PCs

Investigate Internet TV in Windows 7 Media Center

In the Windows 7 version of Windows Media Center, the enhanced Internet TV lets you watch videos from a variety of providers via the Internet.

Over the holidays, one of the old television sets in my home suffered a catastrophic failure. To maintain the entertainment equilibrium in our household, my wife and I decided to shuffle the remaining sets around and add a big screen HDTV to the mix. While configuring and setting up the new TV, I connected my laptop running Windows 7 to the TV set and began experimenting with Windows Media Center's Internet TV component.

I discovered that it was a really neat feature and provided a very nice way to access all sorts of streaming media from the Internet. As I began espousing the features of Internet TV component to my friends and family, I also discovered that not many people were familiar with this feature of Windows Media Center. In fact, most folks that I talked to assumed that in order to take advantage of Windows Media Center you must have a TV tuner card installed in your system. However that's not the case.

In the Windows 7 (Home Premium, Professional, Enterprise, or Ultimate) version of Windows Media Center, the enhanced Internet TV lets you watch videos from a variety of providers via the Internet right in Windows Media Center. This new version of Internet TV features enhancements to the UI and now provides more content from a variety of content providers, such as CBS, MSNBC, MSN, Zune, and more.

In this edition of the Windows Vista and Windows 7 Report, I'll investigate the Windows 7 Windows Media Center's Internet TV component.

This blog post is also available in PDF format in a free TechRepublic download.

Configuration

To get started, click the Start button and type Windows Media in the Start Search box. When Windows Media Center appears in the results panel, click it to launch the application.

Once Windows Media Center loads, use the down arrow on your keyboard to scroll down to the TV section. Then, locate the Internet TV tile in the TV section -- you may have to use the right or left arrow keys -- as shown in Figure A.

Figure A

In Windows 7 the Internet TV section of Windows Media Center has been enhanced with a new UI and more content.
Editor's note: Many users are having trouble at this point, try these steps if you do not see the Internet TV icon.

Before you can access Internet TV content in Windows Media Center, you must:

  • Have an active Internet connection.
  • Complete the Windows Media Center setup.
  • Wait a few minutes for an automatic download to complete.

If you don't see these menu items within a few minutes after setup, go to:

Tasks | Settings | General | Automatic Download Options | Download Now

When you select the Internet TV icon, you'll be prompted to select the Terms of Service check box before you can select the Install button, as shown in Figure B.

Figure B

Installation is a breeze.
Once you do, Windows Media Center will download and install the Internet TV feature. As soon as the operation is complete, you will see and be able to select from the available programs, as shown in Figure C.

Figure C

Once Internet TV is installed, you'll find that it contains a wide variety of popular content.

Taking a look around

Once you access the Internet TV section, you'll discover that it contains a wide variety of programming. To scroll through the available items, you can click the onscreen arrows or you can use the arrow keys on your keyboard. There are several categories, which you can access by scrolling up and down. In each of the categories, you'll find multiple programs. For each program, you'll find full episodes, clips, or special features.

Currently, the following categories can be found in the Internet TV section:

  • Popular Programs
  • Golden Globe Winners Past & Present
  • Full Episodes
  • Channels
  • Top TV
  • Headlines
  • Top-Rated Movies from Netflix
Because I'm a newsaholic, I found the news clips to be an awesome feature, because rather than having to surf between multiple news Web sites to get all my favorite news, I found an assortment of news programs all in the same place. For example, in the Channels category, I found that the News section of MSNBC, shown in Figure D, contained a multitude of news clips.

Figure D

If you're a newsaholic, you'll find more than your fill of news content in the MSNBC News section.
In the Shows section, I found stories from Today, Nightly News, and Dateline, just to mention a few. In the News section of CBS, I found full episodes from 60 Minutes and 48 Hours. In the Headlines category, shown in Figure E, I found episodes of The Rachel Maddow Show, as well as video podcasts from ABC World News with Dianne Sawyer and MSNBC Morning Joe.

Figure E

The Headlines section also features a wide variety of news shows.

Of course, there's more than news on Internet TV. There is also a lot of entertainment, including such current shows like Big Bang Theory, NCIS, and CSI. You can also find old favorites such as the original Star Trek or episodes of the Twilight Zone with Rod Serling.

