We wrote a couple of months ago about Microsoft’s announcement to no longer supply electronic program guide data for Windows Media Center. At the time it wasn’t clear when exactly they’d stop providing the data but Windows Media Center users discovered that today is the day. There is no Media Center guide data anymore.
Microsoft has a spotty track record with communication, to say the least. In our earlier post, we were left to guess when the guide data would run out. The on-screen notification said “Starting in January 2020” but the documentation that they wrote says “It’s being retired after January 2020”. Apparently both messages should have just said: “on January 1, 2020”.
If you’ve been caught off guard by the sudden loss of this crucial data there is a relatively easy fix that can be set up for free. There is a free app called EPG123 that will import guide data to Windows Media Center from Schedules Direct. Schedules Direct does require a yearly subscription of $25, but they offer a 7-day free trial.
We typically recommend that anyone still running Windows 7 should seriously consider finding a new home theater PC (HTPC) solution. Microsoft will stop providing security updates after January 14th. There is one caveat to that recommendation though. If your HTPC is solely used as an HTPC and it is behind a secure firewall then it shouldn’t present a large security risk. If the PC is being used for anything else though, especially any web surfing, then you should be looking to upgrade to Windows 10.
We’ve detailed a slew of other options if you’ve decided that you’re done trying to make Windows Media Center work for you. They can all be found in our previous article about the demise of Media Center’s guide data.
Today is a sad day. While most of us at The Digital Media Zone have moved on from Windows Media Center, we still think it is the best home theater PC software, especially for watching and recording television, that has ever existed. It was a love of Windows Media Center that led to the creation of our podcast Entertainment 2.0 and this entire site! Using and customizing Windows Media Center is what initially brought this great community together. We’re very grateful to all the people at Microsoft who worked on it and supported it over the years. We understand why it was discontinued years ago, but we’d love for this not to be the final act in the story. Our last wish is that it could be released to the open-source community. Unfortunately, we fear that even that would require more effort than any of the decision-makers at Microsoft would be willing to accept.
Rest in peace, Windows Media Center.