Remote record service in Windows Media Center

I've got a Media Center machine that I have been playing around with at home in order to ramp up on the functionality we offer now that I've joined the Media Center team.  One of the really cool things I've found so far is the ability to remotely schedule TV recordings via the web.  I have a first-series Tivo at home that I've been using since sometime in 2001, and I have found myself at work surfing the web during lunch a few times in the past when I stumble across an article about an interesting-sounding TV show coming up that night that I wish I could record without needing to brave rush hour traffic to get home in time to configure the recording options.

While I was sitting at home last weekend browsing through the Online Spotlight in my Media Center PC I noticed the MSN Remote Record service and decided to try it out.  After installing a small MSI package on my Media Center machine, I was able to navigate to a web site from some other machine and schedule shows to record via a web service.  Not only that, but since I have 2 tuner cards in my Media Center I could remotely schedule 2 shows to record in the same timeslot.  🙂  Some of this isn't too valuable right now since we just went through season finale weeks on the major networks, but I'm seeing more and more interesting new summer shows that are being released, plus there are random documentaries on the History Channel or highlight shows from old NBA Finals series on ESPN that I like to have on in the background while I'm working at home.

Overall, I found the remote record feature pretty easy to configure, but then after setting it all up I found a really good walk through that has been published on the Microsoft Media Center site that makes things even easier.  You can find this article here if you're interested in more information about what the remote record feature is and how to get it up and running on your Media Center machine.


Comments (24)
  1. Very nice. I’ll definitely be installing this after I myself brave rush-hour traffic tonight.

  2. Alan W Roby says:

    Dear Sir:

    Great articles and very informative. However, I did not see anything about media center freezes and hangups.


  3. Alan W Roby says:

    Dear Sir:

    Great articles and very informative. However, I did not see anything about media center freezes and hangups.


  4. Hi Alan – Thank you for reading my blog and posting your comments. Most of the issues I have heard of related to Media Center freezing has been traced back to driver issues. If you are running into freezes with your Media Center, I would suggest trying to visit the websites for the manufacturers of the hardware in your computer to search for and install updated drivers to see if that helps.

    I will continue to post about specific types of Media Center issues as we learn about the problems, their root causes and fixes or workarounds.

  5. Eric says:

    I find the PC too noisy to leave it on all the time, so I have it automatically switch to Standby after 20 minutes of idle time, although I do have a broadband connection.

    Is there any way I can get this service to wake up my PC so that it can accept the incoming remote record message?

  6. Hi Eric – Unfortunately, Media Center currently only supports waking to record. You may want to try some kind of remote management software to allow you to wake your computer remotely like this. I don’t know of anything that does this off the top of my head, but I’ll keep my eye out and let you know if I run into anything that sounds promising.

  7. Brad says:

    I recently purchased a new computer with MCE and dual tuners.  I have been told that you can watch one channel and record another and/or record two channels at once.  However, I can not figure out how to do this and I am unable to find any information on how to do this on the internet as of yet.  Any suggestions?

    Secondly, I also put my computer in sleep mode because I have several users setup on the computer so I would be very interested in the ability to wake up my computer remotely.

  8. Hi Brad – You should not have to do anything special to enable this feature in Media Center.  The only thing you need to do is install both tuner cards and then run TV Setup inside of Media Center and make sure it correctly recognizes both tuners.  Once you finish TV setup, you can schedule recordings at the same time and Media Center will automatically use both tuners if needed.  Also, if you are watching a live program and a recording is ready to start, Media Center will automatically use the second tuner to record it.

  9. Brad says:

    Thanks for the response Astebner.  I guess I have some setup problems then.  If I am watching a program and a scheduled recording starts it changes the channel on my set top box to the station that it will be recording.  I did the setup in MCE for the dual tuners and it seemed to go correctly but I only have one set top box and one input on the dual tuner card.  Maybe I should have the cable go directly to the tuner card instead of going through the set top box first?   I also downloaded the remote record service for MCE and it works great.  My first two remotely scheduled recordings recorded in black and white for some reason but the third one came out in color.  This one has me scratching my head in disbelief as well.  Thanks for your help.

