Investigate Internet TV in Windows 7 Media Center

In the Windows 7 version of Windows Media Center, the enhanced Internet TV lets you watch videos from a variety of providers via the Internet.

Over the holidays, one of the old television sets in my home suffered a catastrophic failure. To maintain the entertainment equilibrium in our household, my wife and I decided to shuffle the remaining sets around and add a big screen HDTV to the mix. While configuring and setting up the new TV, I connected my laptop running Windows 7 to the TV set and began experimenting with Windows Media Center's Internet TV component.

I discovered that it was a really neat feature and provided a very nice way to access all sorts of streaming media from the Internet. As I began espousing the features of Internet TV component to my friends and family, I also discovered that not many people were familiar with this feature of Windows Media Center. In fact, most folks that I talked to assumed that in order to take advantage of Windows Media Center you must have a TV tuner card installed in your system. However that's not the case.

In the Windows 7 (Home Premium, Professional, Enterprise, or Ultimate) version of Windows Media Center, the enhanced Internet TV lets you watch videos from a variety of providers via the Internet right in Windows Media Center. This new version of Internet TV features enhancements to the UI and now provides more content from a variety of content providers, such as CBS, MSNBC, MSN, Zune, and more.

In this edition of the Windows Vista and Windows 7 Report, I'll investigate the Windows 7 Windows Media Center's Internet TV component.

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To get started, click the Start button and type Windows Media in the Start Search box. When Windows Media Center appears in the results panel, click it to launch the application.

Once Windows Media Center loads, use the down arrow on your keyboard to scroll down to the TV section. Then, locate the Internet TV tile in the TV section -- you may have to use the right or left arrow keys -- as shown in Figure A.

Figure A

In Windows 7 the Internet TV section of Windows Media Center has been enhanced with a new UI and more content.
Editor's note: Many users are having trouble at this point, try these steps if you do not see the Internet TV icon.

Before you can access Internet TV content in Windows Media Center, you must:

  • Have an active Internet connection.
  • Complete the Windows Media Center setup.
  • Wait a few minutes for an automatic download to complete.

If you don't see these menu items within a few minutes after setup, go to:

Tasks | Settings | General | Automatic Download Options | Download Now

When you select the Internet TV icon, you'll be prompted to select the Terms of Service check box before you can select the Install button, as shown in Figure B.

Figure B

Installation is a breeze.
Once you do, Windows Media Center will download and install the Internet TV feature. As soon as the operation is complete, you will see and be able to select from the available programs, as shown in Figure C.

Figure C

Once Internet TV is installed, you'll find that it contains a wide variety of popular content.

Taking a look around

Once you access the Internet TV section, you'll discover that it contains a wide variety of programming. To scroll through the available items, you can click the onscreen arrows or you can use the arrow keys on your keyboard. There are several categories, which you can access by scrolling up and down. In each of the categories, you'll find multiple programs. For each program, you'll find full episodes, clips, or special features.

Currently, the following categories can be found in the Internet TV section:

  • Popular Programs
  • Golden Globe Winners Past & Present
  • Full Episodes
  • Channels
  • Top TV
  • Headlines
  • Top-Rated Movies from Netflix
Because I'm a newsaholic, I found the news clips to be an awesome feature, because rather than having to surf between multiple news Web sites to get all my favorite news, I found an assortment of news programs all in the same place. For example, in the Channels category, I found that the News section of MSNBC, shown in Figure D, contained a multitude of news clips.

Figure D

If you're a newsaholic, you'll find more than your fill of news content in the MSNBC News section.
In the Shows section, I found stories from Today, Nightly News, and Dateline, just to mention a few. In the News section of CBS, I found full episodes from 60 Minutes and 48 Hours. In the Headlines category, shown in Figure E, I found episodes of The Rachel Maddow Show, as well as video podcasts from ABC World News with Dianne Sawyer and MSNBC Morning Joe.

Figure E

The Headlines section also features a wide variety of news shows.

Of course, there's more than news on Internet TV. There is also a lot of entertainment, including such current shows like Big Bang Theory, NCIS, and CSI. You can also find old favorites such as the original Star Trek or episodes of the Twilight Zone with Rod Serling.

The other compelling feature in Windows 7 Windows Media Center's Internet TV component is Top-Rated Movies from Netflix, as shown in Figure F. If you have an unlimited Netflix membership, you can watch any of the movies and TV shows in your Instant Queue. You can also edit and add new movies to your DVD Queue.

Figure F

Windows Media Center now delivers streaming video from Netflix.

What's your take?

What do you think of Windows 7 Windows Media Center's Internet TV component? Have you experimented with it yet? How about the new Netflix feature? As always, if you have comments or information to share about this topic, please take a moment to drop by the TechRepublic Community Forums and let us hear from you.

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