How Can I use HomeGroup within Media Center?
Once your Windows 7 computers are setup in the HomeGroup, you can
access the different galleries (Music, Pictures, and Recorded TV) on any
computer, from any computer within the HomeGroup. For example, if my
friend Sean wants to access the Recorded TV content on his living room
PC, he simply navigates to the Recorded TV gallery on his laptop,
selects the shared pivot, and then selects the computer by its name (in
this case pc-livingroom).
Above: The shared pivot in the Recorded TV Gallery showing the different HomeGroup computers
Above: The name of the remote computer is displayed in the top-right corner of the gallery
Picking pc-livingroom in the shared pivot takes him into the
Recorded TV gallery of the remote computer in the living room. The
gallery looks almost identical to the host computer’s; so how do you
tell which gallery you are at? If you look at the top-right corner of
the gallery, you will notice the computer name, which tells you which
Recorded TV gallery you are currently browsing in.
Once you are in the remote computer’s Recorded TV gallery, you
can sort the recordings by original air date, or group them by title
using the different pivots, like you were doing before on the host
computer. If you select a recording, the details page will appear and
you may notice slight differences in the commands available to remote
play button will stream the show to your host Windows 7 Media Center.
Like your host Media Center, not only can you play and pause the remote
content, you can also rewind, fast-forward, skip-forward, and
This streaming enables my friend Sean to watch his recordings in bed,
while not putting his marriage in jeopardy. It is important to note
that if the content is copy-protected (DRM) you will not be able to
playback the content. Such content is denoted with a warning icon on the
Besides playing the content, you can also use 7MC to navigate and
copy the non-DRM content over to the host computer for later viewing.
This works well for Sean as he likes to catch up on episodes of his
favorite series on those long plane rides. Copying the content is as
easy as clicking the make a copy button. If you accidentally clicked on
the make a copy button, you can cancel the copying by clicking on the Stop button on the Copying Remote Content dialog. If you click the OK button, the copying will occur in the background.
You can queue-copy a couple of recordings by dismissing the Copying Remote Content
dialog, navigate to another recording and make a copy of that content
while the first show is still being copied in the background. The second
show will start the copying process once the first show has completed
copying. Here is another tip for you: let’s say you started copying a
really long program, dismissed the Copying Remote Content dialog,
and wanted to abort the copying process, you can still do this by
clicking on the make a copy button for that program and then clicking on
the Stop button of the dialog that appears. This will terminate the copying for that particular program.
Above: The Copy Remote Content dialog
If you wish to return back to the host computer’s Recorded TV
gallery, go back to the shared pivot and select recorded TV. You can
also choose all computers to see all the recorded content in the
HomeGroup. Similarly, you can access Pictures, Music and Video using the
shared pivot in their respective galleries.
Why Is There No Delete Button?
You might notice that there is no Delete button on the details
page for the remote content. During the design phase, we debated long
and hard over this, but finally decided that we need to honor the fact
that the content is on another computer and we should not delete it
unless we are on that computer. Media Center assumes that content
recorded on Bob’s computer belongs to Bob, and Sally, who is watching
the show via HomeGroup, should not be allowed to delete the content
since we cannot be sure if Bob wants that program deleted from his
computer or not.
What Are These Library Files I Hear About?
Windows 7 has a new file-type called Library (.library-ms) which,
like the name suggests, is a file that aggregates similar contents which
may be located in various file locations. For example, if you keep your
pictures in many different locations (say in C:\PublicPhotos\,
E:\PrivatePhotos\, C:\FamilyPhotos\, and so on); you can add these
various locations to the Photo library file. When you access that Photo
library in Windows Explorer, you will be presented with all the photos,
but they will be in one “place.”
Recorded TV content is no exception. The Recorded TV Library file is
located at C:\Users\Public\Libraries\ but you can also access it through
the navigation pane of Windows Explorer. When you click on the Recorded
TV icon in the navigation pane, all your recorded content will display
in the main window of Windows Explorer.
To manage the folders of this library, click on the ‘location’ link
above the folders in the main window of Windows Explorer. The Recorded TV Libraries Location dialog
that appears is where you can add or remove a folder to the library.
When you add a new folder to this library, not only will the contents of
that folder appear in this library in Windows Explorer, the recorded
contents of the newly added folder will also become visible in the
Recorded TV gallery in Media Center.
Above: Recorded TV icon in the navigation pane of Windows Explorer (left) and Recorded TV Libraries Location dialog (right)
You may have noticed that there are slight differences in how
Pictures and Music are presented in 7MC and HomeGroup, as compared with
Recorded TV. This is because Recorded TV has always been machine-based,
while Pictures and Music are user-based. This is also the reason why
parental controls for television content are tied to the machine instead
of the user. So while there may be several Photo libraries and Music
libraries on one machine, depending on the number of users on that
machine, there is only one Recorded TV library file per machine.