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Microsoft Breathes New Life into Media Center Guide

Update: When we initially posted this article it seemed like it would be mostly good news for Windows Media Center fans. However, a lot of people have had problems getting their guide data updated since the switch in providers. If you’re having troubles, please check out these places for troubleshooting steps and tips to fix it.

The Green Button: Media Center EPG Cutover

Microsoft Connect: Media Guide Expired



Most of the Windows Media Center news this year has focused around whether or not our favorite DVR software is being killed off. We’re obviously in the “not dead” camp. One of the primary reasons we’ve said that it isn’t dead is that Microsoft continues to make Electronic Program Guide (EPG) data available to the Media Center guide. As long as you have guide data, the DVR functionality within Media Center should continue to hum along as it has for over a decade.

Since the launch of the Xbox One console, it has included live TV control and an integrated EPG in some markets. We’ve always assumed that the Xbox was pulling that guide data from the service as Windows Media Center. Therefore, as long as the Xbox has guide data, so would Windows Media Center. We were wrong, but that’s about to change for the better! Windows Media Center has used Zap2It as it’s guide data source for years. However, the Xbox One uses Rovi. It doesn’t make sense for Microsoft to use multiple providers to get essentially the same data, so starting today Microsoft is converging their guide data.

AboutGuideRoviMicrosoft is now releasing an update that will cause Windows Media Center to retrieve electronic program guide data from Rovi, the same source being used for the Xbox One. Currently this change is only happening for customers in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, and Brazil. If you live in one of these regions your Media Center machine should display a notification informing you of the update. For some people, you won’t need to take any action at all, but for others you will. In some cases you may be required to walk through the TV Setup experience again. We’re not sure on what specifically could cause you to walk through TV Setup again, but we were told by Microsoft that it is a possibility for a small number of customers.

It’s also worth noting that you should watch the behavior of your recordings over the next few days. There’s a possibility that some series and single recordings may not record as scheduled. If this occurs, you may need to stop or cancel current scheduled recordings, then re-establish the recordings as you originally intended. This should correct the issue, though you may end up seeing affected series split into two groups in your recordings.

In most markets you really shouldn’t see much of a change. Rovi gets most of the same channel line-ups that Zap2It does. There may be some outliers though. The amount of data you receive shouldn’t change either. The goal is to continue to provide about two weeks of guide data.

This guide data provider change was unexpected, but it’s good news for Windows Media Center users. This move is geared towards providing guide data at least through the end of the support life cycle for both Windows 7 and Windows 8. That means you’ve got at least another five years before you need to try to find a replacement for your guide data, or perhaps Windows Media Center entirely. We also want to hear how the guide data change works for you. Was it a fairly seamless transition, or were you unable to get the appropriate channel line-up?

For more information, please see this Microsoft Knowledge Base article.

If you experience any unanticipated issues, you can report your issue at the Program Guide Feedback Center on Microsoft Connect.


  • Microsoft Breathes New Life into Media Center Guide

    Josh has been writing software since his parents brought home their first computer. His love for gadgets and technology eventually spurred a passion for home theater technology. After starting the DMZ, he received Microsoft’s MVP award for Windows Media Center. Even though the beloved home theater PC platform is all but dead he continues to tinker with consumer entertainment technology. He’s a life-long gamer and DIY smart home enthusiast. He co-hosts the Entertainment 2.0 podcast with Richard Gunther and the DMZ’s gaming podcast, Story Players, with Joe DeStazio.


About the author

Josh Pollard

Josh has been writing software since his parents brought home their first computer. His love for gadgets and technology eventually spurred a passion for home theater technology. After starting the DMZ, he received Microsoft’s MVP award for Windows Media Center. Even though the beloved home theater PC platform is all but dead he continues to tinker with consumer entertainment technology. He’s a life-long gamer and DIY smart home enthusiast. He co-hosts the Entertainment 2.0 podcast with Richard Gunther and the DMZ’s gaming podcast, Story Players, with Joe DeStazio.


