Contents tagged with Windows Media Center

  • Origami and Media Center - two interfaces that should marry!

    Tags: Windows Vista, Windows Media Center

    Microsoft recently released the Origami Experience 2.0 for Windows Vista, download it here. This is an update to the Microsoft UMPC interface. The Origami Experience is designed for small screens with touch-capabilities, but after just trying it out on my laptop with Vista Ultimate I figured – some of these features would fit into the Media Center interface perfectly.

    There are a lot to say about the Windows Media Center interface, I think it is quite good – needs some fixes though; why are films divided in three categories – Videos, Recorded TV and DVD’s? The media features in the interface are quite good, but in our family we have a Media Center in our living room and we quite often use it to browse the Internet or run other programs. That’s where I can see a great marriage between the Media Center and Origami interfaces.

    Origami Experience 2.0 contains two interesting features; Origami Now and Origami Central.

    The Origami Now application is a dashboard application in which you can create Tiles. Each Tile can contain a list, an RSS feed, your e-mails etc.

    Origami Now

    I can really imagine how this would fit into the Media Center interface; your Tiles would consist of recently recorded shows and images, scheduled recordings, TV-guide etc together with the Origami Tiles. Then you would have a really nice Media Center Start Page, instead of the kind of boring Media Center Start there is today, see below.

    Windows Media Center Start

    In Origami Central you can start programs, listen or view your media, read your feeds or surf the Internet, in a very user friendly manner. Take a look at these screenshots.

    Origami Central - Start and Media Origami Central - Internet Origami Central - Browser Origami Central - Feeds Origami Central - Programs

    I especially like the browser and feed interfaces, which are two features that should have been in Media Center by default a long time ago.

    Of course, it is all touch screen oriented. So currently there is no good way to have this running on a Media Center machine, since you need a mouse or a “touch screen flat TV” :-), you can’t use the Media Center remote control to navigate easily. But I guess Microsoft could fix this pretty easy, even if it’s not integrated into Media Center you should be able to navigate the Origami applications using arrow keys…

    So, I know there are some Microsofties who are reading this blog, please forward this post to your colleagues in the Media Center Team and have them arrange a meeting!

    I know that the “Fiji” testing has begun, and unfortunately I have not yet made it into the program so I have no clue if these issues already has been addressed in upcoming versions of Windows Media Center.

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  • Joost for everyone

    Tags: Internet and the Web, Windows Media Center, Software

    Joost is now for everyone, no more invitations to get your hands on it!

    It's still a beta but called Joost 1.0 beta and it's getting better and more importantly it's getting more channels and content (more than 15.000 shows). So if you have not tried Joost, head on over and download it.

    The one thing I think is missing, is a seamless Media Center Integration - wouldn't that be something? Microsoft currently released Internet TV Beta for Media Center (only for the US customers, so us living up north in Sweden are left out as usual...) which I would like to test and compare to Joost - anyone have any interesting comparisons, is it a competitor or can they cooperate?

  • Do you think you have the best Vista Ultimate Media Center?

    Tags: Windows Vista, Windows Media Center

    image If so, then you have the chance of winning a grand prize by Microsoft.

    Microsoft has announced a Windows Media Center - Ultimate Install Contest in which they are looking for the best (finest and most creative) installation of Windows Vista Ultimate Media Center. If it is you, then send in your submission before November 1st, 2007 (for where to send the stuff, look at the link above). The winner will be announced at Electronic House (EH) Expo Fall 2007.

    If you don't have the best solution yet, then head over to MCE-Components.com and look for great components and start building...

  • Windows Home Server only on pre-built systems?

    Tags: Windows Vista, Windows Media Center, Windows Server 2003

    Windows Home Server, WHS,  is a great addition to the Windows Server family, a product that I have wanted to have for a really long time. It will really help me connect my machines at home and provide great features to the connected home and make me share my digital media easier between Media Centers, laptops etc.

    I have hoped that I could turn my current Media Center, a quite powerful machine, into a Home Server later this year once it is time to build my own new Media Center. I would like to make a clean install of Windows Home Server on that old (2 1/2 years) machine after picking WHS up from my local store.

    Hockey puck But, it seems like WHS will only be provided pre-installed on systems provided from HP etc and not be available as an of-the-shelf product!

