A valid use for Windows 8?

This topic was created by Steve Knox .

Silver badge
Alert

A valid use for Windows 8?

[This is more of a play-type topic, but since the only OS section is under work, I've put it here. Feel free to point me to a better section for this post.]

My media center PC at home was a discarded work PC with Windows Vista Business on it. It was slow and flaky, as Vista can be, but since an upgrade to Win7 was $100, I decided to live with the bugs.

I had tested Windows 8 this summer for work purposes and found the live tiles a distraction and the context switches cumbersome. But I realized the interface might work fairly well for a media PC. So, I decided to pay the $40 to upgrade my media center PC from Vista to Windows 8 when Microsoft announced that deal.

On Vista, I was using SRWare Iron for NetFlix, YouTube, and other web video sites, and VLC for local media. So we had two icons on the desktop and a number of bookmarks in the browser -- not overly complicated, but not exactly intuitive.

Windows 8 has a NetFlix app, and I've pinned the other websites we use to the start screen, along with VLC. We're also using the weather app on the start screen. So now from the start screen, there's one click to whatever we want to watch.

I did the upgrade last night while the wife was working a night shift, and she came home and starting using it with no help from me. I interrupted her with a 5-minute overview, but she had already figured out the major interface points herself.

So far, it's faster and more stable than Vista (which doesn't really surprise me) and cheaper than Windows 7.

Now, Windows 8 has received a lot of criticism for its interface, some of which is certainly justified. But it can work quite well for specific consumer purposes like a media PC. Tablet uses are a no-brainer, but anyone else have a good experience setting up Windows 8 on a PC for a particular use?

1
0

Re: A valid use for Windows 8?

I've been using Windows 8 for school, and all I can say is, it's...... ehh.......

As long as I stay away from Metro UI as long as possible, it works okay. It was an annoyance trying to find the drivers for my graphics and sound card. I'm used to Ubuntu automatically discovering that stuff and not having to do a thing to get it to work.

I will get used to the different controls and the interface, and I'm getting a laptop with a touchscreen soon too, so I'm sure it will be better on that. I still am in love with Ubuntu though, and if you compare between what Ubuntu offers for free, and the cumbersome nature of Windows 8 for $199, I say go with Ubuntu. ESPECIALLY for computer-illiterate users who simply need a computer for what they do.

7
0

This post has been deleted by a moderator

Thumb Down

Re: Media Centre

As much as I am a Linux fan, recently I 'upgraded' a family members' laptop from Vista to Mint.

It was going well, web browsing grand with Firefox and Chrome, codecs and VLC for movies, music etc.

Until they tried to watch a video via NowTV.

It complained that a Silverlight plugin isn't present, redirected to the Moonlight plugin page. However, once installed, the video still looked for the Silverlight plugin.

Just one example of, unfortunately, things not working out of the box.

(Of course NowTV / Sky's developers could help the situation by enabling compatibility with Moonlight on Linux, but that would be extra effort).

3
7
Anonymous Coward

Re: Media Centre

Speaking as a dedicated Mythtv user of over seven years, someone who uses Mythtv as the primary method of viewing TV and I'm a general Linux/UNIX fan - Windows is easier, this is very important for many people. Windows doesn't generally require resorting to logfiles to find out what's gone wrong and I've never seen Windows "just go unstable" for no reason. I am hugely reluctant to upgrade my MythTV setup because it invariably goes wrong, I'm just getting it stable again after the last upgrade about three weeks ago, which resulted in an unbootable backend and frontends which no longer had access to the screen resolutions they had before. This is using the supposedly friendly mythbuntu, I hate to think what mythdora would have been like...

As for it being cheaper, yes it is, although I spend a lot of time working on it each upgrade, so that's free time I could be doing something else with.

8
6

Re: Media Centre

until you try to get your TV tuner card supported. Then good luck

3
3
Silver badge
Unhappy

Re: Media Centre

LoveFilm has the same problem requiring Silverlight, so you're stuck if you're using Linux.

