Windows

How to add Windows Media Center to Windows 8

Windows Media Center will only be available as an Add-on for Windows 8. Greg Shultz shows how to download and install it.

I have a ZOTAC ZBOX Mini-PC connected to the TV in my den and use Windows Media Center in Windows 7 Ultimate to access movies, pictures, music, and Netflix. Recently, I decided to connect the laptop I have running Windows 8 to the TV, but then remembered that the Release Preview edition of Windows 8 doesn't come with Windows Media Center installed. You have to download and install it separately.

Windows Media Center was available in the Consumer Preview and I had always figured that Windows Media Center would be a part of the final release of the new operating system. But when Microsoft announced the Windows 8 editions in the Windows Blog back in April, they also sketchily announced that Windows Media Center will be available as a separate download to Windows 8 Pro. Then in a May 3rd blog post on the Building Windows 8 page, Microsoft clarified exactly why Windows Media Center will be available as an Add-on for Windows 8.

Well I finally got around to installing Windows Media Center in the Release Preview edition of Windows 8 and thought that I would write about the process in this edition of the Windows Desktop Report. I'll also provide an overview of why Windows Media Center will only be available as an Add-on for Windows 8.

Complete Windows 8 coverage on TechRepublic

Making Windows Media Center an Add-on

As you may know, Windows Media Center has been available since the Windows XP days where it went through several versions as Windows XP Media Center Edition. It was then available in Windows Vista Home Premium and Ultimate. Then, in Windows 7 it was available in all editions of except for Starter and Home Basic. And while it was a great piece of software for many years, Microsoft claims that it has been steadily losing ground to other forms of online entertainment delivery systems, such as YouTube, Hulu, and Netflix, just to name a few. Yes, many people do use Windows Media Center, but not enough for Microsoft to justify including it in the operating system anymore.

In addition to a drop in interest, at several spots in the May 3rd post, Microsoft mentions the word cost in reference to codec licensing. So it would appear that by not including Windows Media Center and its expensive codec as a part of the Windows 8 operating system, Microsoft is saying that doing so will allow them to cut the cost of Windows 8 down a bit for those folks who don't use Windows Media Center. Those folks who do want to use Windows Media Center will then have to pay a little extra to get it as an Add-on to Windows 8 Pro. How much extra is unknown at this point in time - Microsoft only says marginal costs.

This blog post is also available in the Slideshow format as a TechRepublic Gallery.

Using the Add features wizard

To install Windows Media Center in Windows 8, just press the [Windows] key, type Add features, select Settings, and click Add features to Windows 8, as illustrated in Figure A. When you do, you'll have to work through the UAC that appears.

Figure A

Accessing Add features to Windows 8 from the Start screen is easy.
You'll then see the first screen in the Add features to Windows 8 wizard, as shown in Figure B, which asks you whether you need to purchase a product key or you already have one. In the case of the Release Preview, Microsoft has provided the Windows Media Center product key free of charge in the Windows 8 Release Preview FAQ. For your convenience, that product key is shown here:

MBFBV-W3DP2-2MVKN-PJCQD-KKTF7

Therefore, you can just click I already have a product key.

Figure B

You can just click I already have a product key.
On the next screen, you can then enter the product key, as shown in Figure C, and click Next. On the next screen, you have to accept the license terms, as shown in Figure D, and then click Add Features.

Figure C

Enter the Windows Media Center product key and click Next.

Figure D

You have to accept the license terms to continue.

The installation

In a moment, you'll see a progress bar in the Add features to Windows 8 wizard screen, as shown in Figure E. At this point, you can sit back for a few minutes while the download, installation, and system restart occur.

Figure E

You can sit back for a few minutes while the installation occurs.
After the restart, you'll see that Windows Media Center appears as a tile on the main part of Windows 8's Start screen, as shown in Figure F.

Figure F

Windows Media Center appears on the Windows 8 Start screen.
When you return to the Desktop, you'll see the last screen in the Windows Media Center installation wizard is waiting for you to click Close, as shown in Figure G.