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  • Does this update install from Windows Update or from the Guide Data update?

  • This should be an invisible change that’s managed automatically in your guide data update process. Once it’s switched over, you’ll see Rovi as the data provider instead of Zap2It if you go into the About panel in the Media Center settings for the guide.

  • I lost my last 13 HD channels when my guide switched to Rovi. WMC will not let me add them because of the cable card set up. My ceton diagnostics still show that I can tune the channel, but WMC will not because it’s not in the guide. Suggestions?

  • You may want to go through the TV signal setup process again. By selecting your provider again after the conversion, it should again find all of the channels available to you.

  • You may want to try going through the TV signal setup process in Media Center again. This should find all the channels available to your tuner.

  • It completely trashed my guide and I’ve spent 2 days now fiddling with everything imaginable. The large thread over at Green Button is full of people in the same situation.

    Odd thing is my 2nd PC is changed over to Rovi and working fine.


  • I have Windows 7 Pro, and my system still shows that it is using zap2it, which ends this Tuesday afternoon. How do I update my guide? It hasn’t happened automatically.

  • Had already went through that several times tried different zip codes etc. The problem
    is that Rovi’s data is incomplete. I have contacted Rovi and my cable company to see if they can update the EPG.

    I was able to use Guide Tool to add channels…. as a temporary fix. Hopefully they will fix the listings and I can rerun the setup.

  • running WMC on Win7 Pro to receive OTA channel in San Diego area. EPG change over has made a mess of my guide and recordings. Everything was working great until past several days when I continually got a notice that guide was out of date and scheduled recordings weren’t working correctly. Finally did research and learned about EPG changeover. As suggested in one post, I have done the TV signal set up multiple times. Have lost local KFMB HD station 8.1 (and affiliate 8.2). Can view just fine directly to TV. Based on post elsewhere, “added missing channel” to guide. 8.1 now appears in the guide but “no data available” shows. However, I can now select the channel and view it fine so clearly there is a signal. What’s wrong with the guide and how do I get these channels back??

  • So glad I found this article. All my OTA guide info depleted today, so no more DVR function on WMC as of today. Looks like MS Connect message board is lighting up about this. At least I’m not alone. Hopefully they’ll have a solution soon. This is the way I watch TV and I even paid the extra bucks for WMC after upgrading to Win 8.

  • I’m experiencing an odd problem: Some of my series recordings stopped recording, even though the shows are still in the guide and on the same station at the same time. So, I cancelled the series recordings and then re-started them, and WMC sets the next instance of the show to record, but the following shows in the series give me an “i” icon stating that another airing will be recorded at the same time. There’s a problem here, but I don’t know how to resolve it.

  • Exact same problem here in Seattle, on Comcast with Ceton 4 tuner digital cable card. I’ve restarted the PC, cleared recording schedule, run TV signal setup twice, downloaded guide data several times, no behavior change.

    It’s not affecting all channels, right now I’m noticing it on 104 and 105 local HD channels, but Comedy Central West HD 704 series are working normally.

  • RE-RUN the TV SIGNAL SETUP – this is what finally got me the updated guide listings. Win 7. Prior to this I was tearing my hair out trying to figure out why the guide had no data and was not updating even when it said it had successfully downloaded. Did a Windows update but that did nothing. The Rovi guide seems good to me so far. Seems to have a few more photos ID’ing programs. SoCal OTA channels.

  • I also had the problem of no Guide info. MC would say that it downloaded the guide, but it would be blank.
    FIX: Changed my zip code in the set-up to the main zip code for the major city, not on of the suburban zip codes. That fixed the issue — now I have guide data.

  • I am running WMC on vista and as of tomorrow night my guide data will have run out. I have rerun TV channel setup and downloaded an updated guide. It looks like it is downloading an empty guide from zap2it. Still no Rovi Guide. Using OTA in Minneapolis 55410.

