Media Center Guide Changeover: If only we had TV Pack 2008

Vistaar

Vista Guru
Microsoft had long used Zap2It as provider of program guide data for Windows Media Center, but recently switched to Rovi, causing much distress among WMC users: View topic - Media Center EPG Cutover. It appears that issues are slowly being resolved for WMC users running Windows 7 and 8, but it also appears that those running Vista are being left in the lurch. If any Vista user reading this is able to get WMC guide data at this time, then please post here and tell us about it.

If you are running Vista Home Premium or Ultimate, then you have WMC, and your PC might have shipped with a TV tuner card installed. It is well known that the Windows 7 version of WMC has many features that were lacking in the Vista version, but few are aware that Microsoft developed an upgrade for the Vista version that made it nearly the equivalent of W7MC. That's because Microsoft chose to release TV Pack 2008 via OEM only - which is why I'm posting this in the Software forum instead of Windows Updates. If you wish to read more about it, a good article is Windows Media Center TV Pack 2008: The Unofficial User's Guide | PCMag.com.

I'm a software historian (aren't we all?), and wanted to install TV Pack 2008 for purposes of academic research. It cannot be downloaded from Microsoft; but the internet being what it is, a download can perhaps be found elsewhere if one is determined. Of course downloading Windows components from third-party sources is generally not to be recommended! Before beginning my research, I not only created a restore point, but also created an up-to-date system image. This is especially important because TV Pack reportedly cannot be uninstalled. After downloading and extracting an RAR file of TV pack, I scanned it not only with my installed security software but also at the virustotal website, where the detection ratio was 0/51 (clean). However I should mention that Symantec actually timed out while attempting to scan the relatively large file. I also looked at the digital signature (Microsoft Corporation, Thursday, July 03, 2008 2:45:50 AM).

Microsoft reportedly recommended a clean install of Vista with SP1 for adding TV Pack way back when, but I thought it was important to set the record straight about how well it works on a fully-updated installation of 32-bit Vista with SP2. However it might be significant that my WMC had been unused since I reinstalled Vista earlier this year. After successfully installing TV Pack and restarting, I checked for Windows updates and found Cumulative Update for Media Center TVPack for Windows Vista (KB977864) and four security patches, all of which installed successfully. A TV Pack download site instructed me to install PlayReady PC Runtime v1.2, however my research convinced me that I did not want or need that junk for purposes of testing TV Pack's Clear QAM capabilites. If other researchers wish to study how TV Pack works with a CableCard tuner, then PlayReady might prove neccessary, in which case the somewhat more recent v1.3 can be downloaded directly from Microsoft.

Results: My Clear QAM cable channels were scanned with the greatest of ease. Not surprisingly these days, I had to run Media Center Setup repeatedly to get the Rovi guide data, but I did finally get it! I have watched live TV, recorded shows in the "new" wtv format, played back those recordings plus an old recording in the dvr-ms format - all with no issues worth mentioning. Of course every system is different, and I cannot vouch for the 64-bit version, but I'd say it's a crying shame that Microsoft chose not to allow Vista users to download this fine piece of software.
 

My Computer

System One

  • Operating System
    Vista Home Premium x86 SP2
    Manufacturer/Model
    HP Pavilion Elite m9150f
    CPU
    Intel Q6600
    Memory
    3 GB
    Graphics Card(s)
    NVIDIA GeForce 8500 GT

Vistaar

Vista Guru
Some discussion is currently taking place here: View topic - VISTA WMC Stuck on Zap2it

[Edit] Some have now reported success with 64-bit Vista. One issue: TV Pack may cause PC to inexplicably wake from sleep.
 
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My Computer

System One

  • Operating System
    Vista Home Premium x86 SP2
    Manufacturer/Model
    HP Pavilion Elite m9150f
    CPU
    Intel Q6600
    Memory
    3 GB
    Graphics Card(s)
    NVIDIA GeForce 8500 GT

Vistaar

Vista Guru
If "Download Failure" occurs an unreasonable number of times while attempting to set up TV signal, it might be necessary to open an elevated command prompt and run ipconfig /flushdns
 

My Computer

System One

  • Operating System
    Vista Home Premium x86 SP2
    Manufacturer/Model
    HP Pavilion Elite m9150f
    CPU
    Intel Q6600
    Memory
    3 GB
    Graphics Card(s)
    NVIDIA GeForce 8500 GT

virtual6

Vista Pro
Those are some interesting discussion threads, there are certainly some people who really want to continue to use WMC with Vista.
Regarding the authenticity of the TVP download file...do we have some independent checksum (like SHA1) to verify against? (I'm assuming you downloaded from the embedded link in the post on the digiex.net site).
Have you noticed anything "weird" on your system (like Chinese spyware, etc.) after installing?
 

My Computer

Vistaar

Vista Guru
Welcome virtual6. I did not find a checksum when I searched, but perhaps you might have a better idea where to look? I have no reason to believe that there is any "Chinese spyware" on my system, but I will hang on to my July 26 image just in case. There is every indication that the post you mention has been undisturbed for 7 years. I was the first person to post there in the last 5 years, and the OP has since replied. One pioneering TV Packer (screenname SteelWill) was so annoyed by his PC waking from sleep for no apparent reason that he moved on to Windows 7. He has since been asking questions at AVS Forum about Windows 7 updating and sleep habits, and has been advised to try hibernation instead of sleep; so perhaps this was just a case of TV Pack behaving very much like W7MC (which it is).

There is still no indication that legacy guide data is coming back in North America, and now there is news from the UK and France that guide data is currently unavailable there. I suspect that Vista users will again be left out in the cold.
 

My Computer

System One

  • Operating System
    Vista Home Premium x86 SP2
    Manufacturer/Model
    HP Pavilion Elite m9150f
    CPU
    Intel Q6600
    Memory
    3 GB
    Graphics Card(s)
    NVIDIA GeForce 8500 GT

Vistaar

Vista Guru
At least one Vista user in the UK has now turned to TV Pack: View topic - UK EPG Licence Expiring

The case for TV Pack is not as strong for the UK as it is for North America. For one thing, other methods of obtaining free guide data (e.g. DVBGuide) are fairly well-developed there. For another thing, TV Pack does not add the H.264 support that would be needed for HD channels in Europe. (MPEG-2 is used even for HDTV in North America.) In that respect, Vista users in Europe might do better to install NextPVR, which with the right tuner and decoders would give them HDTV capability. (MediaPortal might do just as well, but I'm not familiar with it.) NextPVR also supports Windows 10, so learning how to use it could prove useful in a future without WMC.

[Edit] Unfortunately it appears that DVBGuide for Vista is a lost art, which makes TV Pack a better option for Vista users in the UK.

Update 10 Oct 2015: A couple of reports suggest that legacy guide data is becoming available again in Europe and the UK, so Vista users there might not need to take any drastic action after all.
 
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My Computer

System One

  • Operating System
    Vista Home Premium x86 SP2
    Manufacturer/Model
    HP Pavilion Elite m9150f
    CPU
    Intel Q6600
    Memory
    3 GB
    Graphics Card(s)
    NVIDIA GeForce 8500 GT
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