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Learning Windows 7: Setup Live TV in Windows Media Center

If you’re moving from XP to Windows 7, you probably haven’t spent much time with Windows Media Center (unless you had XP Media Center Edition). Today we take a look at setting it up to watch live TV on your computer.

Note: Of course to watch live TV you’ll need a TV Tuner Card installed on your system first. In this example we used an older ATI Wonder card that Windows 7 actually found the drivers for. 

Setup Live TV

First we need to open Windows Media Center from the Start Menu.

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You’ll be presented with the Welcome to Windows Media Center (WMC) screen where you can click Continue.

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The quickest way to get everything rolling is to choose Express setup at the Get Started screen. You can go into Custom if you are experienced and want to tweak everything right away, but after setting up with Express settings you can always go back and make changes later.

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From the menu, scroll to TV and live tv setup.

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Choose your region. Windows will assume it’s the same region you picked in the initial installation so it should be correct by default. If you need to change it select No, I want to select a different region.

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Enter in your Zip Code and hit next.

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Now you’ll need to agree to two terms of service…the first one being the Program Guide.

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Then agree to Install PlayReady and click Next.

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WMC will download and install the PlayReady feature.

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Now in TV Setup, WMC will try to detect where the TV signal is coming from. Here it found our Digital Antenna. If it doesn’t see it, check that everything is connected properly, and select No, let Windows Media Center detect again.

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WMC will download the TV Program Guide for your area so you can check listings for up to 14 days.

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After everything is detected and downloaded you can click on Finish. If something doesn’t look correct, you can go back through the setup wizard steps.

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Now you should be able to go through the different channels and start watching live TV.

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WMC has a lot of cool features for live television where it will act like a DVR. From the controls in the lower left corner of the screen you can control playback, volume, and record, pause, and playback live TV.

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Right click on the screen while watching a program to show the details about the show you’re watching.

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You can also use different versions of Close Caption.

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It also lets you toggle through different views of the Program Guide while watching live TV so you can check out what is on other stations.

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Conclusion

In this example, the setup process was pretty straight forward, but because there are numerous types of video cards and TV signal setups, result will vary depending on your situation. This basic look at setting up live TV through Windows Media Center should get you started using it and exploring what it has to offer. Windows Media Center is available on Windows 7 and Vista from Home Premium and higher.

Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 01/20/10

Comments (25)

  1. at0mic

    wmc is the main reason i have a second monitor. i can watch tv while doing what ever it is i do online.

  2. oneshot719

    what are the hardware requirements to effectively watch/record tv while performing other tasks at the same time?
    What can be expected in hard drive space from recordings?
    Is it more beneficial to have separate hdd’s and dedicate one to recordings?

  3. dudebund

    Just wondering, i have a pc with windows 7 – 32 bit installed on it. also have broadband internet connection with a speed of 15mbps – i was wondering, if i need to buy a new tv adapter in order to watch tv on wmc.

    Do i really need to buy one? or its fine if you have only a broadband connection.

  4. at0mic

    oneshot719, i have a e8400 dual core, a geforce gts 250, an asus tv tuner, and 2 1tb w/d hard drives for storage on the computer i’m on now (a 160gb for my o/s) and 4gb ram. i can normally run 4 or 5 applications with wmc running with no problem. you can set up how much space you want for storage in the settings, and if you want them deleted after watching, after a set time or to never delete.
    you can also put your movies in wmc with MyMovies, weather with mceWeather, Lifextender to remove commercials, etc…

  5. at0mic

    dudebund, you’ll need a tv tuner card.

  6. Good_Bytes

    I don’t have “Internet TV” anywhere in Windows Media Center. (I am under Windows 7 Pro 64-bit).
    I guess it’s one of those U.S only feature. :/ (I am in Canada)

  7. Salzig

    “Internet TV” is not available for me (Win7 64bit, Germany). Too bad.

