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Playing Quicktime/MPEG4 Video from a Media Center PC on an Xbox 360

January 13, 2008

I have written before about my irritation that the Fall 2007 update to the Xbox 360 did nothing to allow it to play Quicktime or MPEG4 videos when used as a Media Center Extender– despite this functionality having been added for video played from the Xbox 360 dashboard.

I had used Orb for this previously, but this solution wasn’t as reliable or robust (especially in trying to fast forward to a spot) as I might prefer.

I also commented that it was nice that Dlink’s new Extender allows one to play media outside of the extender session which would be useful for playing media types like MPEG4 videos that can’t be played on a Media Center Extender.

This led me to think about whether I could use another solution to watch MPEG4 videos from the Xbox 360 dashboard (as a stopgap until that functionality is added to Extenders).

First I tried to get Windows Media Connect (as implemented by Windows Media Player 11) to work (which had previously only shared local files). I discovered that I could accomplish this, but only by means of the following registry hack to allow Windows Media Player 11 to share files on a network share:

1. Click Start, click Run, type regedit, and then click OK.
2. In the registry tree (on the left), expand HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE, SOFTWARE, Microsoft, MediaPlayer, and then Preferences.
3. Right-click HME, point to New, and then click DWORD Value.
4. Type EnableRemoteContentSharing, and then press ENTER.
5. Right-click EnableRemoteContentSharing, and then click Modify.
6. In the Value data text box, type 1, and then click OK. If you later decide to disable remote content sharing, you can repeat this procedure and change the value to 0

Having done so, however, I discovered that Windows Media Connect can’t be used to share MPEG4 files.

Back to the drawing board.

A Google search turned up information that Zune PC software should actually allow sharing of MPEG4 files. Unfortunately my initial attempts to install the Zune software on my Media Center PC were unsuccessful. Finally, I discovered the trick to such an installation: To obtain a version of Zune software that actually installs follow these steps:

1. Click the following link to download the update package:

http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkID=104738

2. In the dialog box that appears, click Run to start the installation process.

3. When you are prompted, type the name of the folder where the files will be extracted.

4. When the files are copied to the folder, open the folder, and then double-click Startzune.exe to install the Zune software.

I then followed instructions to set up the Zune software for sharing with the Xbox 360 by doing the following after installation:

    1. After setup, in the Zune software, click Settings, Sharing.
    2. Click Enable Media Sharing with Xbox 360.
    3. Set your media sharing options, then click OK.
    4. On your Xbox 360 console, in the Media area of the Xbox Dashboard, select Music, Pictures, or Video.
    5. If your PC’s content is not displayed, press X and select your PC.

Finally success!

But not with respect to my audio podcasts. Why? Because the Zune software identifies audio files with the Genre "Podcast" as a "Podcast" category distinct from "Audio" or "Video" which it does not share with the Xbox 360!

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