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post #1 of 22 Old 03-03-2013, 04:20 AM - Thread Starter
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This is a thread for sharing all those small but important tips and tricks for setting up (and operating) a perfectly running htpc on Windows 8 platform. It can be a link to a good guide or a description of something you discovered on your own.

Let's start with a few. I'll update the topic list from the posts in the future.

Autologin
Guide for setting up autologin

Disabling automatic forced restart after Windows updates are installed (Win 8.1 Pro)
Guide for disabling automatic restarts

Kiosk Mode
Guide for setting up kiosk mode
Some additional comments in this thread

Media autoplay settings
[Windows + w] with search text "autoplay", first hit (Autoplay) will give you access to all autoplay settings.

Replacing Media Center Interface With Windows 8 start screen
See this guide for launching Media Center sections directly from the start screen

Remote desktop access
To enable remote desktop access to your Windows 8 htpc, [Windows + w] with seach text "allow remote access" and enable "Allow remote desktop connections to this computer". Administrators are automatically added to the allowed users, others have to be manually added.

Remote desktop without locking user session on disconnect
Use command "tscon 1 /dest:console" in admin mode to disconnect and your session is not locked after disconnect.

Scheduling Windows updates to certain time, force automatic immediate restart and allow waking (Win 8.1 Pro)
Guide for scheduling Windows updates

Shortcut keys
Nice comprehensive and compact list of Windows 8 shortcut keys: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/hyperyash/ar...shortcuts.aspx.
My favorites are [Windows + w] for settings search and [Windows + q] for apps search. And of course [Windows + d] for standard desktop.

Start-up applications
Start task manager [Ctrl + Shift + Esc] and the start-up applications are listed in the Start-up tab.

Last edited by henris; 10-11-2014 at 02:25 PM.
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post #2 of 22 Old 03-03-2013, 05:32 AM
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What's that I hear?....... echo..... echo..... (sorry, couldn't resist!) wink.gif

Seriously, let the T&T's roll.....
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post #3 of 22 Old 06-09-2013, 12:38 AM - Thread Starter
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No avalanche of tips here wink.gif But don't really understand why since I've been running my Plex/MPC-HC/PowerDVD htpc perfectly for the last six months. I'm not saying Win8 is better than Win7 but at least all that I've thrown to it has been working very nicely.

And back to business. Just added a tip for using remote desktop together with autlogin without locking the desktop when disconnecting.
Source: http://social.technet.microsoft.com/Forums/en-US/w7itproui/thread/0c9318bf-47b7-4286-b957-4f972b0d15cf/

Just use command "tscon 1 /dest:console" in admin mode to disconnect and your session is not locked after disconnect. Personally I created a small cmd script with "Run as administrator" ticked.
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post #4 of 22 Old 06-10-2013, 04:38 AM
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"Too much is almost enough. Anything in life worth doing is worth overdoing. Moderation is for cowards."
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post #5 of 22 Old 06-10-2013, 04:39 AM
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My "in" gif didn't work ^ frown.gif

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"Too much is almost enough. Anything in life worth doing is worth overdoing. Moderation is for cowards."
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post #6 of 22 Old 06-10-2013, 05:24 AM
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I think one of the problems (other than Windows 8 being cr*p), is that unless you got the 'free' MC offer before the end of Jan, you know have to pay extra for 8MC which we got as standard in Win7 Home Premium or above. This little gesture from MS (even though it's not that expensive) just shows their contempt for MC by pushing it so far to the edge it's almost fallen off the map, and they expect you to buy the 'Pro' version of 8 as well before you can use it. Geez. Someone at MS got paid to come up with that idea!

I'm sure a few have taken the plunge, but for a dedicated HTPC, 8 just doesn't make sense, even though, dare I say it, that godawful kiddie block tile thing would make a good media center interface (shame it doesn't work properly with the MC remote controls, even the MS RC6 one!).

This is why we aren't awash with 8MC tricks and tips!
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post #7 of 22 Old 06-10-2013, 06:06 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tman247 View Post

I think one of the problems (other than Windows 8 being cr*p), is that unless you got the 'free' MC offer before the end of Jan, you know have to pay extra for 8MC which we got as standard in Win7 Home Premium or above. This little gesture from MS (even though it's not that expensive) just shows their contempt for MC by pushing it so far to the edge it's almost fallen off the map, and they expect you to buy the 'Pro' version of 8 as well before you can use it. Geez. Someone at MS got paid to come up with that idea!

I'm sure a few have taken the plunge, but for a dedicated HTPC, 8 just doesn't make sense, even though, dare I say it, that godawful kiddie block tile thing would make a good media center interface (shame it doesn't work properly with the MC remote controls, even the MS RC6 one!).

This is why we aren't awash with 8MC tricks and tips!

This is just the type of Internet fueled misinformation that has hobbled users on Windows 8 from the beginning.

