Windows 10 is officially launching in just two days. There are lots of great improvements, but if you are a Home Entertainment enthusiast, there are things to consider before making the decision to upgrade. I’m very happy with Miracast for screen mirroring, but not so happy about the lack of great support for streaming to DLNA DMR devices which was present in 8.1 but has gone missing in 10.
Everyone needs to make their own decision on whether or not to upgrade, and if you are a Home Entertainment user and doing a lot of streaming, my observations may help you decide.
It’s been announced everywhere that Windows Media Center is kaput/gone/dead. You CAN run your Windows 7/8.1 Media Center computers and you do not have to upgrade them. So if you want to keep WMC, just stay where you are. If you have the Get Windows 10 icon and were able to run the compatibility checker, you would have been informed of this (and you should get another warning if/when you run the Windows 10 upgrade):
If you are currently using DLNA “Play To”, your choices in Modern/Universal Apps will be limited. In Windows 8.1, from the File System (classic Windows Explorer Interface) you could right click a file, then Play To – and any DLNA DMR devices would be available. In Windows 10, this is still present, but it’s called Cast To Device. This isn’t as nice an interface as the one provided by Modern Apps (in my opinion).
In Windows 8.1, Modern Apps could implement something called a “Play To” contract, which enabled you to stream to DLNA DMR devices. I use this constantly with my Surface Pro 3 and Music to send music streams to my Sonos Living Room Speaker. I can also send to me WDTV Live Hub which is connected to my receiver, etc.
The new Groove Music in Windows 10 doesn’t have the ability to stream to DLNA devices. Yes, it can stream to my Bluetooth headphones or any other Bluetooth device like Bluetooth speakers, but I’ve been using DLNA, and now it’s gone missing.
The Connect Tab in Windows 10 supports Miracast and Bluetooth audio. But if I want to stream to my Sonos or WDTV Live Hub, I’m out of luck.
Similarly, Windows Photos in Windows 8.1 allowed me to play slide shows to my TV or through my WDTV Live Hub:
Windows 10 has no such functionality in the Photos App. Only Miracast is supported through the Connect tab. There’s no Cast To DLNA functionality.
The ONLY Microsoft App that I’ve found that currently has DLNA Cast To functionality is Movies and TV (and it is not that obvious that it is there)
In Windows 8.1, there were multiple store apps that supported the Play To feature. MediaMonkey, VLC, etc. This functionality isn’t present for these apps in Windows 10 and these apps have other issues under Windows 10. So as of now, I really don’t have a way to stream Music to my DLNA devices OTHER than through Windows File Explorer. And that disturbs me.
Miracast – is it better in Windows 10? Microsoft has made some changes and more of this functionality is handled by the operating system. But many folks in the Windows Insider Forums are actually reporting that systems that worked properly with Miracast under 8.1 aren’t doing so well with Windows 10. On some systems, this may be due to drivers. But it’s worth noting that there are plenty of reports of “not working”.
Intel WiDi – Older systems from the Vista era may have included Intel’s proprietary Wireless Display technology. The upgrade disables this apparently and while Microsoft has said that customers can just reinstall the Intel WiDi app, reports from customers say otherwise, that it won’t install.
Bottom line, take a good look at your multimedia streaming needs, watch the Microsoft Forums, and don’t rush out to upgrade on day one.
If you read my blog posts this Spring on enabling legacy DMR’s in Windows 8.0, you know that you had to create individual entries and modify them for each device you have in your home.
Gabe Frost from Microsoft has just shared a single Registry key that will enable all your legacy Digital Media Renderers to appear on the Charms/Devices/Play tab in Windows 8.1.
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\PlayTo with a DWORD ShowNonCertifiedDevices with value 1 will enabled all your legacy Digital Media Renderers. Without this modification, Windows Store Apps won’t be able to use the Play function to send content to your non certified devices.
I have an older Samsung TV which without this registry key, is not capable of sending mp4’s on my hard drive to my TV using the Device/Play Charm. You can see below that it appears as TV, Not Windows Certified.
As before, your first step is to insure your device works as expected on the Classic Desktop with your Photos, Music, and Videos (depending on the device, not all would be appropriate).
Fire up regedit.exe by typing regedit.exe on the Start screen, acknowledge UAC and navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft
Create a NEW key by right clicking Microsoft and name it PlayTo
Once the key is created, right click it and create a new DWord
The new Dword should be named ShowNonCertifiedDevices. After you have created the key, right click, edit and change the value from 0 to 1.
End result: My non certified Samsung TV shows up in the Play menu from the Devices Charm and successfully can send to my TV.
Note: You alternatively could use HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\PlayTo with a DWORD ShowNonCertifiedDevices with value 1 which would limit functionality on a per user basis.