Overview of Windows Media Center

MCE Main ScreenWindows Media Center Edition (MCE) is a special version of Windows designed to drive your home entertainment system. It's basically like a normal PC running Windows, but it uses your TV as a monitor and your sound system for audio.

These are the basic components:


MCE consists of 6 main areas, all accessed from the main menu:

  1. My DVD
    Play DVDs using the PC's DVD drive.
  2. My Videos
    Save your favourite videos on hard drive and organise them in folders for easy access.
  3. My Pictures
    Save photos in folders, organise into albums and create slideshows.
  4. My TV
    View live or recorded TV programs. Live TV allows you to pause, rewind and resume programs. Recorded TV includes a scheduler to automatically record and organise saved programs.
  5. My Music
    Save music in folders, retrieve album information from the net, create playlists.
  6. Radio
    Program your favourite radio stations.
  7. Online Spotlight
    Get access to online content (not all countries are supported).

Remote Control

The official MCE remote control is the last remote control you'll ever need (well, maybe). Once you have your system set up you can control everything from here.

The remote control functions adapt to the area of MCE you are using, for example, the stop/play buttons work the same for live TV as recorded music. The up/down/left/right buttons have a whole range of functions depending on what you're doing, but it's surprisingly intuitive so there's no need to be intimidated.

Other common functions include:

While the remote can control virtually every aspect of MCE, you will still need a keyboard if you want to use the computer's other features such as web browsing and running other applications.

Plugins & Additions

There are a range of official and unofficial add-ons for Windows Media Center. Common examples include picture enhancement, advanced scheduling, games, etc.

These applications are changing constantly — you should search the Internet for the current favourites.


The cost is around the same price as a decent home PC. Assuming you already have a suitable TV you don't need to buy a monitor — this compensates for having to include a decent amount of RAM and tuner card(s).