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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 …

This topic was created by Steve Knox .

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Linux

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

Cost of the toaster:

Physical components of the toaster: £5

Physical components of the toaster built-in computer: £25 (ARM)

Tiny LCD screen to display the tiles: £25

Manufacturing cost: £8

Windows Operating system £15 (Industrial cost)

Total cost: £78

But hey you have a toaster that can connect to the internet and play mp3, and receive emails, and... will toast properly in the next SP, sorry Windows 9.

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On my idea of media centre PC, the OS is somewhat irrelevant, as you probably use your HTPC software of choice for everything except setup (I use MediaPortal). Steve, it sounds like the your idea of a media centre PC is a bit less specialised than that, more of a general purpose PC that happens to be used for media applications. It's not even clear if you've got your media PC connected to a TV, or if you're operating it with a remote (you talk about clicking things, so I'm guessing mouse+keyboard). If you are using it from across the room on a TV, and operating it with a remote, I'd be interested to hear how you find those aspects of Windows 8, I did wonder if TIFKAM might be remote-friendly, but never got around to trying it.

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@tony72

It's mostly a media pc, but I get my media from different sources: NetFlix, YouTube, other websites, local files. I also do have a game or two installed on it.

Most media player software I've tried either doesn't support web browsing (necessary for the video from some sites I visit), is difficult to set up, or (XMBC, I'm looking at you, here) actually forces the wrong labels on many of my files, making me rename them back.

I don't use Linux because NetFlix uses Silverlight DRM, and as mentioned above, that's not available, even with Moonlight.

I do use a keyboard/mouse, because the PC doesn't have infrared, but it's a wireless keyboard with integrated touchpad.

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Pint

Re: @tony72

XBMC forces the wrong labels?

No it doesn't. It is true that for optimal results you should name the files in your library within certain guidelines.

I find that "Name Of Movie (2009).avi" works in almost all cases. If your library is not named properly then yes, it is likely to incorrectly match titles.

In such cases you have two choices. 1) Name the file properly 2) Right-click the item and select "change title".

Nothing is "forced" though.

For the record I use an Acer Revo with Ubuntu 12.04 and XBMC.

I spent the $40 I saved on beer.

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Linux

Re: @tony72

I got xbmc set-up to show directory contents, from there getting it to download movie information is the quickest way of not having to use the library at at.

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Windows 8, huh!

What is it good for?...

(On another note, I use J River Media Center to manage my media, and it has more features than anyone would reasonably ever use, I find it's worth the money, but it also makes my choice of Windows 7 or 8 irrelevant.

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Black Helicopters

License violation

If he had Vista Business from work, it was licensed to his employer, not to him personally. Therefore, he's not allowed to buy just an upgrade. In fact, he shouldn't be using even Vista at home.

Where's FAST when you need them?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: License violation

You don't know that: I used to be able to run Win and Office at home, having purchased the "home use" install media.

Also, if the PC was purchased from a normal supplier the chances are it would have come with an OEM Windows licence, he's perfectly at liberty to upgrade from this had he been given a PC by his employer.

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Trollface

Re: License violation

"If he had Vista Business from work, it was licensed to his employer, not to him personally. Therefore, he's not allowed to buy just an upgrade."

Unless it was a licence-tied-to-the-machine-and-sticker-stuck-on-the-side-of-the-box scenario.

"In fact, he shouldn't be using even Vista at home."

Well, I think we can all agree on that, but isn't the "at home" redundant? [Troll icon for this...]

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Re: License violation

"If he had Vista Business from work, it was licensed to his employer, not to him personally. Therefore, he's not allowed to buy just an upgrade."

Unless it was a licence-tied-to-the-machine-and-sticker-stuck-on-the-side-of-the-box scenario.

Exactly.

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This post has been deleted by a moderator

Anonymous Coward

Re: License violation

"Personally I much prefer to own my technology (which, in the case of Linux, I do) than to rent it."

No, you don't, you license it (under the GPL) in just the same way. It's just that the license is, for your purposes, more friendly.

Whoever wrote the software still owns the copyright. You still have to comply with the conditions of the license whenever you use or distribute the software.

