Tuesday, January 29, 2008

How to use Group Policy to enable and disable Windows Media Center in Windows Vista Home Premium and Ultimate editions

In case people missed this, I wanted to point people to this useful Media Center-related article by Aaron Stebner.

Some people may run into an issue where there was not a shortcut to Media Center available on the Windows Vista start menu, and when they tried navigating directly to c:\Windows\eHome\ and running ehShell.exe directly, they received an error dialog with the following information:

Title: Windows Media Center
Text: Windows cannot open this program because it has been prevented by a software restriction policy. For more information contact your system administrator.

In Windows Vista, a Group Policy setting was introduced to allow administrators to configure systems to not allow Windows Media Center to run. This setting was designed to be used in locked down environments such as corporate networks where Windows Media Center is not needed on a day-to-day basis. However, it is possible that this setting could end up getting configured on home systems as well.

How to work around the issue
If you see the above dialog when attempting to launch Windows Vista Media Center, you can use the following steps to disable the Windows Media Center Group Policy settings using the Group Policy Object Editor in Windows Vista:

  1. Click on the Start menu and type gpedit.msc to locate the Group Policy Object Editor
  2. Run gpedit.msc and click Continue to allow it to run elevated
  3. Expand Computer Configuration (for per-machine settings), then Administrative Templates, then Windows Components
  4. Click on the Windows Media Center item under Windows Components
  5. Right-click on the setting named Do not allow Windows Media Center to run and choose Properties
  6. In the Properties dialog, change the setting from Enabled to either Disabled or Not Configured and click OK
  7. Expand User Configuration (for per-user settings), then Administrative Templates, then Windows Components
  8. Click on the Windows Media Center item under Windows Components
  9. Right-click on the setting named Do not allow Windows Media Center to run and choose Properties
  10. In the Properties dialog, change the setting from Enabled to either Disabled or Not Configured and click OK
  11. Close the Group Policy Object Editor
  12. Try to launch Windows Vista Media Center again

If you see this dialog on your system, it is important to check both the Computer Configuration (per-machine) and User Configuration (per-user) locations for this setting because if either one of them is enabled, Windows Media Center will not launch and will display the above dialog.

For more technical details, see Aaron's blog posting titled, "How to use Group Policy to enable and disable Windows Media Center in Windows Vista Home Premium and Ultimate editions".


Technorati Tags:
, , ,

2 comments:

Wayne said...

I find it hard to believe that you can use Group Policy to do anything under Vista Home Premium since gpedit.msc does not exist on Home Premium systems, just on Ultimate. However you can probably do this be directly editing the registry keys.

Samson Loo said...

That is true gpedit.msc is only available on Business, Enterprise and Ultimate editions of Vista, from what I understand. So if you want to utilize the Group Policy Editor you will need to upgrade your Home Basic or Home Premium to one of the editions mentioned above!