All posts tagged XBMC

Windows Media Center's days are numbered

Windows Media Center’s days are numbered

(Update: Yes, you can Add Windows Media Center to Win 10! — 7/23/2016 post)

Microsoft just announced a few days ago that they are discontinuing support for Windows Media Center software in Windows 10.

Windows 7 has WMC as a free feature. Windows 8.1 has it available as a paid add-on. Support for Win 7 ends in 2020, Win 8.1 in 2023.

If you try to run WMC under Win 10, you will get the message above.

I hate this. But Microsoft is planning to make its Xbox their replacement for WMC. Read all about in in this article at TechHive: Windows Media Center is dying. Here’s how the Xbox can replace it.

In the theater room (or maybe I should call it the media room to keep with current usage), I have a Win 7 computer with WMC software recording my shows as a DVR. A little Raspberry Pi  computer acts as my front end to the Win 7 computer to get the shows onto the TV. WMC has been very reliable.

(A Pi or another box is unnecessary if your PC has an HDMI port; just plug your Windows PC directly into your TV to use WMC. The Pi has been a bit flaky, honestly; just today I had to restore it due to its USB stick getting corrupted by a brief power outage from an exploding transformer. However, it launched me into this whole arena of home theater, and I have learned a huge amount by working with it.)

So in 5 years, WMC will no longer be supported on my old PC (it was my mom’s cast-off). I could still run it without support, but the PC would no longer get security updates from Microsoft. I suppose I could also run Windows 7 as a virtual machine under Windows 10, but that might be compounding the kludge factor a bit much, even for me. I also doubt it would be satisfactory, because the program listing data that is free as part of WMC will probably go away, too.

An alternative I tried before getting on board with WMC is the free NextPVR. It runs on Windows and works similarly with the Pi. The downside is that you need a pay subscription to program listing data from Schedules Direct or the like, which as a card-carrying cheapskate, I eschewed.

There are other ways besides NextPVR.

The free TVHeadend software runs on Kodi (the new name for XBMC, the media center software originally created for Xbox). It was the first thing I tried on the Raspberry Pi, but I couldn’t get it to recognize the Hauppauge USB TV tuner I had, so I skipped it. There is also MythTV, which I haven’t tried.

Anyway, 5 years is an eon in computer years, so I won’t worry.

My wifi-only Android 2.3.5 smartphone.

I thought it might be helpful to show you the home theater/automation apps I use. You may find only a few of relevance to your setup, but let’s just go down the list:

Roku Highlights – Shortcut to a updatable Word doc on my Google Drive. Reminds us whether our favorite or new shows are on Netflix, Amazon, Hulu Plus, or Plex.

TitanTV – Free. Displays a channel guide for the Tulsa broadcast stations we watch, my wife’s preferred digital cable channels, or the analog cable channels, The latter is particularly useful, since the only on-screen analog channel guide is the super-slow-scrolling, half-screen Channel 3.

(Cable company) Connect – Channel guide, remote DVR programming. Also administer phone service, if you have it with them, pay your bill, get support, etc.

Romoku, Roku – Two free apps to control our Roku boxes. I prefer the unofficial Romoku, but both have their pluses.

Yatse, XBMC Remote – One paid, one free app to control the Raspberry Pi running RaspBMC. I prefer Yatse, but it can be a bit confusing until you get used to it.

Plex Remote – Select a particular Plex Media Server and client (Roku box or PleXBMC) to control. Free, optional, since other controls (e.g. Roku or XBMC Remote) work as well.

My Media Center – Local broadcast TV channel changer, channel guide, and remote DVR programming for a Windows Media Center computer. $5, but worth it.

Remote Ripple – Android app version of TightVNC, lets me completely control our computers via remote view of the screen, and virtual mouse. Works surprisingly well and has been very useful.

X10 Commander – Control lights, fans, coffee maker from anywhere in the world, if you want to brew coffee remotely.

RPiController – Check the status of my Raspberry Pi, or reboot it. Comes in handy if there is no other way to get through to it.

RasPi Check – Shows vital stats of the Pi, such as CPU, GPU temperature, overclocking parameters, free memory, disk usage, etc.

JuiceSSH – Terminal client, lets me log into the Pi and monitor its processes, download files directly from the web, become superuser, etc.

Hybrid Stopwatch – Once the coffee maker is turned on with X10 Commander, start a timer to be alerted when it is ready to serve.