Fix Windows Media Center's 'Low Bit Rate' Error

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I've made no secret of my love for Windows Media Center, but for months I've been living with a glitch that almost drove me to TiVo.

I call it the Blue Screen of Signal-Death. At random intervals, while watching live TV, the screen would suddenly turn blue and display a "Low Bit Rate Error" message. I could still hear the audio, but the video would disappear for anywhere from 5-15 seconds.

Then, just as mysteriously as it appeared, the BSOSD would vanish--until next time. Which might be five minutes later or five hours. The randomness of it made it all the more frustrating.

Curiously, this problem didn't exist in Windows XP Media Center Edition, Windows Vista, or even the Windows 7 Release Candidate--only the final version of Windows 7.

As I learned from perusing the always-helpful forums at The Green Button, countless other users have encountered the same Low Bit Rate nightmare. Numerous troubleshooting ideas were discussed and tested, but nothing worked. The unanimous conclusion: Something was broken in Windows 7, and Microsoft needed to fix it.

It took long enough, but the fix is finally here. And it appears to work. If you've experienced the dread BSOSD, download the Update for Windows 7 (KB981130), install it, and then reboot your PC.

I just installed it yesterday, and so far, so good. If I discover any further problems, I'll update this post. In the meantime, I have to ask: Why did it take you six months to fix this problem, Microsoft? Grumble, grumble.

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