Microsoft looses the recipe…

I had a Windows XP MCE 2005 system at home as my DVR. Basically worked fine for many years although if you turned it off, it was unable to automatically reacquire the wireless connection via the Linksys PCI card. Service packs and driver updates never corrected the problem, so I resorted to leaving the system on all the time. I had won a free copy of Vista Ultimate at the Sarasota .NET Developers meeting a couple of months ago and decided to give it a try. I bought a new 1TB hard drive so that I could keep my XP MCE image intact in case I wanted or had to go back.

Well – it only took about 6 hours to install. Missing drivers for the Linksys wireless card, Microsoft Wireless keyboard and mouse, Hauppage dual TV tuner card, and although it’s a 3.2GHz system, with only 512MB of RAM it was paging like a mother calling her sons. It installed 86 updates – and that didn’t include Vista SP1. After the ordeal, it seemed to work although it was still thrashing.

Bought and installed 4G of RAM and it seemed a lot happier – Vista is a P.I.G. pig. Took a couple of days to tune the power and permission settings so that it worked like an appliance should – no keyboard / mouse interaction required to use it as a DVR.

Started seeing an interesting problem with the MCE remote though. After coming out of standby the remote behaved like keys were stuck – continuously scrolling the guide or screen icons after the first button was pushed. Hard resetting the Vista machine corrected the problem – now it’s no longer a DVR but yet another half-baked Microsoft computer.

Researching the problem on the Web it seems that this is a known problem – addressed in Vista SP1 – but not entirely. And there is a hotfix available, but it’s not clear whether or not this is required if you install SP1 – it reads like you still have to manually parse and edit the registry to add entries to force desired USB devices to be reset after coming out of standby.  So while I have now installed SP1 with no cure I still have this onerous task ahead. Meanwhile I have also discovered that re-plugging the MCE remote receiver corrects the problem. As the plug is accessible by reaching the back of the computer behind the entertainment center this is doable and I guess I will find out the life expectancy of the USB connectors.

Needless to say this has decreased the WAF significantly as she just wants to turn on the TV and PC and watch it – not mess with cables in order to do so.

Verizon FIOS with their DVR is looking better and better.


Have installed all of the latest service packs and hotfixes. Performed the requisite registry edits. Still broken. The best workaround that I’ve found is to install a powered USB hub between the Microsoft remote and the Media Center PC. The hub’s power is provided by a wall wart connected to the computer’s UPS. This has reduced the number of failures to about twice a week.

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