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Permalink to this day Monday, November 22, 2004

Today I learned about Media Discovery in Media Center 2005 so I thought I'd share what I learned with you.

In Media Center 2005 we have a mechanism called 'Media Discovery' which enables you to add folders of music/videos/photos to your Media Center libraries. It has several access points and different speeds of indexing. Read on if you want to hear more about what is going on with Media Discovery.

Entry Points

Firstly, there are two entry points to this 'First Run Module' (named so because it uses the same UI template as the modules in First Run, the experience you get the first time you start Media Center):

  • When you first enter Music/Videos/Photos you are prompted with a dialog asking you if you want content. You can permanently dismiss this dialog by selecting the checkbox in it.
  • In Music/Videos/Photos you can accesss 'Add Music/Videos/Photos' by invoking the Context Menu using the More Info button on your remote control, or via the right mouse button, or by CTRL-D.

Adding Music

Now, I should first point out that your music collection in Media Center uses the same library as your music collection in Windows Media Player.

When you run through Media Discovery for music the folders you select are added to Windows Media Player's list of 'Monitored Folders'. While it is adding the content you see a dialog telling you that it is adding media. You can dismiss the dialog if you want to do other things but the important thing to note is that dismissing the media discovery adding media dialog will slow down the discovery of music content significantly. It will go from using the highest priority thread level to the lowest. And yes, even the highest priority level is not as fast as F3 search in Windows Media Player. The other note here is that if you dismiss the dialog while it is still adding and then close Media Center because media discovery has completed then media discovery will stop and not resume again until you re-launch Media Center.

So if you have a large music collection that you want to add to Media Center using Media Center I recommend not dismissing that dialog!

Alternatively, if you have a large music collection, launch Windows Media Player, use a F3 search to look for all your content, then add the folders you want monitored to Windows Media Player's monitored folder list (File -> Add to Library -> By Monitoring Folders). This method is much faster but you obviously can't do it with your remote control.

Adding Pictures and Videos

As for pictures and videos, they do not use a Windows Media Player type library and so adding content to them is fast.

Adding network shares

I did not learn much about adding network shares today. What I did learn is that the reason it takes so long to populate the list of shares is that we go off an ping all the available shares and this process is costly if you have a lot of shares. Fortunately this is a problem that users only hit 'at work' since at our office we have tons of shares, but your typical home user does not have hundreds of shares.

How does this fit in with Media Center Extender?

When you install Media Center Extender you are asked during the setup if you would like to use the same folders for media content that your Media Center uses. If you answer yes, the Extender account will monitor the same list of folders.

The problem with this approach is that the Extender still needs to go off and index the content into the library the first time you enter an experience on the Extender. Also changes made to your Media Center monitored folder list are not mirrored in the Extender account (afaik).

Since releasing Media Center 2005 what have we learned?

  • Accessing shared network content is hard because users do not know how to configure their network shares
  • Having different libraries on your Media Center and Media Center Extender can be confusing.
  • Media Discovery is hard to discover.
  • The 'tree control' in the Media Discovery module for selecting folders is cumbersome. For instance the focus does not always move in ways that are expected.

Questions? And if you are one of my co-workers and have something to add let me know :).
5:51:30 PM  Permalink to this item []

Softie, Chris Sells, A Reason For A Home Gigabit Network:
The XBOX Media Center Extender kit comes with a remote and remote sensor that works for playing DVDs, too, thus saving you the trouble of buying both. I'm in love!

That's cool since you can't 'remote' DVD playback from your Media Center.
10:49:43 AM  Permalink to this item []

© Copyright 2005 Matt Goyer.
I work at Microsoft in the eHome division on the Windows XP Media Center Edition team as a Program Manager.

Disclaimer: The posts on this weblog are provided "AS IS" with no warranties, and confer no rights. The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in any way.

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Updated: 4/11/2005; 10:30:06 PM.