  • I am sooo pissed!!! I cannot get any of the guide to update and don’t know what to do. They should have just said you are all shit out of luck. I have tried to do the TV signal setup process in Media Center again and I still have not TV guide. Is there an explicit step by step instruction page to do a TV setup? I know enough to be dangerous but I cannot problem solve why I cannot get listings.

    I want my tv back on my computer. I don’t want a POS ignorant tv card that cannot record, or even set a time to record unless I am there, at the exact time I want to record. I hate Microsoft. All I have is over air TV. I do not have cable or satellite.

  • If you haven’t seen it already, there’s an update/acknowledgement from Microsoft at The Green Button: http://www.thegreenbutton.tv/forums/viewtopic.php?f=30&t=8983. It’s worth noting that while this is negatively affecting many people, there are also quite a few people for whom the upgrade occurred seamlessly. Clearly this wasn’t tested enough, but it’s not a problem for all users. Most users reporting issues appear to be OTA users, and most appear to be located in specific geographic areas. Houston, for example, is reporting many problems.

  • this is a bunch of BS I am in rural Ontario Canada & I lost all my EPG Data as it is still downloading from ZAP, I have analog cable & stuck on XP MCE due to no newer drivers for my aver media A169 dual analog tuner & newer analog tuners are all cheap garbage, it will be my guess they have no plans for an XP MCE patch, thus I think its about time to sever my relationship with Microsoft products, as they have this uncontrollable urge to screw their customers over when the time comes to try something more profitable.

    I was already pissed they were not going to include it in win 10 but now making my media center useless is not cool, they can shove their free 10 upgrade up their fart cloud

  • My media center setup still will not download from Rovio or whatever, still says Zap2It, tried everything I can find on every forum.

  • Can you please help me with this? I am not sure how to do this. I still have not been able to get it to switch to Rovi.

  • I am near Fenelon Falls Ontario Canada, I have two WMC with analog dual cable tuner servers on my home network, one is XP MCE 2005 running Roll up 2 the other is win 7.

    both units were working fine until about a week and a half ago when I was prompted to manually download the EPG guide, I thought it strange but figured perhaps the internet became un plugged or something because it said it downloaded successfully & I thought nothing more of it until Monday July 27 when the EPG Data ran out on both my Machines.

    after spending all week reading & trying different things suggested on various forums I still have not solved the problem.

    On Monday July 27 2015 the MSN TV guide website did not show any providers for my area or even my parents area in Toronto on Rogers Cable, however on Fri July 31 Rovi was now showing my providers package at the MSN TV guide site.

    Although my provider is now available on Rovi, neither of the Media centers have upgraded from Zap2it to Rovi & thus are still successfully downloading my channel line up & empty program data from Zap2it the last listings which expired on the 27th.

    so in my situation because it was analog cable I am able to run MC setup on both machines and get my working channel lineup but I lost all my scheduled programs (even before I re ran MC setup) & now have to visit the Zap2it website & print out my daily schedule then manually program timers for every program I wish to record.

    BS, the EPG is what sold WMC and makes it a fully functional DVR

    Microsoft needs to address this and release a downloadable update to repair the issue & properly set the new EPG provider for all versions of WMC

  • So I just found out about this and I cannot get any updates for my guide now at al. Just says no data. Sucks cause I have this computer specifically to record TV shows. Any work around to this yet?

  • ok this morning Aug 2 2015 I was able to get my win 7 machine to take the update simply by rerunning media center setup and putting in a different postal code for Toronto, then it showed listings, I checked in the “About” section and it now shows Rovi as the EPG supplier.

    next I ran setup again with my postal code & it found & set my provider & package without any problems however now some of the channel alignment is wrong, channel 70 shows data for some other channel the data for channel 70 has been moved to non existing channels in the 80’s & channel 3 it missing, I have not had the chance to check out each channel or see if they can manually be remapped, but this is just another example of Microsoft not knowing when to leave well enough alone.

