HTPC resetup using Windows 7 and MCE

From my previous post about building my HTPC and configuring the HTPC using MediaPortal, I have now changed my setup software wise.


Before with MediaPortal I was able to set up multiple shares on a file server running Windows Vista. This has now been changed to running Windows Home Server. The initial steps to install WHS (Windows Home Server) were not as straight forward as I initially planned as installation requires all connected drives to be wiped. So I unplugged the 2 1TB data drives leaving the 500GB OS drive to be formatted. Installation of WHS was easy, as it normally is with Windows. I have no CD/DVD drive in my file server, so I had to resort to creating a bootable USB stick with the WHS CD files on it. This installed without problem.

Once WHS was up and running, it is just a matter of plugging a new hard drive in and WHS adds it to the array. Unfortunately this wipes all the data from the disk, so I had to connect them to another computer, copy the data to the computer, connect the drive to the file server, then add the drive to the array, then move the files from the other computer to the file server.

This was time consuming but worth it. I now have a 4TB array with lots of DVD backups as well as music and a backup of personal documents, which can be recovered if there is a problem with the other computers in the house.

HTPC configuration

First step was to reformat the HTPC and install Windows 7 RC. This went smoothly and works pretty much as expected. The only problem being the sound, but I will get on to that in another post.

I chose to use Windows Media Centre as the UI rather than MediaPortal this time as it has better support for a remote in the future which means I can hide the keyboard and mouse.

Using WMC provides a few problems.

  • Metadata
  • Thumbnails/Images
  • MKV/Avi support


To get the meta data for my films, I used browser. This is a great bit of software that allows you to get the synopsis as well as actors/genre/director(s) of each film as well as a smaller thumbnail and a large image to be used as a backdrop. It has full support for TV shows as long as you store all your videos in the right folder structure.


I opted for MediaBrowser which plugs straight in to WMC creating a new entry on the main navigation. MediaBrowser is currently free but looks to be becoming a commercial product on a yearly licence, but assuming it continues to improve, it should be worth it.

MKV/Avi support

I initially looked at passing on MKV files on to an external player which you can do within MediaBrowser, but in the end chose to use the Shark 007 codec pack which allows WMC to play MKV H264 files perfectly, with the ability to rewind/fastforward pause etc within WMC.