    Why!? I do not want to spend a lot of money on a designed "puck", even though I think they look nice, but having another box in my living room is out of the question (just ask my wife :-)! I want a big Home Server with plenty of space for disks, and I will place it in the attic, where it may be noisy - but cool - and running 24/7.

    Please give us the option to buy it as a regualr operating system.

  • mce-components.com is now live!

    Tags: Windows Media Center, Hardware

    image The Windows Media Center Components Database is now live! MCE components is a site which targets Windows Media Center self-builders with help to choose components and to see how the components work together. To help build the database you can add your own system and grade it to help others out.

    There are currently about 100 systems entered into the database and it will keep growing, as long as you help out. When you are adding your system you will rate it, on a scale 1 to 5, in stability, noise and performance. You can also enter your Windows Experience Index stats, if you are using Vista.

    To use it you just select which component you are interested in. For example Graphics->NVIDIA->Ge Force 6600. This will show you that three other systems have that graphics card and from there you can see how well these systems perform and what other components these systems use.

    The site is just launched but it is already a good source of MCE components, and there are still some Coming Soons. To keep you up to date of the site, subscribe to the feed.

    With all that data gathered I really would like to see these features implemented:

    • Average stats/experience index for each selected component
    • Most highly performing components
    • The most quiet system

    Good job Paul!

  • FrontView for Media Center on Windows Vista

    Tags: Windows Vista, Windows Media Center, Hardware

    If you have an Ahanix computer case (in my case an MCE 302-SA) with a Samsung VFD and have upgraded your HTPC system to Windows Vista you may have found out that the VFD does not work nor does the drivers available from the Ahanix web site.

    The image has nothing to do with the text and the text has nothing to do with the image, but it's there! But to your rescue there is FrontView for MCE by Media Center Magic. FrontView is an alternative to the default drivers for numerous LCD and VFD displays (CrystalFontz, Samsung, SilverStone etc) optimized for Media Center experience and with a highly customizable interface.

    You can customize the display to show almost whatever you want in different scenarios like playing TV, music or movies.The advanced version has support for RSS feeds and other custom plug-ins.

    FrontView is available in it's professional version for a 30 days trial and then you can use it in free mode.

  • Turn off analog TV? It's happening right now!

    Tags: Personal, Windows Media Center, Hardware

    Robert Scoble is writing about that the analog TV will be turned off (Turn off analog TV? It’ll never happen) in two years and that he thinks this is not going to happen. This is exactly what's happening in Sweden right now, by the next few months the last analog terrestrial broadcast is turned off. I think this is great except for that almost every TV has analog recievers and you therefore have to buy another box, with a new remote etc etc. Thank god I'm using a Media Center computer :-), anyone have any suggestions for a good HD Ready dual digital-TV tuner card compatible with Windows Vista?

    HD Ready I also think it's sad that the digital-tv broadcasted here in Sweden is not HDTV, it's still plain old PAL. The last few months have been great for the flat-screen market and almost every screen sold is HDTV ready, so a lot of people will be dissapointed when they are watching TV and doesn't experience the HDTV feeling. So when HDTV is coming most people have to buy new boxes, once again...

  • Windows Vista launched and Vista Ultimate Extras available

    Tags: Microsoft, Windows Vista, Windows Media Center

    The day is finally here and Windows Vista is available for the consumer market and the commercials are everywhere. In Sweden we hade the annual Grammis awards, the Swedish music industry price, this evening and it was broadcasted on TV. The awards was sponsored by Microsoft and of course it had the standard sponsored by stuff in every commercial break (I'm glad I watched it on Vista Media Center with 30 minutes delay so I could skip those :-). The Vista marketing team had also managed to sneak in some really cool Vista branding when the nominees for each category was presented.

    Check this scene from the nominations for best artist, see anything Vista-like? 

    But for me was the updates on Windows Update more interesting - the Vista Ultimate Extras was finally there. Only two of the announced features was ready by today; DreamScene was not in. The Hold'em poker game was not that impressive, I'd rather stay with my real online poker game. If it was a Media Center program it would have been at least somewhat interesting. The BitLocker tool is great but of no use for me right now. DreamScene is by no means a killer application but It would surely look nice on the 43" plasma screen.

