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Play .MKV’s in Windows Media Center (WMC)

For a long time I had resisted converting my DVD and Blu-Ray disks into any other format because I didn’t want to lose any quality.  I had lived by this rule for a long time, and thankfully companies like QNAP and Thecus came to my storage rescue.  However, the day has come where the cost of storing all the extra garbage that comes along with these movies has opened my eyes to benefits conversions.  With that, I have began converting my movie collection to a format that allows me to lose all the excess fat, but keep my movie loss-less.

With the conversion to MKV, a new dilemma has plagued my media canter, Windows Media Center in Windows 7 does not natively support recognizing or playing back videos in this format.  Luckily, there are few things we can do to rectify this issue; allowing us to take advantage of the format and still maintain all the functionality we have been used to from WMC.

Step 1.  Installing a codec pack. 

There has been much debate about codec packs and having them on your system, however, I have not found any other way to get things working properly without them.  Some are of the opinion that FFDShow (Tryouts) will be all that you need to get things working, however, in my home, this simply has not worked very well.  Lately, I have been using Shark007 on all my HTPC’s and I am not disappointed in the least.

If you are running Windows 7, you will have to determine whether you are running the 32-bit or 64-bit version.  You can do this easily by right clicking on “Computer” from the start menu and choosing properties.

If you are running the 32 bit version, you simply need to download the 32bit Win7codecs.  If you are running Windows 7 64-bit you will need to download the additional x64Components addon.  The key here is to install them in order, first the 32 bit installer, then the x64 addon.

In order to configure them properly, you have to navigate to the start menu, right click on the Shark007 shortcut and select “Run as Administrator”.

The configurations within will vary from user to user, but the general consensus is that you will start with the defaults and work your way from there. Start by selecting the checkbox for Shark007 SUGGESTED settings and work your way through the tabs configuring as you like.  If you are new to codecs, here are the things that I changed for my purposes.

Config Tab:

Selected No Subtitles

Audio Tab:

Selected TrueHD/DTS HD-MA (Digital Audio)

Enabled “Enable Audio normalization”

MKV Tab:

Selected “Enable Linked Files”

Selected “Disable the DivX Media Foundation splitter”

Once the settings are completed to your liking, repeat this for the x64 addon exactly.

Step 2: Enable Viewing of MKV files from Windows Media Center

As stated earlier, WMC does not show MKV files even though you may have added them to your library.  To get around this, you can modify the registry yourself and add the appropriate registry entries.  To make this a bit simpler, I have added both 32bit and 64bit registry entries into the following zip file for you. MKV-WMC-REG

32 Bit Windows: Double click the file titled “MKV-Windows 7 – X86.reg” to install

64 Bit Windows: Double click the file titled “MKV-Windows 7 – X64.reg” to install

Once you have installed the registry modifications, reboot your computer for them to take effect.  Then enjoy the ability to show/play MKV files from Windows Media Center…

About Joe D

I have always had a passion for everything computing. In early 2000, I decided to take my passion to the web. Thus, C.O.D. was born. Through the years we have made many great friends at C.O.D. and hope to continue our journey for years to come.

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I will admit it. I am usually a hold out. In this particular case, I held out as long as I could in fear that an upgrade wouldn't work the way I liked it to. For a long time I had been using a combination of WMC (Windows Media Center) and XBMC to front end my Home Theater PC. WMC handled my Live TV streaming with a cable card and an HDHomerun Prime, while XBMC did everything else. To be honest, XBMC had some level of PVR functionality built-in to handle live TV... but it was crap in comparison and a major headache to configure with my setup.

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