[RELEASED]: MCE Live TV (and MCE Netflix) XBMC Integration

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Zellig Offline
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Post: #1
Here is a way to integrate MCE Live TV and MCE Netflix into XBMC in a relatively seamless and simple manner.

First some background: I moved recently to XBMC from MCE - had to upgrade to Windows 8 and MediaBrowser does not support the new version of Windows. I've come to really like XBMC (Eden), except that I had been struggling with two areas: Live TV and Netflix.

XMBCFlix is really not usable without remote control support, IMO. While XBMCFlix-o-mate provides a way to use key shortcuts for navigation, it still does not provide the seamless remote control experience I was used to in MCE.

After much searching, I found what I thought was the best solution, provided by Tuxen here. Basically, it facilitates the opening of MCE Netflix directly from a menu item in XBMC, then when the user closes MCE Netflix, they are automatically returned to XBMC. There are a few other variations on this, but Tuxen's was the simplest and most elegant I found.

I liked Tuxen's solution and I thought it'd be great to have the same for MCE Live TV, which is also a bit more polished than the live TV/PVR solutions currently avilable in XBMC.

So, here is what I came up with after collecting a bunch of information from the web, and it works well on my system (Windows 8, 64bit, XBMC Eden stable release).

This will allow you to have a menu item for Live TV, TV Guide, Recorded TV, Scheduled Recordings and for Netflix, and when you click on such item, it will directly open the appropriate MCE section in full screen. You'll have full remote control capabilities and when done, you can press ESC to close the MCE section and return to XBMC.

The reason why I am including a Netflix lnk file is because for some reason my AutoHotKey script, which is needed to close Live TV with the ESC key, seems to conflict with Tuxen's script, so I had to create my own to make both of them work.

1. Make sure you have the Advanced Launcher plugin installed in your Programs.

2. Download the archive I have placed here. It contains the following five link files and one AutoHotKey script compiled as an exe file:

StartMCELiveTV
StartMCENetflix
StartMCETRecordedTV
StartMCETScheduled Recordings
StartMCETVGuide
EscToCloseMCE.exe

3. Depending on what you need, place MCELiveTV.lnk and/or StartMCENetflix.lnk, etc., somewhere where you can find them (I use the Documents folder).

4. Use Advanced Launcher to integrate each of the MCE lnk files into the XBMC GUI (select Create a new launcher. then pick Standalone (normal PC executable), browse to and pick the lnk file you want, and then just hit Enter when you get to the Application Arguments screen with the prefilled string. Then keep hitting the Back button on the the platform, thumbnail and fanart screens).

After that, it's a good idea to make them Favorites with XBMC's contextual menu, so that they can be placed anywhere you like in XBMC's Start Menu.

5. Place the EscToCloseMCE.exe in your Windows Start folder (see here for instructions), so it starts automatically whenever Windows starts. It will listen for the ESC key whenever you are in MCE. So when you are either in MCE Live TV or MCE Netflix and press the ESC key (which can be mapped to your remote), MCE will close and you will be returned to XBMC.

6. Either start EscToCloseMCE.exe manually, or restart your computer and you are done.

This scheme works well for me so far, however use it at your own risk. I am not a programmer and this is my first attempt at doing anything in AutoHotKey (I am actually mostly a Mac user, except for my HTPC, lol).

I have mapped the ESC key to the EXIT button on my universal remote (which also works nicely to jump back to the Main Menu in XBMC as well). I have mapped the BACK command to the PREVIOUS button on my remote, which I use to navigate back one step at a time, both in XBMC, and MCE Live TV and MCE Netflix.

Cheers!

EDIT - May 15, 2012.

The archive was updated to add link files for MCE TV Guide, MCE Recorded TV, MCE Scheduled Recordings, as well as an updated Live TV lnk file. Thanks to Livin for the information provided.
(This post was last modified: 2012-05-16 09:37 by Zellig.)
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allen00se Offline
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Post: #2
youtube video of it in action? I thought for some reason that windows 8 didnt come with media center anymore, did you have to install it?
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Zellig Offline
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Post: #3
Sure Smile

Here is a video:





The W8 Preview does include MCE, although it seems it may be unbundled in the release.

So far, it works like a charm and it is about as seamless as I think it's going to get until these two aspects of XBMC get improved.
(This post was last modified: 2012-05-15 05:24 by Zellig.)
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Livin Online
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Post: #4
This looks like a decent solution but I think using eventghost is easier and much more flexible.

I use xbmc and WMC seamlessly, switching between them with one button press on my remote. No xbmc, or WMC, code or custom messing about needed.

