Review Index:

Cutting the Cord Part 4: Building Your HTPC - Installing and Configuring Windows Media Center

Subject: General Tech
Manufacturer: Microsoft

Running Windows Media Center for the First Time

Missed any installments of our Cutting the Cord Series?  Catch up on them here:

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We’ve finished tweaking our Windows 7 Home Premium installation in preparation for Media Center in our previous installment and now it’s time to get down to the core of our project and finally roll our sleeves up and dive into Media Center itself.  Windows Media Center is an excellent product with an extremely passionate group of fans and one simply needs to check out the Green Button forums or the DTVUSA Forums to find like-minded Cord Cutters.  Considering how well thought out and excellent Media Center is for most ‘set top box’ type tasks, I never understood why Microsoft didn’t put more effort behind pushing it and yet they worked double time to try and push projects like Clippy and the Kin.  Unfortunately, not only has Microsoft not supported Media Center, some of their actions with Windows 8 make it feel like they’re actively working to kill it off.

Regardless, Windows Media Center is still the product to beat for an all in one Cord Cutting solution in my opinion.  While I’m building my media center in Windows 7 Home Premium, if you are building a Windows 8 Media Center, many of the steps will be very similar, if not the same, to what I’m doing here.  Many of the setup screens are mirror images between the two versions of Windows and you should be able to follow along with this guide for Windows 8 as well.  Unless you just absolutely must use Windows 8 for some reason, I highly suggest using Windows 7 for your Media Center as Microsoft has decided to leave some key features out of the Windows 8 version that makes Windows 7 superior in my opinion.

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My Experience: Working through the Windows Media Center setup is much easier to do on a computer monitor as opposed to trying to do it while hooked up to your Television.  We’ll hook our HTPC up to a television when we’re wrapping things up, but in the meantime, save yourself some hassle and just do everything on a monitor.

Continue reading Cutting the Cord Part 4 to “Get Started” with Windows Media Center!

Before we begin, if have a television tuner card in your HTPC, be sure to have your antenna and cabling hooked up and attached to the tuner as we’ll be scanning for channels later during setup.  To launch Windows Media Center, you simply need to click on your Start button and you should see “Windows Media Center” sitting smack in the middle of your program list.  Click on it and off we go.

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After a few moments Media Center will launch.  Clicking on the right or left arrows will show you a few brief highlights of Media Center.  When you’re ready to start the setup, click on the “Continue” button on the bottom of the screen.


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To save some time, you can hit the big “Express” button and Windows Media Center will automatically configure some settings, but I generally like to see what settings are available, so I prefer to do Custom installs.  Mouse over the “Custom” button and select it, or better yet, give your remote a try and see if you can scroll over to the Custom button and select it.


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Video News

December 11, 2012 | 01:25 PM - Posted by HTPC User (not verified)

If you map your photos or videos as a shared drive they will show up nicely in MCE instead of clicking the shared folder first. The downside to this i've noticed is that some applications don't like to install/uninstall if your photos folder location is mapped as a network drive.

December 31, 2012 | 07:50 AM - Posted by Kara (not verified)

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December 12, 2012 | 11:18 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

The next Part of these articles should be right up my alley, I can't use a HTPC without My Movies now.

December 25, 2012 | 06:37 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Can someone give me a link to the WMC guide data? Before installing WMC, I want to see the quality of their guide data for my zipcode. Or must I install WMC on my win7 system to get it in a format that I can read?

April 11, 2013 | 11:03 PM - Posted by Nick (not verified)

I'm getting an error in Windows Media Center "Video Error: Files needed to display video are not installed or working correctly". This happens when I click on the live TV button. I've updated the drivers and followed the instructions, the only change to the hardware specs is an A10 processer. THanks.

December 10, 2013 | 02:11 PM - Posted by David S (not verified)

hey guys im running a bone stock hp touchsmart 520. i just hooked up my new att uverse wireless receiver to my computer via cable. i set up some recordings with all settings to make it grab the best quality it can. i had the recordings set to the hd channels offered with the service.

my problem is that when i go to play back the recordings, they are BAD quality. the audio is at a low echo, the picture is compressed it doesnt go to full screen and the quality of picture is just wrong and it seems to be ghosting.

any advice would be greatly appreciated.

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