First regarding the charge for MC. It's $10. If your building a MC system it will be the least expensive part of your build. But it's also $10 for a reason. Up until Windows Vista, Microsoft did not pay for your MPEG license royalty, thinking that it was included in any DVD program you added (most all systems of that era came with DVD software.- many still do). For Vista and 7 that changed, Due to the fact that many users today have no need for DVD movie playback or in some cases a DVD drive at all, Microsoft has returned to it's previous stand, MPEG is required for MC and hence the $10 charge. It's not greed as implied or a lack of interest. Here's some news- things cost money.

As to the need for the pro version, Again we are talking $99. A small price to pay for what you are getting in return. In Windows 8, Microsoft listened to it's customers and reduced the number of versions to only 3 (2 at retail). Less versions requires less price granularity. Most people only need what is available in standard so that is the base. All of the retail functional upgrades fall to pro. Given that the equivalent version of Windows 7 is selling today on Amazon for $268, and that most people will never need any more than what came with their system, Microsoft allowing you to upgrade for $99 to the full pro is a nice price I think.

Then there is this assertion that "Windows 8 being cr*p", just because you do not like how a product is designed does not make it crap. It makes it different. It is also different for a reason. That reason is that computers are changing and Windows 8 and it's successors will be around for a long time. There is lots of change to come. Did they go too far in trying to force everyone to work through the start screen even on desktops and special case systems like HTPC's? Yes. That's why in 8.1 we will see boot to desktop.

Rather than offer biting, riveting feedback like "that godawful kiddie block tile thing" one might want to offer constructive objective advice as to where Microsoft should take the product in your opinion, they are after all listening.
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post #8 of 22 Old 06-10-2013, 06:14 AM - Thread Starter
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I took the offer in the beginning of the year to upgrade from WinXP to Win8 for less than 30eur. After three days of using it I did the same for all our home desktops. I even upgraded one Win7 just to get the common look and feel for the rest of the family. Combined with synchronising profiles and MS cloud services the end user experience is best so far. At least here in Finland you can get Win8 Pro upgrade for 60eur while Win7 OEM is 100eur so for a new build Win8 makes sense.

My current htpc is a kind of a mixed general workhorse running all the basic htpc frontend/player apps (Plex Media Center, MPC-HC, PowerDVD), the management apps (DVD Profiler, Handbrake, Filebot, Subtitle Workshop, MKVMerge etc.) and also currently Plex Media Server. Besides running all these flawlessly Win8 also introduces some nice and small things for the daily operations like the enhanced task manager and file transfer dialog with transfer speed trend. If I had a need for a light weight htpc I would look for ATV2 with Plex.

And btw I'm all for Plex so the thread was meant to be for using Win8 as a general htpc platform.
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post #9 of 22 Old 06-10-2013, 08:49 AM
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I'll add some constructive criticism re: W8.

1) MS has strategically decided that it's in everybody's best interest to have a common interface across all devices (desktops, laptops, tablets, smart phones). This is incorrect and a mistake. The interface needs to be tailored to the the device. Various devices are used differently. As Apple said, it's the toaster and the fridge.

2) Based on strategy decision #1, MS has decided that the interface for this convergence will be touch. This is incorrect and a mistake. We will all be long dead before desktops (desktop PCs, servers, HTPCs, etc.) are obsolete and even longer before people manipulate their desktop by touching the monitor.

Bottom line, MS has made a strategic mistake. Tactical mistakes, ie, start button, tiles, etc. are not serious mistakes and are actually the correct decisions if you assume the strategic decisions are correct. Unless they rethink the strategy, over the years, MS is going to lose control of the desktop/laptop market. I happen to believe that they are so late to the portable device market that they will not succeed there either. Apple and Google have that wrapped up just like MS had desktops/laptops wrapped up for decades.

Sell MS stock. This can be, but will not be, corrected and W8.1 is all the evidence you need. Trying to fix strategic mistakes with tactical solutions.

IMHO

Bob
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post #10 of 22 Old 06-10-2013, 09:10 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rbmcgee View Post

I'll add some constructive criticism re: W8.

1) MS has strategically decided that it's in everybody's best interest to have a common interface across all devices (desktops, laptops, tablets, smart phones). This is incorrect and a mistake. The interface needs to be tailored to the the device. Various devices are used differently. As Apple said, it's the toaster and the fridge.

2) Based on strategy decision #1, MS has decided that the interface for this convergence will be touch. This is incorrect and a mistake. We will all be long dead before desktops (desktop PCs, servers, HTPCs, etc.) are obsolete and even longer before people manipulate their desktop by touching the monitor.

