How to re-enable Windows Media Center in the Default Programs control panel on Windows Vista Home Premium and Ultimate
Yesterday, I posted some information about a Group Policy setting that can prevent Windows Media Center from launching on a Windows Vista Home Premium or Ultimate system. Since then, I have heard from a couple of people who have been receiving the same error message but who did not have this Group Policy setting enabled on their systems. After some further investigation, I found another possible cause of this type of error that I wanted to describe here as well.
Description of the issue
To summarize some information from my previous post, it is possible that launching Windows Vista Media Center will fail and will instead display the following error message:
- 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.
The dialog looks like this:
I looked at the startup code for Windows Media Center, and found that in addition to the Group Policy setting that I previously described, it is also possible for this error dialog to appear if Windows Media Center is marked as disabled in the Set Program Access and Computer Defaults control panel on Windows Vista.
How to work around the issue
You can use the following steps to enable Windows Media Center in the Set Program Access and Computer Defaults control panel if it is currently disabled:
- Click on the Start menu and choose Default Programs
- Click on the item named Set Program Access and Computer Defaults
- Choose the Custom configuration
- Under the Choose a default media player item, make sure that the box to the right of the Windows Media Center item that is labeled Enable access to this program is checked
Note - you do not have to select the radio button to the left of the Windows Media Center to make it the default media player if you don't want to, but the Enable check box must be checked or Windows Media Center will refuse to launch on your system.
What is happening behind the scenes
The Enable access to this program check box for the Windows Media Center Item in the Set Program Access and Computer Defaults control panel will result in the following value being changed in the registry on Windows Vista:
[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Clients\Media\Windows Media Center\InstallInfo]
If the IconsVisible value is set to 0, then Windows Media Center will not run on a Windows Vista system.
<update date="10/7/2011"> Fixed broken link to image embedded in this post. </update>