Windows Media Center is a computer software application that has been expanded to unite your television and computer for a great media experience that makes daily life more enjoyable. It is only included in select Microsoft editions, such as the Windows XP Media Center Edition, Vista Home Premium and the Vista Ultimate. Other versions of Microsoft Windows do not come with Windows Media Center applications.
The software is meant to operate with a special remote control which has a large green button the consumer will use to launch Media Center from Windows or to simply return to the start menu while they are in the process of navigating the system. This simple remote access makes it easy and quick for the consumer to find their desired media and get it playing.
The set up and functioning process is also very simple. When you start the program Windows Media Center will automatically search the computer for any media files including pictures, video, and music files. The Media Center will even categorize all of the files by details such as name, date, and other various tags.
One of the most common uses for the Windows Media Center is to playback music files. When the computer downloads new music the Media Center will automatically alphabetize the files and they can be obtained from the user’s My Music folder very easily. All of the standard features for listening to music are provided, including fast forward and rewind, shuffle, repeat, and pause. Cover art for each downloaded album can be quickly downloaded from the internet or hand selected and manually put into Media Center.
There are more advanced features of Windows Media Center if you have an extender made just for the software or an Xbox 360. Going through your network with these devices, any of the media files can be easily transferred from the computer to a television screen. Even more advanced, if you have tuner cards the Windows Media Center can function much like a private video recorder (PVR) by recording and playing back TV shows through both high definition and standard cable displays. The options include to manually select programs to record or to go off of scheduled programs provided from a program guide.
Even more useful, portable media devices such as MP3 players can be used with Windows Media Center and users can also burn a DVD from programs recorded off of their television sets. Some tuners will even support FM radio stations. Windows Media Center is limited to functioning with two tuners, though there are ways around that for consumers technologically savvy enough to figure them out.