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What’s New With Windows Media Center in Windows 7

In Windows 7, Windows Media Center is getting a makeover. Nothing too  radical is changing, and that’s good, because WMC is a pretty solid program already. Some of the biggest changes involve the back-end and how content is moved across the network. The new code reflects this shift towards more seamless interconnectivity between our devices as well as a desire to make third-party WMC applications feel more like the native elements of the program. To that end, developers of WMC apps should definitely check out this post which details some of the code changes in the version of WMC found in the PDC build of Windows 7.

However, it’s Charlie Owen who gives us the most complete run-through of the front-end changes. We've summarized them here:

  • Start Menu: text and iconography size changes
  • Music: for albums with no album art, tiles will display a random color with album title instead of just blue background and white text like before:

SmallMusicGalleryMissingCoverArt

 

  • Details: Details is a new feature found throughout WMC that puts frequently accessed features within closer reach. (Reminds me of jump lists, but for WMC.) Album Details:

SmallMusicDetails

 

  • Music Now Playing: As music plays, action items (menu options) fade away and the album art is animated into a slowly scrolling wall of covers and occasionally switches the currently playing album cover and metadata.
  • Rating Shortcuts: you can enable rating shortcuts to easily rate content from one to five using your keyboard:

 

SmallMusicRatings

 

  • Turbo Scroll: Holding down left or right remote buttons will begin to scroll through libraries at faster speeds, presenting content in alphabetical chunks.
  • Shared Libraries: Like in Windows 7 itself, Shared Libraries let you enjoy media content from multiple computers across your home network.
  • Ambient Slideshow for Photos: The new ambient slideshow feature will launch as a screensaver with you start the new “Play Favorites” on the Start Menu. It pulls in pics rated 3 stars or higher. Pictures zoom in and out in an unstructured way.
  • Enhanced Libraries: The new picture library highlights ratings, slideshows, and shared photos all new selections from the top menu. The video, music, and recorded TV libraries also get the Shared feature. New Picture Library:

SmallPicturesLibrary

 

  • H.264 Support: H.264 support is enabled out-of-the-box on Windows 7 and on the Xbox 360 when in Extender mode.
  • Video Play All: Plays all the videos in a specific gallery. Videos also resume where you left off.
  • TV Pack: The new WMC will feature all the enhancements found in the TV Pack (more on that here). Among other things, this includes:
    • A clickable seek bar when playing videos
    • Press the right or left arrow buttons when playing a video for more functions like zoom or settings that were previously buried:

 

SmallTVNowPlaying

 

    • Recorded TV gallery gets an “All Content” view
    • HD channels are mapped and emblazoned with the HD logo:HD Movies: a new HD pivot is found in the movies section
    • The TV Guide turbo scrolls:

SmallTVTurboScroll 

 

  • New Extras Section Replaces Online Media: More details coming soon on this…hmmmm:

 

SmallExtrasLibrary

 

  • On screen keyboard: A new on screen keyboard is now available for text entry:

 

SmallOnScreenKeyboard

 

  • Desktop Gadget: A new desktop gadget is being made available for quick access to music, slideshows, or both. The green button on the gadget will also launch WMC. Gadget + Gadget Details:

 

GadgetSettings

For more details and additional screenshots, click through to Charlie Owen’s post.

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Follow the Discussion

  • anonymuosanonymuos

    Can MS ever give us an extender that works with XP, Vista and 7? I've already got 2 extenders for XP and Vista.

  • anonymuosanonymuos

    Can MS ever give us an extender that works with XP, Vista and 7? I've already got 2 extenders for XP and Vista.

  • anonymuosanonymuos

    Can MS ever give us an extender that works with XP, Vista and 7? I've already got 2 extenders for XP and Vista.

  • retrosightretrosight

    Hi Sarah -- thanks for the post and the link.

    @anonymuos: Dennis Morgan (on the Media Center Extender team) left a comment on my blog post stating Media Center Extenders which work with Windows Vista will also work with Windows 7.

  • retrosightretrosight

    Hi Sarah -- thanks for the post and the link.

    @anonymuos: Dennis Morgan (on the Media Center Extender team) left a comment on my blog post stating Media Center Extenders which work with Windows Vista will also work with Windows 7.

  • retrosightretrosight

    Hi Sarah -- thanks for the post and the link.

    @anonymuos: Dennis Morgan (on the Media Center Extender team) left a comment on my blog post stating Media Center Extenders which work with Windows Vista will also work with Windows 7.

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