• Guest, The rules for the P & N subforum have been updated to prohibit "ad hominem" or personal attacks against other posters. See the full details in the post "Politics and News Rules & Guidelines."
  • Recovering from Halloween? Take part in our Spooky Giveaway to be in with a chance of replenishing your wardrobe. A simple riddle stands in your way. Visit the sweeptake thread over here.

Windows 8.1. as HTPC OS

Quantos

Senior member
Dec 23, 2011
386
0
0
Hi all! :)

I have been trying for some time to find the best software combination for my HTPC, without luck. As it is not only used for media playback, but also general browsing and light gaming, I didn't to go all out on a media-focused solution.

Also, one of my biggest issues thus far had been that, while media playback software did look good on my TV, I had issues with OS not scaling properly, or at all. Windows 8.1 preview came out last week, and I installed it (as a separate entity :sneaky:) on the HTPC two days ago. I must, I'm very pleased with the experience so far. As much as I don't enjoy the relationship between the start screen / "Metro" apps and the desktop on my gaming/workstation PC, it does seem to work much better on an HTPC. As far as customization goes, the only thing that I really had to do so far is change a few of the default associations to "Metro" apps, and replaced them with desktop programs (VLC, for instance).

Scaling is also quite nice, as everything is now the right size for the TV. ^_^

At the same time, I acquired a Logitech wireless keyboard (the one with the touchpad on the right, I think it's a K400), which I strongly recommend.

Anyone else tried 8.1?
 

SheHateMe

Diamond Member
Jul 21, 2012
7,251
20
81
Not sure what you mean about scaling...if the picture isn't showing up properly on your TV, you need to change your GPU settings.

I use Windows 7 for my HTPC. Paying extra for WMC for Windows 8 is hella stupid.
 

Quantos

Senior member
Dec 23, 2011
386
0
0
Not sure what you mean about scaling...if the picture isn't showing up properly on your TV, you need to change your GPU settings.

I use Windows 7 for my HTPC. Paying extra for WMC for Windows 8 is hella stupid.
UI scaling is what I am refering to. Of course, the TV is 1080p, and W7 and W8 would show up with the standard UI size. Since I'm not as close to the TV as I am to a usual monitor, everything would be very small in W7 or W8 (task bar, windows explorer, w/e). Windows 8.1 has an option to scale UI. I believe the goal is to support high resolution displays on relatively small monitors, such as ultrabooks. As far as I know, it's something that OSX had been doing for a while on the Macbooks displays, as the default UI scale would be horrendously small on a retina display that is 13 or 14". Anyway, W8.1 brings that to the table, and it does work quite well for the TV ^_^

For WMC, I dunno yet. It's true that paying for it isn't really nice, but if I find W8.1 to be worth it in the long run, I might make the investment. I need to evaluate the options regarding media software.
 
Last edited:

Aikouka

Lifer
Nov 27, 2001
29,074
341
126
I use Windows 7 for my HTPC. Paying extra for WMC for Windows 8 is hella stupid.
It's also good to mention that you not only have to pay for Windows Media Center, but it also requires the more expensive Professional edition. Honestly, it makes no sense to package a multimedia playback application with stuff like BitLocker. o_O
 

Rio Rebel

Administrator Emeritus<br>Elite Member
Oct 9, 1999
5,195
0
0
When Media Browser supports Windows Media Center 8, it's worth a look. Until then, I'm not interested and will stick with XBMC.
 

CZroe

Lifer
Jun 24, 2001
22,347
233
106
I plan to set one up with a Wii Remote instead of a touch screen. Might reduce my dependence on mouse + keyboard too. :)
 

tential

Diamond Member
May 13, 2008
7,363
640
121
Haven't encountered this on my Windows 8 HTPC, but glad to see that 8.1 fixed it. Nothing looks small on a 70 inch tv though lol.

I dunno why you'd use WMC though when XBMC is free and does the same thing.
 

zanejohnson

Diamond Member
Nov 29, 2002
7,033
1
71
i went the KDE way...

[/IMG]http://www.ntin.net/~zanejohnson/computer%20screenys/htpc.jpeg[/IMG]
 

Aikouka

Lifer
Nov 27, 2001
29,074
341
126
Well, just ran into the last straw that has me about ready to go back to Windows 7. I can't even play WTV files from my HTPC in Windows 8 because I don't have Media Center installed. I feel like I have to keep making concessions with this stupid operating system to even get things to work like I had them in Windows 7. :|
 

AnitaPeterson

Diamond Member
Apr 24, 2001
5,584
10
81
Just like any other painful experiences - crushing your nuts in a vise, or extracting wisdom teeth without anesthesia - you can definitely use Windows 8 as a front-end for a HTPC.

But why would anyone want to do that?
 

$panky

Junior Member
Jun 21, 2013
11
0
0
I haven't got to play with 8.1 much, but even 8 is the best thing going for an HTPC as far as I'm concerned. Can't decide between Media Center and XBMC? MC is hands down better for live tv/cable and XBMC has tons of addons and is much more configurable. Use both. Windows 8 lets you switch between them easily with nothing but a remote. Grab a harmony 300, configure it as a MC remote, then use event ghost to change the buttons to suit the context(what program you are currently using). Push the exit button on the remote and it closes whatever program you are running and sends you to the start screen where you can launch MC, XBMC, Big Screen Steam, Netflix(metro, the ones for MC and XBMC both suck), Angry Birds, or any other metro app that is easy to navigate and looks great on a 10ft interface. Unfortunately, you still need a keyboard for most metro apps, but I'm hopefull that will change with motion controls.

