I had a chance to try out a couple of relatively new Windows Media Center applications this past week and I thought I'd pass on some information about them in case you want to check them out as well.
Flickr photo browser
A while back, I posted a link to an announcement describing an upcoming Flickr photo browser application for Windows Media Center. At that time, the only thing available was the announcement, but there have been working beta versions released since then. Dave had it installed on a test machine in his office running Windows Vista build 5472.5 last week and I got to see it in action and try it out.
This Flickr photo browser is written as an XBAP, which means that it can be viewed within Windows Media Center for Windows Vista or within a web browser on Windows XP, Windows Server 2003 or Windows Vista. The UI looks and feels similar to the new Windows Media Center UI in Windows Vista (dark blue color scheme, vertical and horizontal navigation, etc).
You can download beta versions at this location if you're interested in trying it out. In addition, there is an interview with the creator of the Flickr photo browser (Niall Ginsbourg) with Ian Dixon on the Media Center Show.
A few people on the team mentioned a recently released YouTube browser for Windows Media Center, so I decided to install it and check it out. It is a Hosted HTML application and works with Windows XP Media Center Edition (and should also work fine with Windows Vista). You can download the YouTube browser at this location.
I installed it on a Windows XP Media Center system and a Windows Vista system at work, and ran into some kind of corporate network firewall policy that blocked it from working correctly. I still need to try to straighten that out, but in the meantime I tried it on my home system and it installed and is running fine. It frustrated me a little bit for 2 main reasons:
- The text entry for searching for videos - I have a Media Center keyboard, so it was tolerable, but with only a remote control this would be pretty painful. In my opinion, text entry is an overall weakness for Media Center and this isn't the fault of this application
- The page navigation model - when I select a video to view it and then press back to go back to the search results, it does not remember where I was, so I have to remember the name of the video I just watched and then scroll back down to view the next video
Overall, this is a really nice application and I had some fun this weekend looking through some clips from some favorite TV shows. I get even more excited thinking about how this application would be able to look and behave as a Windows Media Center Presentation Layer application for Windows Vista!
<update date="8/1/2006"> Fixed incorrect link to YouTubeMce download page </update>