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Windows 8.1. as HTPC OS

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Scheeringa

Member
Sep 18, 2013
31
0
0
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.
Why is everyone so up in arms about having to pay an extra $20 or so for WMC on windows 8? Was it cooler when it was free, absolutely. But with everyone worried about Microsoft discontinuing the free channel guide updates, it makes me feel a little better having a service we somewhat pay for, so hopefully it makes it harder to just pull the plug. IMO
 

glugglug

Diamond Member
Jun 9, 2002
5,341
1
0
Why is everyone so up in arms about having to pay an extra $20 or so for WMC on windows 8? Was it cooler when it was free, absolutely. But with everyone worried about Microsoft discontinuing the free channel guide updates, it makes me feel a little better having a service we somewhat pay for, so hopefully it makes it harder to just pull the plug. IMO
With Win7, Media Center is included free in HOME PREMIUM.
With Vista, Media Center is included free in HOME PREMIUM.
With XP, Media Center is included in what is essentially the 2005 version.

With Win 8/8.1 Media Center is only an extra $$ option for the PROFESSIONAL version. Therefore the cost difference is really a lot more than $20.

Also, 3rd party add-on compatibility was much better in Win 7. Extender compatibility is also better in Win 7. Although it is possible that 8.1 improves extender transcoding logic, as a side effect of improvements to the "Play To" feature.
 

Aikouka

Lifer
Nov 27, 2001
29,078
341
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Why is everyone so up in arms about having to pay an extra $20 or so for WMC on windows 8? Was it cooler when it was free, absolutely. But with everyone worried about Microsoft discontinuing the free channel guide updates, it makes me feel a little better having a service we somewhat pay for, so hopefully it makes it harder to just pull the plug. IMO
I think it's much more egregious that you have to pay for the Professional version of Windows 8, which costs $40 more than the normal edition, just to have the priviledge of paying $15 for Windows Media Center. There's absolutely no reason for a HTPC to be running the Professional version of Windows 8 or even Windows 7.

...well, unless you want more than 16GB of RAM (limited on 7 Home Premium) or RDP server support. However, RDP doesn't handle DirectX layers at all, which renders it fairly useless. The only advantage is that RDP, when hacked, can allow simultaneous logins, which means you can make system changes without affecting the TV display. I use Splashtop for my remote tweaking.
 
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Scheeringa

Member
Sep 18, 2013
31
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0
I think it's much more egregious that you have to pay for the Professional version of Windows 8, which costs $40 more than the normal edition, just to have the priviledge of paying $15 for Windows Media Center. There's absolutely no reason for a HTPC to be running the Professional version of Windows 8 or even Windows 7.
I'll concede that needing Windows 8 Professional is a little crazy for a HTPC. Just for the record, my HTPC is still running windows 7 and probably will for the foreseeable future.
 

Aikouka

Lifer
Nov 27, 2001
29,078
341
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I'll concede that needing Windows 8 Professional is a little crazy for a HTPC. Just for the record, my HTPC is still running windows 7 and probably will for the foreseeable future.
Well, to be fair, I would be very hesitant to actually pay for Windows Media Center. In my experience under Windows 7, the program has some annoying bugs and some poorly implemented important features. If Microsoft isn't willing to show me that they'll actually take care of the product now that I'm forced to pay for it, I'll stick with the "free" version.

To give you an idea, the most annoying problem is how MCE refuses to use multiple tuners for back-to-back shows on the same channel. The only way to make it work is to tell MCE to always record 10 minutes before and after a show (not "up to"), which also eats up a lot more space. If MCE was smart, it would just use one tuner and simply overlap the content to both files for the necessary time.
 

hans030390

Diamond Member
Feb 3, 2005
7,326
2
76
I just built an HTPC with Windows 8, which I'm a big fan of regardless. Got one of the Ceton PCI-E cards and am now using WMC for TV. Also purchased Ceton's remote app, which works fantastically ($5 vs $10-15 for a dedicated remote). Ceton seems to be pretty good with Windows 8 support. I'm still working on ironing out the kinks with sleep mode, but I think I've gotten it to the point now where it auto sleeps and wakes as needed without causing any hardware, software, or driver problems.

Overall, I'm really happy with it. And it will save me money in the long run vs. renting my own DVR box.

I was a little annoyed that I had to get Windows 8 Pro and then pay an extra $10 for WMC on top of that, but the extra money is worth it to me vs. going back to Windows 7 (which I love, really, but I like 8 better).
 

stockwiz

Senior member
Sep 8, 2013
403
15
81
I got my licenses for the whole family for 20 bucks last christmas so you bet I'm using windows 8. Microsoft want everyone on windows find a way for the average joe to be able to get cheap licenses through loopholes in the system.. and they did. :)
 

glugglug

Diamond Member
Jun 9, 2002
5,341
1
0
I have now officially given up on running 8/8.1 on my new media center PC.

It is a Haswell with 16GB RAM, 512GB Neutron, 4x4TB WD Red drives... pretty much everything is made post-Win8, yet 8 was an absolute nightmare to get things working.