  8. Charlie

    Could anyone walk Me through step by step in setting My pc to access via a proxy address to surf net and open installed chat on my hard disk?
    I have a new Dell Studio 540 Desktop system with Windows 7 Home Premium

    Thank you

  9. Chef_

    I don’t have “Internet TV” anywhere in Windows Media Center. And I’m in the US… So you guys aren’t the only ones…

    7 Ultimate, 64 bit.

  10. Chef_

    *Update*

    I went into “extras library” and installed the digital cable (even though I don’t have it) and “internet TV” showed up after the app install.

  11. Invincible

    @Chef_ : me too missing “internet TV” option in WMC. I have dell studio 1555 laptop with Windows 7 home premium. but i didn’t find digital cable in my “extra library”. How do i then install the digital cable?

  12. sitruk

    Hi,
    Will internet Tv work if im in Australia?

  13. Kim

    Another great guide from you guys. Unfortunately Microsoft has completely abandoned European users. WMC does not support DVB-C in Europe so that brilliant program doesn’t work. Not only do we have to pay more to get the program we also get a crippled edition :(

  14. iCHIGO

    hi guys, im using windows 7 ultimate and im in south africa, cape town, i have the media centre on my pc but it doesnt seem to wana download the guides, it worked before, i know this is a dum question but wat area code or postal code do i put in when it asks?. ive only got familiar with this media centre recently

  15. heinz

    Hi,

    I am using the Media Center with a DVB-S card on Windows 7 Ultimate 64bit.
    All works fine.

    During the initial installation I selected UK country settings and got the channels available for the UK. However, as I’m German and also like to watch German TV, I ran the installation again with German country settings and was presented with a whole lot more channels (all the expectyed German ones and hundreds of international ones).

    And finally, my question is if I can either switch the country settings or include channels from the other country setup? For example having the German conutry settings and add the UK documentary channels.

    My DVB-S card is a rather old pinnacle PCTV Sat Pro PCI card which got to my surprise automatically detected and configured during the Windows 7 and media center installation. :)

  16. Adrianm

    Hey iCHIGO,

    My brother-in-law lives in Sunningdale, near Blouberg. He’s in IT. He managed to download the guides, but he said it was a bit of a mission. He runs Windows 7. I have Vista Ultimate and will be trying to download it this weekend. So it can be done!

    Regards,
    Adrianm

  17. Nameer Alam

    Hi,

    I am facing the problems in my system due to window media center activation, Window media center has applied in my every programs even my desktop & all programs icon have been changed with window media center ext. i have tried alots to remove & disable for this application but still failed, please advise us so i can continue my working on this current window7 installation instead of re-install.

    Looking forward to your prompt reply. Thanks.

    Regards,
    Nameer

  18. guru

    how to set up foronline tv in media center.
    help me

  19. gabriel

    I have an all-in one asus et2400xvt. I live in romania. when I try to set media center TV is asking my postal code. I input local postal code but can not detect any tv channels. With the same anntena (cable tv) on normal tv I have more than 100 channels. I try everything – (update drivers for tv tuner, reinstaling win. media center etc) but nothing – any help?

  20. Osama123

    Chef_ i don’t have internet tv too, i think it’s our versions

  21. ahmad

    hi
    im from iran
    i will to inestal tv but idont know what is our postal code???
    plz help me
    plz

  22. MOOP

    GURU….NOT A GOOD NAME FOR YOU. LOL!! PUTZ…

  23. KAT

    USA – WIN7 upgrade from Vista / Avermedia tuner card.
    Any ideas for how to get internal tuner (Avermedia) to once again be recognized after tossing cable box? Setup is ignoring it and even ‘detected’ a set-top box at one point when there was not one. I have an antenna that I have tried plugging into both/either TV or ATSC. on the back of my tuner card. Neither connect allows the antenna (signal) to be recognized by media center.
    It USED TO recognize it (before I had cable) and this same antenna works fine for receiving digital signal when plugged directly into my TV.
    Is there another way to configure other than setup? The manual configure there is a joke.
    Is there some sort of WIN setting for CATV that I maybe missed?

  24. inam ullah

    i want to watch all channeles

  25. Rendy

    So I Need TV Tuner ?

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