Windows XP Media Center Edition

Since returning from TechEd 2004 in San Diego, I’ve been playing around with Windows XP Media Center Edition 2004 – in a hopeful attempt to try and organize my music and photo collection.  Although slightly skeptical at first (hey, I already have a PC to store this stuff, why would I use MCE?), the experience has been great:

– Firstly, the MCE box has the ability to record and store TV programs to disk, pause live TV, resume, skip commercials (on recorded items) etc.  Very useful. 

– The slide show feature is awesome.  Simply select some music, choose a folder containing pictures and let MCE do the rest.  For those who have used the slide show generator in Windows XP Plus! Media Edition, the experience is very similar (with the ‘moving photo’ transition effects) – except that you don’t have to wait to create the MPG/AVI file.  Just select the pictures and play.

– Little things have also impressed me:  Hit mute and closed captioning is automatically enabled.  Ability to remove red-eye and rotate photos with one click.  Plug in a USB drive full of photos and it’s immediately available to view in the MCE interface.

As I continue to dig into the O/S, I realize that I need to find out more:

– How do I take a recorded program from disk to DVD through the MCE interface?

– Where can I get an Email/Calendar program for the MCE interface?  The ability to check new Email (or look at tomorrows calendar) when using the remote would be extremely useful.

– If the above two do not exist, how do I create my own MCE interface apps (in .NET of course).  It would be great to create an app that exposes a Web Service which would allow me to access some features from the web.


Comments (1)

  1. Eric Cherng says:

    I’ve also been using MCE for a while and find that it has it’s ups and downs.

    First the good, I love it’s UI. The fluid background and the animated buttons look really cool up on a projector. It’s pretty easy to use and has most of the features I want with a PVR.

    Now for the bad, it crashes quite a bit.. definitely more than I would like out of something that is supposed to be my tv. The good news is that when the MCE UI crashes, scheduled recordings still happen in the background and the OS doesn’t die. I don’t ever remember my tv crashing.

    Also MCE really isn’t an operating system, it’s just WinXP with the MCE application tacked on. I don’t understand why Microsoft just won’t sell the application separately. The hardware requirements isn’t really a good excuse as many people have built their own machines using off the shelf hardware parts.

    I believe you can record tv shows using the Sonic DVD software which you have to buy separately. It has a MCE plugin which will allow you to burn recorded tv shows on DVD directly in the MCE UI.

    Many of us have complained about MS not releasing a good SDK to program MCE. There is a SDK which provides some help on developing web pages suited for MCE, but that doesn’t help to do more advanced features, like your Email/Calendar plugin.

    All in all, I think MCE is great, but can definitely be better. Looking forward to the 2005 release.