The really cool thing about Windows Media Centre (to be found already installed in most versions of Vista and Windows) is that it is a central repository of all, well, your media. The problem is, that if you like using the BBC iPlayer, you effectively have to minimise the MCE interface and fire up a browser in which to watch iPlayer re-runs. Wouldn’t it be great if you could get iPlayer to run within MCE? Well, now you can.
While there has always been the Milliesoft MCE iPlayer add-on, I could never get it to work properly – and it was pretty resource hungry on my low power MCE (which also has a low bandwidth broadband connection).
So, step forward the gobsmakingly good mce-media-core. This really is an absolute gem – and probably the best add-on/plugin I have ever seen for MCE. What’s more, it doesn’t use Flash but wmv streams. As a consequence, you have to wait a minute or two for it to initially buffer, but once running, the video is broadcast quality – with no stuttering (like you can have with CPU intensive Flash rendering).
mce-media-core is still very much at the alpha phase, so some features don’t work (yet). I can’t get it to play BBC HD streams and there is no fast-forward or rewind – but I am sure that will be fixed as the product matures – unless Microsoft offers the author a job (and they really should).