     Another cool optional update on Windows Update was the ability to download new languages for Windows Vista, so you easily can switch back and forth between the languages. So now I have the same Vista in both English and Swedish.

  • The year of constant betas

    Tags: Microsoft Expression, Microsoft, .NET, SharePoint, Visual Studio, Microsoft Office, Internet Explorer, WinFX, Windows Vista, Windows Media Center, Windows Live

    Today I start my two weeks vacation and I thought I should summarize this year. The year of 2006 has been characterized, for me, as the year of Betas and Technology Previews. I have been trying to involve myself as much as possible in the all the goodies flowing out of Redmond.

    Microsoft has released numerous amount of new applications and upgrades.

    Internet Explorer 7

    The new version of Internet Explorer is the application this year that will have most impact in the short run on users. More standardized and a slicker interface with support of for example blogs.

    Windows Vista

    Windows Vista, the long awaited new operating system from Microsoft was released in November. I have been fiddling with the different betas, mostly on Virtual PC's. Short after the RTM I decided to replace my XP Media Center with Vista Ultimate. I'm not that satisfied yet due to lack of drivers; NVIDIA have not yet released a Vista driver that works fine, like the ones on XP.

    Vista is overall pretty good, it has some nice features like the new Media Center, DVD writer software, a better photo management application... The interface has intensively discussed but I think it's not that revolutionary. I think the Explorer interface is really bad, navigation is not that good. I'll stick with Total Commander!

    I will not upgrade my development laptop for a couple of months until all the issues with development in Visual Studio is sorted out, and I have no need for it - XP works fine.

    Microsoft.NET Framework

    The .NET Framework, has come in a new version - 3.0. But it's not a complete new .NET Framework, it's "just" .NET 2.0 with WinFX. But it's good - really good. You now can create really awesome appliactions with a nice user interface.

    Office System 2007

    The Office System 2007 with the client applications such as Word, Excel and PowerPoint and the server applications like SharePoint is by far the most interesting new applications this year for me. I have been into the betas and release candidates and been satisified since the first install. A complete new interface of the client applications that really impress and a SharePoint that finally allows us developers to do some nice stuff. SharePoint 2003, the previous version, was not that good for us developers and lacked a lot of functionality in the first version which has now come back. Someone said that Microsoft need at least three versions before they get it right :-)

    The new Outlook 2007 and OneNote 2007 are two really impressive applications.

    Developer tools

    Microsoft has been really nice to us developers this year with a new and improved MSDN, more samples and tutorials than ever. Visual Studio 2005 has finally gotten an upgrade, Service Pack 1, that fixes most of the random crashes and hang-ups.

    The Visual Studio 2005 SDK has also evolved with the support for making your own designers using the DSL Tools - I think that ISV's will now have the opportunity to make their applications more customizable.

    The Microsoft Expression Suite

    The Expression Suite from Microsoft was from my view the most surprising set of applications from Redmond. The Expression programs is applications for design, design of applications and design of web sites. The Commuity Technology Previews that has been released during the year has been really good, except for the last one this december, in which the removed some of the nice and interesting stuff from Expression Design.

    Microsoft Live

    The Microsoft Live approach has been interesting, with a new portal (never fancied MSN), a new search engine and a whole set of web based applications. Most of them are still in beta and it will be really nice to see where this path leads.

    There has been a lot more that has been installed and uninstalled on my machines during this year, like Exchange 2007 and the Live applications, and it has been really exciting. You can find some of them on Codeplex, the Microsoft open source site.

    What about next year?

    Yes, what about next year? I will not predict too much but for me the focus will be on SharePoint 2007, which will open up a whole new set of opportunities for my company. I really loook forward to see what will happen to the Expression suite and I will start to nibble on the Longhorn Server.

    To all of you:

    Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

    /Wictor

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About Wictor...

Wictor Wilén is a Director and SharePoint Architect working at Connecta AB. Wictor has achieved the Microsoft Certified Architect (MCA) - SharePoint 2010, Microsoft Certified Solutions Master (MCSM) - SharePoint  and Microsoft Certified Master (MCM) - SharePoint 2010 certifications. He has also been awarded Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) for four consecutive years.

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