Figure G

Click Close to complete the Windows Media Center installation wizard.
When you launch Windows Media Center in Windows 8, as shown in Figure H, you'll find that it looks, feels, and works exactly like in Windows 7. I connected it to my Pictures and Music libraries and even installed Netflix and watched an episode of Psych. It works perfectly.

Figure H

Windows Media Center in Windows 8 - very familiar.

What's your take?

Do you use Windows Media Center? If and when you upgrade to Windows 8, will you be willing to pay extra for Windows Media Center? As always, if you have comments or information to share about this topic, please take a moment to drop by the TechRepublic Community Forums and let us hear from you.

Also read:

About

Greg Shultz is a freelance Technical Writer. Previously, he has worked as Documentation Specialist in the software industry, a Technical Support Specialist in educational industry, and a Technical Journalist in the computer publishing industry.

17 comments
9676888844
9676888844

this key does not works i tried it

manxiboy
manxiboy

Interesting stuff. Is it ok if I put your tutorial to my site as well? The url is http://tellinetist.ee and it's a basic tutorial website.

manxiboy
manxiboy

Why is it so complicated? I mean, with XP and Vista, windows media center was much more easier to understand. Nowadays, it seems like a rocket science for me (I don't know much about computers). - Jenna from http://howtostartablog101.org

roblightbody
roblightbody

I have a Windows 7 64-bit PC with a Twin-Tuner 'Freeview HD' TV card in it, and a 1.5TB hard drive decicated to its recordings. The TV card and hard disk cost a fraction of what an equivalent DVR would have cost, but I think it is superior. I then watch on my TV via my xbox. The annoyance comes because other PCs on the network/homegroup can't easily access the recorded TV via the media center interface. (the TV option doesn't appear at all if they dont have a TV card in them). You can get to them via Media sharing and Media player, but then what could have been an elegant solution is lost.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

but I don't stream video or watch movies. Over half my television viewing is sports, mostly live but sometimes DVR'ed.

ComputerFieldsInc
ComputerFieldsInc

I'm currently running my entire home theater system on a Win7 x64 Media Center workstation. It drives a 47 inch LCD panel via DVI (w/ HDCP), has a Blu-Ray Optical Drive and sends audio through a 7.1 channel Onkyo reciever. For recorded TV, I have a Comcast Digital Cable Cablecard plugged into my Ceton 4 channel digital HD tuner and a terabyte of storage. I control all of this through my Logitech Harmony 900 remote, and a mini bluetooth keyboard w/ trackpad. It performs flawlessly, and in addition to being a perfect home theater system it's also a great living room PC. I love having all our family's media at my fingertips, including movies, pictures, and music. When we're not actively watching or listening, the photo slideshow is great way to enjoy new and old memories. My girlfriend made it a project to scan all the boxes of photos we both had and now we have our entire lives in JPEG's on the system - sometimes this is hilarious. This setup saves me $$$ each month by not having to pay Comcast (or anyone else) for a DVR set top box and it has paid for itself through years of reliable service. I'm a huge fan and look forward to using Media Center on Win8, almost without regard to cost.

Gisabun
Gisabun

I don't really need anything in WMC that I can already get elsewhere - using better featured applications.

eye4bear
eye4bear

I used to use it to watch Netflix on Windows 7, but then Netflix changed their end and in fact tell you when you call their CS ( I did ) that you should NOT use WMC but watch from a browser instead.

rpbert4
rpbert4

I have Win 7 Pro so I have Windows Media Center. If I upgrade to Win 8 will the installation process reomve the existing Windows Media Center from my computer?