The only time I see the desktop on my HTPC is when I RDP into it to manage things. (on a second simultaneous logon via a termsvr hack because I can't get the wife and kids off it.) The impressive thing is my 5 year old can do most of this without any help, and he only rarely has to help my wife! :)

BTW there is a version of Media Browser that works with Windows 8. Some of the pluggins may not work but I only use Media Browser and nothing else. MC is strictly for Live TV and a backup just in case I bork my XBMC setup.
 

CSMR

Golden Member
Apr 24, 2004
1,375
2
81
Since I'm not as close to the TV as I am to a usual monitor, everything would be very small in W7 or W8 (task bar, windows explorer, w/e). Windows 8.1 has an option to scale UI.
Windows XP has that option, and since Windows Vista it has worked pretty well.

But on an HTPC you should not see the task bar, windows explorer, etc.. These are not suitable for interacting with an HTPC. Try using an HTPC interface like WMC, Mediaportal, XBMC.
 

Rio Rebel

Administrator Emeritus<br>Elite Member
Oct 9, 1999
5,195
0
0
Thanks for the heads up about media browser - I'll check it out again. I bought two Windows 8 upgrades for $15 when it first came out, so I haven't cut the Windows cord yet. I just won't pay full licensing fees for crap.

Right now, I'm using XBMC even on the Windows machines, and it plays everything I need.
 

Medikit

Senior member
Feb 15, 2006
338
0
76
As others have said: While Windows 8 seems like the ideal HTPC operating system most of the apps are not well designed for using with a remote control and require too much keyboard input.

I think we all see the potential of the metro interface but it is important that it is designed for tablets, not an HTPC.
 

BonzaiDuck

Lifer
Jun 30, 2004
13,968
700
126
As others have said: While Windows 8 seems like the ideal HTPC operating system most of the apps are not well designed for using with a remote control and require too much keyboard input.

I think we all see the potential of the metro interface but it is important that it is designed for tablets, not an HTPC.
I think I was a year behind when Win 7 appeared before jettisoning VISTA and XP here at the house. Then Win 8 appeared and I could "see the writing on the wall." Since I don't have a lot of mobile devices, I'm just not all that keen for the upgrade -- even if you can make the "metro" default appearance look like classic windows.

These observations about usefulness for HTPC are valuable.
 

thestrangebrew1

Platinum Member
Dec 7, 2011
2,720
107
106
Just like any other painful experiences - crushing your nuts in a vise, or extracting wisdom teeth without anesthesia - you can definitely use Windows 8 as a front-end for a HTPC.

But why would anyone want to do that?

Personally I think Windows 8 is the perfect front end for an htpc with family. Once the start menu pops up, my wife and kids can just tap the xbmc icon and away they go. I don't know how it works with tuners because I just stream to my htpc and not much else. But it works for our family.
 

Midwayman

Diamond Member
Jan 28, 2000
5,319
161
106
Trouble with win 8 is that it broke some apps/drivers that were working in win 7. There is very little development for WMC so any of these issues are very very slow in getting fixed. I'd stay away from it unless you can verify what you want to use works, and you have a specific reason for win 8.
 

killaG

Junior Member
May 2, 2013
12
0
0
IMO 8.1 works great as an OS for an HTPC, if you prefer the original windows look, you can always download the "classic shell" application, so that you are still running 8.1, but with a different feel and aesthetic for it. But yea, 8 is definitely the way to go.
 

Medikit

Senior member
Feb 15, 2006
338
0
76
IMO 8.1 works great as an OS for an HTPC, if you prefer the original windows look, you can always download the "classic shell" application, so that you are still running 8.1, but with a different feel and aesthetic for it. But yea, 8 is definitely the way to go.
Why does it work great? I gave reasons it doesn't work well, so what are some advantages of Windows 8? Are you using a remote control or a keyboard/mouse?
 

killaG

Junior Member
May 2, 2013
12
0
0
I am using a keyboard and a mouse to control my HTPC. I scale up the DPI to 200% and that works great visually. I even like to use the metro interface on my HTPC, which I don't like to use on my desktop as it looks pretty nice on the big screen (Sharp 70' 3D TV).

Regarding apps, I use Windows Media Center for all my media playback and live cable TV. I use a remote control in WMC, and it works great.
 

Scheeringa

Member
Sep 18, 2013
31
0
0
I have 8.1 on my gaming rig and it's great, I even paid for the WMC add-on, so I can watch my recorded shows without a problem. I've stayed with windows 7 on my HTPC because of the problems 8 is having with extenders. I have 2 other TVs that slave off my HTPC
 

Aikouka

Lifer
Nov 27, 2001
29,074
341
126
I have 8.1 on my gaming rig and it's great, I even paid for the WMC add-on, so I can watch my recorded shows without a problem. I've stayed with windows 7 on my HTPC because of the problems 8 is having with extenders. I have 2 other TVs that slave off my HTPC
The problem is that you don't have to pay for that on Windows 7, and you can buy the cheaper Windows 7 Home Premium rather than springing for the more expensive Windows 8(.1) Professional.

I actually went back to Windows 7 on my main desktop. It just wasn't worth it anymore, and I'm quite a bit happier now. One other interesting thing... I found the newer Microsoft products to be much pickier about reactivating. I have Windows 8 and Office 2013 (HUP). I swapped out motherboards, which really didn't result in that many different pieces of hardware (the hardware addresses and stuff probably changed). Had to reactive both Windows 8 and Office 2013. The latter bugged me since HUP is supposed to provide 3 licenses. :\
 
Thread starter Similar threads Forum Replies Date
lupi Home Theater PCs 0
skyking Home Theater PCs 0

ASK THE COMMUNITY