Windows Media Center Returns!

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softworkz

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Windows Media Center Returns!

#1

Post by softworkz » Mon Aug 28, 2023 12:19 pm


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Jacoats

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#2

Post by Jacoats » Mon Aug 28, 2023 3:14 pm

What’s this all about ? Anyone understand what they are doing here with Emby & WMC ?

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#3

Post by StinkyImp » Mon Aug 28, 2023 3:26 pm

It looks like they've created a skin (or theme) for Emby that emulates WMC.

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#4

Post by Jacoats » Mon Aug 28, 2023 3:56 pm

So it not really wmc just looks like it? Uses the emby backend ? Not all the Wmce set up with tuners etc….

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#5

Post by softworkz » Mon Aug 28, 2023 9:42 pm

Jacoats wrote: Mon Aug 28, 2023 3:56 pm Uses the emby backend?
Yes.
Jacoats wrote: Mon Aug 28, 2023 3:56 pm Not all the Wmce set up with tuners etc….
Right, but a whole new TV backend is in the works:

https://emby.media/community/index.php? ... nt=1215977

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#6

Post by Polen » Mon Aug 28, 2023 11:55 pm

Sorry, I moved on to Plex.

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#7

Post by Kevin Chalet » Tue Aug 29, 2023 10:37 pm

I don't doubt some people will like having the WMC look & feel on Emby, but marketing what is likely nothing more than an Emby theme as "a return of Windows Media Center" sounds at best misleading to me :wtf:

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#8

Post by softworkz » Wed Aug 30, 2023 3:21 pm

Pinpoint wrote: Tue Aug 29, 2023 10:37 pm I don't doubt some people will like having the WMC look & feel on Emby, but marketing what is likely nothing more than an Emby theme as "a return of Windows Media Center" sounds at best misleading to me :wtf:
If it was like that I would agree to you. But it's not a theme. You get the whole WMC UI in every single detail.
Also, a fundamentally new TV backend is in development for more than two years under the code name 'TVnext'. This will follow a little later, though.

I've been a huge fan of WMC ever since and I wouldn't have dared to use such a title if it wasn't about something really cool and unprecedented :-)

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#9

Post by Jacoats » Wed Aug 30, 2023 3:32 pm

Thanks for spreading the word. I can wait to see what is all about. Any idea if it will support m3u based iptv streaming ?

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#10

Post by Kevin Chalet » Wed Aug 30, 2023 3:52 pm

softworkz wrote: Wed Aug 30, 2023 3:21 pm If it was like that I would agree to you. But it's not a theme. You get the whole WMC UI in every single detail.
Sure, but whether you name it theme, skin or UI, it still has not much to do with the real WMC (except the look & feel, obviously :D)
(amusingly, I note that while this thread is named "Windows Media Center Returns!", the Youtube video is called "Windows Media Center UI Returns!"... which is less confusing :mrgreen:)
softworkz wrote: Wed Aug 30, 2023 3:21 pm Also, a fundamentally new TV backend is in development for more than two years under the code name 'TVnext'. This will follow a little later, though.
I took a look at https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/ ... ingle=true and it certainly looks very promising, but for me, Emby not supporting embedded metadata (like most other PVR/DVR apps to be honest) is a deal breaker. And I guess I'm not the only one: https://emby.media/community/index.php? ... -metadata/.

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#11

Post by softworkz » Wed Aug 30, 2023 4:11 pm

Jacoats wrote: Wed Aug 30, 2023 3:32 pm Thanks for spreading the word. I can wait to see what is all about. Any idea if it will support m3u based iptv streaming ?
Emby supports supports m3u iptv channels already.
The (later) upcoming TVnext backend will support this as well.
And there's also a new plugin (coming in the next few weeks) for supporting M3U VOD content in a better way than as fake tv channels.