According to this article from a year ago, the problem is the movie industry forcing the streaming companies away from Flash into Silverlight to use the Silverlight DRM.

3
1

This post has been deleted by a moderator

Anonymous Coward

Re: Media Centre

Except, if he gives up the freedom of watching the films he wants for the convenience of being smug about not using MS' software, he won't be watching the films that he wants to watch, which isn't very convenient, is it?

11
10

This post has been deleted by a moderator

Silver badge

Re: Media Centre

If I am going to pay an organisation, I will give my money to an organisation that does not lock me into an inferior operating system. If everybody else did the same, then everyone would be better off, as Netflix/Lovefilm would be forced to give its customers some respect, or to go bankrupt.

'If everybody else did the same...' is a fantasy. The majority of Lovefilm/Netflex users are probably quite happy running it on their computer that they bought as an appliance with Windows or OSX pre-installed and ready to go and not really caring if the service runs on Linux or not, or streaming it through their tablet, game console or whatever else.

0
4
WTF?

Re: Media Centre

Why the downvotes for me mentioning that Linux wont work with Moonlight on a Silverlight site?

Do the downvoters have a resolution for this? Is there a way of mocking up the moonlight plugin name so the site thinks its running silverlight on windows?

Or just downvotes because I mentioned a problem I encountered on transitioning a family member to Linux?

Or that they are daring to use Linux at a GUI level, when really they should be booting into emacs?

1
2
Silver badge
Linux

Re: Media Centre

> Windows is easier

That's true in one sort of way. Windows can be easier if your requirements are minimal and you don't know what you're doing. However, it achieves that by cutting features. I don't like that approach, but thousands of iphone 5 users would probably say I'm wrong.

I like linux because its what I'm familiar with and I can make it do cool stuff. So I can pxe-boot a laptop with windows installed and run linux and a myth client. That's probably not the right solution for someone who doesn't want to play with DHCP servers, but do you get live root-fs disk migration with windows? Can you get Windows 8 to install on a pentium m host? Does your windows media server also run as a thin client server with arbitrary apps running locally for better rendering performance? Can you run windows 8 off a CD image held on a remote server? Do you even get a decent dhcpd with windows 8? Do you need Windows 8 Server (rather than a cheap client) in order to get iscsi and allow you to serve up a time-machine volume to a mac?

So yes, you can get windows 8 to do media server duty and stability has improved on windows a lot. It may even do it quite well or easily on a local PC but once you start looking at what things a computer should be able to do, compared to what you get on W8 clients, I think the balance starts tipping back the other way - at least for techies.

2
0
Silver badge
Thumb Up

Re: Media Centre

Why the downvotes for me mentioning that Linux wont work with Moonlight on a Silverlight site?

I wonder about the downvotes too sometimes. I think there are some people who just don't like it when you tell it as it is rather than as they'd ideally like it to be.

Do the downvoters have a resolution for this? Is there a way of mocking up the moonlight plugin name so the site thinks its running silverlight on windows?

Even if you could spoof the plugin name, it would be pointless because although (according to Wikipedia, ahem) they have cooperated to some extent with the Moonlight developers, Microsoft won't licence the PlayReady DRM code that LoveFilm, at least, needs.

...

Or that they are daring to use Linux at a GUI level, when really they should be booting into emacs?

Or maybe they'd prefer that movies be rendered as animated ASCII art :)

2
2
Silver badge

Re: Media Centre

"and I've never seen Windows "just go unstable" for no reason."

WHAT !

2
0
Silver badge

Re: Media Centre

(Of course NowTV / Sky's developers could help the situation by enabling compatibility with Moonlight on Linux, but that would be extra effort).

Actually I would guess that they CAN'T. It's probably Silverlight only because it needs DRM. Big Content just won't allow any service like that to run without DRM, which Moonlight does not, and never will, have. You'd run into the same thing with Netflix. For that reason (and speaking as a Linux geek here) Linux is unfortunately not currently a viable OS for a media PC in my opinion.

