WMC officially dead for Windows 10 and beyond

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Dirigible

Diamond Member
Apr 26, 2006
5,950
5
81
I'm unsurprised and sad. WMC works great, and is simple to use.

The streaming alternative is horrible. We've had a great time with DVRs and physical digital media making it easy to watch things on our terms. We fast forward through commercials, skip previews and and other advertisements. We rip physical media and convert to use it in whatever format and on whatever device we like.

Streaming will make that more difficult. It surprises me that the content holders have resisted it for so long. Stream and disallow advertisement skipping. Stream and make people pay for the HD version, make them pay again if they want a version their phone can handle. Etc., etc.
 

bradly1101

Diamond Member
May 5, 2013
4,687
292
126
www.bradlygsmith.org
An interesting read from this page:

Hello, everyone. I work for a major cable company and I work in the CableCARD support department. I also use a CableCARD with Windows Media Center on Windows 8.1 with a HD Homerun Prime. I have also used the ATI TV Wonder.

First, someone mentioned that there could not be a licensed CableCARD software for Linux/Android because it is open source. That is incorrect. Just because the operating system is open source doesn't mean that all software written for that operating system are open source, too. Anyone can write Linux/Android software and not release the source code and even sell it. That is what Google Store is all about.

Secondly, Microsoft's Windows Media Center is the only software that you can use that works with CableCARD's copy-protected channels. This is because Microsoft has licensed PlayReady, a software that enforces DRM to make Windows Media Center compliant with CableLabs' CableCARD specifications. Any other software will not be able to play channels that are "copy once" or "copy never". They would only play "copy freely" channels.

I am concerned about Microsoft pulling everyone into Windows 10, even offering it free to people who pirated Windows 7 and 8. It's like someone in a van offering free candy to children. I've heard people here saying that they are going to hold onto Windows 7 or Windows 8 Pro. The real concern is about the Guide. Zap2It was the company that Microsoft contracted to provide guide information. Recently, Microsoft has stopped using them and is "providing guide update via Windows updates". If Microsoft decides to stop update our guides, that will disable the DVR functionality, such as scheduling recordings. If that happens, all Windows 7 and 8 Pro users will be disabled and Windows Media Center will no longer work for CableCARDS for anyone's Windows Media Center.

CableCARDs are not going to be phased out "soon". By the time it is abandoned, it will have been because a majority of CableCARD users, themselves, abandoned CableCARD in favor of something else (such as online streaming).

The FCC did mandate that CableCARDs be offered by cable companies back in 2003. However, in 2013, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit vacated that order, so there is no more official necessity for cable companies to provide CableCARDs.

However, there is a good reason why we won't stop supporting CableCARDs.

When you rent a cable company's Set Top Box (STB) or Digital Video Recorder (DVR) you gain the ability to watch copy-protected channels. You also get features such as your cable company's guide, starting over a program, caller ID on TV, Impulse Pay Per View (IPPV), ordering new services with your remote control, and On Demand. All of these cable company boxes use CableCARDs inside of them. If we stopped supporting CableCARD, all of our STBs and DVRs in the field would stop working.

The CableCARDs in the cable company's boxes are the same hardware and firmware as the CableCARDs leased to customers.

So why is it that your CableCARD device doesn't provide you with your cable company's guide, starting over a program, caller ID on TV, Impulse Pay Per View (IPPV), ordering new services with your remote control, or On Demand? It is because they are working in one-way (receive only) mode and all of those features require two way communication.

All CableCARDs are two-way compatible. The reason your Tivo, Moxi, Samsung Smart Media Player, CableCARD TVs, HD Homerun Primes, InfinTVs, ATI TV Wonders, and Hauppauge DCRs are all "OCUR" (Open Cable Unidirectional Receiver) devices.

What determines if a CableCARD operates in one-way versus two-way mode is the host device (the device you place the CableCARD into). The cable company's special boxes (only legitimately sold to Cable Companies) have a "DSG" (DOCSIS Settop Gateway) in them. Basically, it is a built-in cablemodem for return signals sending information upstream back to the cable company. These devices are called "Tru2Way" devices.