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Good idea in theory

I use Media Centre for my live TV, have doen since XP media centre, and have some XBOX's connected as extenders. After upgrade from Win 7 the extenders no longer worked. A clean install only partially fixed this, in that they would connect, but once turned off would not reconnect without running through their setup again. If the "fisher price dumbed down my first Windows" Metro screen was compatible with a microsoft media centre remote control I might be able to be bothered to troubleshoot the Extender failures as the Netflix apps etc make is sound like a good idea for a media centre. In my experience however, only a good idea in theory, not practice. When explaining to my 7 year old about the problems he something that made me laugh and then cry because he was right "Daddy, if it worked before my did you pay to break it......." I reverted to Windows 7 and after using Windows 8 for nearly a month I feel like I have a new improved OS.

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Facepalm

Remote

Now I was thinking about doing the whole win8 for media centre thing myself but I've held off because the primary method for my navigation on that PC is with an RF remote control (in place of a mouse).

And that's the problem. It seems like it would be impossible to work in the new interface with a remote (even worse than a trackpad at any rate) so I just don't fancy doing it. Plus, the majority of the time I'd be in desktop mode anyway so what's the point?

Now if I could close apps by right clicking somewhere I'd consider it.

If anyone's tried the same setup and likes it though then please let me know.

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Bluray

The thing that's prevented me from going from Win 7 to win 8 is the lack of native Bluray support.

That's also the reason I have Win 7

Going back a few years there was only the one OS which supported the HDCP protocol and Bluray playback that was available at the time, that was a MS one, XP.

Only trouble was, back then there were few pieces of software (PowerDVD and WinDVD) that would play Bluray.

The landscape may have changed a bit since then, but it still remains that the MS platform was there with Bluray support via third party software when it wasn't around on other OS's.

Why it can't be part of the Media centre add-on bundle for Win 8 I don't know.

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HTPC use: glitches with BDA tuners

I've had a frustrating time trying to get Win8 Pro 64bit to deal with my Freeview tuners.

Drivers are the 1st problem, I just gave up trying to get working drivers for the old VP3020 and retired it. Sad because it was more reliable than any of the others under XP. My 7010ix hex tuner crashes Win8/4Gb+ RAM with the supplied drivers. Took over a week finding working ones, drivers 3 years younger than MS have in their repository!

Anyway, eventually MediaPortal fired up, recognised all the cards. And every bloody recording has glitches at exactly the same time into each recording. It ain't the tuners, they work perfectly on the same box in XP32. There's something rotten in the BDA system or maybe more widely in the driver system. On top of the consistent dropouts there are more errors overall than when I boot back into XP.

I suggest anyone thinking of building a PVR on Win8 tests carefully or considers some other, proven platform. I can't speak for whether this is a 64bit problem or Win8 itself but driver support is poor and 64bit driver certification seems to mean nothing. Right now I'm checking for enough spare parts to build a dedicated PVR on either Linux or XP.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: HTPC use: glitches with BDA tuners

@Paul: Have you looked at upgrading the firmware of the tuners? This is often a problem that specific firmware doesn't match the driver you've got.

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Unhappy

Re: HTPC use: glitches with BDA tuners

I think TV tuners and their associated drivers are the singularly worst pieces of technology I've ever bought. The last one I bought was a dual tuner Hauppauge which worked perfectly as long as it was kept in a 4GB environment, upgrade to 64 and more than 4GB, no worky. Over the years I have probably spent more time faffing about with tuner cards than any other part of my HTPC. Then my cable provider moved to all digital and i decided that the grief wasn't worth it any more. The card is still resident in my PC, not used by MediaPortal and I only ever use it to transfer VHS to DVD, which it can capture fairly well.

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Unhappy

I'm looking foreward to SP1

You know, the version where they introduce the “Home” (“start”) button on the desktop, and “Home” icon onto TIFKAM.. ‘til then -8 looks too much like its emoticon

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Coat

Re:- Windows 8: great for media PCs. What else?

Quite good as Windows 7 PC if you remove the crap.

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What else? Great for desktop perhaps

Know its a controversial suggestion to use Windows 8 on a desktop PC but I prefer 8 to 7 on my own desktop (dual 24" monitors, no touch input yet). I don't miss the start button but appreciate some of the small but useful improvements on 7. For my work right now it seems Ubuntu in a VM and the Windows command line are getting much more airtime than TIFKAM but maybe one day we'll see some compelling apps and cool they will run on both desktop and tablet. My main gripe with 8 is the way the Microsoft rush to TIFKAM has left desktop/professional applications stuck in the 20 year old Win32 space, roll on a new class of modern desktop apps, WinRT or whatever.

