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Windows Media Center is dead. Here are the best alternatives

Windows Media Center is dead, but there is no shortage of media centers to take its place.

Windows Media Center (WMC) will die with the release of Windows 10. It  had it coming for a long time. After development ceased in 2009 and WMC was not included in Windows 8, Microsoft recently announced it would not issue an update to WMC for Windows 10.

WMC was a digital entertainment center to record video and play media from local drives and network sources, including online streaming services. It premiered on Windows XP Media Center Edition and came with several editions of Windows Vista and Windows 7. Windows 8 users had to purchase a Media Center Pack add-on to continue using WMC or find alternative tools to play DVDs and Blu-Rays.

Windows Media Player will be removed when you upgrade to Windows 10.

If you are currently using WMC on Windows 7, 8, or 8.1, you should be aware that it will be removed once you upgrade to Windows 10.

Windows 10 WMC Warning

A computer that only serves as a media center in your home doesn’t benefit much from an upgrade to Windows 10; don’t fix a running system. If you are keen on upgrading a multi-purpose computer, don’t worry, you have many options for replacing WMC.

Microsoft will offer an alternative solution for DVD playback.

Microsoft’s usage data seems to have reveal that WMC has mostly been used to play DVDs. Gabe Aul tweeted that they would offer an update with a DVD option later this year.

Use VLC Media Player to watch DVDs and Blu-Rays.

Meanwhile, if you’re looking for a way to watch DVDs or Blu-Rays on Windows 10, we recommend VLC Media Player. VideoLAN’s free open source and cross-platform multimedia player supports a range of disc and media file formats and has a host of useful features. Earlier this year it added Chromecast streaming to its arsenal. VLC should also be able to play TV programs recorded on WMC and saved to the Windows TV (.wtv) format.

Related: Next VLC Update Will Add Chromecast Streaming

Download media from the Windows Store

Windows 10 Store Movies and TVFor Windows 10, Microsoft has completely overhauled the Windows Store. It now features a Music and a Movies & TV section. The latter offers movie rentals, last night on TV, and featured collections. The Windows Store links to your video library, which lists your purchases, as well as videos stored on your computer.

This is far from being a comprehensive media center and it’s not free, but for the occasional entertainment it works well enough.

Related: Has Windows 10 fixed Microsoft’s app store woes? Not exactly

Kodi

Originally released as Xbox Media Center (despite the name, it was built by users, not by Microsoft) — hence formerly known as XBMC — Kodi was eventually developed into a full media center alternative. Besides a comprehensive set of advanced features that put WMC to shame, it offers a great number of add-ons, skins, and an active support community. If you’re looking for an all-around replacement, Kodi is your best bet, and it has long been WMC’s biggest competitor.

Kodi

Kodi handles digital media fiiles, such as videos, music, or images, from local storage or media cards, and it can record live TV. Through add-ins you can access online content on YouTube, Spotify, and TED. Kodi is free, open source, and runs not only on Windows, but also Linux, OS X, iOS, Android, and more, offering a seamless experience across all your devices.

Related: How to build a killer media center PC

Plex

Like Kodi, Plex supports a wide range of platforms, allowing you to stream your content to any of your devices. Streaming is handled via a secure connection, free of charge. Media libraries are Plex’s forte and you can share them with friends.
Plex

Some premium features, including mobile or cloud sync, movie trailers, and Vevo music videos, are only available with a Plex Pass. One thing Plex can’t do is record live TV, but you can save online videos to watch them later.

Related: Plex will now let you keep your ‘private’ videos hidden with new Plex Home feature

MediaPortal

Like Kodi, MediaPortal is a free and open source entertainment center with a strong focus on being a digital video recorder (DVR) that lets you watch, schedule, and record live TV. Beyond that it supports the standard media center features, such as playing digital media and streaming content to devices in your network.

MediaPortal

MediaPortal doesn’t offer quite as many plugins and skins as Kodi, but it has one of the more extensive collections. You can access MediaPortal via a web interface or one of its many mobile apps, making it a very accessible and versatile WMC alternative.

MythTV

MythTV is another free and open source media center, which excels as a DVR. You can record TV shows and pause, skip, and rewind them at the same time. MythTV can detect and skip commercials.

MythTV TV Recording

Originally developed for Linux, MythTV can be compiled on Windows, but no official EXE is provided, making this a hands-on process. The Windows version offers all frontend features, but most plugins are not supported.

For plenty more alternatives to WMC, head to the list of entertainment centers, head to alternativeTo.

Invest in a set top box

Alternatively, if you can’t be bothered to set up your own media center from scratch, look into one of the many set top boxes on offer, such as the Roku, Apple TV, or Google Chromecast. For as little as $35 or up to around $100 you can get a USB device that comes preinstalled with your favorite streaming service and countless TV channels, as well as additional out-of-the-box features.

Related: Tap into a world of streaming TV shows and movies with one of these streaming TV devices

Windows Media Player was popular for reason, but its competitors have caught up a long time ago. Switching to a new digital entertainment center will be an upgrade. Superior tools will help you repopulate your database in no time.