How to Set Up Windows Media Center for the First Time

Getting your Windows Vista computer set up to run Windows Media Center for the first time is simple but time-consuming. In fact, don’t start Media Center for the first time unless you have a good 15 or 20 minutes to kill. It takes awhile to get things going, but it is well worth the wait.

Media Center begins by poking and prodding your PC to look for an Internet connection and home network and then gives you a fairly lengthy interview. Microsoft wants you to approve its privacy policies, for example, which consist of wading through more than 68 pages of fine print.

When run on a properly equipped PC, Media Center should find everything — the tuner, the signal, and the monitor. If Media Center doesn’t find those things, you probably need a new Vista-compatible driver for your tuner card, a piece of software downloadable from the tuner manufacturer’s Web site.

You can choose either the Express setup or a Custom setup. The Express setup is of course faster and Media Center will do most of the work for you. Regardless of the option you choose, the installer asks you to type your zip code and select the provider supplying your TV signal.

After downloading listings for upcoming shows, Media Center ends its interview by letting you select your type of monitor, speakers, and the way they’re connected. These settings are most important for people who connect their PC to a TV set and home stereo to watch the videos.

When it finally finishes, Media Center displays a TV Guide–type listing on the screen, which lets you browse shows and choose the ones to watch or record for later viewing.

If you used the Express setup option but now want to have a bit more control over your settings, you can go back and run the setup all over again using the Custom setup process. To redo the Windows Media Center setup, open Windows Media Center, scroll down to Tasks, select settings, select General, select Windows Media Center Setup, then select Run Setup Again.

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