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Pint

Re: What else? Great for desktop perhaps

I use W8 on my Laptop and a desktop, Apart from the very fast booting compared to W7 and a generally snappier feel I don't really see much difference. I installed startisback and am fairly happy with it, Metro doesn't impinge on my usage but I do like the Charms bar, very useful for a tinkerer.

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Angel

I use J.River MediaCenter which is all anyone needs to run a mediacenter. The OS is completely immaterial. I can use it on a phone,tablet and pc. In fact i have 3 Xoom's stationed permanently as remotecontrols for JRiver, hooked up to tv via HDMI. Works like a charm.

No need for flaky tiles, nor MS soon to be blackboxed Apple lookalike at higher prices but crappier system.

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Tablet

I tried using the consumer preview on my tablet pc (traditional, actual laptop with a swivel touchscreen, not one of the keyboardless/oddless trendy things floating around today) and didn't get along - even though I was probably in the target audience having touchscreen ability I just found it too much hassle to do anything with the new UI making simple tasks harder for a person who's used to desktop work and I think the longest I lasted before rebooting to the win7 partition was two hours. It was just easier in every aspect to do what I wanted.

But that's me, others may differ and I can see it being a hit with the people who don't really know how to use a computer - ie most folk.

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Unhappy

I don't get it?

After decades of maintaining backward compatibility with the 80x86 processor and therefore making its software ubiquitous why can't I have a Classic Menu/Desktop CheckBox?

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Anonymous Coward

I have used the Win 8 Tiles interface and found that it slow my productivity down. The older interface allowed weather widgets and icons for favorite apps to be placed on the desktop. Less used apps could easily be accessed from the Start menu. The previous interface was much more compact. Scrolling through the Tiles interface slows things down for me.

Having said all of the above I do believe the Active Tiles interface would be much suited to people that have very little knowledge or experience of computers. Maybe they should rename it to Easy Tiles. I found the lack of a Task Bar hinders multitasking activities. For example if you wanted to copy a chart from Excel and pate it into Word. An Auto Minimizing Task Bar which contains the most recently used apps would greatly aid multitasking work. Maybe there is a way to enable it but I haven't figured out a way of enabling it.

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Try moving your mouse into the top left corner of the screen.

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Headmaster

No harm in content user OSs

Can't see any harm in content interacting operating systems as opposed to content generating operating systems.

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Stop

XBMC on a Linux Distro or OpenELec all the way.

XBMC has been connected the TV in my house for over 5 years - The wife loves it as her iPhone is all she needs to browse media (on the phone inc' metadata) and play or add to the queue.

Tie in with Sickbeard et al and getting media for your library becomes automated.

I can even Airplay to it.

As previously mentioned above, the Frodo beta see the long awaited PVR branch merged. It just keeps getting better.

Windows 8 however - fine for office work, just.

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WR
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Works well for me.

Going out on a limb here, but I've found Win8 has actually improved my workflow, the trick is how you use it.

I'm a 'heavy' desktop user and run a pretty standard setup with nice chunky widescreen for getting stuff done and a 4:3 panel off to the side.

The thing that TIFKAM allows you to do is park all your social & media stuff under the one hood and keep it contained.

When I need to get work done, I send Metro over to the second screen (tricky before you get the knack), where it can sit there and bleep away with it's tiles/webmail/Facebook/YouTube/whatever.

Meanwhile my main desktop screen has fewer windows open, less clutter and is more focused.

For what it's worth I've found having a clean and obvious seperation between work & play helps keep me on track when I need to, but still has my life accessable with flick of the eyes or the mouse.

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Me too

I too thought the big tiles would make for a perfect Media Centre Interface. I upgraded on Day 1 full of enthusiasm and almost no concern about its special new interface.

Problem 1.

I installed everything I needed including Sickbeard, SABnzbd, Wild Media Server and XBMC, but soon discovered there was no way to make the big tiles look pretty. I thought I would be able to resize and change the appearance. Maybe there will be an app for this one day.

Problem 2.

Strangely I wanted my desktop to stay in Tikfam mode, but because XBMC is a desktop application that is where it opens and when it closes it stays in desktop. That means I now have to either put shortcuts on the desktop or bounce back to Tikfam with the special mouse fling each time to launch something which rather defeats its intended purpose. I wanted to avoid using the keyboard.