The other compelling feature in Windows 7 Windows Media Center's Internet TV component is Top-Rated Movies from Netflix, as shown in Figure F. If you have an unlimited Netflix membership, you can watch any of the movies and TV shows in your Instant Queue. You can also edit and add new movies to your DVD Queue.

Figure F

Windows Media Center now delivers streaming video from Netflix.

What's your take?

What do you think of Windows 7 Windows Media Center's Internet TV component? Have you experimented with it yet? How about the new Netflix feature? 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.

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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.

75 comments
ernest_knpp
ernest_knpp

i tried the steps above and it still is not working

salllly
salllly

It is very nice that WMC does not require a TV card in pc. In your instructions I did not see how to exit TV and return to a web page or email! I got out of it by shutting down the pc, but you must have a better method?? What is it/

jwcornejo
jwcornejo

I would love it more if it worked w/DirecTV. Not enough programming on InternetTV and not enought full episodes. I get more through HULU or Boxee. Netflix streaming is nice, but their library content is so limited and outdated.

waltrutka
waltrutka

ya i owned a cash register company we send itty bitty pieces of data like totals grandtotals and gross grand totals if anything happens on a cashregister these totals are affected sure there interested in the money sure thats what there doing smuttin in michigan too

gerryhebert89
gerryhebert89

Hi Greg, After reading your article I took a second look at WMC 7 Internet TV. I did a search for "hulu" and found a free add-in that appears to be very useful for both US and UK users. Have you tried TunerFree MCE? I have not installed it yet. As the developer notes: TunerFreeMCE UK content only plays to people in the UK, and US content only plays to people in the US. Here is the link to this free add-in: http://www.milliesoft.co.uk/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=9&Itemid=11

MJohnW
MJohnW

Yes I have used Internet TV. What is disappointing is that Windows 7 does blocks my cable programs. According to my cable provider Windows 7 is not compatible with their service. Anyone else noticed?

thomas
thomas

What about downloading movies to windows 7 then serving them to my blu-ray device for big screen display.

joannet
joannet

The name should be changed to Windows 7 Media Bias Center.

Capt. Midnight
Capt. Midnight

Run setup again by clicking Tasks, Settings, General, Windows Media Center Setup, Run Setup Again and use the Express mode. I used the custom mode the first time and had problems. Reran in Express and everything's fine.

jdemarie
jdemarie

I had to set up an internet connection in the setup to get Internet TV. It works fine.

mgt46
mgt46

removed by mgt46

fask
fask

perch? in italia non ? disponibile ?? c'? un modo anche per la mia nazione

mhjseiler1
mhjseiler1

thamks for the insight to what is going with this application.Isnt that like Microsoft.While in the USA there are far more options and availability to access Microsoft applications. The rest of the World, well we just wait or miss out all together. Makes my blood boil.

bestman_48
bestman_48

Would love to use it but everytime I try to watch Internet TV my internet connection is lost. Any help outthere?

espina
espina

I have win7 ultimate 64 bit. windows media does not show internet tv, only recorded and live tv setup. what gives?

espina
espina

I have win7 ultimate 64 bit but the windows media does not have internet tv, jsut recorded tv and live tc setup (whioch requires a tuner). what gives?

mhjseiler1
mhjseiler1

no option for internet tv only tv live set up and recorded tv what now???

mikesmith701
mikesmith701

It appears this feature is only available in the US? Up here in Canada I have a new laptop running Windows 7 Home Premium and there is no Internet TV icon in the TV section. I can watch all the US networks on my regular TV but not on the internet, pity and rather myopic. Mike Smith

lee6252
lee6252

I've been using this for a couple months and love it, I especially like the netflix feature

VytautasB
VytautasB

Tried it but was quickly disappointed that many services were denied to me as my IP address is a non US-IP address (Lithuania). Strange since I grew up in the US and know about many of the shows, especially the "oldies". The user interface (menu) system is also difficult to understand and work with. There is the feeling that more options need to be made available, especially in home networking. It is unable to find my networked tv but that may be more of a router problem.

jwcornejo
jwcornejo

I would love it more if it worked w/DirecTV. Not enough programming on InternetTV and not enought full episodes. I get more through HULU or Boxee. Netflix streaming is nice, but their library content is so limited and outdated.

jancawa55
jancawa55

I think this is bogus. I have no TV tuner and hence no internet TV option in Media Center. I looked and I ain't got it. Not hooked up to a TV either. The only option I get is recorded TV which I don't have either. To me Windows Media Center is pretty useless.

bsuttn
bsuttn

You said. "I connected my laptop running Windows 7 to the TV set". A little more detail on just how you did that please.

