A valid use for Windows 8?

This topic was created by Steve Knox .

  1. Steve Knox
    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. Lodmot

      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.

  2. This post has been deleted by a moderator

    1. Anonymous Coward
      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).

      1. Simon Harris 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.

      2. This post has been deleted by a moderator

        1. Anonymous Coward
          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?

          1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

            1. Simon Harris 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.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                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. Simon Harris 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. sisk 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.

          2. Fred Flintstone 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.. :)

      3. sisk 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.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      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.

      1. P. Lee
        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. Chemist

        Re: Media Centre

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

        WHAT !

    3. peeky

      Re: Media Centre

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

  3. NoneSuch 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.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Silverburn

      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.

      1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

      2. Anonymous Coward
        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

    3. The_Regulator

      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)

    4. sisk 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.

  4. spencer

    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?

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. AndricD
      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.

    3. johnnytruant

      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.

    4. Al Black
      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.

    5. John Sanders
      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.

    6. Zmodem

      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

  5. Irongut

    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. Geoff Campbell
      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. johnnytruant

        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.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          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.

      2. Ian Yates
        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.

        1. Geoff Campbell
          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

          1. Efros
            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.

      3. Perror

        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.

        1. Dave 126 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.

      4. Al Jones

        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.

        1. Geoff Campbell
          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

    2. Ian Yates
      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. Tom 35 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.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    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. Chemist

      " 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

      1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  7. nematoad 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. Anonymous Coward
      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.

    2. John Sanders
      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.

  8. tony72

    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.

    1. Steve Knox

      @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.

      1. Goat Jam
        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.

        1. John Sanders
          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.

  9. Piro

    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.

  10. Andrew Baines Silver badge
    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?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      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.

    2. Mark #255
      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...]

      1. Steve Knox

        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.

        1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

          1. Anonymous Coward
            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.

  11. peeky

    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.

  12. Semaj
    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.

  13. Richard 120

    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.

  14. Paul Shirley

    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.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      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.

    2. Efros
      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.

  15. Stephen Channell
    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

  16. Spoonsinger
    Coat

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

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

  17. qwarty

    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.

    1. Efros
      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.

  18. Petrossa
    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.

  19. Sampler

    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.

  20. Mr Young
    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?

  21. Anonymous Coward
    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.

    1. Al Jones

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

  22. All names Taken
    Headmaster

    No harm in content user OSs

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

  23. BionicMunky
    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.

  24. WR
    Thumb Up

    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.

  25. Jonathan 29
    Thumb Down

    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.

  26. RAMChYLD
    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.

  27. s0beit
    Thumb Down

    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.

  28. ChrisCabbage

    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.

  29. Robert Grant
    Stop

    Licence transfer

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

    1. John Sanders
      Trollface

      Re: Licence transfer

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

  30. Brian in Seattle
    Thumb Up

    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.

  31. Sporkinum

    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.

  32. webhosting

    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.

  33. webhosting

    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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