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#12

Post by softworkz » Wed Aug 30, 2023 5:41 pm

Pinpoint wrote: Wed Aug 30, 2023 3:52 pm amusingly, I note that while this thread is named "Windows Media Center Returns!", the Youtube video is called "Windows Media Center UI Returns!"... which is less confusing
I cannot change the title anymore. Maybe a moderator can change it accordingly? Thanks!
Pinpoint wrote: Wed Aug 30, 2023 3:52 pm I took a look at https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/ ... ingle=true and it certainly looks very promising, but for me, Emby not supporting embedded metadata (like most other PVR/DVR apps to be honest) is a deal breaker. And I guess I'm not the only one: https://emby.media/community/index.php? ... -metadata/.
TVnext doesn't use the wtv format for recording, so that won't be a deal breaker. The wtv format is closely tied to the DirectShow-based 'StreamBufferEngine' which is a Windows component. Opposed to WMC, Emby is multi-platform and client-server based, and I can tell you that it's been incredibly challenging to architect it in a way that it's still possible to provide the same experience. "Equal or better" is the goal for every single detail and I think that there will be just very few details remaining where it couldn't be achieved, but also quite a number where it will be better.

As you might have read, TVnext has been delayed a bit due to internal prioritization. The WMC UI was planned to follow-up on it, but now it's the other way round.
Some say it's just a kind of "nostalgia" matter for WMC fans, and others said that it's "just UI" and UI is not what WMC is about. And that's where I strongly disagree.
The innovative, unprecedented and effective UI/UX has been the most outstanding part and one of its primary achievements. The thought-out navigation which has been optimized to death for minimizing the required amount of user interaction (like remote control key presses) is still unparalleled, even more when operating with a WMC remote.
For the Emby WMC UI, more than half of the work was spent on behavior and interaction, even though it's also been a hell of a job to get all the visuals right. Taking a focused start menu button as an example: It consists of 10 layered bitmaps with 7 different repeating animations (without any navigation happening). That's how it is in WMC and so it is in the Emby WMC UI. Same for all other elements.

Some called it 'insane' - which might be true. But a 'theme'? No. It's not a theme...

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#13

Post by Kevin Chalet » Wed Aug 30, 2023 6:23 pm

softworkz wrote: Wed Aug 30, 2023 5:41 pm TVnext doesn't use the wtv format for recording, so that won't be a deal breaker. The wtv format is closely tied to the DirectShow-based 'StreamBufferEngine' which is a Windows component.
Right, tho' the situation is a bit more complex: the .wtv container format is supported on non-Windows platforms by ffmpeg/libavformat for both muxing and demuxing, but it has limitations (e.g no fast forwarding for .wtv files created by ffmpeg and HEVC is not directly supported because the H265 media type GUID is in the ff_codec_bmp_tags_unofficial list, but not in the ff_codec_bmp_tags that is used by the WTV ffmpeg muxer to determine the media type GUID).

That said, while native .wtv support would be a killer feature, nothing prevents the Emby team from creating his own container format for people who absolutely want to embedded metadata in their TV recordings and don't care about interoperability, right?
softworkz wrote: Wed Aug 30, 2023 5:41 pm The innovative, unprecedented and effective UI/UX has been the most outstanding part and one of its primary achievements. The thought-out navigation which has been optimized to death for minimizing the required amount of user interaction (like remote control key presses) is still unparalleled, even more when operating with a WMC remote.
I definitely agree with that: the WMC UI was certainly one of its strongest selling points (and still is, in 2023). I have absolutely no doubt about that.
softworkz wrote: Wed Aug 30, 2023 5:41 pm For the Emby WMC UI, more than half of the work was spent on behavior and interaction, even though it's also been a heck of a job to get all the visuals right. Taking a focused start menu button as an example: It consists of 10 layered bitmaps with 7 different repeating animations (without any navigation happening). That's how it is in WMC and so it is in the Emby WMC UI. Same for all other elements.

Some called it 'insane' - which might be true. But a 'theme'? No. It's not a theme...
I'm by no means trying to play down the effort you guys put into this project. It's only the marketing I had a problem with: saying "Windows Media Center Returns!" is pretty much like trying to sell a car with a Ferrari body and Porsche internals. The result may be nice, but it's not a Ferrari.

Edit: I'm not sure if it's deliberate or not, but https://emby.media/community/index.php? ... c-ui-beta/ is not public (and https://emby.media/community/index.php?showtopic=120972 returns a permission denied error).