Art M
Art M

I've been using Media Center ever since it came out in XP and love it! I would be disapointed if they do not offer it at all, if they leave it as an add on does not bother me as long as the cost is nominal and not abusive, I have it in four TV sets. I use it all of the features but mostly for the TV tuner and DVR, I do not have cable nor satellite and get free off the air TV, it works great and saves me a bunch so. don't mind paying a little extra (LITTLE)!

tlambert
tlambert

I've used Windows Media Center almost exclusively to watch TV for the past five years. It's a great product that hardly anyone outside of the IT world has heard of. It's a free DVR, and it has allowed me to get rid of cable/satellite pay TV. I've saved at least $3,000 with it. The problem is that Microsoft has never marketed it. No one knows it exists, or they might know it's there but have no idea what it's for. They've basically relied on users like me to tell others about it. It's better than anything else out there, and if they would spend a little more time and money on it, they could certainly justify an additional cost for it.

slumbersix
slumbersix

I know quite a few people use it to stream music and video from their computer to their Xbox 360s. There will be some irate users if they have to pay to access this feature in new versions of Windows.

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

I don't really use Windows Media Center so I don't think I'll miss it much, but I know many others use WMC all the time. Will you miss it in Windows 8? If and when you upgrade to Windows 8, will you be willing to pay extra for Windows Media Center?

Mspiller
Mspiller

Well, this is classic Microsoft isn't it? Death of a product coming right up. I am thinking that MS are thinking that: It isn't used massively It is a pain to maintain and innovate, It has to deal with the fact that there are different TV standards, rules and regulations around the world, The TV companies are screaming about people fast forwarding and detecting adverts The media giants are screaming about copyright and lost revenue through pirating. MC (probably) provides little or no additional or ongoing revenue. MC is one product that can be sacrificed to help reduce the SKU count for Windows 8. It will cause a hullabaloo if they remove it completely - I am thinking of you here, Media Center Master, Media Browser and all those other people that have developed amazing add-ons to make a medi(a)ocre product a great one. However what this means for all you MC fans out there (me included) is that you can expect MC to die, and it will do it slowly and painfully suffering greatly on the way. You can already see it happening, As the reviewer says, it acts and looks exactly like the Windows 7 MC. I am guessing there is a reason for that. It IS the Windows 7 MC, and that's the last code change or innovation you are going to see. I may be wrong (I hope so), but I doubt it. They may be developing something so completely and utterly amazing and have spent so much time and effort with developers, TV companies, rights owners, buying licenses, adding codec licenses etc that the unit cost of all that has added up to a such a significant figure it needs to be a separate product. If they are doing that its going to have to be absolutely flipping amazing to see off the likes of XBMC, MythTv et al which are all free I appreciate they are all slightly different products and its all 'horses for courses' but personally I am about to move off MC + Media Center Master + Media Browser + Windows and start trialling XBMC + Media Center Master + Raspberry Pi. I am an I.T consultant and speak fluent Windows, Linux and Unix so I have that luxury, others may not.

Greg Shultz
Greg Shultz

...users will be upset to have to pay more to get Windows Media Center, but if you consider how this factors into a possible new pricing structure for Windows 8 (by taking Windows Media Center out), it doesn't look that bad. Now, its important to keep in mind that at this point Microsoft has only released promotional pricing for Windows 8 and hasn't specifically said how much a Windows Media Center Add-on will cost, so I am speculating here??? But just for the sake of comparison, lets take a look the Professional edition and lets suppose that the Windows Media Center Add-on will cost $19.99. If you download Windows 8 Pro Upgrade during the promotional period (10/26 12/31) at $39.99 and download the Windows Media Center Add-on at $19.99, then you will spend $59.98. If you purchase Windows 8 Pro Upgrade in a store during the promotional period at $69.99 and download the Windows Media Center Add-on at $19.99, then you will spend $89.98. Back in 2009, if you purchased Windows 7 Professional Upgrade (which includes Windows Media Center) during the pre-order promotion, you would have spent $99.99. So, comparing these promotional period prices, the total cost of the Windows 8 Pro Upgrade and the Windows Media Center Add-on combined is between $10 and $40 less than the cost of the Windows 7 Professional Upgrade. Again, I am speculating here... What do you think?

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