This article is more than 1 year old

Remember Windows Media Center? Well, the SDK is now on GitHub to be poked at your leisure

If you ever wanted to write an extension for Microsoft's long-dead media hub, you can

One of the original managers of the Microsoft's ill-fated Windows Media Center has made the SDK available on GitHub.

Uploaded by GitHub user "retrosight" (aka former Microsoft staffer Charlie Owen), the original installer had apparently gone missing following one of Microsoft's recent purges and so the SDK is now in the code shack, "preserving a bit of history for the diaspora that created Windows Media Center".

Spotted by former Windows Media Center MVP Ian Dixon, there isn't actually a huge amount one can do with the SDK other than take a dip in the waters of nostalgia, back when Microsoft was flogging more than Office 365 and game consoles to consumers.

However, it is interesting to poke around a design language that hung around Microsoft through its Windows Phone and the touch-first Windows 8. Even if actually compiling the eHome samples is a tad challenging because, well, Windows Media Center is no longer a thing.

Windows Media Center was an attempt by Microsoft to persuade consumers that a PC in the living room would be a delightful experience. A box capable of recording television channels to disk, managing photographs, videos and music, and extensible through add-ons such as My Movies.

Sadly, the first version, launched in 2002 in the form of Windows XP Media Center Edition, was met with a collective shrug from the consumer market. PCs, after all, were not the most attractive of things to stick beneath the TV and it was all too easy to drop back to the Windows Desktop when one least expected.

This was despite Microsoft's care to only sell the OS to OEMs who supposedly knew what they were doing when building systems, or make it downloadable by curious MSDN customers.

Nevertheless, and despite competition from the likes of SageTV, Microsoft persevered and emitted updates first for the unloved Windows Vista and finally Windows 7, in 2009. The last, and most complete, version of Windows Media Center sported a clean interface familiar to Windows Phone users, allowed multiple recordings from multiple tuners and supported H.264 video without requiring leaps through multiple hoops.

Extenders, discreet boxes introduced during the software's short life, rounded things out for those unwilling to fork out for a PC that would not look out of place in the living room. Even the Xbox 360 console made for a handy portal into a networked Media Center PC with a jab of a green Windows button on the remote.

However, aside from a niche group of fans (this writer included), usage remained low and the group behind Media Center was disbanded shortly after Windows 7 was launched. While Microsoft grudgingly kept support going during the dark days of Windows 8 and 8.1, by the time Windows 10 rolled around, the company nailed the coffin shut.

We asked Microsoft if this is a sign the company will open-source its long-dead media platform, but have yet to receive a reply. ®

More about


Send us news

Other stories you might like