Windows Media Center

Windows Media Center
Component of Microsoft Windows
Windows Media Center logo.png
Windows Media Center.png
Windows Media Center on Windows 7
TypeEntertainment application
Introduced inWindows XP Media Center Edition 2002
Last included inWindows 10 build 10143

Windows Media Center is a digital video recorder and media player application that was first introduced in 2002 with the release of Windows XP Media Center Edition. It was later included in the Home Premium and Ultimate editions of Windows Vista, and later all editions of Windows 7 except Starter and Home Basic.[a] The application would later be made available as an optional paid upgrade for Windows 8 and Windows 8.1. The application was ultimately deprecated and later removed with the release of Windows 10, although it can be unofficially installed on Windows 10.

History[edit | edit source]

Windows XP (2002)[edit | edit source]

Windows Media Center was originally planned as a successor to the canceled Activity Centers for the Neptune and Windows Me operating systems. The earliest available build of Windows XP Media Center Edition contained a near-finalized variation of the interface, along with its original working title Windows Remote View. Not much else is known about the planning or overall development of the initial Media Center Edition release.

The operating system shipping with Media Center was codenamed "Freestyle". It was released as Windows XP Media Center Edition in 2002 only in English.

Longhorn[edit | edit source]

Development continued initially on the codebase of Windows Longhorn, Microsoft's project for the successor of Windows XP. The Media Center components needed to be installed manually through the Add/Remove Programs Control Panel applet (APPWIZ.CPL). As the WIM installation method was introduced in build 4001, it was no longer possible to install these components, so development shifted in December 2002 back to the codebase of Windows XP Media Center Edition.

Windows XP (2004, 2005)[edit | edit source]

In 2003, Windows XP Media Center Edition 2004 was released with a design overhaul for the Media Center user interface, along with support for a Media Center Extender (codenamed BobSled). It is the first version to be made available internationally with support for a wide range of localizations unlike previous versions, which were only localized and released for the North American, French, German and Japanese markets. It also introduced support for broadcast teletext for European localizations and makes better use of widescreens compared to version 2002.

In 2004, Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 was released, again with UI changes for the Media Center, including the switch of the default font from Trebuchet MS to Segoe UI, making it the first version of Windows with the Segoe font family to be released. This version also introduced support for HDTV.

Windows CE[edit | edit source]

A slimmed-down variant of Windows Media Center, called Portable Media Center, was available in the mid-2000s for Windows CE. OEMs could license the software from Microsoft to put it as the default user interface for their Windows CE-powered systems.

The Portable Media Center was later used as the foundation for the user interface of the Zune series of media players, which themselves also ran Windows CE.

Windows Vista[edit | edit source]

Development shifted in 2005 to the Windows Vista codebase after the Longhorn development was reset. The first build with Media Center was build 5212, which introduced a similar interface found in Windows 7 version of the program. As development progressed, the look and feel of Windows Media Center changed drastically with updated branding and UI elements in build 5270, and redesigned music and window controls in build 5310. The UI would be refined further in later builds with a new launch animation and updated sounds.

Windows 7[edit | edit source]

In early builds of Windows 7, Windows Media Center looked identical to its Vista version. However, later builds would receive a minor UI revamp with a new launch animation and sounds. The final sounds were implemented in build 7055.

Deprecation and removal[edit | edit source]

Microsoft ceased active development of Windows Media Center after Windows 7 shipped in 2009, with its official deprecation presented in Windows 8/8.1 after it no longer became bundled with consumer editions by default. A seperate variant of the Professional edition that additionally contains the Windows Media Center application was later developed and offered as a supplementary paid add-on for these versions until 30 October 2015 via the Add features to Windows 8 service and the Windows 8 Feature Packs web site.[1] As a result, the application would not see much change between Windows 7 and Windows 8.

On May 2015, Microsoft announced that Windows Media Center would no longer be available for Windows 10 due to declining usage;[2][3] the application (and its corresponding SKU) were ultimately shelved and removed in build 10147. As a result, users upgrading to Windows 10 from a previous version of Windows that had Windows Media Center would lose access to the application, and (in a now-expired limited-time offer) were offered the paid Windows DVD Player for free instead of requiring a payment of US$14.99.[4]

In January 2020, Microsoft discontinued support for the Electronic Program Guide service on all versions of Windows Media Center as free support for Windows 7 ended.[5]

Gallery[edit | edit source]

Windows XP[edit | edit source]

Windows Vista[edit | edit source]

Windows 7[edit | edit source]

Notes[edit | edit source]

  1. The Windows Media Center application is not included in the Windows Vista Starter, Home Basic and Business editions. It is also not included by default in the Windows 7 Starter and Home Basic editions.

References[edit | edit source]