadgets". SuperSite for Windows. Penton. Retrieved June 15, 2015.
  13. ^ LeBlanc, Brandon (April 16, 2012). "Windows Team Blog: Announcing the Windows 8 Editions". Blogging Windows. Microsoft.
  14. ^ ""Add features" option is unavailable in volume license versions of Windows 8". Support. Microsoft. December 21, 2012.
  15. ^ Caldas, Bernardo; Averett, Linda (May 4, 2012). Sinofsky, Steven (ed.). "Making Windows Media Center available in Windows 8". Building Windows 8. Microsoft.
  16. ^ a b "How to add Windows Media Center to Windows 8 free of charge". Retrieved September 5, 2016.
  17. ^ "Running Windows 8 Pro? Get the Windows 8 Media Center Pack for Free!". December 10, 2012. Retrieved September 5, 2016.
  18. ^ "Windows 8 and 8.1 Pro Pack and Media Pack are No Longer Available to Buy". Support.Microsoft.com. Retrieved September 6, 2016.
  19. ^ "Windows 8 Release Preview - Media Centre Issue?". Microsoft. June 4, 2012. Retrieved June 24, 2012.
  20. ^ Drawbaugh, Ben (June 23, 2012). "Two more nails in the coffin for Media Center, start-up options and tuner certification". Engadget. Aol. Retrieved June 24, 2012.
  21. ^ Sams, Brad (May 2, 2015). "Windows Media Center is dead". Neowin. Retrieved May 3, 2015.
  22. ^ Bott, Ed (May 2, 2015). "R.I.P., Windows Media Center". CNET. CBS Interactive. Retrieved May 3, 2015.
  23. ^ "Electronic Program Guide (EPG) for Media Center updated". Microsoft Support. July 2015. Retrieved July 16, 2015.
  24. ^ Josh Pollard. "Microsoft Breathes New Life into Media Center Guide". The Digital Media Zone. Retrieved July 16, 2015.
  25. ^ "Microsoft Connect". MEDIA CENTER PROGRAM GUIDE DATA FEEDBACK. Microsoft. Retrieved July 16, 2015.
  26. ^ "Understanding Mouse, Keyboard, Remote Control, and Touch Input". MSDN. Microsoft. Retrieved December 31, 2010.
  27. ^ "Required Remote Control Buttons". MSDN. Microsoft. Retrieved December 31, 2010.
  28. ^ Anderson, Nate (January 31, 2006). "CableCARD certification rules out home-built Windows MCE boxes, possibly other DIY solutions". Ars Technica. Condé Nast. Retrieved November 7, 2012.
  29. ^ "Microsoft Enhances the Digital Cable Experience and Names 2009 Windows Media Center Ultimate Install Winner". News Center. Microsoft. September 9, 2009. Retrieved November 7, 2012.
  30. ^ "The Cable Chronicles: Win7 Digital Cable Advisor Released". AnandTech. Retrieved November 7, 2012.
  31. ^ a b "Windows Media Center SDK: Choosing a Technology". MSDN. Microsoft Corporation. Retrieved December 31, 2010.
  32. ^ "Windows Media Center Presentation Layer Applications". MSDN. Microsoft Corporation. Retrieved December 31, 2010.
  33. ^ "Working with Media Center Markup Language". MSDN. Microsoft Corporation. Retrieved December 31, 2010.
  34. ^ "Creating, Installing, and Running a Windows Media Center Presentation Layer Application". MSDN. Microsoft Corporation. Retrieved December 31, 2010.
  35. ^ "Associating Application Entry Points with Integration Locations". MSDN. Microsoft Corporation. Retrieved December 31, 2010.

External links

Comparison of DVR software packages

This is a comparison of digital video recorder (DVR), also known as personal video recorder (PVR), software packages. Note: this is may be considered a comparison of DVB software, not all listed packages have recording capabilities.

DVD Player (Windows)

DVD Player is an app developed by Microsoft that plays DVD-Video on Microsoft Windows. DVD Player was introduced in Windows 98, and was included in Windows ME and Windows 2000 before removal from Windows XP and beyond. After Windows XP, DVD playback was built into other apps such as Windows Media Player and Windows Media Center instead. Following the discontinuation of Media Center in Windows 10 and the removal of DVD codecs from Windows 8, DVD Player was reintroduced to Windows 10 as a Windows Store app.

Front Row (software)

Front Row is a discontinued media center software application for Apple's Macintosh computers and Apple TV for navigating and viewing video, photos, podcasts, and music from a computer, optical disc, or the Internet through a 10-foot user interface (similar to Kodi and Windows Media Center). The software relies on iTunes and iPhoto and is controlled by an Apple Remote or the keyboard function keys. The first version was released October 2005, with two major revisions since. Front Row was removed and discontinued in Mac OS X 10.7.

HDHomeRun

HDHomeRun is a network-attached digital television tuner box, produced by the company SiliconDust USA, Inc..

HP MediaSmart Connect

HP MediaSmart Connect is a digital media player that streams or syncs media from other personal computers in an area with Wi-Fi connectivity to be played and accessed on a television screen.