I'm not an expert but I play one at work.
(This post was last modified: 2012-05-15 05:47 by Livin.)
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Zellig Offline
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Post: #5
(2012-05-15 05:46)Livin Wrote:  This looks like a decent solution but I think using eventghost is easier and much more flexible.

I use xbmc and WMC seamlessly, switching between them with one button press on my remote. No xbmc, or WMC, code or custom messing about needed.

Do you mean that you use eventghost to toggle between XBMC and MCE? In other words, you are using XBMC and a "full version" of MCE and toggle as needed?
(This post was last modified: 2012-05-15 07:41 by Zellig.)
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Livin Online
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Post: #6
There is only one version of MCE. But yes, EG allows full control of both apps. I have even set buttons on my remote to Automatically start MCE to specific sections... Live TV, guide, recorded tv, etc. MCE has tons of command line options for doing this. Even allowing you to skip the startup logo screen. Do a quick web search to find the commands.

I'm not an expert but I play one at work.
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Zellig Offline
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Post: #7
Ah, when I said "full version," I meant access to the other sections of MCE.

But I don't want to see MCE. If I did, I can simply use the Advanced Launcher plugin to open MCE, without the need to install eventghost.

You're in effect running two separate front-ends, to achieve what neither can provide by itself. For many this is just not good enough -- while you are used to it and take it as second nature, a casual user may be confused, or put off, by the duplication of features and the difference in user interfaces.

The goal here is to present one single front end (XBMC), and integrate the two parts that MCE does better, Live TV and Netflix, as seamlessly as possible.

Also, this solution does not require the installation of any third party software (eventghost) or fiddling with it. It's a simple two-trick pony -- all it does is present MCE Live TV and MCE Netflix from within XBMC, while hiding the rest of MCE from the user.

But, to each his own.
(This post was last modified: 2012-05-15 10:18 by Zellig.)
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Livin Online
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Post: #8
(2012-05-15 10:05)Zellig Wrote:  Ah, when I said "full version," I meant access to the other sections of MCE.
But I don't want to see MCE. If I did, I can simply use the Advanced Launcher plugin to open MCE, without the need to install eventghost.

You're in effect running two separate front-ends, to achieve what neither can provide by itself. For many this is just not good enough -- while you are used to it and take it as second nature, a casual user may be confused, or put off, by the duplication of features and the difference in user interfaces.
By your definition, I only run one front end also... since you are basing your definition on how many menus you need to use. I only use one menu - XBMCs
As I said, I go directly to Live TV, or ANY section in MCE (plugin, guide, etc)... with only one button press on my remote. EG tells MCE what buttons on my remote are mapped to what items in MCE. People I have over easily understand "press this button to watch TV" Tongue

Quote:The goal here is to present one single front end (XBMC), and integrate the two parts that MCE does better, Live TV and Netflix, as seamlessly as possible.
Also, this solution does not require the installation of any third party software (eventghost) or fiddling with it. It's a simple two-trick pony -- all it does is present MCE Live TV and MCE Netflix from within XBMC, while hiding the rest of MCE from the user.

But, to each his own.

Your install requires more custom code than mine. I install EG and map the buttons in EG - done. You are using 3rd party software (even if you don't think so; look up the definition) and you must customize XBMC... and you hope that XBMC and MCE does not change anything so your code does not break. Or when they do change you rely on support from the developer of the custom code, and XBMC devs. Mine will work no matter what... it is all based on my remote control.

Also, with your setup you can only go to two things... Live TV, and Netflix. I guess you never use the TV Guide? My guests always use the TV Guide...

As you said, each to his own. I was offering the readers an simple and more flexible way to do what you are doing... and MUCH more.

I'm not an expert but I play one at work.
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Zellig Offline
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Post: #9
(2012-05-15 16:49)Livin Wrote:  ... People I have over easily understand "press this button to watch TV" Tongue...

Hehe, but the whole point is that I don't have to tell people "press this button on the remote to watch TV, and if you want Netflix, press that button." If I do this, I'll spend half of my vacations explaining to my house sitter that the blue Video section they are in is not the right one, because they need to be in the black Video section.... Smile

For some of us, for this to be seamless, it has to work from within the XBMC menu, and it has to work with no special buttons on the remote. And it has to feel as much as possible like it's part of XBMC, which means that the rest of MCE has to be hidden.

Before I found this, I did explore evenghost and something very similar to your set up, and for me it wasn't seamless enough, for the reasons above. Again, obviously you are used to it and are comfortable with your set up, and that's great.

