Windows 7 Media Center: Extensive Overview

By Partho, Gaea News Network
Tuesday, July 28, 2009

windows-media-centerAfter having done with the complete Windows 7 Entertainment Package, we had our fingers crossed on the new Windows Media Center(WMC) with Windows 7.  Windows Media Center has been in existence since Window XP regime, but at a high price range. After being included in the Home Premium and Ultimate editions of the Vista, WMC gained exposure and popularity.  Interestingly Microsoft is offering Windows Media Center with the Windows 7 Business and Enterprise editions. Well, for more than one reason, WMC doesn’t seem a feasible adoption in business environment. Skipping the question we come to the point and that is what’s new and improved in the latest WMC.

To begin with let’s have a snap shot of latest Windows Media Center

Snap Shot of new features

  • TV show images throughout the guide and Recorded TV
  • Media center desktop gadget
  • Series recording options the includes HD Preferred, Live, and airtime
  • New 100x mini guide
  • Color coded by show type
  • Trick play functions like fast forward, rewind, and skip
  • Streamlined schedule of recordings
  • Guide button in Window mode
  • Add missing DTV channels manually without editing xml
  • Channel logos with 3rd party plugin
  • Awesome scrub bar when used on a PC
  • Enhanced EPG DB that allows making of great utilities such as Guide Tool. For more, you can import custom programming data.
  • Fade in and fade out while starting and stopping videos
  • Current time displayed on the scrub bar when watching Live TV
  • Movie Library can be used without any registry hack and supports more file types
  • Resume various video types except dvr-ms and wtv
  • Native QAM support finding channels that have PISP data. The rest of it can be added manually.

Now you can combine tuners of different types to sort out recording conflicts automatically based on piority


Real Cool features

Live Thumbnail forward and rewind

Most of the time while watching a HD video playback you drag the time maker forward or back to a particular point you wanna watch. The new Windows Media Center would allow you to view a miniature version of the show playing backwards or forwards at the same speed.

Show dissolved behind menu

While you are watching a movie or a video clip you might browse the channel guide or pull up a menu to add a new show or even move to another area of the Media Center. The current show continues not as picture-in-picture, but nicely dissolved into the background.

Launch TV without a TV tuner card

If you lack a TV tuner in your computer, don’t worry, with the new WMC you can watch all the virtual channels. The available programs include popular shows from many genres, including TV series, viral videos, movies, sports, news, music channels, and lifestyles. Further the new Media Center offers an excellent start menu. If you hover the pointer over the Media Center logo a list of recently recorded shows pops up that comes along with other frequently used MC features.

Media Center gadget

Start Menu allows you to browse MC features from the desktop with the gadget. However, there are no clear indications whether or not you get to have actual video playing in it. You can access Media Center content directly from the desktop gadget.

Turbo scroll for channel guide

Suppose you are viewing a channel guide and wanna skip from Tuesday to Sunday in a jiffy, you just need to hold the arrow button on the remote and the days start to skip. Listings gets blurred and only the days of the week and the portion of the day appear floating over the listing, which allows you to see when to stop.

Alphabetical turbo scroll for music

Most often we have to scroll through the countless artists in our music. Now your location in the alphabet is denoted by two letters, especially if the loner letters J,M, R and S can be broken up in a better way.

Art grid

While playing a song you come across the album art for that track with some basic metadata. All the cover art for very other track you have materializes and drifts in the background

Playing games

You can easily launch Windows games from inside Media Center. The Windows 7 games are available in Extras Library.

Slide show creator

WMC features a new slide show creator that allows you to make multiple slide shows for different occasions. Just click Slide Shows and then Create Slide Show. You can select and insert pictures from your library to include in the show, and you can add music to play during the show.

Improved Performance

Comparing with previous Windows Media Center, Microsoft deserves all credits for furnishing an ameliorated Media Center with polished features. Starting with the menus and guides, they are more responsive than the Vista Media Center.

In new Media center the 3rd party Extenders have received a much needed speed improvement with Windows 7. The Extenders have improved considerably especially with the trick play functions - fast forward, rewind, and skip.

Apart from these, one of the significant upgrades in the Windows 7 Media Center is Electronic Program Guide. This is important for any DVR and that Microsoft doesn’t charge for data.


Unlike archaic Vista guide, Windows 7 offers a all new guide that visually impressive. With the images included throughout the guide it adds to the users experience with new ways to navigate. For better, the new MC has overcome a lot of Vista’s limitation like the ATSC channels are no longer crippled with bad channel numbers(1081 vs 8.1) and no sub channels. Additionally, there are new APIs available that makes it easy to inject logos for each channel and create utilities to edit the lineup. Further, it possible to import custom data.


One of the most talked about issues with the Media Center is whether it’ll fit into Microsoft’s overall ecosystem seamlessly. Microsoft is often alleged for not integrating all its products. According to sources, a number of new packages would surface at the same time when Windows 7 would be released like the Zune HD. It also remains to see whether Home Server Power Pack 3 Beta bring more integration with Media Center and how will the Zune HD work with the new Media Center.

From what is evident Microsoft has evidently raised the bar with its latest Media center giving a face down to solution like Moxi or TiVo.

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