It utilizes Windows Media Center Extender for the television user interface of the MediaSmart Connect box.

It is also part of Hewlett-Packard's current MediaSmart brand, alongside HP MediaSmart Server and HP MediaSmart TV.

Image Mastering API

The Image Mastering Application Programming Interface, or IMAPI, is a component of Microsoft Windows operating system used for CD and DVD authoring and recording.

Windows applications such as Windows Media Player, Windows Media Center, Windows Movie Maker, Windows DVD Maker, and Windows Explorer use IMAPI to create ISO images and "burn" discs. Windows refers to discs created using IMAPI as Mastered burns in contrast to the term, Live File System which implies packet writing and does not use IMAPI.

List of features removed in Windows 8

Windows 8 is a version of Windows NT and the successor of Windows 7. Several features which are present on Windows Vista and Windows 7 are no longer present on Windows 8.

MediaPortal

MediaPortal is an open-source media player and digital video recorder software project, often considered an alternative to Windows Media Center. It provides a 10-foot user interface for performing typical PVR/TiVo functionality, including playing, pausing, and recording live TV; playing DVDs, videos, and music; viewing pictures; and other functions. Plugins allow it to perform additional tasks, such as watching online video, listening to music from online services such as Last.fm, and launching other applications such as games. It interfaces with the hardware commonly found in HTPCs, such as TV tuners, infrared receivers, and LCD displays.

The MediaPortal source code was initially forked from XBMC (now Kodi), though it has been almost completely re-written since then. MediaPortal is designed specifically for Microsoft Windows, unlike most other open-source media center programs such as MythTV and Kodi, which are usually cross-platform.

Multimedia Class Scheduler Service

Multimedia Class Scheduler Service (MMCSS) is a Windows service that allows multimedia applications to get prioritized access to CPU for time-sensitive processing (such as multimedia applications) as well as prioritized disc access to ensure that the process is not starved of data to process. The MMCSS service monitors the CPU load and dynamically adjusts priority so that the application can use as much CPU time as possible without denying CPU to lower priority applications. MMCSS uses heuristics to determine the relative priority required for the task the thread is performing and dynamically adjusts priority based on that. A thread must invoke MMCSS explicitly to use its services by calling the AvSetMmMaxThreadCharacteristics() or AvSetMmThreadCharacteristics() APIs.

MMCSS is used by the multimedia applications in Windows Vista, including Windows Media Player and Windows Media Center to provide glitch-free audio playback.

MythTV

MythTV is a free and open-source home entertainment application with a simplified "10-foot user interface" design for the living room TV. It turns a computer with the necessary hardware into a network streaming digital video recorder, a digital multimedia home entertainment system, or home theater personal computer. It can be considered a free and open-source alternative to TiVo or Windows Media Center. It runs on various operating systems, primarily Linux, macOS, and FreeBSD.

Portable Media Center

Portable Media Center (PMC) is a defunct hard drive-based portable media player (PMP) platform developed by Microsoft. Announced at the 2003 Consumer Electronics Show (CES), and released in early 2004, it was originally positioned as a competitor to Apple's iPod.The platform was conceived in line with Microsoft's Windows Media Center strategy, where the idea was to have a single media management interface that would be used on both PCs and in consumer devices, including televisions and handhelds. The strategy was developed by Microsoft's Windows Embedded group in partnership with the eHome Division, which formed in February 2001 and started partnerships with companies like Samsung with the goal to "develop new technologies so consumers can enjoy whole-home entertainment, communications and control experiences where, when and however they want them" and "develop an entire ecosystem of PCs, digital devices, intelligent home appliances and services that will easily and cost-effectively transform average households into next-generation digital homes." The Windows Media Center name was created with the release of a Windows XP product edition, Windows XP Media Center Edition, geared towards this ecosystem.Codenamed Media2Go, it was later rebranded as Windows Mobile software for Portable Media Centers, before being named Portable Media Center. Its operating system was a specialized version of Windows CE,. In 2007, Microsoft discontinued licensing the platform.

The first Portable Media Center product released was the Creative's Zen Portable Media Center. All PMCs are able to play audio files in MP3 and display images in JPEG. Also, they support Microsoft's proprietary formats: Windows Media Audio (WMA) and Windows Media Video (WMV). Other video formats will either be supported by each individual PMC, or transcoded though Windows Media Player. Media Transfer Protocol (MTP) is used for transferring data.

All players use a graphical user interface (GUI) modeled after Media Center, a software portal bundled with Windows XP Media Center Edition.

Manufacturers include Creative, Philips, iriver, Samsung, and Toshiba.

The Portable Media Center was succeeded by Zune, and served as the basis for its software. Zune had similar aims to provide a unifying media platform across PCs, devices, and televisions (3-screen strategy).

