Windows 7 includes media features that will allow even novice users to set up complete home media solutions. Homegroup makes networking and file sharing simple. No longer do you need to call your tech-savvy friend to configure all your settings just-so. Homegroup provides auto-discovery of local networked devices (everything connected to your home router, wired or wireless).
Windows Media Player updates support new codecs and containers. Essentially, this means more video files work out of the box, no special installs required. H.264 and AAC, MP4 and MOV are all supported in Windows Media Player 12. These file types have been around for awhile, and there inclusion makes your digital media life better, and offer video content at a higher quality and smaller size than many others. Now, you can play more files without hassle. Homegroup provides a structure for networking and file sharing easily, and Windows Media Player 12 allows playback of more audio and video file types than before. How can the two be combined into a sum greater than its parts?
Play To offers a completely new service to Windows 7. Play To allows one device (your computer, for example) to push streaming content to any other “Compatible with Windows 7 device. Once you have enabled Media Streaming–Microsoft made this surprisingly easy to do- -you can use Play To within Windows Media Player, or by simply browsing files, right-clicking, and choosing Play To. Any music on your computer can be sent over your wired or wireless network to any device on your network capable of receiving it.
Windows 7 Home Premium or greater adds a “premium” feature called Remote Media Streaming, which allows you to serve media files to another device over the Internet. While this feature makes for a lot of flash and pizazz, this relies on both ends of the connection offer fairly quick access to prevent potential stuttering or quality issues. This also requires a Windows Live ID, and though they are not difficult to create, it is one more thing to worry about. Your home router may also need to be configured to support this feature. While Remote Media Streaming adds a cool feature, it probably isn’t worth the extra cost for the average user.
Windows Media Center also ships with Windows 7 Premium and higher, but unlike Remote Media Streaming, this feature may prove useful for everyone. Windows Media Center displays one of the finest media center interfaces around. Combined with relatively inexpensive hardware (specifically a TV tuner) this makes your PC a great DVR. Set up takes little effort, and when finished, recorded programs can be easily shared to other devices. Even the Xbox 360 gets to join in the entertainment using an identical interface.
Windows 7 adds or improves media capture, playback, and sharing dramatically over previous versions. If you plan on using it to capture live TV, then opt for Windows 7 Home Premium at a minimum.
If you have an older version of Windows and would like to make the move to Windows 7, be sure to contact us to find out about our latest Windows 7 specials.