But I wanted something else and may be someone else does too.
(This post was last modified: 2012-05-15 18:42 by Zellig.)
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Livin Online
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Post: #10
Gotcha.

FYI... since your method uses using Advanced Launcher (which simply runs commands from any menu item), you can launch any part of MCE by using the options MCE provides. I have compiles a list of all the ones I know of, below. Hope it helps others.


format of command line... %windir%\ehome\ehshell.exe <PARAMETER>


PARAMETERS
-- place all parameters in quotes

/mcesuperbar://tv?live=true (this is the method your LNK file uses)
- Legacy method of starting WMC directly into Live TV. Newer methods, not requiring Superbar, are recommened below.

USEFUL OPTIONS TO USE WITH OTHERS
/nostartupanimation - stops the startup sound and WMC logo "pebble" going off into the distance
/noshutdownui - removes the "shutdown" item from the tasks menu
/mediamode - starts in media only mode (no close/minimize/maximize options in top right corner)
/nochrome - display windowed mode Media Center but without the window chrome


LAUNCH & PLAY
/playallmusic - plays all your music instantly
/playfavmusic - plays all your favorite music
/playfavslideshow - plays your favorite slideshows only
/playfavslideshowwithmusic - plays your favorite slideshow with music
/playslideshow - plays all slideshows
/playslideshowwithmusic - plays all slideshows with music
/screensaver - starts the Media Center screensaver


LAUNCH & GO TO PAGE
/homepage:<url>
Example: "/homepage:VideoFullscreen.xml /PushStartPage:True"
- Starts WMC directly to a WMC Presentation Layer Web Application specified by <url>

VideoFullscreen.xml /PushStartPage:True - Live TV
VideoGuide.xml /PushStartPage:True - TV Guide
RecordedTV.BrowsePage.xml /PushStartPage:True - Recorded TV
VideoToBeRecorded.xml/PushStartPage:True - Scheduled Recordings
Radio.BrowsePage.xml /PushStartPage:True - Radio
Radio.xml - FM Radio
MusicBrowsePage.xml /PushStartPage:True - Music Library
VideosBrowsePage.xml /PushStartPage:True - Video Library
PhotosBrowsePage.xml /PushStartPage:True - Picture Library
Options.Home.xml /PushStartPage:True - Settings Menu



LAUNCH & GO TO EXPERIENCE
/directmedia:<experience>
Example: "/directmedia:tv"

general - Launches WMC in full screen mode, a new switch as part of Windows HotStart feature that can be used to launch WMC and cause it to navigate directly to one of the built-in experiences.
music - Launches WMC in full screen mode to the music library, a new switch as part of Windows HotStart feature that can be used to launch WMC and cause it to navigate directly to one of the built-in experiences.
video - Launches WMC in full screen mode to the video library, a new switch as part of Windows HotStart feature that can be used to launch WMC and cause it to navigate directly to one of the built-in experiences.
tv - Launches WMC in full screen mode to the recorded TV library.
pictures - Launches WMC in full screen mode to the picture library, a new switch as part of Windows HotStart feature that can be used to launch WMC and cause it to navigate directly to one of the built-in experiences.
discplayback - Launches WMC in full screen mode and begins playback of the disc in the drive by reusing AutoRun code, a new switch as part of Windows HotStart feature that can be used to launch WMC and cause it to navigate directly to one of the built-in experiences.


OTHERS

/configuress
- starts Media Center at the "configure screensaver" screen

/entrypoint:{APP_GUID}\{ENTRYPOINT_GUID}
- Starts WMC directly to a registered entry point. APP_GUID and ENTRYPOINT_GUID are strings that match the GUIDs of the desired application and entry point identifiers for the entry point to be launched. You must have previously registered the application using the RegisterApplication API or RegisterMceApp.exe for this command line switch to work correctly.

/url:<url>
- Starts WMC directly to a Hosted HTML application or XBAP application specified by <url>.

/addinfallbackpath:<path>
- Starts WMC and causes it to use to locate and load add-in assemblies. This location is only used after WMC attempts to load add-in assemblies from the global assembly cache (GAC) and %windir%\ehome. This switch can be combined with the /entrypoint switch described above to allow prototyping of WMC applications without needing to install an updated assembly to the GAC each time you rebuild your project in Visual Studio.

/gdi
- Starts WMC in GDI graphics mode. The GDI graphics mode simulates a low-fidelity graphics environment that does not support DirectX graphics mode.

