PCs

Poll Results: Do you use the Microsoft Windows Media Center?

See how your TechRepublic peers answered this question: Do you use the Microsoft Windows Media Center?

On September 2, 2010, I asked the readers of the TechRepublic Microsoft Windows Blog this poll question:

Do you use the Microsoft Windows Media Center?

At the time, I was considering the purchase of a new media PC for my family room. I have had a media PC for years now, but very seldom used the Windows Media Center to display any of the various sources of multimedia I have to choose from. I wondered if I was alone in this shunning of the Media Center software.

Since the date of this poll, I have purchased a small PC from ZOTAC ZBox to fulfill the role of multimedia PC, and I have been pleasantly surprised. Advances in technology, especially when it comes to high-definition graphics chipsets, mean that a very small box can produce a very high-quality output. However, I still don't find myself resorting to the Windows Media Center -- the Windows Desktop seems to work just as well. Judging by the poll results I am not the only one.

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About

Mark Kaelin is a CBS Interactive Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He is the host for the Microsoft Windows and Office blog, the Google in the Enterprise blog, the Five Apps blog and the Big Data Analytics blog.

26 comments
kssoftware
kssoftware

I've been using it for television recording and video watching for a couple of years. The product is brilliant with the right remote.

xangpow
xangpow

I bought it thinking it sounded cool, never used it. Just became another button for me to accidently push (which I did alot) lol

excelkmc
excelkmc

I have a HP TV tuner and have used MC since introduced for XP with no problems... love the DVR capabilities and all the features that come with it...

alexancun
alexancun

No way Jose!! I has been working with MS products since a long time ago and "IT" never works fully, all the time the $%&$%& window "You need a codec to [see or hear] properly... blah, blah, blah" now I use mostly JetAudio, works fine for me. Ciao

egmccann
egmccann

For general media viewing - no. For TV recording, viewing those (and the occasional Netflix movie, since it's able to be integrated into the interface) - yes. I do have an older system dedicated just to this. I'd use it more if it could work with iTunes.

john3347
john3347

I have never been able to get MCE completely functional on any computer I have ever owned since several years ago when MCE was an add-on to Windows XP Professional. This condition continues through a current installation of Windows 7 Ultimate. I currently find myself unable to get some TV functions working as advertised. (I realize that some TV functions require a TV tuner, which I do not have, but some functions that should not require such also will not function.) For this reason, I have never used Microsoft Windows Media Center.

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

The discussion following the poll showed that the people who use the Media Center were very happy with it and the people who didn't use it were dismissive of its benefits. My feelings fall in the middle ? I don't see anything wrong with it, but I don't see any great benefit over a typical Windows Desktop. Of course, I am using a mouse and keyboard. Your thoughts?

rpbert4
rpbert4

I have Win 7 Pro (purchased this version when it was half price becuase of MC and virtual XP). Conected my cable directly to computer and use Media Center (with it's TV tuner)to record TV shows for later viewing. Cable has a splitter and I conected the split cable to a router/computer for browsing, etc. Works good except Media Center is not HD.

Goodbye!
Goodbye!

I just started getting into this in the past year. Check out hack7mc.com and thegreenbutton.com for some fantastic plugins you can get for MC. I love Media Browser and the new TVLibrary. Get great metadata for all your DVD movies and TV series. Also check out app MP3Tag for correcting your music metadata. GameEX for a Mame Emulator. There is fantastic stuff out there I'm really surprised MS don't push this more. It's far superior to AppleTV or GoogleTV.

Chilidog67
Chilidog67

I was looking for a replacement for my Tivo a few years ago. Tried Vista Media center and wasn't impressed, MythTV had it's moments, and XBMC was good, though I did have trouble with getting my RF remote set up. When Windows 7 was released I decided to give Media Center another shot and I have been pleasantly surprised. So much better than previous versions. I now have 2 media centers, an XBox360, and a PS3 all interconnected and distributing TV throughout our house,

johnsha
johnsha

I agree with most posters here. There are no major benefits to using WMC. It's just a fancy interface to plain windows functions. There is only one time to use WMC. That is when you want to use the computer and family wants to use the same computer to view HD TV or streaming movies. I have found that using two browser windows is not satisfactory because the window on the TV does not remain in full screen mode when any action is taken on the computer monitor. With WMC, The TV image remains in full screen and you can do anything else on the monitor. All you need is an HDMI cable long enough to reach your easy chair.

SKDTech
SKDTech

I am a fan of XBMC. Windows Media Center is well designed but requires a lot of codec installs to be work properly in my opinion. Plus XBMC can be installed as a Linux OS by itself instead of having to run it on top of Windows or Linux.

ltech
ltech

I found the migration upgrade from Vista to be moderately painful. It was not as simple as advertised. I am also less comfortable with my u pgrade (I went all the way to WIN 7 Ultimate)as it doesn't solve the ongoing issues I have had with my HP Pavillion dv4t portable (such as random cursor jumps, random launches for buttons or links and jumps from where I am currently typing back to a previous spot - that has happened in this reply already). Is the upgrade worthwhile? Not in my mind. In fact, I use my Mac more and more now.

Erik
Erik

I have 2 machines hooked up to TV's at my house, both run Windows XP with Boxee set to auto-start. I have found that MCE doesn't handle all the file types and codecs needed to play everything in my 3TB library without alot of extra plugins. I used to run MythTV on a single machine which did a great job but when I added a second machine to the network and moved the library to a file server in the basement I had way too many problems getting Myth to access everything. After searching the Net for the better part of 6 months I picked Boxee as my new interface. Boxee has filled every media need I have right out of the gate without any extra hassle.

The 'G-Man.'
The 'G-Man.'

Was watching Europe win the Ryder Cup on this this afternoon.

Why Knot
Why Knot

I may be wrong (and I amsure there are many here who will tell me) but I believe it may be more the problem of your tuner cards not being HD than a problem with Media Centre,

TonkaToys
TonkaToys

I use WMC7 daily to record from terrestrial and satellite tv, both SD and HD. It handles series link (hope you chaps call it that in the US) and wishlists, and can be extended to strip away adverts. I also use it to watch HD as the telly isn't capable of decoding HD signals. In addition, I use it for viewing photos, listening to music, watching ripped movies, streaming to other pcs, etc. Again it can also be extended to allow you to remotely manage it, eg: set up / watch recordings over the internet. I do all of this using WMC7, because it works from a remote control and is Wife and Kids friendly. All of this runs on a little Acer Aspire Revo which cost less than US$300. PS: in the interests of fairness, this can all be done using the other interfaces mentioned above (XBMC, Boxee and Vanilla Windows).

imsoscareed
imsoscareed

A silly statement since in either case you have to have an os

john3347
john3347

Itech, watch your thumbs as you type. This is the most common cause of what you describe. With some current very sensitive touchpads, you don't even have to actually touch the pad; just come infinitely close and you can produce the cursor dance that you describe. Connect a mouse and temporarily disable the touchpad to test this.

rkuhn040172
rkuhn040172

I have had issues getting Boxee to run well on older equipment.

RipVan
RipVan

I'll have to check out Boxee. Of course, first I need to start collecting pieces! Time for new gear anyway...

TonkaToys
TonkaToys

You are right Why Knot, support of HD is down to tuner cards (for input) and graphics cards (for output).

Erik
Erik

Both of the client machines are quite old, first gen P4's. The real issue hardware wise that I have found is video card support. You need a video card capable of OpenGL 1.3 or DirectX 9.0.