Get answers to complex questions online
Even if we were to devote every one of the 1000-plus pages in this book to Media Center-related topics, we'd have to leave out some details . If you're having issues with getting specific hardware to work properly or you're looking for the latest Media Center add-ins, we suggest you stop by thegreenbutton.com. (The site name comes from the green button at the center of every Media Center-compatible remote control, which takes you to the Start menu.) This online community was founded by Media Center enthusiasts, and although it's now owned by Microsoft, it has retained its independent character. Ian Dixon's thedigitallifestyle.com is also a valuable resource for questions about Media Center and related technologies.
If your system configuration is simple—especially if it doesn't include a TV tuner or connect to a fancy surround-sound system—setting up Media Center can take literally one click (or one tap on a remote control). The first time you run Media Center, you see the Welcome carousel and then the Get Started screen shown next. The oversized Express link is highlighted by default; if you click Express (as most people will), you launch immediately into the Windows Media Center experience, ready to begin playing music, movies, or videos or browsing through your library of digital photos.
In general, the Express configuration is perfectly adequate for most purposes and allows you to begin using Media Center immediately. (If you have a TV tuner, you can set it up now using the Custom option or defer that task till later, as we describe in "Recording and Watching TV" on page 482.)
If you want to customize your Media Center experience, choose the Custom Setup option and run through the options we explain in this section . You start with a required setup section that checks your network and internet connection and offers you several opportunities to read the Media Center privacy statement. Assuming your network is set up already, the only substantive option is on the Enhanced Playback page, where you get to decide whether to download information from the internet, including cover art for albums and DVDs, information about movies, and TV guide listings. Most people will click Yes here.
After you finish the Required Setup, you can go through any of the four Optional Setup choices:
• If you have one or more TV tuners installed, the first option on the Optional Setup page allows you to configure the tuner and the downloadable program guide to work with your channel lineup; we cover this task in more detail in "Recording and Watching TV" on page 482
• The next option (at the top of the menu if you're lacking a TV tuner) is a wizard that allows you to configure your monitor or TV. The wizard includes a video clip that helps you identify and fix problems with aspect ratios, color settings, and so on .
• Next on the menu is a speaker setup wizard that lets you specify how many speakers you have and test them for correct connections and performance.
• The final option on the menu allows you to specify which folders Media Center should use to build its library. By default, your library contains all folders that are currently included in the default Music, Pictures, and Videos libraries for the currently logged-on user account. (The Recorded TV and Movies folders are unique to Media Center and can be managed only here.) You can add or remove folders from the list here, in Windows Explorer, or in Windows Media Player; the results are reflected in all locations . You can populate the Media Center library with folders from a local volume or from shared folders on the network, as shown in Figure 14-1, where shared media folders on a Windows Home Server and other networked computers are available .
For details on how to change the list of folders monitored in your default media libraries, see "Working with Libraries" on page 282.
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