Bottom line, MS has made a strategic mistake. Tactical mistakes, ie, start button, tiles, etc. are not serious mistakes and are actually the correct decisions if you assume the strategic decisions are correct. Unless they rethink the strategy, over the years, MS is going to lose control of the desktop/laptop market. I happen to believe that they are so late to the portable device market that they will not succeed there either. Apple and Google have that wrapped up just like MS had desktops/laptops wrapped up for decades.

Sell MS stock. This can be, but will not be, corrected and W8.1 is all the evidence you need. Trying to fix strategic mistakes with tactical solutions.

This is not "constructive criticism", it is opinion.
Quote:
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IMHO
This is the only part of your post that is fact.

BTW, did you read the Topic Title? Windows 8 - Tips & tricks for HTPC usage
None of your stated opinion meets the topic title.
Please start your own Topic with a possible title of, 'hey, lets diss Windows 8' and have a go at it all you want.
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Use Shark007 Codecs and retain your sanity.
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post #11 of 22 Old 06-10-2013, 09:24 AM
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One thing I did is documented here, which makes Windows 8 perfect for me:



Other than that though, my setup was mostly simple. Installed Windows 8 Pro, added the Media Center features, and then used the Shark007 pack for Windows 8.

XBL/Steam: JHoff80
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post #12 of 22 Old 07-23-2013, 11:13 AM - Thread Starter
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Not really a trick or even a tip but man this was so irritating thing to fix so if anyone ever faces this, hope this helps.

I had been experiencing wierd behavious every once in a while when using RDP to my Win8 htpc. The mouse moved but I couldn't click anything. The keyboard worked but only within applications and also alt-tab worked. Only reboot or logout/login fixed the problem. First I thought it was the popular "stucking windows key in RDP session" but it was not...

To cut to the chase, the problem was in the Search Indexer which failed to start and whenever I hit Windows+F, the whole system came tumbling down. Well not the whole system, only explorer.exe became not responding but this caused all the weird behaviour. There were no error messages of any kind displayed but in the event log there were a lot of following error messages:
Code:
The Windows Search Service has failed to remove the old search index. Internal error <0,0x80070005>. 
The Windows Search service terminated with the following error: Access is denied.
The Windows Search service terminated unexpectedly. It has done this 9 time(s). 
The server {9E175B68-F52A-11D8-B9A5-505054503030} did not register with DCOM within the required timeout.

After finding these, it didn't take too long to find this guide for fixing the problem:
http://www.vistax64.com/tutorials/85803-index-windows-search-service.html

However performing these steps was not enough. I still got the "Access denied" message on reboot. I took a look on the permissions and the directories created steps 4 and 5 did not have system or administrators listed as the pre-existing Applications directory did. So I added those with Full-control, rebooted and the Search service succesfully started.

One could ask why would you want to run Search indexer on a htpc, well you wouldn't. I thought I had disabled it during initial installation but I guess I missed that step...
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post #13 of 22 Old 02-09-2014, 02:28 AM - Thread Starter
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Kiosk mode setup guide
http://cybernetnews.com/xbmc-run-boot-xbmc-startup-windows-8/

If you want to run only a single program in kiosk mode, this guide will help you to do just that. It prevents the whole metro/traditional-desktop UI from running. I've used it with Plex Home Theater and enhanced it by using a script as the "custom user interface" application which shutdowns the machine if Plex Home Theater exits. Normally I just let my NUC-htpc go to sleep and wake it through CEC.
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post #14 of 22 Old 10-11-2014, 06:51 AM - Thread Starter
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Disabling automatic forced restart after Windows updates are installed (Win 8.1 Pro)
1. Start group policy editor (Windows + R -> "gpedit.msc")
2. Browse to "Computer Configuration\Administrative Templates\Windows Components\Windows Update"
3. Enable "No auto-restart with logged on users for scheduled automatic updates installations" policy
4. Restart computer or apply group policy update manually (Windows + R -> "gpupdate /force"

Source: www.howtogeek.com

Scheduling Windows updates to certain time, force automatic immediate restart and allow waking (Win 8.1 Pro)
1. Start group policy editor (Windows + R -> "gpedit.msc")
2. Browse to "Computer Configuration\Administrative Templates\Windows Components\Windows Update"
3. Enable "Configure Automatic Updates" policy
3.1 Use option #4 – Auto download and schedule the nstall
3.2 Deselect “Install during automatic maintenance”
3.3 Set “6 – Every Friday” for the scheduled install day
3.4 Set “23:00” for the scheduled install time
4. Enable "Always automatically restart at the scheduled time" policy
4.1 Set restart timer to 5 minutes
5. Enable "Enabling Windows Update Power Management to automatically wake up the system to install scheduled updates" policy
6. Restart computer or apply group policy update manually (Windows + R -> "gpupdate /force"

Source: blogs.technet.com
Source: technet.microsoft.com
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post #15 of 22 Old 10-11-2014, 07:34 AM
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There were minor improvements to WMC with Win7 over Vista. Have there been any significant changes to it with Win8? I have Win8 installed on one of my computers, but it's my work computer so I haven't really had a chance to use it.