  • I was wondering why my guide was behaving differently, now I know. My problems with this change is that the guide takes longer to load, and it provides less info. Previously for TV shows it showed the season and episode, now that’s gone. For movies it previously showed the release year, a brief synopsis, then a full review/synopsis. Now the year and full review/synopsis are gone. I am not pleased with this at all.

  • Rovi has no data for Chicago zip codes. What a piece of junk.

    Thanks for the “New Life” Microsoft!!

  • Zap2It was accurate and Rovi seems lacking. It would’ve been better to change Xbox One console to Zap2It. On top of my guide not working, my hdd died this morning. I swapped the hdd, went to do an update because the guide didn’t work and now win 7 won’t boot. I setup a back-up PC and I’ve been staring at an “Installing update 1 of 1” for over an hour. MS isn’t on my good list today.

  • Yep, no more guide, I wasn’t informed about any of this, found this through a Google search, and there is no solution that I’ve been told about, or visible from within WMC. It’s August 6th now. Looks like M$ is leaving WMC in the dust. They sure didn’t hesitate to take my money a year or two ago when I bought it, didn’t say it was at EOL.

  • “Was it a fairly seamless transition, or were you unable to get the appropriate channel line-up?”

    All my guide data is gone. Going to give Tivo a shot and call it a day with Microsoft. I’ve been with Microsoft since 1981 so it’s time to move on.

  • Found a way around the guide not populating issue in Windows 7. My work around has fixed the guide on two PC’s with different video cards. You will need to go through the entire “Setup TV Signal” process in order for this to work (10 minutes or so). Once setup has completed you will need to select “Let me configure my TV signal manually” per the instructions below:

    In Windows Media Center select the following:



    TV Signal

    Setup TV Signal (Message will come up “Changing these settings will affect TV etc..) Press “Yes”

    Region: United States (select “Yes”)

    Zip Code (Enter your zip code and select “Next”)

    Program Guide Terms of Service (Select “I Agree” Select “Next” wait for seven minutes or less)

    TV Signal Detection Result (select “Let me configure my TV signal manually)

    TV Signal Type (Select “Antenna” to install Over The Air channels Press “Next”)

    Now Select “Antenna” select “Next”

    Now Select “Digital Antenna (ATSC)” select “Next”

    TV Tuner Selection (if you have two tuners (a lot of video cards have more than one built in)

    select the first tuner on the list. The first tuner on the list worked on both my PC’s. The

    selection with WMC ATSC DC Tuner did not work on either system?) select “Next”

    TV Source Setup Finished “Do you want to set up another TV signal? select “No”, select “Next”,

    select “Next” to confirm

    Download TV Program Guide will start (this should install faster this time?) select “Finish”

    Go back to the main page for Windows Media Center select “TV” select “Guide” you should see the

    message “GUIDE LISTINGS Guide listings are still being loaded. You will be notified when loading is

    complete. select “OK” then exit out of the guide to the main Windows Media Center screen and wait

    for one minute or so for the guide message to appear.

    GUIDE LISTINGS UPDATE COMPLETED. Guide listings were downloaded sucessfully. select “OK”, select “guide” and your TV channels should be populated into the guide.

    My guess is that when the conversion from zap2it to Rovi was performed they did not take the video
    card type (pc’s only) into consideration. Rovi was intended for XBox not PC’s. I tried this on a PC
    with only one tuner and the Rovi software did not work on it either. So in either case of 1 or more
    tuners on your video card you must go through the process above for your card to be recognized by the Rovi software in order to load the guide data. I hope that I will not need to perform this
    process again when my guide requires another update. Just need to wait for two weeks and see.

  • Unable to get any data for over a month now. Reset, reinstall, nothing works. Still “no data available”

  • Thanks for the info, I am in British Columbia Canada, using a Shaw cable Gateway/tv tuner. I only use it to watch live and recorded programs on the Shaw Gateway, using my 55″TV monitor /PC/PIP . With your clear directions, my guide is finally working.
    Anna 9082

  • Great! I should mention that the above process only works on video cards with a QAM tuner (“quadrature amplitude modulation, the format by which digital cable channels are encoded and transmitted via cable television providers.” More specifically, it allows you to pull in certain digital cable channels (OTA channels) without the use of a set-top box). You can look up the specs for your video card online.

