Media Center wizardry.

As a Media Center addict I’ve been eager to try out the new version on Windows 8. However, there were some hiccups that made the process a bit more difficult. The primary reason was that Media Center is not part of the primary OS installation anymore. Probably because the lack of audience.

I also found out that it was quite an adventure to determine the correct version of Windows I needed to install. Somehow a lot of people run into the same problem in which they do not have access to the ‘Add features’ option. This was also my case. I’ve tried lots of different combinations, but most did not enable this specific option.

For this, I want to share the setup that worked for me.

  • I used the 64 bit Windows 8 ‘multiple versions’ MSDN image
  • First installation was with a Windows 8 Retail MSDN license key. The image allowed me to input that before the installation process started.
  • After that the ‘add feature’ option was available in the Computer – Properties dialog. In the ‘Windows edition’ area. Some other sites suggest searching in Windows using these two words, and that probably would also have worked.
  • Using the add feature option, I tried entering the Media Center license but that failed. The license requires a Windows 8 Pro version.
  • The fun part is that the add feature option can also be used to upgrade Windows 8 to a Pro version, so by entering a Windows 8 Pro MSDN license key I upgraded. It took a while, but after a reboot I had access to all Pro features.
  • The next attempt to enter the Media Center license key succeeded. Again it took a while but after that (and a reboot) I had access to Media Center.

I must admit that I’ve been following Media Center for years now. When it was first introduced I even tried mimicking the user interface with some C# and animation voodoo. Of course that project failed. However, I was completely hooked to the UI concepts.

A few things I really dislike is the codec wizardry needed, and the lack of advanced metadata downloading and presentation. Because of that I switched to OpenElec. The platform is really easy to install. No codec problems anymore and cool metadata download and presentation. Even subtitles are easy-as-pie. However, I still miss the simplicity and accessibility used in the Media Center UI.

It was my hope something changed with the Windows 8 version, but too bad that is not the case. I’ll probably switch back to OpenElec and wait until someone tries to theme it with the Media Center looks and feels someday. The option – that Media Center gets pimped with decent codecs and more metadata – is probably never going to happen. Pity…

Just my two geeky pennies for today.

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