I never got it to work more than half a day with 4 drive external enclosure through USB3, and ended up putting in an eSATA card. This is not the sleep issue, sleep is disabled, it would disconnect within 10 seconds of plugging it in.

A negligible few Media Center add-ins work in 8. And the versions made specifically for 8 all fail in 8.1. In fact, having Ceton My Media Center or the DTB-Addin for commercial skipping installed causes media center to crash within 10 seconds of playback.

You'll most likely want to administer the HTPC remotely -- there are no Mac or Linux clients compatible with Windows 8.1. Searching around for mac clients compatible with Win8 to try, when I attempted connection with one of the 3rd party clients it caused 8.1 to blue screen. After the BSOD, I could no longer pair it with an XBOX 360 extender (and no other extender is compatible with 8/8.1 BTW).

Gave up after 3 weeks of lost sleep, and installed Windows 7. Which for the most part just works. And after tweaking (particularly setting it to use all 8 logical CPUs instead of just 1 during boot with MSConfig), it boots almost as fast as 8.
 

Brahmzy

Senior member
Jul 27, 2004
583
27
91
I upgraded my HTPC from 8 to 8.1. Took some work and I had to stay on TMT5 vs. 6, but it's working. I also did a hardware swap too, which further complicated things (licensing mainly.)

Good times, but it's done. Took a whole day to get going.
 

Imaginer

Diamond Member
Oct 15, 1999
8,077
1
0
Can not say for 8.1, but for my HTPC (with a HD6950) Windows 8 works fine, both gaming, web browsing, and media playback. However, I have never touched Windows Media Center, even though I have it.

(Professional upgraded from 7 back in the REALLY CHEAP upgrade deals, along with the REALLY CHEAP Media Center add-on)

Resolution at 1080p on a 74 inch screen, 125% Scaling, 13 feet viewing distance away.
 

TeknoBug

Platinum Member
Oct 2, 2013
2,079
28
91
The one nice thing about Windows 8.1 preview is that IE 11 can let you play Netflix in HTML5 rather than requiring to install Silverlight. It runs incredibly smooth and well.

I also use VLC and XBMC, WMC isn't worth it- I had the free WMC on my 2 Windows 8 systems but didn't reactivate them because the codes were sent to an email I don't use anymore, so now I have to pay for it if I want to have it.
 

glugglug

Diamond Member
Jun 9, 2002
5,341
1
0
It looks like the MC add-in compatibility issues (at least vs. 8) were fixed in the GA Rollup A patch. I still will not be installing it for as long as possible -- an HTPC needs WAF, which the track record of Windows 8/8.1 suggests it would continue to provide the exact opposite.
 

atm743

Member
Mar 29, 2012
58
0
61
i've used both windows 7 and windows 8 for my HTPC. no really advantage in going to 8 or even 8.1 over 7 for a HTPC. there is a Netflix "app" if you dont want to use a browser but the app does not like remotes and you have to use a mouse and keyboard (which kinda kills HTPC's imo)
 

destrekor

Lifer
Nov 18, 2005
28,630
299
126
Can not say for 8.1, but for my HTPC (with a HD6950) Windows 8 works fine, both gaming, web browsing, and media playback. However, I have never touched Windows Media Center, even though I have it.

(Professional upgraded from 7 back in the REALLY CHEAP upgrade deals, along with the REALLY CHEAP Media Center add-on)

Resolution at 1080p on a 74 inch screen, 125% Scaling, 13 feet viewing distance away.
Does the scaling only effect desktop UI? Does it impact video at all? Windows 8 "metro" interface?

Reading text on browsers always requires I zoom in, though the handy thing is I get pinch to zoom ability on the Logitech K400 I use for the HTPC.
 

atm743

Member
Mar 29, 2012
58
0
61
Does the scaling only effect desktop UI? Does it impact video at all? Windows 8 "metro" interface?

Reading text on browsers always requires I zoom in, though the handy thing is I get pinch to zoom ability on the Logitech K400 I use for the HTPC.
i think it effects the metro UI as well as desktop. they added the DPI feature cause of the surface and surface pro so i would imagine they would add the feature for both parts of the os
 

sm625

Diamond Member
May 6, 2011
8,176
135
106
Ever since I updated to win 8.1 my graphics driver (intel Z2760) crashes and reloads constantly. And bluestacks all the sudden does not support my gpu at all, when it used to at least load and run. Wintel are just so bad now it is sickening. These are two companies that really need to just die.
 

hasu

Senior member
Apr 5, 2001
975
9
81
I have a Windows 7 Home theater system and I am pretty happy with it. I also use XBox as an extender.

The extra money you pay for Professional + Media Center is comparable to Raspberry-PI + SD card to run OpenELEC. I have both and I think, Windows Media Center is certainly more user-friendly, but OpenELEC has a lot more features.
 

Imaginer

Diamond Member
Oct 15, 1999
8,077
1
0
It was not that bad to configure, but I have to say this...

