How to Replace Windows Media Center DVR Features in Windows 10


Microsoft hasn’t done cable cutters any favors with Windows 10.

As revealed a few months ago, the free upgrade for Windows 7 and later erases Windows Media Center, a ten-year-old program that provides a TV-friendly interface for media files. While most people won’t notice the lack of WMC – Microsoft says the software is hardly used for anything other than DVD playback these days – for some users it is the backbone of their entire living room setup, thanks to its ability to play and record live TV.

Thrilled with Windows 10 in general, I’m wondering whether to upgrade my own desktop computer, as I like the ability to record shows from free live channels like ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC. So before upgrading, I looked for an alternative to Windows Media Center that was easy to set up and use.

So far, I haven’t found anything as simple as Windows Media Center, especially when it comes to setting up TV guide data. Still, DVR streaming is doable in Windows 10, so if you’re in the mood to upgrade, here’s how to set up the best Windows Media Center alternative I’ve found:

NextPVR: The most painless of the lot

After considering a bunch of options, I opted for NextPVR as a replacement for the Windows Media Center DVR features. It’s not the smartest program, but I found the installation process easier to follow than other programs like Kodi and MediaPortal (which doesn’t mean much, by the way).

All you need to get started is a TV tuner for the PC, such as a SiliconDust HDHomeRun Where Hauppauge WinTV USB tuner and microwave antenna. Just follow these steps and you will be fine:

1. Before installing NextPVR, download MC2XML For windows. You will need this program to retrieve the TV guide data.

2. In File Explorer, create a new folder in “C: EPG” and place mc2xml.exe inside. You can choose another folder, but you will need to modify step 7 below.

3. Run mc2xml.exe and a screen will appear where you can enter a zip code to get the local channel listings. Leave the other options as they are and press OK. (More discussion on this at the bottom of the guide.)

mc2xml

4. In the schedule selection prompt, locate the “Digital Terrestrial Lineup” option and press OK.

mc2xmllineup

5. Download and install the latest version of NextPVR. Don’t launch it just yet.

6. Before launching NextPVR, navigate to “C: Users Public NPVR Scripts” in File Explorer. Create a new text file and rename it to “UpdateEPG.bat”. (Make sure you can see full file name extension, and that there is no “.txt” at the end.)

7. Open UpdateEPG.bat with Notepad or another text editor and enter the following (editing the second line if you used a different folder in step 2):

VS :

cd “C: EPG”

mc2xml

8. Open NextPVR. It should run settings on first launch, but you can still access settings by right-clicking anywhere on the screen.

9. Head to the “Peripherals” section, select your TV tuner, click Device setup, then click Analyze. Wait a few minutes while the tuner searches for broadcast channels.

nextpvr2

ten. Go to the “Channels” section and click “Update EPG”. You should see a pop-up window telling you that UpdateEPG.bat is running, thus retrieving the TV guide data you obtained through MC2XML. It will take several more minutes.

nextpvupdateepg

11. In the “Misc” folder, you may need to change the buffer directory to a folder of your choice. Alternatively, you can create a “C: Temp” folder if one does not already exist on your machine.

nextpvrbuffer

12. Go to the Recording folder and choose where you want the DVR broadcasts to be stored.

13. You may need to experiment with the Decoders menu if you are not getting any audio or video playback. (I was lucky using the LAV decoder for audio and video.)

14. Close the Settings menu and head to the Live TV section of NextPVR to start watching and recording broadcast TV.

Headache TV guide, lots of possibilities

As if setting everything up weren’t complicated enough, Microsoft recently made things more complicated by switching TV guide providers in Windows Media Center. Since MC2XML relies on entering this data, you may have difficulty getting up-to-date TV listings this way. (I haven’t had any issues so far.)

If this happens, you have several options:

  • For $ 25 per year, you can subscribe to Direct schedules. After creating an account, go back to step 3 above (you will need to remove mc2xml.exe and start with a new copy of the file), select Schedules Direct from the Services menu and enter your login information. Repeat step 9 to update the channel guide.
  • For a “donation” of $ 20, mc2xml says it will allow you to extract new listings from Microsoft. Go back to step 3 above and select Microsoft from the Services menu. I haven’t tested this myself.

Once you’ve got everything set up, NextPVR can be a pretty powerful program. It offers several plug-ins, skins, and utilities, including a way to automatically detect and remove advertisements. It supports various multimedia expansion devices to watch TV on other TVs, and you can even use NextPVR as a back-end service for other media center software, such as Kodi.

I haven’t even started experimenting with most of these customizations. My main use for TV recordings is to stream them to other devices using Plex. For that, the basic configuration of NextPVR is enough to upgrade my desktop to Windows 10 with confidence.

Note: When you buy something after clicking links in our items, we may earn a small commission. Read our Affiliate Links Policy for more details.


Comments are closed.