What the ...!
What the ...!

Just close WMC. On a different front, will the quality of the picture I receive in "internet TV" improve with faster ISP service? I have basic DSL and the picture is irritatingly "stuttery". Win7, 4.5 score on system, plays DVDs and recorded OTA HDTV just fine.

cstrauss
cstrauss

I had the same problem until I went to Settings-->General--->Automatic Download Options---->Downlad Now. Back all the way out and you should now see it! I am not using a TV Tuner.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Even if it worked in Italy, all you could get was Berlusconi. :-)

mypcclean
mypcclean

HAve the same problem as most people. Only have the recorded TV and LIVE TV SETUP options in my Media Centre. AS its online tv, we should not need a tv tuner??

jvdgijp
jvdgijp

same problem here in the Netherlands. so googled it; "No Internet TV Option in Windows 7 Media CenterOptions I chased this up with microsoft last week. It only works in the usa at the moment, despite being advertised on the windows 7 pages in every country. A customer support manager rang me back today saying they are working on it, and keep an eye on the internet for announcements." major bummer! J.

techgecko
techgecko

Option not in this install;32 bit RC build 7100 OR in Retail Upgrade 32/64 bit purchased yesterday.

eM DuBYaH
eM DuBYaH

I've been getting my fill of StarTrek The Original Series with Internet TV. Bunch of goodies/stations on there. I wasted an entire evening watching stuff!

jaymikelt2
jaymikelt2

Most of the LCD/LED flat screen HDTV's have a computer connection via VGA port (no sound) and a 1/8 mini jack for input from your computer. The newer TV's as well as the newer computers have HDMI connectivity, which is MUCH better....sound AND picture in Hi-Def (1920 X 1080p). I am using a circa 2007 HP laptop running Vista Home Premium and have been watching streaming internet television for well over a year.....JT

john3347
john3347

After connecting the VGA (aka RGB, aka D-sub) cable and audio cable between computer and TV, you must select "RGB" input from your TV remote control. (Your HD TV may call the RGB input by some other name.)

Greg Shultz
Greg Shultz

The TV has an video in RGB/VGA port on it and my laptop has video out RGB/VGA port on it, so I just connected them together with a VGA cable. The TV also has an associated audio in and I just connected a cable between it and the headphone connector on the laptop. Then used the external monitor function key on the laptop and the auxillary button on the TV remote. Now the TV is like a big external monitor to the laptop.

jfuller05
jfuller05

you hook a VGA cable from your laptop to a VGA connector on your TV, provided that you have one. Then you switch the channel on your TV to PC. After that, you right click your desktop (on the laptop), click on personalize, go to screen settings, and extend screen for projector. Or that's how I did it. Let me know if this helps.

john3347
john3347

I have no Internet TV option on my Windows 7 Ultimate version in the US either. I have a "recorded TV" option, but no "internet TV" option. Edit: I have 32 bit version if that makes any difference to anything.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

'Recorded TV' and 'Live TV Setup' only. No change if I go in and out of Settings like Mark suggested. I live in the US and am running 7 Enterprise. Maybe 7E doesn't include it?

bchell
bchell

no tv here either microsoft should advertise what they can do, not what they wish they could do

bestman_48
bestman_48

thanks for the link but I have done all the steps, express download setup on all three computers. And yes I am in the USA. but still get the lost connection when I click play after picking a show or clip to watch.

cwmson
cwmson

I connected to my 46" and 36" using the HDMI input/output using a long HDMI cable I have laying around. It works great.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I'm just linking to phoophan's original post. He did the legwork, not me.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Perhaps we're blocking it here at work somehow. I'm not interested in getting it to work here anyway. I've seen some other comments regarding success with XP, so I'll try it at home with Vista over the weekend. The weather is supposed to suck anyway.

Craig_B
Craig_B

I have it working on Windows 7 Enterprise and Home Premium editions just fine (both x64 versions).

john3347
john3347

Another lie perpetrated on the public by Microsoft. I have no "Internet TV" option. My Windows 7 Ultimate 32 bit does not have it.

Greg Shultz
Greg Shultz

...Microsoft says that Windows 7 (Home Premium, Professional, Enterprise, or Ultimate) version of Windows Media Center have the Internet TV feature.

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