Sky Go

Sky Go (formerly known as Sky Player, Sky Anytime on PC and Sky By Broadband) is an online television service from Sky which launched in January 2006. The service allows users to watch live and on demand video content from their Mac, Windows PC, mobile phone, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PlayStation 3 or PlayStation 4 via a broadband or Wi-Fi internet connection. On demand content comprises sports highlights, latest news, movies and TV programmes. Content is viewable for a limited amount of time and is protected by digital rights management software provided by Microsoft and the NDS Group, and therefore cannot be copied to disc or viewed beyond the date carried by its license. The service is available at no extra cost to existing Sky TV customers, with accessible content depending on the subscriber's Sky package. Non-Sky TV customers can access the service by subscribing on a pay-per-view basis.

Sky Go is viewable on up to two devices, with the ability to increase this to four devices with Sky Go Extra for a monthly fee. The now-deprecated Microsoft Silverlight 3.0 browser plug-in is required to play content on computers. Due to viewing rights, certain programmes are not available to watch via Sky Go, and are 'blacked out' from the schedule. To have access to the full selection of live TV channels available on Sky Go, users will need a subscription to the relevant TV packages that correspond to the available channels.

Windows 8 editions

Windows 8 was released with four editions, with varying feature sets. The editions each with varied features are called Core, Pro, Enterprise, and RT. There are versions of these that features modified for legal or marketing reasons.

Windows Anytime Upgrade

Windows Anytime Upgrade is a discontinued component of Windows Vista and Windows 7 that enabled users to upgrade their editions of Windows (e.g., from Home Basic to Ultimate). Pricing for upgrades purchased through Anytime Upgrade was also reduced when compared with traditional retail packaging. In Windows 8 and Windows 8.1, the feature was re-branded as Add features to Windows and was used to purchase an upgrade license to the Pro edition of the operating system or to add Windows Media Center to an existing Pro edition installation. However, support for this feature in Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 was dropped on October 31, 2015.

Windows Live TV

Windows Live for TV (codenamed Orbit, previously Nemo) is a Windows Media Center application that was part of Microsoft's Windows Live services. It provides users to access Windows Live Spaces, Messenger, and Call on their large-screen monitors or TVs using their PC.

The goal of Windows Live for TV was to bring social networking to a new form factor that is both intuitive and fun to use. The application is built using Windows Presentation Foundation (.NET Framework 3.0) and runs within Windows Media Center or directly in Windows Vista's Internet Explorer 7.0 browser.

Planned features of Windows Live for TV included:

Browse Windows Live Spaces in 3D graphics with new "Gallery" views and full keyword search

Real-time text and voice conversations with Windows Live Messenger

Call your friends' mobile or landline telephones with Windows Live Call to make affordable domestic and international calls

Make free PC-to-PC calls to other Windows Live Messenger users

Easily navigate with a mouse, keyboard or a TV remote (remote navigation requires Windows Media Center Remote and Infrared Adapter)Although beta versions of this service have been released, only Spaces functionality is available. A Program Manager has stated that development has ceased, and the service will be shut down on June 24, 2008. The Windows Live for TV team blog has not been updated for a year, while the WPF/XBAP technology used in Windows Live for TV was deprecated by Microsoft in Windows Media Center SDK 5.3.

Windows Media

Windows Media is a discontinued multimedia framework for media creation and distribution for Microsoft Windows. It consists of a software development kit (SDK) with several application programming interfaces (API) and a number of prebuilt technologies, and is the replacement of NetShow technologies.

The Windows Media SDK is replaced by Media Foundation.

Windows Media Center Extender

Windows Media Center Extenders (officially "Extender for Windows Media Center") are devices that are configured to connect over a computer network to a computer running Microsoft Windows XP Media Center Edition, Windows Vista Home Premium/Ultimate, Windows 7 Home Premium, or Windows 8 with a Pro pack to stream the computer's media center functions to the Extender device. This allows use of the Media Center and its features (such as view photos, videos, listen to music, watch live television and use DVR functions, watch recorded TV, etc.) on a television receiver or other electronic visual display.

The advantage with these devices is that a household's primary computer, hosting Media Center, need not be near the device used for display. Additionally, with an Extender, the Media Center can be accessed at the same time by several users. The Xbox 360 gaming console has Media Center Extender functionality. The Ceton Echo is a stand-alone extender.

Windows SideShow

Windows SideShow is a technology developed by Microsoft and introduced in the Windows Vista operating system that is designed to provide information such as the number of unread e-mail messages or RSS feeds on a secondary display of a Windows-based device; displays may be integrated as part of a device itself or included as part of a separate component connected to a personal computer. SideShow integrates with the Windows Gadgets feature of Windows Vista and Windows 7 and can also integrate with applications such as Windows Media Center.SideShow has been discontinued as of Windows 8.1.

Windows XP Media Center Edition

Windows XP Media Center Edition (MCE) is a version of the Windows XP operating system which was the first version of Windows to include Windows Media Center, designed to serve as a home-entertainment hub. The last version, Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005, was released on October 12, 2004. After that, Windows Media Center was included in certain editions of later Windows versions. It was an optional, paid addition to Windows 8 and then discontinued in Windows 10.

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