  • For the record, I am using an Hauppaugge 1850 tv tuner. Thanks again for the clear info

  • after several weeks of having no guide data (but it’s off seasons for shows… *whew* … don’t think I missed anything…) I finally searched for the issue, and found this.

    Reran the setup and that resolved the problem – Thanks!

    However, there’s a lot of people out there not tech-savvy enough to KNOW to search for these discussions, or how to read through some of them (such as people with solutions in the comments, etc.)

    Microsoft appears to have lost the confidence of many people… I hope it was worth it for them.

    For now… it appears that I’m now going to be getting many duplicates from reruns despite still having them recorded. (It doesn’t recognize the previously recorded shows as being the same.)

  • FYI, your link to the Program Guide Center on Microsoft Connect is broken. Takes me to a page not found.
    I am a victim to the guide not updating problem too. I use Comcast on WMC with Ceton 4. I have tried multiple zip codes near where I live (in the greater Houston area) with no luck. I have also tried fixing the IP addresses in the hosts file and flushing DNS with no luck.
    If anyone has suggestions it is much appreciated.

  • I seriously tried everything. Host IP Addresses. Registry edits. New clean Windows Install. Tried to use a third party EPG, attempting to use both Big Screen Program Guide and Schedules Direct. The pressure from my Wife became to much for me to handle. She didn’t care how I did it, but she just wanted to tape new TV shows that were coming out with the new fall lineup and the timing for me couldn’t be worse as far as the EPG failing on me. I finally had to retire my WMC. It’s a travesty since I have so much money tied up in extenders, the ceton pci card, one HDhomerun Prime and more. Hopefully I will be able to get some money back. Microsoft really dropped the ball. Media Center is the only reason I continued to use Windows 7. In the end I just didn’t have enough time to continue troubleshooting and hoping that I would stumble on a solution. Now that I have cable back this week, it’s amazing how many less problem I’m running into.

  • This was a glitch in the transition from Zap2it to Rovio as the listings provider. Everyone I know of simply waited it out and it’s been running fine except for the 2-3 week window last summer where everyone was broken.

    The listings are not as good as the old ones, generic descriptions of late night talk shows don’t help me decide if I want to record any specific one here and there.

  • My Cable provider went digital. I went in to TV setup in Media Center to set it up for the new format but Media Center just removed my provider and didn’t change it to digital. How can I get my provider listed in the setup? Or; is there a way I can make a list of channels manually that the guide will follow for DVR recordings?

  • To select a different provider, you probably should go through TV Setup again.

  • I have WMC running on two identical desktop PCs and recently I had to reinstall Win7 on both and the TV Guide program download choked. I live in Milwaukee and I tried surrounding zip codes and eventually it worked and it has continued to work perfectly. I am using 7 Silicondust TV Turners, some old some new. Recently a friend gave me an older HP Desktop with it’s Win7 OS disks and after a fresh install I cannot get the TV Guide to download. I tried surrounding zips and I tried zips in Chicago and even New York areas and no matter what zip code I tried, the download failed. My other two PC are working great but even if I use the same zip codes those boxes are using, it doesn’t work. I am wondering if the problem might have to do with Windows updates? The information on Microsoft’s site is useless and this is one of the things that Microsoft has done that works very well and it’s not working now and they don’t appear to care and that is something that amazes me because I’ve been buying their products for decades and most of those products are still working just fine and one would think that the folks at Microsoft would have a care and look into this.Gee whiz. It’s a massive waste of time to be going through the setup routine and fail and fail and fail. It makes me want to toss the whole thing in the dumpster and…

  • ROVI is NOT better!! No years for movies so you cannot tell whether it is the original or a remake without looking at the cast. This one omission makes me hate it. ALSO, no ratings for movies!