No consumer-purchasable retail products include the hardware necessary for two-way communication.

Someone is probably going to mention Switched Digital Video (SDV) which is a two way technology that does work with OCUR devices. With the addition of a 2-way box called a "tuning adapter" (not to be confused with a Digital Transport Adapter or "DTA") the OCUR device has partial two-way communication. I say partial because the only function of the Tuning Adapter is to request SDV channels. It doesn't give you any other features such as the cable company's guide, On Demand, etc.

So why don't companies make retail boxes that are Tru2Way? One answer is obvious. If Tivo did it, you would be able to use the cable companies guide for free and you wouldn't need to pay them a monthly, annual, or lifetime subscription. Other companies that make products that provide a guide for free (all of the other non-Tivo retail devices) are handling this burden on their own. Therefore, they have the risk of the company shutting down its guide updates. Such as if Microsoft stops providing guide updates to Windows Media Center.

CableCARD TVs haven't been made for over 5 years. All the TV manufacturers abandoned CableCARD slot TVs. Their software is so out of date, that they cannot utilize or recognize tuning adapters. Therefore, if you place a CableCARD directly into a TV and you live in an area that has SDV channels, you cannot get all your channels. The TV manufacturers are not writing new firmware for these TVs to add that functionality.

Several people mentioned that the cable companies plot to make it difficult to get CableCARDs because we don't want you to have one. The truth of the matter is, since the order was overturned, we are still supporting them even though we technically don't have to. Also, CableCARD users receive the best support, far better than STB and DVR owners...
 

Aikouka

Lifer
Nov 27, 2001
29,011
310
126
Also, CableCARD users receive the best support, far better than STB and DVR owners...
Is that why it takes 4-5 calls for someone to enter your CableCard and device data correctly? :p
 

poofyhairguy

Lifer
Nov 20, 2005
14,612
314
126
Additionally, I find it odd that you are comparing WMC vs streaming.
I don't. Streaming is the good enough solution for US cord cutters that killed the market a WMC was supposed to dominate. Piracy killed the international market.

Copy protection is and will always be a failure. The second they invented the copy once flag they gave this market to pirates and Netflix. I wish MS at the start would have gotten across a very simply point to media companies: "either avoid the DRM and get what you can out of the market (ratings, time shifting profiles, good will in the nerd community, etc) or force the copy once flag down our throat and you will get nothing (or what little Netflix is willing to pay) back for your content.".

Cable card was always a step back from OTA or qam, or heck even a Blu Ray disc. Especially Blu Ray, because unlike Blu Ray it never got popular enough for hackers to break the DRM. Come 2020 everything with that evil flag is digital dogfood.

Hopefully this means more contributions to Kodi though, and companies like Silicon Dust. Oh and this brings us that closer to a future where video media companies are backed into a Spotify model. They better figure out how to exist on lower margins before it's forced on them.
 

lupi

Lifer
Apr 8, 2001
32,507
254
126
Bah bastards and their stupid announcement yesterday. They gave the we will support dvd follow up later and then got pasted with what about BR dvr/tuner usage. Will be interesting if they ever reply to those.


As far as guide stuff, I have a samsung tuner box that I don't pay anything for other than initially buying the box.

Also as far as CC goes, all the cable company equipment I've seen has been made to use a CC. It's just permanently installed internally and not slot loaded like a consumer device would be so don't see those going away any time soon.
 

Jovec

Senior member
Feb 24, 2008
576
2
81
An interesting read from this page:
I'd be open to using a cable company DVR if the UI wasn't a complete PoS and the storage was reasonably priced or user upgradeable. You can't even read the name of the program without abbreviations and "..." due to the shitty UI. Not to mention ads...

The stuff about the Guide and two-way/Tivo is misleading though. I can't say if sub money is Tivo's reasoning, but if the cable companies weren't being greedy about it they'd just push the Guide data for free (or make it available via some API over the Internet). It's not like guide data is some trade secret. Also, there is no link between the cable company using cable cards and the cable company wanting to drop support for 3rd part CC equipment and usage as that post states.
 