As to the forced reboot, the easier way to deal with that is to simply have it download updates, but not install them. I never, ever let Microsoft pick which updates are critical, because they once accidentally tagged a video driver as critical and it almost bricked the computer (thank God for system restore). The only computer I have that auto updates is the wife's, because I know she'll never do it herself.

I'll try to avoid the Win8 debate, but I will say the criticism goes from probably something everyone would agree with (forcing a boot to Metro was stupid), to absurd (Win8 shouldn't have touch capabilities).
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post #16 of 22 Old 10-11-2014, 08:00 AM
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Any one found a way to navigate metro apps and the start screen with only a keyboard? (scroll left, back, etc) I mostly use XBMC and media metro apps (hulu, netflix) so I just need basic controls.
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post #17 of 22 Old 10-11-2014, 09:28 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mfusick View Post
My "in" gif didn't work ^
That's too bad. I've seen it before, and it's fun to watch.
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post #18 of 22 Old 10-11-2014, 09:34 AM
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The autologin process has been around for quite a few Windows versions. It's not specific to Windows 8 or 8.1. I've been doing it on all of my Windows 7 PCs for years.
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post #19 of 22 Old 10-11-2014, 02:01 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Karyk View Post
As to the forced reboot, the easier way to deal with that is to simply have it download updates, but not install them. I never, ever let Microsoft pick which updates are critical, because they once accidentally tagged a video driver as critical and it almost bricked the computer (thank God for system restore). The only computer I have that auto updates is the wife's, because I know she'll never do it herself.

I'll try to avoid the Win8 debate, but I will say the criticism goes from probably something everyone would agree with (forcing a boot to Metro was stupid), to absurd (Win8 shouldn't have touch capabilities).
We have several viewing areas in our house hold and six family members. As most we have a mixture of PCs, HTPCs, tablets, smart TVs etc. I work in IT services environment and sometimes it feels like it's easier to manage the IT of a 250 person SW development unit than the one at home I try to keep things as simple as possible so all our HTPCs are dedicated and easily restorable/recreatable. Since I also want to use as little time as possible (and we do not have System Center at home...) I try to keep everything as automated as possible.

I've seen cases of Windows updates going haywire at work but they are pretty rare and the only way to test them is to deploy updates to smaller group of desktops first. And since that doesn't work too well at home I just prefer to handle updates as automatically as possible. The default behavior for updates (wait 3 days and then force restart if not restated before) is just bizarre, usually the forced 15 min count down occurred in the middle of a movie. Hence at least I had a need to fix it.

As for the Win8 vs Win7 debate, personally I treat Win8 just as an OS platform like any other. Is it better than Win7, well I don't care as long as it is reliable and has all the features I need. I see no reason to not use Win8 for a new HTPC build. If you don't like some of the new parts you can (at least now with 8.1) hide most of it.
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post #20 of 22 Old 10-11-2014, 02:10 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rdesa212 View Post
Any one found a way to navigate metro apps and the start screen with only a keyboard? (scroll left, back, etc) I mostly use XBMC and media metro apps (hulu, netflix) so I just need basic controls.
Well not exactly but I've ended up using TV's own remote via HDMI-CEC (Pulse Eight) for controlling XBMC, Plex and similar keyboard based media center software and then Logitech KT400 or KT820 for metro apps and web browser based streaming services (most local Finnish streaming services do not have native metro apps).
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post #21 of 22 Old 10-12-2014, 07:00 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rdesa212 View Post
Any one found a way to navigate metro apps and the start screen with only a keyboard? (scroll left, back, etc) I mostly use XBMC and media metro apps (hulu, netflix) so I just need basic controls.
Quote:
Originally Posted by henris View Post
Well not exactly but I've ended up using TV's own remote via HDMI-CEC (Pulse Eight) for controlling XBMC, Plex and similar keyboard based media center software and then Logitech KT400 or KT820 for metro apps and web browser based streaming services (most local Finnish streaming services do not have native metro apps).
Is this just an issue with remotes? Maybe I'm not understanding, but it doesn't seem to be an issue with keyboards, or at least my keyboard. That said, I do little in Metro apps, so maybe I've just not run into the problem.
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post #22 of 22 Old 10-12-2014, 07:14 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by captain_video View Post
The autologin process has been around for quite a few Windows versions. It's not specific to Windows 8 or 8.1. I've been doing it on all of my Windows 7 PCs for years.
Exactly, and connecting up with the auto-udate issue I think there might have even been a windows critical update at one time that made autologin necessary on one of my prior HTPCs. It was either that, or perhaps a Windows component that became necessary for some other piece of HTPC software to function. That was probably pre-Vista.
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