/widescreen
- Starts WMC with a 16 x 9 aspect ratio to enable testing widescreen display resolutions on systems that only have a 4 x 3 monitor installed. This switch works when WMC is started in windowed mode but not in full-screen mode. If you launch WMC with the /widescreen switch and it starts in full-screen mode, you will need to click the taskbar button in the top right corner of the WMC UI to change it to windowed mode, then close WMC and re-launch it using the /widescreen switch to see the correct 16 x 9 aspect ratio.

/rtl
- Starts WMC in right-to-left display mode. This is useful for simulating how your application will look and behave on a right-to-left OS language such as Arabic or Hindi.

I'm not an expert but I play one at work.
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Veronica Offline
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Post: #11
Hi i would like to try this, im new to this forum so im struggling a bit setting up this.

Iinstalled advanced launcher and im reading the User Guide but i don't know which launcher i have to create: Stand alone or file launcher to setup this? also selected the stand alone one and i picked the StartMCENetflix file and now it's asking for a command line so what command line am i suppose to put in there to open both StartMCENetflix and MCELiveTV?

Thank you in advance (TIA)

My XBMC folder:

GDrive
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Zellig Offline
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Post: #12
(2012-05-15 20:34)Veronica Wrote:  Hi i would like to try this, im new to this forum so im struggling a bit setting up this.

Iinstalled advanced launcher and im reading the User Guide but i don't know which launcher i have to create: Stand alone or file launcher to setup this? also selected the stand alone one and i picked the StartMCENetflix file and now it's asking for a command line so what command line am i suppose to put in there to open both StartMCENetflix and MCELiveTV?

Thank you in advance (TIA)

Hi, Veronica. Select Create a new launcher; Standalone (normal PC executable), browse to and pick the lnk file you want (StartMCENetflix in your case), and then just hit Enter when you get to the Application Arguments screen with the prefilled string. then just hit Back (to ignore) on the the platform, thumbnail and fanart screens.

Don't forget to ad the resulting entry to your favorites with the contextual menu. Smile

Edit: I have updated the archive file in the first post to include additional lnk files for direct access to MCE TV Guide, MCE Recorded TV and MCE Recording Schedule for those who want them.
(This post was last modified: 2012-05-16 09:29 by Zellig.)
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Veronica Offline
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Post: #13
(2012-05-16 05:31)Zellig Wrote:  
(2012-05-15 20:34)Veronica Wrote:  Hi i would like to try this, im new to this forum so im struggling a bit setting up this.

Iinstalled advanced launcher and im reading the User Guide but i don't know which launcher i have to create: Stand alone or file launcher to setup this? also selected the stand alone one and i picked the StartMCENetflix file and now it's asking for a command line so what command line am i suppose to put in there to open both StartMCENetflix and MCELiveTV?

Thank you in advance (TIA)

Hi, Veronica. Select Create a new launcher; Standalone (normal PC executable), browse to and pick the lnk file you want (StartMCENetflix in your case), and then just hit Enter when you get to the Application Arguments screen with the prefilled string. then just hit Back (to ignore) on the the platform, thumbnail and fanart screens.

Don't forget to ad the resulting entry to your favorites with the contextual menu. Smile

Edit: I have updated the archive file in the first post to include additional lnk files for direct access to MCE TV Guide, MCE Recorded TV and MCE Recording Schedule for those who want them.

Thank you i got it working, I have one request though could you please make one for Internet TV as i don't have Live TV yet.

My XBMC folder:

GDrive
(This post was last modified: 2012-05-16 23:06 by Veronica.)
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Zellig Offline
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Post: #14
Unfortunately, I have not been able to find a way to go directly to MCE's Internet TV. If someone else has the string which can open it directly, it'd be great if they post it.

For what it's worth, there are a bunch of XBMC aggregator plugins which are at least as good, and most are better, IMO, than the MCE Internet TV. Try for instance Free Cable. There are also a number of individual station video plugins.

Hope this helps.
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Veronica Offline
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Post: #15
(2012-05-17 10:33)Zellig Wrote:  Unfortunately, I have not been able to find a way to go directly to MCE's Internet TV. If someone else has the string which can open it directly, it'd be great if they post it.

For what it's worth, there are a bunch of XBMC aggregator plugins which are at least as good, and most are better, IMO, than the MCE Internet TV. Try for instance Free Cable. There are also a number of individual station video plugins.

Hope this helps.

thank you ill wait for i, i have one question hope you can advise. I have used advanced launcher to successfully add other apps like chrome and explorer.exe (i setup windows to start XBMC before anything) and i use my android device to control remote XBMC, MCE but i don't know how to go for example from chrome to XBMC without do it manually in my computer with Alt+TAB. Do you know what i need to do that from the remote?

My XBMC folder:

GDrive
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