Ok, no insurmountable issues yet and carrying on.

Problem 3.

I only used a 40GB partition as I did not intend to install anything other than a few apps, but now I am running out of space. It turns out that where Windows 7 used a 3GB page file, Windows 8 is using 12GB on the exact same machine. A swift change and reboot fixes this.

Problem 4.

I always have my low power HTPC on and when I returned to it a few days later I find that runtime broker is using 90% of the RAM and terminating programs left and right without asking. A bit of investigating and I find it is a new Windows 8 bug and is fixed by uninstalling an affected program.

Still trying, after all I persisted for almost a year with Vista.

Problem 5.

Tried to link up to my Pi box. Still no NFS server in Windows 8 Pro so I have to use SMB. The email account I used to login does not work nicely with shares so I have to change it to a local account. Changing this should be easy, but the user admin stuff is split between Tikfam and Desktop. Very irritating.

Everything is now setup, but it doesn't seem faster, spends most of the time in desktop and I can't help feeling that at any minute Tikfam will do something annoying. I defaulted the dual boot back to 7 and haven't touched 8 in 2 weeks.

My personal verdict is that it offers no advantage at all over 7 and many ugly problems. Will retry maybe after SP1.

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Boffin

Funny you should mention Media Center PCs...

When Microsoft announced that Windows Media Center requires a separate purchase from Windows 8, I concluded the exact opposite and decided that it is just a steaming pile of crap.

Sure, Microsoft is giving Windows Media Center away for free for a limited time, but it doesn't justify this conclusion unless Microsoft bundles Windows Media Center or provides it as a free download permanently. Until then, Windows 7 holds the torch which it will most likely pass on to Ubuntu.

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I use XBMC for my media center, I don't know why anyone would use Windows 8. It offers no inherent advantages to running XBMCBuntu or XBMC on Windows 7.

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It's actually looking promising for DAW work. Am seeing improved (lower) latency on my systems.

It's a niche I know, but there are still a fair few of we home producers using Cubase and similar.

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Stop

Licence transfer

If I upgrade Windows 7 to Windows 8, do I keep the DVD licence?

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Trollface

Re: Licence transfer

Sure, just install VLC in your new windows computer, and "play" you go.

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Revived an old netbook

I have an Acer Aspire One 150, with a wimpy 1.6 single-core Atom and maxed-out 1.5 RAM. Because it's so small and light with a functioning keyboard, it's remained my in-the-bag machine and my on-the-couch surfer. It came with XPSP3, but after a couple of years I plonked Win7 on it and loved the results. It had started to slow a bit over the past few months, but rather than clean-install Win7 again, I decided to try Win8. Hated not-Metro, so I immediately put Start8 on it, and it now looks and feels identical to Win7.

Two things made it worth the switch:

1) boot-up speed. I go from lifting the lid to reading a freshly-loaded web page in under 15 seconds. This compares to something like a minute or a minute-fifteen on Win7. The much-improved sleep/hibernation method really shows an a machine with these specs. Plus the rapid (instantaneous?) re-connect to a wireless network is great.

2) power usage. Not sure what MS did, but I get about 20-25% more time out of the battery now. Seems as though it's doing a better job of power management than Win7 did.

All in all, this will probably keep me from using an early-2008 netbook for another year at least. Worth the $40.

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Media center

My current HTPC is running Vista with media center and XBMC. I only use media center for recording live TV now, since I installed XBMC. It does everything else better. Strangely enough though, playback of recorded shows through XBMC looks bad, with scan lines and tearing. Media center looks great in comparison.

My regular PC got updated from Vista to 8 and I installed media center on it. The 8 version of media center is nicer than the vista version, but I am not sure if it would be worth the hassle of installing on the HTPC. Since all the HTPC does is XBMC and media center, I have never had stability issues with it. Both machines are basically identical hardware, and the tuners are the same in both machines. Both work fine.

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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.

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It's mostly a media pc, but I get my media from different sources: NetFlix, YouTube, other websites, local files. I also do have a game or two installed on it.

Most media player software I've tried either doesn't support web browsing (necessary for the video from some sites I visit), is difficult to set up, or (XMBC, I'm looking at you, here) actually forces the wrong labels on many of my files, making me rename them back.

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