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lupi

Lifer
Apr 8, 2001
32,507
254
126
Not to mention I pay $2 per CC, while it is $10 per box and a $15-20 dvr fee.
 

Jovec

Senior member
Feb 24, 2008
576
2
81
Not to mention I pay $2 per CC, while it is $10 per box and a $15-20 dvr fee.
The money issue varies by individual. I think I'm paying around $5/mo for a m-card and another $3 for a DTA/SV box, so I'd be looking at an extra $12/mo for a single cable company HD DVR (at $20/mo). ~$150/yr is easily in range of what many of us spend on our HTPC over the years (although for a more functional box). Obviously some spend much more, and other much less.
 

glugglug

Diamond Member
Jun 9, 2002
5,341
1
0
That article is so full of crap.

The stuff about 2-way is FAR BEYOND misleading.

Tru-2Way is essentially a spec for the cable box to hand over control to Java applets that know the protocol for sending back to the cable company. So it would require (a) running the same Java apps on your equipment as on the set top box, bringing the same horrible sluggish UI, and (b) essentially handing over control of your equipment to the cable company.

It has absolutely nothing to do with guide data. The set top box does not request guide data, it is periodically pushed to it using a proprietary protocol similar to how it gets the CableCARD channel map.

Tru2Way is 100% about on-demand and pay per view.

The part about "guide update via Windows Updates" is also 100% bullshit.

Another lie is that all set top boxes use CableCARDs. The reason some providers <cough>Time Warner</cough> continue to use 12-15 year old equipment is because (a) anything made before 2006 is grandfathered out of that requirement, and (b) their CableCARD support is so horrible, if they tried to push that insanity onto the bulk of their subscriber base they'd be out of business almost immediately. But now that the FCC overturned the requirement, I guess they can finally start equipment upgrades.
 
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destrekor

Lifer
Nov 18, 2005
28,588
293
126
That article is so full of crap.

The stuff about 2-way is FAR BEYOND misleading.

Tru-2Way is essentially a spec for the cable box to hand over control to Java applets that know the protocol for sending back to the cable company. So it would require (a) running the same Java apps on your equipment as on the set top box, bringing the same horrible sluggish UI, and (b) essentially handing over control of your equipment to the cable company.

It has absolutely nothing to do with guide data. The set top box does not request guide data, it is periodically pushed to it using a proprietary protocol similar to how it gets the CableCARD channel map.

Tru2Way is 100% about on-demand and pay per view.

The part about "guide update via Windows Updates" is also 100% bullshit.

Another lie is that all set top boxes use CableCARDs. The reason some providers <cough>Time Warner</cough> continue to use 12-15 year old equipment is because (a) anything made before 2006 is grandfathered out of that requirement, and (b) their CableCARD support is so horrible, if they tried to push that insanity onto the bulk of their subscriber base they'd be out of business almost immediately. But now that the FCC overturned the requirement, I guess they can finally start equipment upgrades.
This post is correct for the most part. Tru2Way is physically possible on consumer-purchased boxes, as made evident by Tivo, but it does require certification (money) and implementing specific protocols in software. (Might there be additional hardware? I had heard before that is the case.)

However, cable company STBs do indeed use CableCARD. It is not a nightmare to support because these devices are pre-registered and locked in, tested and activated prior to it even reaching the local cable co's office. They are built-in to the boxes, if you look at the rear of the box you might very well see the closed-off slot, or if there are vents, able to see the card itself. They are not user-serviceable, so the pain of dealing with activation is not at all present.

Also, in regards to Tru2Way, while it is almost entirely about VOD and PPV, SDV is now lumped into it as well, with the software directly implementing channel request operations. Without Tru2Way, that must be achieved using a Tuning Adapter in tandem with a CableCARD host.


For anyone curious about PPV and CableCARD, it is not a lock down on PPV (it is for VOD), it simply removes the convenience of browsing and ordering through the guide. If you call your provider you can manually order any PPV and then tune into the channel.
 

bradly1101

Diamond Member
May 5, 2013
4,687
292
126
www.bradlygsmith.org
That article is so full of crap.

