DVR-MS (Microsoft Digital Video Recording) is a proprietary video and audio file container format, developed by Microsoft. Audio and video are wrapped in an ASF container with the extension DVR-MS. Video is encoded using the MPEG-2 standard and audio using MPEG-1 Layer II or Dolby Digital AC-3 (ATSC A/52). The format extends these standards by including metadata about the content and digital rights management. The extension was originally used by Zach Johnson who at the time was a developer for the television recording engine for Microsoft Windows XP Media Center Edition.

The digital video recorder feature of Microsoft Windows XP Media Center Edition and the Windows Vista version of Windows Media Center create files in this format. If a recorded broadcast is marked as copy protected, the resultant DVR-MS file can only be played back on the recording device. Unprotected DVR-MS files (files not marked in this way) can be played back on any device running:

  • At least Windows XP with Service Pack 1 and Microsoft hotfix 810243 which adds DVR-MS support to DirectShow
  • Windows XP with Service Pack 2 and later Windows operating systems
  • Windows Mobile 6
  • For older Windows operating systems, any third-party media player which supports the DVR-MS format through DirectShow on Windows or by other means on Windows or other platforms

Although it is not possible to edit unprotected DVR-MS files through older software programs such as Windows Movie Maker for Windows XP, the files can be edited using Windows Movie Maker for Microsoft Windows Vista or Sonic MyDVD. A simple registry tweak/hack also exists for allowing the Windows XP version of Windows Movie Maker to natively import/edit DVR-MS files. Some early freeware applications which convert the files can be found from third parties such as at The Green Button However, these programs are rather basic and there have been many reported problems with them. Microsoft's Developer Network (MSDN) has an article with sample code and binaries demonstrating how to use DVR-MS and convert them to WMV. Also, Windows Media Player 10 shipped with a transcoder to convert DVR-MS to WMV only when syncing with portable devices such as a Portable Media Center.

MediaPortal also uses this format and comes with the plugin My Burner with which it's possible to (automatically) convert the DVR-MS files to regular MPEG-2. Also, Orb uses the DVR-MS file format for recording and streaming audio and video via its web-based DVR.

Some universal transcoders may be able to convert DVR-MS to other formats, such as VisualHub (Mac) or AVS Video Converter. DVR-MS can also be converted to another format using ffmpeg with DirectShow settings and a compatible MPEG-2 decoder like NVIDIA's PureVideo Decoder Changing only the container format (extracting the original MPEG-2 data without any visual loss) is possible via VLC media player's transcoding wizard.

The DVR-MS format files are an ASF file containing multiple MPEG-2, and data streams. Files in this format are generated from the Stream Buffer Engine (SBE.dll), a DirectShow component created by Matthijs Gates for Microsoft Windows XP and Microsoft Windows Vista.

Phasing out of DVR-MS

Starting with Windows Media Center TV Pack 2008 and moving forward Microsoft has indicated that DVR-MS is being replaced with WTV.


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