Windows XP Media Center Edition

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Windows XP Media Center Edition
Windows logo - 2002.svg
Windows Media Center on Windows XP.png
Screenshot of Windows Media Center, the exclusive component of Windows XP Media Center Edition
OS familyMicrosoft Windows
Source model
Released to
September 3, 2002 (2002-09-03)[1]
October 29, 2002 (2002-10-29)[2]
Latest release2005 Update Rollup 2 (5.1.2715.3011) / October 14, 2005; 15 years ago (2005-10-14)
Kernel typeHybrid kernel (Windows NT)
Default user interfaceGraphical user interface
LicenseProprietary commercial software
Succeeded by
Official (Archive site)
Support status
  • Support started on October 28, 2002 (2002-10-28)[3]
  • Mainstream support ended on April 14, 2009 (2009-04-14)[3]
  • Extended support ended on April 8, 2014 (2014-04-08).[3]

Windows XP Media Center Edition (MCE) is a version of the Windows XP operating system which was the first version of Windows to include Windows Media Center, designed to serve as a home-entertainment hub. The last version, Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005, was released on October 12, 2004. After that, Windows Media Center was included in certain editions of later Windows versions. It was an optional, paid addition to Windows 8[4] and then discontinued in Windows 10.[5]


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.[6]
  • Windows XP Media Center Edition (codenamed "Freestyle")[7] was the original version of Windows XP Media Center. It was first announced on July 16, 2002,[7] released to manufacturing on September 3, 2002 and was first generally available on October 29, 2002 in North America.[2]
  • Windows XP Media Center Edition 2004 (codenamed "Harmony")[8] was launched on September 30, 2003 and was made available as an upgrade to the owners of the original editions' licenses.[9]
  • Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 (codenamed "Symphony")[10] was launched on October 12, 2004.[11] It 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.[citation needed]
  • Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 Update Rollup 2 (codenamed "Emerald", October 2005) [12][13] 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.

Exclusive features[edit]

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.

Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005[edit]

New features[edit]

  • Windows Movie Maker, contains 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.

Removed features[edit]

  • 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.[14] It is possible to re-enable joining a domain by modifying the Windows registry.[15]
  • Windows Media Player 6.4 is no longer included.

Hardware requirements[edit]

The Software Version screen showing MCE running on an Intel Core 2 Duo computer.

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.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Windows XP Media Center Edition Released to Manufacturing In Time for Holiday 2002". News Center. Microsoft. September 2, 2002. Retrieved December 25, 2014.
  2. ^ a b "The Wait Is Over! Windows XP Media Center Edition Ushers in New Era of Entertainment on the PC". News Center. Microsoft. October 28, 2002. Retrieved December 25, 2014.
  3. ^ a b c "Microsoft Product Lifecycle: Microsoft Windows XP Media Center Edition". Microsoft Support. Microsoft. Retrieved December 13, 2014.
  4. ^ Sinofsky, Steven (May 3, 2012). "Making Windows Media Center available in Windows 8". Building Windows 8. Microsoft. Archived from the original on February 24, 2016.
  5. ^ "Upgrade to Windows 10: FAQ". Microsoft Support Website. Microsoft. November 14, 2018.
  6. ^ Thurrott, Paul (May 1, 2002). "Windows XP Media Center Edition ("Freestyle") Preview". SuperSite for Windows. Penton. Archived from the original on June 7, 2002.
  7. ^ a b "Microsoft Unveils Windows XP Media Center Edition, Previously Code-Named "Freestyle"". News Center. Microsoft. July 16, 2002. Retrieved December 25, 2014.
  8. ^ Howard, Bill (September 30, 2003). "Second-Generation Media Center Edition: Worth the Wait". PC Magazine. Ziff Davis.
  9. ^ "Microsoft Redefines PC Entertainment With Launch Of Windows XP Media Center Edition 2004". News Center. Microsoft. September 30, 2003. Retrieved December 25, 2014.
  10. ^ Evers, Joris (October 12, 2004). "Microsoft aims high with Media Center update". PC Advisor. IDG.
  11. ^ "Microsoft and Industry Partners Deliver on Digital Entertainment Anywhere Vision With Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005". News Center. Microsoft. October 12, 2004. Retrieved December 25, 2014.
  12. ^ Owen, Charlie (October 14, 2005). "Emerald Is Finally Here". Charlie Owen blog. Archived from the original on August 5, 2007.
  13. ^ "Software Update for Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 Enables High-Fidelity Access to PC Digital Entertainment via Xbox 360". News Center. Microsoft. October 14, 2005.
  14. ^ "You cannot join your computer to a domain in Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005". Support. Microsoft. November 19, 2004. Archived from the original on November 1, 2005.
  15. ^ "Joining a domain with Windows Media Center 2005". Retrieved April 7, 2011.[dead link]

External links[edit]