The stuff about 2-way is FAR BEYOND misleading.

Tru-2Way is essentially a spec for the cable box to hand over control to Java applets that know the protocol for sending back to the cable company. So it would require (a) running the same Java apps on your equipment as on the set top box, bringing the same horrible sluggish UI, and (b) essentially handing over control of your equipment to the cable company.

It has absolutely nothing to do with guide data. The set top box does not request guide data, it is periodically pushed to it using a proprietary protocol similar to how it gets the CableCARD channel map.

Tru2Way is 100% about on-demand and pay per view.

The part about "guide update via Windows Updates" is also 100% bullshit.

Another lie is that all set top boxes use CableCARDs. The reason some providers <cough>Time Warner</cough> continue to use 12-15 year old equipment is because (a) anything made before 2006 is grandfathered out of that requirement, and (b) their CableCARD support is so horrible, if they tried to push that insanity onto the bulk of their subscriber base they'd be out of business almost immediately. But now that the FCC overturned the requirement, I guess they can finally start equipment upgrades.
Sorry I posted that. My knowledge of what goes on with all the signals is very limited and I thought he was enlightening me. Oops.
 

lupi

Lifer
Apr 8, 2001
32,507
254
126
Reading some of the new rumor stuff has me somewhere between confused and irate. There are discussions now that the guts of WMC will live on as a software update to Xbone. Reading between the lines it seems this will be done as a way to boost Xbone sales. Part of my confusion would be if you believed that absolute garbage they tossed at us, WMC was only useful for DVD playback.

One of the significant complaints about the Xbone hardware when it was released was that it did not contain a CC slot while at the same time being marketed as the center for the home entertainment experience while in fact it does little more than allow a signal to be passed through from another STB. So my other confusion comes from, are we expecting them to spend resources to develop software that will have virtually no use as the currently available hardware does not support using it in any meaningful way?

And now for the irate part, don't even attempt to tell me you're dumping the tuner/dvr functionality for the PC and then turning around and taking it onto that stupid console. You don't want "WMC" anymore, then fine. If you're adding DVR to the Xbone, then you sure as hell can do the minimal changes necessary to that software to have a DVR program on the PC with equivalent functionality to what exist now.
 

lsd

Golden Member
Sep 26, 2000
1,158
13
81
I don't. Streaming is the good enough solution for US cord cutters that killed the market a WMC was supposed to dominate. Piracy killed the international market.

Copy protection is and will always be a failure. The second they invented the copy once flag they gave this market to pirates and Netflix. I wish MS at the start would have gotten across a very simply point to media companies: "either avoid the DRM and get what you can out of the market (ratings, time shifting profiles, good will in the nerd community, etc) or force the copy once flag down our throat and you will get nothing (or what little Netflix is willing to pay) back for your content.".

Cable card was always a step back from OTA or qam, or heck even a Blu Ray disc. Especially Blu Ray, because unlike Blu Ray it never got popular enough for hackers to break the DRM. Come 2020 everything with that evil flag is digital dogfood.

Hopefully this means more contributions to Kodi though, and companies like Silicon Dust. Oh and this brings us that closer to a future where video media companies are backed into a Spotify model. They better figure out how to exist on lower margins before it's forced on them.
I don't see how streaming killed wmc when it was a part of wmc. Netflix was built into wmc and there were a few internet tv channels.
The failure is on MS for not marketing wmc properly and not turning it into a revenue stream. Correct me if I'm wrong but there was no attempt by MS to open any kind streaming store within wmc. Had there been one and marketed properly so the general public knew about it, I think wmc would have been a success. Then again this is MS and they have a good track record of f'n shit up.
 

destrekor

Lifer
Nov 18, 2005
28,588
293
126
Reading some of the new rumor stuff has me somewhere between confused and irate. There are discussions now that the guts of WMC will live on as a software update to Xbone. Reading between the lines it seems this will be done as a way to boost Xbone sales. Part of my confusion would be if you believed that absolute garbage they tossed at us, WMC was only useful for DVD playback.

