Do not use ThumbnailURL when registering a Windows Vista Media Center application

I recently received a question from a friend of mine who is developing a Windows Vista Media Center application.  He was registering the application so that it would appear in the Start menu, but was running into a problem getting the application tile's thumbnail image to display correctly.  Instead of displaying the image that he specified in his registration XML file, it displayed a blank blue square.

After reviewing the documentation included in the Windows Media Center SDK for Windows Vista and experimenting with a couple of scenarios, he found that this issue was caused by using the deprecated thumbnailUrl attribute instead of the imageUrl attribute in the entry point in his registration XML file.

Unfortunately, he was using the Windows games that are included in Windows Vista Media Center as an example when creating his registration XML file.  These games all use the thumbnailUrl attribute instead of the imageUrl, as you can see if you look at an example of the chess game in the following location in the registry on a Windows Vista Home Premium or Ultimate system:

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Media Center\Extensibility\Entry Points\{115EADF1-41C4-471b-8FE5-7A52B91BFE75}]
ThumbnailUrl=%ProgramFiles%\Microsoft Games\Chess\ChessMCE.png

Because of this use of the ThumbnailUrl value, you will see a blank application tile in the Start menu for these games by doing the following:

  • Launch Windows Vista Media Center

  • In the Online Media strip, select Program Library

  • Right-click on one of the games and select Add to Start Menu

  • Click Yes to confirm that you want to add it to the start menu

  • Return to the Media Center start menu and look at the tile created for the game

For more information about options for configuring images for custom start menu tiles in Windows Vista Media Center, please refer to this blog post as well as the Windows Media Center SDK documentation.


Comments (2)
  1. oluf_nissen says:

    I found that if you want to register entrypoints on a start menu strip, there are some problems with using images with transparent backgrounds. If you use imageUrl for your app, and you have transparency in the image, the transparent parts will show up in black under the program library.

    I ended up using both imageUrl for the start menu image to get transparency support (and a larger image) and thumbnailUrl to get a picture with no transparency / no black background (and a smaller image) into the program library area.

  2. Hi Oluf – Thank you for sharing your experience regarding this scenario.  To be more accurate, I think the title of this post should be "Do not use only the ThumbnailURL value when registering a Windows Vista Media Center application"

    As you note – it is safe to use both imageUrl and thumbnailUrl – imageUrl will be used for the Start menu tile, and thumbnailUrl will be used for the tile in the Program Library.

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