I decided to write this article because, there are still many people that don’t realize that if they are using Windows 7 Home Premium, Ultimate, Professional or Enterprise, they don’t just have the most powerful operating system today, but they also have Windows 7 Media Center (MCE), and this feature in Windows is frequently ignore. Media Center is a powerful piece of Microsoft software, very stable, that enables you to convert your computer screen or TV into an entertainment hub; where you are able to stream and enjoy, in a whole different way, your music, videos, movies, watch and record live TV (With the addition of TV tuner cards), Internet TV for free, Netflix; etc.
With Windows Media Center you can:
- Watch and record TV shows in either over the air HD, Digital with CableCARD; or standard antenna, cable or satellite signal, although satellite could be a little challenging to configure.
- Burn your recording to a DVD or transfer them to a compatible potable media player.
- Never miss another show: Schedule recording TV up to 14 days in advanced. You can schedule one time show or the whole season; search show by title, keyword, actor or director and depending on how many TV tuners you have installed in your computer, you can record more than one show at a time.
- New TV guide integrates broadcast TV plus Internet TV, all in one Place.
- Setup Parental control to help you to control what your children watch.
- Pause and resume live TV shows and also Windows Media Center allows you to fast-forwarding through commercials of recorded shows.
- Sport Channel: Full sports coverage, previews, highlights, interviews, analysis , follow your favorites players, and more.
- Watch Internet TV: This a new feature in Windows Media Center that delivers a lot of entertainment over the internet for free. There are a lot of full length TV shows that you can watch; as well as video podcasts, thanks to the Zune market place.
- If you have Netflix member ship, you can order your DVD’s with the remote control and stream a wide variety of movies and TV shows.
- Play DVD or Blu-Ray movies. (Additional hardware and/or software may be required for Blu-Ray).
- Easily rip your own audio CD’s and save your favorites tunes in the MCE library. You can crate playlists and also play music that you already have in your computer or other computers around the house. You don’t know what to play? Both music and pictures categories now have a “Play Favorites” that learns from items played in the past.
- Turbo Scroll: It would be pretty difficult to sort through thousands of items; press and hold the left or right arrow in your remote and titles will start flying by, until you see a blur, and letters will start to appearing as clues to let you know when might be time to stop. This works for music, pictures, and TV guide.
- Browse media while watching TV or doing other tasks.
- Use your computer as a remote control: Now you can stream from media player 12 audio or video to Windows 7 Media Center.
- Play FM radio if your tuner is capable.
- On the go: Sync audio, video, pictures and TV recording to a compatible portable media player or compatible phones.
- Play audio, video or pictures from external storage, compatible portable media player or compatible phones.
- Show off your vacation pictures using MCE. Create slide shows of your favorites photos and share them with friends and family; sitting in your living room couch while playing music.
- Slide Show Screen Saver: When you are not using Windows 7 Media Center, your TV will be converted into a giant picture frame, from the collection of pictures in your library.
- Play Windows games.
- Enjoy recorded TV shows, music, video; even when it’s not stored on your PC. The new HomeGroup feature makes media available to any PC running Windows 7 in the house.
- Extender for Windows Media Center: An extender is a device that allows you to stream your Windows Media Center content, wired or wirelessly, from your PC or laptop to a TV screen. There are devices in the market that allows you to do this, but if you have an Xbox 360 you already have it. When you are using extender you can pause whatever you are watching and resume where you left of in another room.
- Install plugins: These are applications that could be either from Microsoft or a third party software company. They will add more functionality to your Windows Media Center.
- Use desktop gadget that gives you one click to access your favorite entertainment.
Microsoft has improved Media Center in a whole new level with its new features.
To see if you have Media Center:
1- Click “Start”
2- In the search box type “Windows Media Center”, if the green Windows’ logo appear in the list, you have it and is waiting for you to start using it.
There are many devices in the market that are capable to work as a media center, like Apple TV and Tivo to name a couple. In my opinion both, Apple TV and Tivo, lack of features in comparison; most of them can be found in Media Center. Remember that when you get Tivo, you also need to pay a monthly subscription feed; which is not the case when using Media Center. Once you give it a try, you will be hooked, Windows 7 Media Center is an excellent media hub and great DVR solution.
You may already have Windows 7 Media Center and it only takes a few clicks to setup. If you do, get started! It is really simple, you will be watching TV shows, movies and listening to your favorites tunes in not time. If you don’t have it, well… I think that this is a good reason for an upgrade.
Please, leave a comment on what do you think about the new Media Center in the section below or let us know what would you like to learn next about Windows 7 Media Center.