Saturday, February 13, 2010

Upgrading MCE2005 to Windows 7

So I made the plunge on all my boxes to Win7 from MCE2005. A lot of things have improved in Win7 but it took me forever to get everything setup right. Especially since I was attempting to upgrade old MCE2005 hardware to Win7. My box was a 2005 HP Pavilion Slimline, 1 gb ram (max), on board video card, no more expansion slots. So hardware upgrading wasn't possible. After reinstalling Win7 four times and trying specialized codec packs, which all sucked, my biggest problem was my networked xvid videos were choppy. I tried hundreds of fixes, from codecs to drivers.

The codecs that worked best for me, was CoreAVC and the XviD codec. This got the choppyness to a minimal amount, and enabled mkv formats but it still wasn't perfect. It turns out I was sharing content via an administrative share //server/d$/content for example. This was the source of my problem all along so I am documenting it for any other losers out there. Windows 7 does not stream video smoothly via an admin share! Just share the folder normally and it's all gravy FFS.

Here's some other tweaks I made. First off install mediabrowser because it's awesome, a bit slow but worth it. Also you want to modify the home strip to say something more blatent than mediabrowser, so tweak it via the registry like so:

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Media Center\Start Menu\Applications\{ce32c570-4bec-4aeb-ad1d-cf47b91de0b2}]
"Title"="Movies or whatever"

And you can remove the other items from the Start menu like Extra's by running this app:

Also, I tweaked Win7 for HTPC use only by right click, my computer, properties, Performance Information and tools (lower left) Adjust visual effects (best performance), indexing options (modify then remove all).

Lastly since my MCE is an old piece of shit box, I stuck in an old 2gb flash drive then set it up for ready boost, which is kinda like a ghetto ram expansion. But believe it or not, it did run faster with it.

After all that was done, I transformed an old POS MCE 2005 box to a usable Win7 MCE box.

Here's some other shit I changed but I don't know if it helped or not... Only try if you're desperate:
I installed the Preferred Filter Tweaker
which basically lets you tell windows 7 mce which codec to decode with. And totally unrelated I upgraded DirectX. Both things probably weren't neccessary but I'm throwing it out there anyway.