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#14

Post by Jacoats » Wed Aug 30, 2023 6:51 pm

Thank you softworkz for all the effort, putting it mildly. Very grateful for keeping the experience alive.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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#15

Post by softworkz » Wed Aug 30, 2023 7:11 pm

Pinpoint wrote: Wed Aug 30, 2023 6:23 pm
softworkz wrote: Wed Aug 30, 2023 5:41 pm TVnext doesn't use the wtv format for recording, so that won't be a deal breaker. The wtv format is closely tied to the DirectShow-based 'StreamBufferEngine' which is a Windows component.
Right, tho' the situation is a bit more complex: the .wtv container format is supported on non-Windows platforms by ffmpeg/libavformat for both muxing and demuxing, but it has limitations (e.g no fast forwarding for .wtv files created by ffmpeg and HEVC is not directly supported because the H265 media type GUID is in the ff_codec_bmp_tags_unofficial list, but not in the ff_codec_bmp_tags that is used by the WTV ffmpeg muxer to determine the media type GUID).

That said, while native .wtv support would be a killer feature, nothing prevents the Emby team from creating his own container format for people who absolutely want to embedded metadata in their TV recordings and don't care about interoperability, right?
The whole point of wtv and the StreamBufferEngine is about being able to read-while-writing, i.e. being able to skip within an in-progress recording but also play at the "live-edge" of an ongoing recording. This is not possible without the StreamBufferEngine and you have already named its other limitations (besides being Windows-only). So no - it wouldn't be a "killer feature" in any way.

Also, TVnext doesn't use ffmpeg (except when transcoding is required, but even then not through files on disk). It does its own processing of MPEGTS streams and it can happen that a TV stream arrives at a client even before the server has written a single byte to disk. With ffmpeg in the loop (like currently), it wouldn't be possible to achieve such fast channel switching times.

Regarding metadata: metadata will be stored separately in files alongside recordings; this provides the best flexibility.

Edit: The equivalent for the StreamBufferEngine in TVnext (I cannot disclose details yet) is pretty cool, though: You can even change your streaming quality (like transcoding to lower bandwidth) without losing your time-shift buffer (and more...).

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#16

Post by softworkz » Wed Aug 30, 2023 7:43 pm

Jacoats wrote: Wed Aug 30, 2023 6:51 pm Thank you softworkz for all the effort, putting it mildly. Very grateful for keeping the experience alive.
Thanks! :D

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#17

Post by Kevin Chalet » Wed Aug 30, 2023 7:53 pm

softworkz wrote: Wed Aug 30, 2023 7:11 pm The whole point of wtv and the StreamBufferEngine is about being able to read-while-writing, i.e. being able to skip within an in-progress recording but also play at the "live-edge" of an ongoing recording. This is not possible without the StreamBufferEngine and you have already named its other limitations (besides being Windows-only). So no - it wouldn't be a "killer feature" in any way.
By definition, 100% of WMC users are Windows users so I don't think having specific features (like this one) Windows-only would be that crazy :mrgreen:
(also, I never implied it should be used for live watching/recording, the .wtv could be created post-recording).

Granted, it's not the direction you're heading to 8-)
softworkz wrote: Wed Aug 30, 2023 7:11 pm Also, TVnext doesn't use ffmpeg (except when transcoding is required, but even then not through files on disk). It does its own processing of MPEGTS streams and it can happen that a TV stream arrives at a client even before the server has written a single byte to disk. With ffmpeg in the loop (like currently), it wouldn't be possible to achieve such fast channel switching times.
acer-5100 from MyDigitalLife and I have had the opportunity to extensively test the Tvheadend + HDHomeRun emulator + Windows Media Center combo (+ ffmpeg for optional transcoding) combo over the last few months and I can say ffmpeg is far from being slow. Over a PLC connection, with a quad-tuner Hauppauge DVB-T/T2 card attached to a 10-year old x86 machine running Tvheadend, I get the following switching times in WMC:
- Less than a second/1 second max without ffmpeg.
- 1 second/1.5 second with ffmpeg pass-through (i.e without transcoding).
- 2/3 seconds with live MPEG2 transcoding via ffmpeg.

That said, if Emby beats that, it's surely going to be impressive :D

(I'm not sure why ffmpeg is often seen as being slow... in most cases, folks aren't just aware of the correct settings to use)

Anyway, I'm likely off-topic at this point. Good luck with this project!

