Musings of a PC

Thoughts about Windows, TV and technology in general

Installing Windows 7 on the HTPC

When I bought the OEM-built system, it came with Vista plus the 2008 TV Pack. The latter seems to be a bit problematic so I’ve been eagerly awaiting the availability of the Windows 7 RTM. Downloaded it Thursday night and, this morning, took the plunge to install it on the HTPC.

Installation started at 8:50am from DVD. By 9:20am, it was all done – possibly the fastest installation of Windows that I’ve ever seen! I was very impressed with the post-installation setup. After the normal steps of choosing a username and computer name, I was prompted to join a wireless network. I don’t remember seeing Vista do that …

One of the things I’ve really appreciated with Intel’s G45 chipset is the fact that the video output over HDMI works at all levels – from BIOS through to Windows running. That makes it really easy to install Windows on an HTPC because it means I haven’t had to dig out a monitor and connect it to a separate video output on the PC.

Prior to installing Win7, I’d run the beta of the upgrade advisor and it hadn’t found anything significant – just a couple of devices where it advised going to Windows Update after installing Win7. So how well did it do?

After installation, the system automatically went to Windows Update and installed an update for the Intel G45 chipset plus the driver software for the SIL chipset used for my mega external storage. Good news so far … Somewhat surprisingly, though, Windows 7 did not install a device driver for the TV tuner card even though the advisor had said this was supported. No problem though as I’d already downloaded this yesterday in order to overcome a recently discovered problem with More 4/Channel 4 on Freeview.

And what about the niggles that I had with the Vista installation? There were two major problems I had:

  1. Playing DVDs with Media Centre didn’t work with the PC connected to the Denon amplifier. Playback was only successful either with Windows Media Player or by connecting the PC directly to the Pioneer plasma display.

    With Windows 7, the problem is still there :-(. Attempting to play a DVD of the correct region results in the error “Files needed to display video are not installed or are not working correctly. Restart Windows Media Center or restart the computer”.

  2. Using Media Centre displayed a vertical column, one or two pixels wide, on the right hand side of the display which seemed to be redraw remnants from the VMC menus. Quite annoying when watching a programme.

    With Windows 7, this hasn’t been fixed either :-(.

So neither of the major problems have been resolved by installing Windows 7. That is disappointing. The display problem had been experienced by other users so I was hoping that had been fixed. I had also hoped that the DVD problem was going to be an issue with the TV Pack and therefore be fixed.

Ho hum.

On the plus side, there have been some really nice changes made to 7MC so I don’t believe for one minute that I’ve made a mistake by installing it. I’m just disappointed that I’ve got to spend more time try to persuade someone (Microsoft, Denon, who?) that this is their problem and needs to be fixed ASAP.

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