I was looking at the news of a Media Center update for Vista, and I had also
seen Apple TV's arrangement, and was interested (it has much better
marketplace integration and digital media accessability ). I then took a
look at Vista Media Center, and thought about how it could be brought up to
speed for the modern reality of media - we are increasingly holding video,
music, and pictures on ever increasing hard drives, and this media needs to
be cataloged and organized. Looking at the default options in VMC, I would
prefer to have the following:
Pictures + Videos - stuff I took with my camera
*More Pictures - browse shared images on the network if you have a home
*Picture Library - browse your image library
*Video Library - browse your home videos
*Search - find an image based on tags or on date taken
Games - mini-games for use within Media Center, kind of like Mario
Party-style or iPod game style games
*More Games - buy or download for free new games from the game market
*Game Library - pick a game from the ones you now own.
*Play random - picks a game at random
Now Playing + Playlists
*Playlists - tv, movie, and music playlists here, sortable by type
*Now Playing - currently playing media and what's in queue
*Create Playlist - create a playlist of media, tv, music, movies, or all mixed
TV - watch, record, playback, purchase
*Explore - free TV shows from content providers with advertisements. So if
NBC allows you to watch a show online, you can click 'NBC', then the show
name, and go watch it, streaming.
*More TV - similar to iTunes, but allows you to browse through available
shows, purchase them, see clips, etc. within VMC. You can subscribe to a
show (purchase a season pass), and as new episodes come out, they download
for you and show up as 'new' in your TV library
*TV Library - just like music library, organized by show, season, then
episode. When viewing a series, you can 'play all' to play the whole series
from start to finish (no interruption to 'delete'). When viewing a season,
you can 'play season' to play the whole season immediately. Underneath this
'play all/season' you would see 'add to queue' to put the
series/season/episode into the now playing playlist.
This is viewed as banners, thumbnails, or DVD covers. When viewing a
description of a show in your library, say 'Smallville,' if you highlight
'Tom Welling' on the stars' listing, you get a new page listing other things
he's starred in, like 'The Fog.' If it's in your library, then there's a
link next to it saying 'Play' otherwise, 'Buy this Movie' (from the Zune
*Internet TV - see the channels you subscribed to online, like RTL or Japan
TV, and get new channels here too.
*Search - search for a show based on actor, director, writer, genre, keyword
from the description, year, etc. in your library. If the library sees
episodes missing, they will appear in the library grayed out, but over the
thumbnail, you see 'purchase this episode' or 'complete this season of
Movies - watch, rip, purchase movies
*More Movies - find and purchase movies online through the Zune Marketplace,
integrated as a Media Center experience. Search by actor, year, title,
keyword, genre, director, series, etc.
*Movie Library - browse your movie collection purchased/saved to your hard
drive as DVD covers, view information, and 'add to queue' to play a series of
*Search - find a movie based on rating, length, actor, director, series,
year, genre, etc.
Music - play albums, artists, years, etc. like in media player
*Settings - here you can check your albums to make sure the album art is
*More Music - music store to purchase music, with recommendations based on
your current library.
*Music Library - sort by album, artist, etc.
*Play All - plays all music
*Radio - if you have a radio tuner on the PC, you can hear those station here.
*Internet Radio - if a station streams online, it will show here
*Search - find music in your library. After searching, if there is a new
album by, say, the Cardigans, a link under the library will show "Buy the new
Cardigans album 'Erase and Rewind'" which takes you to the music store to try
it out and purchase it.
Podcasts - get your podcasts organized here
*Settings - change when to delete podcasts, when to download, etc.
*More Podcasts - get more podcasts from the online directory of
*Podcast Library - view downloaded podcasts by name (thumbnail view)
*Download Status - see what is downloading and what's in queue to download
*Search - find a podcast
(you can rename this ZENcast if you use a ZEN...)
Sports - same as now. I don't really use it much.
Online Media - find new plug-ins and mini-games, etc. Kind of like games
for iPod, since a Media Center is supposed to be a social computer.
*More Programs - search online database for new miniprograms for VMC. Most
are free, 50 cents, or 99 cents
*Program Library - mini-programs you downloaded
*Explore - internet based content based on your preferences (tv, movies,
music you own), by content providers
*Learn How - how to do things within VMC
Tasks - backend tasks to add content, change settings, etc.
*Settings - change settings for menus, how content is arranged, etc. You
can change TV Series backgrounds to cast photos, for example.
*Burn CD/DVD - create your own music or video CD/DVD. Pick from content in
*Sync - add podcasts, shows, music to your portable media player
*Add Extender - Media Center finds and configures your Media Extender on the
*Add Network Storage - VMC finds a network storage device and integrates it
into your library. If your files there aren't tagged, you can choose to tag
them as well.
*Add Codec - here you can see the files that are missing the necessary codec
to play correctly within VMC, and you can download a codec, have VMC install
it, then ask, 'do you want to play these files?'
*Media Only - locks computer into VMC for use while you've got company
That's how I'd arrange and upgrade Vista Media Center. If something's
unclear or you've got ideas, let me know.