  10. Hi Brad – When you ran Media Center TV setup, did it correctly tell you that you had a dual-tuner card?  Also, are you sure that it is a dual-tuner card if there is only one input?  I have only seen dual-tuner cards with 2 inputs in the past.

  11. Brad says:

    Hi Astebner,  I would agree that there should be two inputs, yes it did set up two tuners but there is only one coax connection on the back of my computer.  While setting up MCE I noticed that it used both of the "bugs" that are taped on to the front of my set-top box.  Thus far I have not been able to talk to anyone at Dell in India that knows how this system is to be set up.  I really appreciate you help, thanks.

  12. Bruce says:

    I’m having with what I guess is the Remote Record service re-initializing after coming out of S3 standby; therefore it doesn’t connect. If I reboot the pc, then the service works again and can connect with MS’s servers. Do you know of a solution for this?

  13. bruce73 says:

    Sorry, the above should read: "I’m having trouble with what I guess…" (note to self: proofread 🙂 )

  14. Hi Bruce – Unfortunately, I haven’t heard of this kind of issue before, so I’m not sure what to suggest.  Can you check the service status in the Service Control Manager after you resume from S3 to see if it is in a hung state or is still running?  Also, will manually stopping and starting the service work (instead of rebooting)?

  15. Gareth Phillips says:


    Sorry if this question has been asked before, but is there any plan to make the remote record service available to the UK?

    I cant see a good reason why it isnt, as If I "pretent" I am in the USA when i try to set it up, it all kind of works, except that all my TV listings are wrong obvioulsy! – But its not as if Microsoft dont have listings for my area, as clearly they do as my Media Centre shows the full guide for Digital terrestrial here in the UK.

    Any ideas / thoughts?

    Many thanks

  16. Alex Duncan says:

    I have to agree with you Gareth. Why on earth can’t this service be available in the UK? I can only assume either the UK is not seen as a strong market for MCE, or uptight British bradcasters see it as too much of a threat to advertising revenues and would refuse to work with MS if it were offered.

    Either way it shows little respect for us as UK MCE users and I’d dearly love MS to take an official line on the matter.

  17. Gareth Phillips says:

    Can we get an opinion or comment from a "Microsoft person" or somebody in the know?

    I dearly want to get this working!

  18. Hi Gareth – I have passed this feedback on to the MSN Remote Record team for consideration in future versions.  Unfortunately, I don’t know anything about the details about availability (or lack thereof) outside the USA for this product, so I don’t have any additional information I can report here.

  19. Michael Hart says:

    Hi All-

    It’s great to see all of the excitement around remote record.  We’re currently in the process of modifying the service to enable rapid rollout to multiple regions.  The UK is one of the top markets we are considering.

    Mike- MSN TV Software Development Manager

  20. Michael Hart says:

    For those that want to put their MCEs in a lower power mode and still receive remote record requests, the Wake/Always On mode enabled in XP MediaCenter 2005 Update Rollup 2 (love that name BTW) allows your MCE to receive recording requests in that mode.

    We have seen issues with the remote record service not being restarted after coming out of standby on certain PC types.  It’s related to how the OEM implements it’s sleep modes.

  21. Jay says:

    I read an earlier post about mce 2005 freezing up …I have owned this system for some time ,,, and have not only upgraded all the drivers but also hve swapped to more efficient parts …  computer still locks up intermitently for about 10 seconds … any other suggestions???

  22. Johnny says:

    Hello , i recently built a computer with media center and for some reason when im watching something and i fast forward or rewind it would freeze and if not even without doing that it will still eventually freeze at random points .My video card is geforce 6800xt and i have all the latest drivers for everything on my cpu .Does anybody have any suggestions on what the problem might be ?

  23. Darrel says:

    When I install remote record it won’t communicate. Is there a service that is installed wrong, or a port that needs to be opened? I had it working before, but I reinstalled the

    OS to get rid of an error I was getting. Now RR doesn’t work. I have a coonnection that’s always on. IExplorer works fine. I tried clicking through the registration process, and it said it was finished but the RR icon still says its not registered and no recordings work. Thanks for any ideas.

  24. garethdphillips says:

    Still no sign of a UK release depsite promsing comment from somebody in the MSN remote record team. Is there at least a prospect of a beta, or are we forgotten ?


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