0
0
Silver badge

Re: Media Centre

@Eadon - You're directing your ire in the wrong direction. I'm sure Netflix and Lovefilm would both love to switch back to Flash and have access to more customers, but they can't. The movie studios won't allow them to stream their content without DRM. Currently that means that their only option is Silverlight.

If you want to get pissy about the fact that you can't access these services on Linux, get pissy at the content providers who insist on DRM even if it means they drive away legitimate customers.

1
1
Gold badge

Re: Media Centre

Except, if he gives up the freedom of watching the films he wants for the convenience of being smug about not using MS' software, he won't be watching the films that he wants to watch, which isn't very convenient, is it?

Oww, my head hurts.. :)

0
0
Silver badge
Devil

As the world moves to the web or provides apps on multiple OS's (Netflix for one example) OS's are becoming irrelevant.

Win8 is the last Windows operating system. Actually, in my case Win7 is my last MS OS.

3
8

This post has been deleted by its author

As the world moves to the web or provides apps on multiple OS's (Netflix for one example) OS's are becoming irrelevant.

No they're not. In fact, the opposite.

Win8 is the last Windows operating system.

The shareholders say it's not.

Actually, in my case Win7 is my last MS OS..

Maybe, but don't pretend it's because OS'es are dying. Convert to LINUX by all means, but as long as there's hardware, you'll need an OS.

2
2

This post has been deleted by a moderator

I highly doubt this is true, you may feel that way right now but I 100% guarantee that at some point you will update with a new OS (probably from MS)

1
4
Silver badge

Win8 is the last Windows operating system.

I certainly hope you're wrong about that. In a lot of environments, like schools and most businesses, nothing other than Windows ever gets considered. I'd hate to think that those of us who work in those environments are going to be saddled with that crapfest eventually.

0
0
Anonymous Coward

re OS's are becoming irrelevant.

Isn't the point that the choice of operating system for a given system is over

- has anyone hacked android to run on an ipad, or ios to run on a nexus?

no and never will.

if the desktop is over so is os choice.

and if you want to run these media apps on your desktop you have no choice of os either because of all the reasons given above about drm

0
0

My parents...

My folks have got up and running with windows 8 in less time than they got to grips with all previous versions of Windows.

Maybe the tile thing is pretty good and us seasoned and bitter IT types just don't get it yet?

17
6

This post has been deleted by its author

Thumb Up

Re: My parents...

agree overall. I found the beta far less usable than the release but no-tech users seem to get it faster than tech users - many tech types at work seem use the 1st 5 mins to basically confirm the hate on the web than to actually try and use it.

4
2

Re: My parents...

"Maybe the tile thing is pretty good and us seasoned and bitter IT types just don't get it yet?"

Yup. I've been saying this since the first time I saw a screenshot. Nerds gonna whine (because we always bloody do), Normals will like it. They're the people MS test on, after all - it's not like they chucked Win8 out at random. My mum recently bought a new laptop with Win8 on it and didn't even mention the UI. She complained about how the case colour wasn't right, the keyboard was different, how the trackpad was confusingly multitouch, how her old screensaver didn't work and how she had trouble setting up her email - but not one complaint about TIFKAM.

I can see why Win8 might make a good media centre, but why not just run XBMC on top of Win7/Vista?

On topic, I have a rather nice 3M touchscreen kicking around waiting for something to do, so will watch this thread with interest for suggestions.

8
1
Happy

Re: My parents...

I agree - the learning curve for Windows 8 has been massively over-estimated. The Desktop tile means you are one click away from the Windows 7 desktop where I spend 95% of my time, and I just enjoy that the Windows kernel runs much faster that the "real" Windows 7 did on the same hardware. Tiles are easy to use, but don't have much attraction for old tech-heads who know how to navigate the Windows 7 OS. For new users, this may be all they will ever use, and the fact that they don't need to learn the OS, is what Microsoft are banking on. A Windows 8 PC will be an entertainment appliance for most users. My son says it is an X-Box without the controller.

2
0
Silver badge
Linux

Re: My parents...

See, my dad told be to stick Win 8 up my $£@$@£$%@£$%!!! and put Win7 on his new PC, and my dad is no computer guru.

