HTPC Windows Media Center

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.


About the author

Josh Pollard

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.