One of the significant complaints about the Xbone hardware when it was released was that it did not contain a CC slot while at the same time being marketed as the center for the home entertainment experience while in fact it does little more than allow a signal to be passed through from another STB. So my other confusion comes from, are we expecting them to spend resources to develop software that will have virtually no use as the currently available hardware does not support using it in any meaningful way?

And now for the irate part, don't even attempt to tell me you're dumping the tuner/dvr functionality for the PC and then turning around and taking it onto that stupid console. You don't want "WMC" anymore, then fine. If you're adding DVR to the Xbone, then you sure as hell can do the minimal changes necessary to that software to have a DVR program on the PC with equivalent functionality to what exist now.
Well, in Europe, they have an official Digital TV Tuner add on, and in the U.S. they have (or are releasing soon) a TV Tuner by Hauppauge (the digital tuner may also be from Hauppauge, but possibly not).

They may potentially release a CableCARD device, or support CableCARD devices on the network, which I hope the latter is definitely the case.

Being it is something they are developing for XBOX One, and the XBONE is getting Windows 10 sometime after the PC release, that leaves a slim amount of hope they will be creating a "universal" app that can also function just fine on a Windows 10 PC. This I would be fine with. It would probably be called something stupid like "Xbox TV" or some nonsense like their Xbox Music rebrand of Zune.

I could understand the statement of WMC's demise and not yet fully detailing the new multi-platform replacement. They'd want to save the promotion of the XBONE app until perhaps E3, and at that time announce any multi-platform support.

Here's to hoping. Also, better support for network sharing of protected content would be fantastic! With the death of WMC Extenders for everything beyond Windows 7, this would be a much better step in the right direction. With their support for Android and iOS growing, I also wouldn't doubt if perhaps viewing apps would be available on other platforms.
 

poofyhairguy

Lifer
Nov 20, 2005
14,612
314
126
I don't see how streaming killed wmc when it was a part of wmc. Netflix was built into wmc and there were a few internet tv channels.
Yeah, but why build/buy a WMC computer to do streaming stuff when a console or Roku can do the same thing for less and in a more turnkey package?

Maybe its more accurate to say the Rokus of the world killed WMC. A Roku or even a PS3 is so easy compared to a computer and dealing with tuners. Heck that is why the XBone has an HDMI in instead of a cablecard slot.
 

Aikouka

Lifer
Nov 27, 2001
29,011
310
126
In my opinion, the biggest problem the the Xbox One DVR rumor is that the X1 has a 500GB HDD by default (unless you got the Call of Duty 1TB model). You can extend it with an external hard drive, but I'm not a huge fan of dangling storage and also permanently tying up USB ports on a system with only 3.

Yeah, but why build/buy a WMC computer to do streaming stuff when a console or Roku can do the same thing for less and in a more turnkey package?
I think the problem relates to people not understanding the breadth of functionality that you gain by alternate viewing methods. People are so used to the idea that you watch cable on your TV with your cable box that they're practically flabbergasted when I show them how I can easily watch cable on any computer or TV that I want. I've also seen similar responses when I show people the simplicity and functionality of Plex.

I don't think this is limited to just PC-based cable viewing. I'm sure we've all experienced a time in our life when someone showed us a far more effective or efficient way of doing some facet of our life. We're just so used to doing something one way that we don't think of doing it any other way.
 
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lsd

Golden Member
Sep 26, 2000
1,158
13
81
Yeah, but why build/buy a WMC computer to do streaming stuff when a console or Roku can do the same thing for less and in a more turnkey package?

Maybe its more accurate to say the Rokus of the world killed WMC. A Roku or even a PS3 is so easy compared to a computer and dealing with tuners. Heck that is why the XBone has an HDMI in instead of a cablecard slot.
I agree for a TV it is easier to buy a Roku (I have a roku HD).
But MS had the opportunity to have a revenue source on all those desktops and laptops that had a free wmc built in. They never even tried and wmc cost them money rather than made them.
 

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