I’ve always installed the powertoys (mostly the TweakUI PowerToy) with every version of Windows I’ve ever installed going back to Win95. There’s a bunch of things in each one that let you make certain aspects of Windows run the way you want it to. I’m not sure why I didn’t find this earlier but I found some PowerToys for Windows Media Center 2005. There are 4 PowerToys that Microsoft has released. The Tweak Media Center PowerToys says it needs version 2005 with Update Rollup 2 installed. The remaining 3 PowerToys are supposed to be able to run on version 2004 or 2005.
The first PowerToy is the Tweak Media Center, which opens up some settings you can’t normally change. For instance with it you can change the location that recorded TV shows are saved at. By default it saves the recorded TV shows in the Recorded TV folder under the shared documents folder. Another setting that opens up is the ability to change the skip and replay time lengths. By default the skip forward and back button is set for 29 seconds so you can increase or decrease this amount. There are more settings, but I didn’t really see much that I needed to tweak. There is a setting to enable something called My DVDs which I tried with no success. In reading I found that it should search any folders you have specified under the My Videos section but nothing shows up on mine even though I have several movies “backed up” on a network share.
There is also a pretty cool solitaire that can be played from within Media Center. Not much to say about that, it’s solitaire. I was surprised with how easy it was to play the solitaire with the Media Center remote.
Next there is an alarm clock. When you set an alarm with it you can then choose music from your My Music list to begin playing when the alarm goes off. The alarm clock acted a bit funny on my Media Center in that it changes resolution when you enter the alarm clock and doesn’t fill the screen like the rest of Media Center normally does. Then when I exit the alarm clock Media Center is again full screen like it should be.
The last PowerToy is a playlist editor. Their site says “he Media Center Playlist Editor allows you to create and edit playlists anywhere in the room using your remote control. Add songs by album, artist, title, or genre. Rearrange the songs in your existing playlists, or remove them entirely, all without ever touching a mouse or keyboard.” I didn’t really mess with it much yet.
I’ve been getting into using Media Center Edition for awhile now and really like it. I wish the Media Center had the full capability of Windows XP Pro. For some silly reason they decided to disable the ability of Media Center to join a Domain. These PowerToys add some needed tweaking and functionality to Windows Media Center.