Windows XP Media Center Edition
Screenshot of Windows Media Center, the exclusive component of Windows XP Media Center Edition
|Company / developer||Microsoft|
|OS family||Microsoft Windows|
|Working state||Partially supported, security updates only|
|Source model||Closed source / Shared source|
|Latest stable release||October 2006 Rollup Patch for Media Center 2005 Rollup 2 (5.1.2715.3011) / October 24, 2006|
|Kernel type||Hybrid kernel (Windows NT)|
|Default user interface||Graphical User Interface|
|License||Proprietary commercial software|
|Succeeded by||Windows Vista Home Premium|
Windows XP Media Center Edition (MCE) is a version of the Windows XP operating system designed to serve as a home-entertainment hub. The last version, Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005, was released in October 12, 2004.
Windows XP Media Center Edition has had the following releases, all based on Windows XP Professional with all features enabled except domain-joining ability disabled in Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 and Terminal Services in the original release.
- A preview version of Windows XP Media Center Edition from Microsoft's eHome division, was shown at CES 2002, with the final version released later that year.
- Windows XP Media Center Edition ("Freestyle", Released in July 2002)  This was the original release.
- Windows XP Media Center Edition 2003 added a number of features, including FM radio tuning.
- Windows XP Media Center Edition 2004 ("Harmony", Released in September 30, 2003)  Windows XP Service Pack 2 upgrades earlier versions of MCE to this one.
- Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 ("Symphony", Released in October 12, 2004)  is the first edition of MCE available to non-Tier 1 system builders. Among other things, it includes support for Media Center Extenders, and CD/DVD-Video burning support.
- Update Rollup 2 for Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 ("Emerald", October 2005)  is a major update to MCE 2005 (Symphony) and was a recommended download. It adds support for the Xbox 360 as a media center extender, DVB-T broadcasts, and support for two ATSC tuner cards.
To determine the underlying edition of Windows XP on which a particular revision of MCE is based, the System Properties Control Panel applet can be used. To determine the revision of MCE that is being used, select the About Media Center option from the General -> Settings area inside MCE.
Windows XP Media Center Edition is distinguished with its exclusive component, Media Center, a media player that supports watching and recording TV programs, as well as playing DVD-Video, photo slideshows, and music. Media Center sports a user interface that is optimized for use from a distance with large fonts and icons.
Unlike competing commercial DVR products, Microsoft does not charge a monthly subscription fee for its Media Center TV guide service.
Due to its strict hardware requirements, Microsoft opted not to supply Media Center as an independent retail version. Microsoft only distributed it to MSDN subscribers and original equipment manufacturers in certain countries.[which?] Consumers purchase Media Center preinstalled on a new computer, set-top box or embedded device.
Successors of Windows XP did not have a Media Center edition but the player itself came with Windows.
Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005
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- Windows Movie Maker, upgraded to version 2.5 with new effects and transitions and support for DVD burning based on Sonic Solutions's AuthorScript technology.
- Windows Media Player, upgraded to version 10, along with Windows Media Format Runtime 9.5.
- Royale theme: not included in other editions of Windows XP except Windows XP Tablet PC Edition, it is included and enabled by default.
- Microsoft Plus! Digital Media Edition components: a number of applications not included in previous versions of MCE are now included such as Audio Converter, CD Label Maker, Dancer and Party Mode.
- SoundSpectrum's G-Force: a special edition is included as one of the music visualizations for Windows Media Player.
- Screensavers and themes from Microsoft Plus! for Windows XP are included (Aquarium, Da Vinci, Nature, Space and My Pictures Premium).
- Media Center Extender Support, dedicated hardware devices that allow users to view the same content that is available on the MCE computer over wired or wireless Ethernet, are introduced in this version for the first time. Linksys and other companies currently sell Media Center Extenders, and Microsoft sells an add-on kit for the Xbox game console that allows it to function as an extender. The Xbox 360 also has Media Center Extender functionality out of the box, including HDTV support (which is notably absent from current extenders). Media Center 2005 currently can support up to 5 Media Center Extenders per household.
- First party hardware: Microsoft has released its own first party remote, receiver and infrared blaster with MCE 2005. A new specially designed wireless computer keyboard for MCE 2005 was released September 2005.
- Joining a Windows Server domain: The ability to join an Active Directory domain is disabled by default. Computers that upgrade to Windows Media Center from a version of Windows that had joined the domain before upgrade will remain joined to the domain. However, if they leave the domain, they may never re-join. The option to join a domain during installation of this version of Windows is still available. Microsoft says that the reason for this discontinuation of feature is to support Media Center Extenders which need Fast User Switching. It is possible to re-enable joining a domain by modifying the Windows registry.
- Windows Media Player 6.4 is no longer included.
Media Center has higher hardware requirements than other editions of Windows XP. MCE 2005 requires at least a 1.6 GHz processor, DirectX 9.0 hardware-accelerated GPU (ATI Radeon 9 series or nVidia GeForce FX Series or higher), and 256 MB of System RAM. Some functionality, such as Media Center Extender support, use of multiple tuners, or HDTV playback/recording carries higher system requirements.
Media Center is much more restricted in the range of hardware that it supports than most other software DVR solutions. Media Center tuners must have a standardized driver interface, and they must have hardware MPEG-2 encoders (this was changed as companies such as ATI wrote drivers to support MCE 2005 with their All-In-Wonder cards and HDTV Wonder cards), closed caption support, and a number of other features. Media Center remote controls are standardized in terms of button labels and functionality, and, to a degree, general layout.
- Windows XP Media Center Edition ("Freestyle") Preview: Paul Thurrott's SuperSite for Windows
- Microsoft Unveils Windows XP Media Center Edition, Previously Code-Named "Freestyle"
- Microsoft (June 12, 2012). "Windows XP Service Pack 3 installation fails with an error message, and the following error is logged in the service pack installation log: "8007F0F4 - STATUS_PREREQUISITE_FAILED"". Microsoft Support. Retrieved November 7, 2012.
- Windows XP Media Center Edition 2004 Delivers New Home Entertainment Experiences
- Microsoft, Industry Partners Deliver on Promise of Digital Entertainment Anywhere
- If you are installing Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005, you can use a Windows XP Media Center Edition Product key or a Windows XP Professional product key.
- Emerald Is Finally Here: Charlie Owen blog
- Software Update for Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 Enables High-Fidelity Access to PC Digital Entertainment via Xbox 360
- "You cannot join your computer to a domain in Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 (KB887212)". Retrieved 2007-04-22.
- "Joining a domain with Windows Media Center 2005". Retrieved 2011-04-07.
Third party sites
- Australian Media Center Community
- German Media Center Community
- The Green Button: The Green Button
- David Fleischman of MCE Project Management
- Freeware to automatically convert Media Center recordings to DivX, H.264 and WMV