If you already have Windows 7 and Media Center already, keep it.

Windows 8 Pro and Windows Media Center (got this during the Windows Media Center 'free download' timeframe) only has DVD playback capability. I took another member on this forum's advice and snagged a copy and license of Arcsoft's Total Media Theater 6 ($40 download on Newegg) which completely restored blu-ray playback, and added features not existent in Windows 7 Windows Media Center, but it is additional costs for relatively similar capabilities.

But, the Start screen worked better as an HTPC Start menu than 7's Start menu. The additional scaling options in 8.1 is also a welcome. Still not utilizing any Windows Store apps on the HTPC as I have taken some using on my Surface Pro 2. And it is a bit more faster from a cold boot, though I leave the HTPC on anyways.

Also, still much prefer controlling any PC hooked to a TV and on a couch with a Logitech M570 trackball. I hated traditional remotes. You raise your arm to get the IR right, while I rest my arm with the trackball. They are still designed as if they are stuck in Atari land with numberpads that (me personally) have no use. I point to menu options and click. No sliding on weird surfaces, just a thumb of the ball on any place I rest the trackball on. And it has good range in a living room.
 
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funks

Golden Member
Nov 9, 2000
1,401
42
91
I upgraded to Windows 8.1 (MCE) from Windows 8 (MCE) - now the computer doesn't wake up from Sleep (have to reboot it). Installed the latest drivers from Intel, and ATI..
 

Harag

Junior Member
Dec 2, 2013
1
0
0
Hello all I am new to the forums but I have multiple setups for HTPC's. One thing I have seen mentioned here is input devices. I personally use a PS3 remote and a bluetooth dongle. No aiming required and brings a real media player feel to the experience. You can map your BT remote to personal requirement, though this varies in difficulty by OS. Linux is an absolute pain to get BT remotes working using python scripts. Windows has a few 3rd party applications that work very well.

I use XBMC on all of my devices and have used it with windows 8 /8.1, Windows 7, Linux mint and XBMCbuntu. XBMCbuntu gives the most unified experience. However if you desire to play games as well windows 8.1 is a great alternative. Its honestly been the easiest to set up by far for any peripherals I use.

Though if you use steam at all and your games support Linux. Making a steam box with XBMC on it may be the ultimate solution. Only time will tell on that front though.
 

Kaido

Elite Member & Kitchen Overlord
Feb 14, 2004
43,160
1,626
126
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
Wait, what? So if you buy a computer with Windows 8 Core, you have to then purchase the Windows 8 Pro upgrade, and then purchase Windows Media Center?!
 

Aikouka

Lifer
Nov 27, 2001
29,078
341
126
Hello all I am new to the forums but I have multiple setups for HTPC's. One thing I have seen mentioned here is input devices. I personally use a PS3 remote and a bluetooth dongle. No aiming required and brings a real media player feel to the experience. You can map your BT remote to personal requirement, though this varies in difficulty by OS. Linux is an absolute pain to get BT remotes working using python scripts. Windows has a few 3rd party applications that work very well.
I use a Gyration media remote, and it's nice because it also gives me quick "air mouse" support. Although, I need to look into a way to easily remap some of the keys because I don't need WMC support on my other HTPC.

Wait, what? So if you buy a computer with Windows 8 Core, you have to then purchase the Windows 8 Pro upgrade, and then purchase Windows Media Center?!
Yep.
 

Imaginer

Diamond Member
Oct 15, 1999
8,077
1
0
One thing I have seen mentioned here is input devices. I personally use a PS3 remote and a bluetooth dongle. No aiming required and brings a real media player feel to the experience.
The only reason for a remote, is a player of your choice is accessible with a button, no shortcut pointing and clicking. A wireless keyboard (as more bulky as it is) can serve as playback controlling, with a bonus for typing when needed (PC after all)

And with a (optimally) trackball (sadly there is one modern, in my opinion, viable option in Logitech) you can do first person anything on a large screen if anyone does...

play games as well windows 8.1 is a great alternative. Its honestly been the easiest to set up by far for any peripherals I use.

Though if you use steam at all and your games support Linux. Making a steam box with XBMC on it may be the ultimate solution. Only time will tell on that front though.
However, even in big picture mode, I do still use the classic mode on my HTPC. Reasons being, it is greatly laggy in transition. I feel menu options are a bit bigger than necessary, and there isn't any way to scale to taste. Steam OS, in my opinion, wouldn't be any different than a tweaked Big Picture mode. Then again, Valve and Steam had ALWAYS been bad in allowing their interface to scale, being stuck in ONE option.

Another off topic complaint, touch finger scrolling with their UI in their client window, does not work. It is as if Valve is throwing a hissy fit and hinting at something about not conforming to another input option, yet go a bit forward to Xbox360/PS3 years for controller options? I know many are giving gripes to Valve for the molasses manner in dealing with Half Life, but my gripe is also here with their UI, interface, and options with such.
 
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