He gave me a very valid reason for not wanting 8, it gets on his way.

0
0
Bronze badge

Re: My parents...

windows 8 is designed for the everyday non computer head user, you cannot use it for your everyday office work and get alot of work done, they are 2 different markets, MS always makes the mistake of home and ultimate/enterprise versions being exactly the same

0
0
Silver badge

A media center is one of the places I do think TIFKAM will really work. In particular the pairing of Win8 with Kinect could be a really cool way to control your media center.

The only problem is MS removed Windows Media Center from Win8 (you can get it free for a limited time) which seems like a stupendously stupid thing to do.

1
1
Silver badge
Windows

Well, sort of.

They didn't remove it, it was never included in Windows Professional. In Windows 7, you had to buy the Ultimate variant at vast expense, so giving it away for free seems like an improvement to me.

I'm using it on my media centre PC currently. I confess to being quite disappointed that it has not been updated to understand established newcomer formats like .MKV, but it's still the best thing around for controlling multiple Freeview tuners, I think. Although I shall have another play with MythTV anyway, just in case.

GJC

1
2

Re: Well, sort of.

Media Centre? http://xbmc.org

That's all you'll need. It can be a frontend to Myth as well if you want PVR stuff.

2
0
Windows

"which seems like a stupendously stupid thing to do"

I think, from their POV, it's very smart. They have to pay the DVD playback licence for every instance of Windows they ship that can play DVDs, regardles on if any of the users ever actually use it for that (hence "Business" flavours not being able to). By stripping the functionality out to an optional "upgrade", they can control these costs.

It's a sensible decision given that physical media is becoming less popular/important.

3
0
Thumb Up

Re: Well, sort of.

@GJC Take a look at MediaPortal, if you already have Windows.

It was originally a MythTV fork but (IIRC) is now a ground-up separate project.

I mostly use it for streaming (online and local - the My TV Shows plugin is amazing), but I have two SD and one HD digital receivers in it and it works pretty well. The setup is more akin to Linux/MythTV than your typical Windows user might like, but I'm sure you'll manage.

0
0
Silver badge
Pint

Re: MediaPortal & XBMC

Thanks both, I had XBMC on my list for a revisit, it's been a few years since I last looked at it. I'll also check out MediaPortal, I've not seen it before, but by the Gods that's a dreadful website - I've not seen anything like it since 1996.

GJC

0
0

Re: Well, sort of.

Wrong: Windows Media Center was included with every version of Windows 7 (except maybe Home Basic and/or Enterprise, I can't remember those two). Oh, and for .mkv support just go and install the Shark007 codec pack or any other similar one, and you're done. Ok, so support isn't included out of the box but it's just a quick install away.

One thing that made me go back to Windows 7 after trying Windows 8 on my HTPC is that they removed the option to run WMC on startup, which meant launching it manually every time... I still don't know why they removed that.

2
0
Silver badge
Happy

Re: Well, sort of.

Media Centre is included in Win7 Home Premium - I checked the other day. I just wish my current laptop had an integrated IR receiver, because I still have the remote controller that came with an old WinXP MCE desktop.

---

>In particular the pairing of Win8 with Kinect could be a really cool way to control your media center.

For voice control, or gesture control? I'm assuming the latter, since I would imagine voice control can be implemented in software. I therefore assume that you haven't read The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy - the listener has to sit stock-still so as not to change the radio station. You have your homework!

That said, I've been tempted to use my old Gravis joystick as playback controller (skip forward/back, volume up/down, pause) using a Winamp plugin, but never got around to buying a USB> Game port adaptor.

0
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: Well, sort of.

"That's all you'll need. It can be a frontend to Myth as well if you want PVR stuff."

Check out XBMC 12 Beta - bringing PVR.

Personally if building home theatre use something like openelec or the official XBMC distro. They make for very light and fast starting home theatre set-ups than can be run on very cheap kit.

0
0
Silver badge

Win8 media center

Since your going to be using one app full screen most of the time, and there are very limited number of apps you are going to use the limitations of TIFKAM don't matter much. And big tiles are actually of some use from across the room.

