Last week's Xbox 360 Fall Dashboard update added support for the Windows Media Video (WMV) video codec. The feature was a welcomed gain for non-Media Center users who have been limited to photo and music sharing between their Windows PCs and Xbox 360s -- and to anyone who's longed to watch video files on 360 via a thumb drive or CD/DVD.
Unfortunately, licensing fees and digital rights concerns have limited the patch to WMV-support only. Being Microsoft's proprietary format, WMV is neither popular or oft-used, taking a backseat to preferred codecs like DivX and XviD. And so, we're still left scrambling for a solution to getting our video content onto Xbox 360.
Windows Media Center users have enjoyed on-the-fly transcoding for some time, courtesy of Transcode 360. While the developer says he expects "someone to knock up a transcoding solution not too far down the line" for Windows Media Player 11 and Windows Media Connect (read: not Windows Media Center), he suggests that it won't be him doing it.
So, until Microsoft adds support for more codecs or offers up an application capable of transcoding (to WMV) and streaming on-the-fly (okay, that will never happen), we're forced to manually transcode our non-WMV files into WMVs and then, if we wish to stream, point our 360s at the WMV files (on our PCs). That's the solution. Now, we're gonna show you how it's done:
Luckily, Happy Beggar has already taken care of most of the legwork. The site recently compared three (WMV-capable) transcoding applications: VLC, WinAvi 7.7, and Windows Media Encoder. The clear winner, in both speed and quality, was VLC, an open source media player that has a history of proven functionality. VLC is what we'll use for this guide.