Media Center and Personal Video Recorder

Things to Know When Getting Video Working with Media Center

Unfortunately, you can't just playback DVDs from a fresh install of Windows XP Media Center. Even when you get the codec working with the Media Center operating system, it’s far from being a simple matter of streaming it to your Xbox360. On the Media Center PC you might be able to playback a DVD movie just fine, but try and stream that to the extender and you get the following error message:

Video Not Supported
Video cannot be viewed in media center from a remote desktop connection.

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We’ll tackle this problem one step at a time. First, let’s look at using DVD movies with your Windows XP Media Center PC before even trying to stream it to Xbox360. If you’ve freshly loaded the operating system yourself, then you have no doubt encountered troubles trying to load a DVD movie in the first place. Windows XP Media Center 2005 doesn’t come with a DVD Decoder. This is a piece of software that allows the operating system to playback a DVD movie. Windows isn’t licensed to carry this alone and must have a third party codec installed in order to get DVD movie playback working. However, you can’t just pick any old DVD codec that works on the PC if you want to stream to your Xbox360. You’ll need one that specifically supports Windows Media Player 10.

There are several DVD Decoders recommended by Microsoft. Nvidia has a 30 day trial where you can use it free of charge. Most people have probably purchased an HTPC that has Windows Media Center 2005 loaded on it from the manufacturer, so you probably don’t have to worry about a DVD Codec. If you didn’t get one, you’ll know as soon as you try to load a DVD. A DVD movie won’t be recognized by Windows Media Player and won’t play back until you get a Windows DRM 10 codec installed.

The extra step is ensuring it’s compatible with Windows Media Player 10 and it’s new PlaysForSure DRM. You can probably just download an old copy of Media Player 6 (includes a codec) from a variety of sources and play back the DVD through it. However, this won’t give you playback through the correct version of Media Player and won’t allow you to stream movies to Xbox360. Once you’ve got what you believe is a good codec installed, you should check it with Microsoft’s Codec Checker. Even if you got a codec from Microsoft’s own recommended list, it’s possible there is another installed on your system that could get in the way of streaming MPG2 files to the Extender.

See if your codec is compatible with Windows Media Player 10. Microsoft’s Codec Checker is a simple (and free) utility that shows whether or not your codec is compliant. Failure will result in troubles later, so uninstall it and pick another. If you have more than one codec installed, make sure you get rid of the one that is not compatible with DRM 10. This will save you trouble later on. Incompatible codecs, even when not the primary, have been identified as problematic when streaming video to the Xbox360. Pick one codec that works and use it exclusively by uninstalling competing codecs.

Simple Steps to Playing DVDs through the Xbox360 Extender

  • DVD Codec: Obtain a compatible Media Player 10 Codec so your operating system can playback DVDs.
  • DVD Decryption: Decrypt copy protection from any DVD Movie you own. This backup to your system’s hard drive is for your own purposes and is perfectly legal.
  • MPG2 Conversion: Mpeg2 conversion is as simple as renaming a VOB file. For a walkthrough check the next section on streaming DVD movies to Xbox360.

Now you’re able to playback DVDs through your Windows Media Center PC. You can just backup any DVD movie by copying the VIDEO_TS directory to any storage your Media Center PC has access to. It’s a handy trick for the PC, but Media Connect will not allow the DVD Video to be passed on to the Xbox360 Extender. If you attempt this, the result will be the following error message: Video Not Supported.

In order to stream movies through the Windows Media Center PC to Xbox360, you’ll need to perform a conversion of the .VOB files to .MPG files. This can be done the hard way by transcoding, or the easy way, which is simply renaming the extensions of the files.

Next, we’ll take a detailed walk through and explain exactly how to perform a proper DVD backup and play the video through the Xbox360.