0
0
Pint

Re: MediaPortal & XBMC

May be dreadful but MediaPortal is my chosen HTPC software and it is at least as good if not better than most other offerings. As to the website TBH I visit there infrequently usually only for alerted updates, otherwise MP generally just works. I haven't tried MP under W8, works perfectly under W7 and let's face it if it ain't broke don't fix it.

0
0

Re: Well, sort of.

@Geoff Campbell: "They didn't remove it, it was never included in Windows Professional. In Windows 7, you had to buy the Ultimate variant at vast expense, so giving it away for free seems like an improvement to me."

Windows Media Center was included in all versions of Windows 7 (Windows 7 Home, Windows 7 Pro and Windows 7 Ultimate) except Windows 7 Starter.

Windows 8 doesn't include DVD playback (no MPEG2 codecs) because they cost money, and the metrics showed that most people didn't use them. So you have to buy them, and Microsoft throws in Media Center as an added bonus. What's bizarre is that you can only add Media Center to Windows 8 Pro - if you buy a new PC with Windows 8 "Home", you'll have to fork out a lot more that $10 to add Windows Media Center.

0
0
Silver badge
Boffin

Re: Well, sort of.

Nope.

Media Centre was not included in the version of Windows 7 included in the Action Pack, which I have no reason to believe was any different from the normal shrink-wrap version. Are you sure you aren't getting confused with Media Player?

GJC

0
1
Anonymous Coward

I have a sort of Netbook that gets used for photo editing in the field (with PS Elements) or away from home, as well as for more general uses. It's an Asus 1201T, with a 1.6 GHz AMD processor and (a mximum) 2 GB RAM. It's not terrible with Win 7, but a performance boost wouldn't hurt, I thought, so on went Win 8 at the bargain upgrade price. Now before anyone says I could've put Linux on it and used the GIMP, well, yes, I could. I could also have burned my own testicles off with a lighter, and that for me would be less painful than using the GIMP, a bit of software I hate using. Also, I use Canon's DPP, which doesn't run on Linux.

Anyway, I tried to use it and thought I had made a horrible mistake - I couldn't get on with Metro, or whatever it's currently called. Then someone told me of a little free app that reinstated the start button, and all of a sudden I was happy again - with a slightly faster machine (much quicker to boot) and apparently better battery life, too - I can't currently see a downside to it.

As to my media centre, well it's currently perfectly happy with Win 7. However, I can see how the not-Metro interface might well work well with it.

1
0
Silver badge

" Also, I use Canon's DPP, which doesn't run on Linux."

For Linux :-

PS Elements runs under WIne perfectly - at least the copy I had a few years ago. Otherwise dcraw, ShowPhoto, ufraw and a number of others import Canon RAW files. and allow levels, curves and size/unsharp etc. I've taken to using a script to convert entire collections at one go to have browse-able .jpgs. in the same directories as RAW files. (I've just converted 33GB) In particular dcraw will output 48-bit and showphoto will handle 48 bit

It just requires dcraw and ImageMagick. Just run the script in the directory. dcraw outputs .ppm files

raw1080.sh

#!/bin/bash

#

dcraw -w -H 2 *.CR*

#

mogrify -resize 1624x1080 -quality 100 *.ppm

#

mogrify -unsharp 0x1+0.5+0.02 *.ppm

#

mogrify -format jpg *.ppm

2
2

This post has been deleted by a moderator

Silver badge
Happy

You might have hit the nail on the head here.

Your experience seems to suggest that Windows 8 might have a place running appliances, like your media centre.

As such those big tiles may well stand in for the hardware knobs and switches that used to festoon radios and so on. Just push to switch something on.

As a UI for computing, it's not so good as switching from desktop to TIFKAM just gets in the way.

So a use at last for Win8.

Anyone seen it on a toaster yet?

1
3
Anonymous Coward

Re: You might have hit the nail on the head here.

Who needs windows 8 ?

Do it already from your android phone, it's your best remote control.

1
0

Page:

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Forums