You may remember that back in September, Microsoft confirmed that the Xbox One would not be able to be used as a Windows Media Center Extender, something that was supported on the Xbox 360. But what if your Home Theater PC, running Windows Media Center, was hooked up to your television? Could you display that content inside the Xbox One's user interface, as you can with a TV set-top box?
As it turns out, the short answer is, "Yes, you can." Neowin forum member "woodyp" posted up how he managed to accomplish the task on Monday, "Getting Windows Media Center to work on the Xbox One." He has a Silicondust HDHomerun Prime TV tuner set up to work with his home theater PC.
Here is his full procedure:
- 1. I went into X1 settings page and under TV (I think) and disabled the option that Xbox turns off power of my "cable box"
- 2. Under the initial TV setup screen (separate screen from step one above) I used "Media Center PC" (just typed media when asked what was the brand), in addition to setting up my cable provider, etc etc. Please NOTE that I have a Media Center IR Blaster connected to the computer, so I am not sure if this is required or not. I would assume it is otherwise you will have to just use your normal WMC remote or keyboard/mouse to change channels).
- 3. Allowed it to run the "power test" even though nothing would happen. Said it "worked' and moved on. (Notice nothing ever showed up in the little TV preview area on the right hand side of this particular screen so wasn't really worried).
- 4. Launched the X1 TV app and saw my HTPC desktop. I could control the desktop environment with my mouse and keyboard.
- 5. Launched Windows Media Center (WMC) and it launched. I used X1 to change channels. Even in just the default WMC screen it sent the command to change channels based on the integrated X1 guide (not the Media center guide).
- 6. The image was just slightly degraded (probably due to the HDMI pass-through), but not very noticeable. However this method was much more responsive then using a traditional media center extender (I also have a Ceton which is horrendously slow). it seems even snappier than the 360's media center extender). I assume this is attributed to direct HDMI connection vs. Ethernet. 7.
- The only issue I experienced was NO SOUND. So I actually switched to the HDMI cable that came with the X1 for the HTPC to the X1 and rebooted the HTPC. Then I had to go into the audio playback devices (right click on speaker icon in Windows) and manually select my HDMI source which, for me, was AMD. For some reason it was disabled. So I re-enabled it and set it to default and tested it by adjusting the sound volume and heard the windows ding.
- 8. With the sound working and the Xbox guide capable of changing channels, it seems to be all working fine. If you get an error about "video display playback" or a DRM issue, just reboot the system while the X1 TV app is active. That way it gets a solid HDMI handshake.
The final result looks pretty impressive, at least based on the screenshots that "woodyp" has posted. As you might expect, different TV tuners and Home Theater PCs might have slightly different procedures to get up and running inside the Xbox One but at least this shows it can be done.
So if you are looking for an excuse to buy Microsoft's new console (and there may still be some out there to buy) and you have a HTPC, this might help get everything set up.
Our thanks to Neowin member "woodyp" for his efforts in posting this article and the screenshots in our forums.