Converting multiple Windows Media Center Files to the “Old” Format (WTV to DVR-MS)

I’ve always been a real fan of Windows Media Center, and I’ve redeployed a now aging Pentium 4 with two PCI TV tuners, a couple of decent sized hard drives as a media center to supplement my “Pay TV” providers offering. This is quite useful given the number of Digital-only channels these days (here in Australia) that aren’t re-broadcast via the “Pay-TV” provider anyway.

And I occasionally want to burn the recordings I make to DVD. My tools of preference for this are the fabulous TMPGENC suite, which I’ve always found to be extremely reliable. But they don’t recognise the newer .WTV format introduced with the Windows 7 Media Center version. They do however recognise the earlier Windows Media Center format, the so called “.dvr-ms” format. You can convert the new format to the old format reasonably easily. If you browse to the “Recorded TV” library, and select the recording in question, from the context menu, you can choose the “Convert to .dvr-ms format”.

Converting a DTV File

Curiously however, if you select more than one file, this option disappears from the context menu, which is a bit annoying. There is however a command line equivalent that comes to your rescue here. The program is called WTVConverter.exe and it’s located (in Windows 7, assuming a “standard” installation) in the C:\Windows\eHome directory. Importantly, it also accepts wildcards in the file names, which makes it easy to convert a whole series of records. For example, say you open a command prompt, and navigate to the Recorded TV library, in a standard installation, this will be at C:\Users\Public\Recorded TV. If you then execute the following command, you’ll convert all of the episodes of your favorite TV show to the dvr-ms format in a single batch.

C:\windows\eHome\WTVConverter.exe "My Favorite TV Show*.wtv"

WTVConverter will create a corresponding file for each WTV file found, with the same name, but with a .dvr-ms extension. And it reports it’s progress while converting the file. One curiosity of the program is that it appears to pause at the end of the batch. After processing the last file, control isn’t passed back to the command prompt until you press the enter key; there’s no prompt asking you to do so, it just pauses.

I hope you may find this little utility as useful as I have.

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