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#18

Post by softworkz » Wed Aug 30, 2023 9:33 pm

Pinpoint wrote: Wed Aug 30, 2023 7:53 pm
softworkz wrote: Wed Aug 30, 2023 7:11 pm The whole point of wtv and the StreamBufferEngine is about being able to read-while-writing, i.e. being able to skip within an in-progress recording but also play at the "live-edge" of an ongoing recording. This is not possible without the StreamBufferEngine and you have already named its other limitations (besides being Windows-only). So no - it wouldn't be a "killer feature" in any way.
By definition, 100% of WMC users are Windows users so I don't think having specific features (like this one) Windows-only would be that crazy :mrgreen:
(also, I never implied it should be used for live watching/recording, the .wtv could be created post-recording).

Granted, it's not the direction you're heading to 8-)
The requirement was that it needs to work across all Emby platforms, so it can fully replace the Emby's current (limited) LiveTV feature.
I had still been thinking a lot about the possibility of using the StreamBufferEngine and perhaps an alternative on other platforms, but there were still the mentioned limitations and a few others coming from the fact that Emby needs to stream to clients while in case of WMC, the StreamBufferEngine is part of a DirectShow filtergraph which eventually feeds the video and audio renderers. Also, there were risks involved regarding support and availability. If it would get removed or just dysfunctional due to some regression bug, would MS even bother fixing it? If it would be about BDA components, there are at least some bigger players like Hauppauge who can put some pressure on MS, but the StreamBufferEngine is a complex piece of software, documentation is scarce, and I'm not sure whether it has ever been used by any other software than WMC.

But as for creating WTV in a post-processing step, that's totally doable of course.
Pinpoint wrote: Wed Aug 30, 2023 7:53 pm
softworkz wrote: Wed Aug 30, 2023 7:11 pm Also, TVnext doesn't use ffmpeg (except when transcoding is required, but even then not through files on disk). It does its own processing of MPEGTS streams and it can happen that a TV stream arrives at a client even before the server has written a single byte to disk. With ffmpeg in the loop (like currently), it wouldn't be possible to achieve such fast channel switching times.
acer-5100 from MyDigitalLife and I have had the opportunity to extensively test the Tvheadend + HDHomeRun emulator + Windows Media Center combo (+ ffmpeg for optional transcoding) combo over the last few months and I can say ffmpeg is far from being slow. Over a PLC connection, with a quad-tuner Hauppauge DVB-T/T2 card attached to a 10-year old x86 machine running Tvheadend, I get the following switching times in WMC:
- 1 second/1.5 second without transcoding.
- 2/3 seconds with live MPEG2 transcoding.

That said, if Emby beats that, it's surely going to be impressive :D

(I'm not sure why ffmpeg is often seen as being slow... in most cases, folks aren't just aware of the correct settings to use)

Anyway, I'm likely off-topic at this point. Good luck with this project!
I had a short chat with acer-.. and I guess it was your blog that I had read on the subject? So well - nice to meet you!

Yes, TVnext beats those timings - with HLS streaming to a LAN client included. It's very close to a TV's hardware tuner switching (just 100-300ms slower).

It's a bit difficult to name absolute times because it depends on whether the tuner needs to re-tune or the target channel is on the same transponder/mux and also on whether you are hitting a video keyframe or you just missed one.
Without transcoding, 700ms are achievable, when the tuner is on Linux. Unfortunately there's a 300ms penalty on Windows with BDA (comparing same tuners). Transcoding adds 600-900ms.

I didn't meant to say that ffmpeg itself is slow, what I meant is that it's slow when ffmpeg needs to read from file and writes to another file and you read from the output file again to stream it to clients. That's quite a process and delays are introduced at various points along the way. TVnext just pipes the stream into ffmpeg in and out, so there's buffering and overlapping disk IO in the way. That's probably why your values are higher.
Last edited by softworkz on Wed Aug 30, 2023 9:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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#19

Post by softworkz » Wed Aug 30, 2023 9:44 pm

Pinpoint wrote: Wed Aug 30, 2023 6:23 pm Edit: I'm not sure if it's deliberate or not, but https://emby.media/community/index.php? ... c-ui-beta/ is not public (and https://emby.media/community/index.php?showtopic=120972 returns a permission denied error).
Thanks a lot for pointing this out, I wasn't aware. It should be fixed now.

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#20

Post by softworkz » Fri Sep 01, 2023 10:33 pm

The WMC UI Beta is available now: http://wmc.emby.media/

There's also a new video with a detailed walkthrough: https://youtu.be/dbbZhED1z94

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