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Getting Started and Taking the Tour of Windows XP Media Center

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Steve Kovsky shows how to configure Windows XP Media Center by running the First Run Wizard. He then provides a tour and points out some of the highlights of the OS.
This chapter is from the book

Now that you've unpacked your hardware and gotten it all connected, it's time to configure your Windows XP Media Center Edition software and start getting acquainted with the system that's about to take center stage in your home entertainment activities.

In this chapter, we'll configure Media Center by running the First Run Wizard, which will set up several important aspects of the user interface and hardware features of your Media PC. After we've confirmed that everything is operating as it should be, we'll take a tour and point out some of the highlights.

In this chapter

  • Configure your Internet, TV signal, and program guide with the First Run Wizard

  • Tour the highlights of Media Center

  • Watch an introductory video or take a "walkthrough" tutorial

  • Check for software updates

Running the Setup Wizard

Among the first things you'll encounter when you turn on your Media PC the first time is an interactive setup module, appropriately called the First Run Wizard. As you step through the wizard, you'll encounter the following activities:

  • Testing your Media Center remote control

  • Configuring your Internet connection

  • Configuring your television signal

  • Setting up your electronic program guide (EPG)

To launch the First Run Wizard, complete the Windows XP Professional setup routine that runs after you boot up the Media Center PC the first time. After that initial Windows setup is completed, press the Media Center button (see Figure 3.1) on your remote control.

Figure 3.1Figure 3.1 The prominent green button with the multicolored Windows logo (circled) is the Media Center button, which launches the Media Center menu. On the first use, it will launch the First Run Wizard to configure your Media Center applications.

This action brings up the initial First Run Wizard screen, welcoming you to the Media Center setup wizard. Press the OK button on your remote control to proceed to the Getting Started screen (see Figure 3.2).

Figure 3.2Figure 3.2 This primary screen shows you the First Run Wizard's agenda for getting your Media Center PC ready for active duty.

The primary order of business for the First Run Wizard is to check that your remote control is properly set up.

To respond to the wizard's instructions, do the following:

  1. Use the directional (arrow) buttons on your remote control.

  2. Make sure that the Next button is highlighted at the bottom of your screen.

  3. Press OK on the remote control.


If, in fact, the First Run Wizard was initialized when you pressed the green button on your remote, it's a pretty good bet that your remote control is already set up correctly, so just follow the onscreen prompts.

For the Media Center remote control to work properly, you must have already successfully installed the USB-based remote control sensor (see Chapter 2, "Basic Setup of an XP Media Center System") and made sure that you correctly inserted the batteries into the remote control. The wizard will display a numeric keypad onscreen and instruct you to press numbers on the remote control (see Figure 3.3). If everything is working correctly, you'll see the numbers light up onscreen, corresponding to the ones you pressed on the remote. If everything looks okay, select the option that says My Remote Control Is Working Properly.

Figure 3.3Figure 3.3 This screen checks the operation of your remote control. If it isn't working properly, select the option I'm Having Problems with My Remote Control, and the wizard will launch a troubleshooting routine.

It's interesting to note at this point that you are already doing something that up until now has been very foreign to the mainstream Windows operating system experience: You are driving the whole user interface solely by using the remote control. There should be no reason to use the keyboard or mouse at all during this initial setup procedure. Get used to it, because this is standard operating procedure for Windows XP Media Center Edition–based PCs.

Setting Up Your Internet Connection

Now it's time to get your Internet connection up and running. This will allow you to take advantage of Media Center's capability to connect and receive TV guide data, and CD and DVD metadata, which we'll discuss in later chapters. It's also critical to email, chat, instant messaging, and other forms of PC-based communication, as well as browsing the World Wide Web.

The Internet connection setup screen of the First Run Wizard (see Figure 3.4) gives you a choice between two types of Internet access: high-speed broadband (cable modem, DSL, and so on), or via a LAN connection. You can also choose None, I Will Connect Manually, which is the correct response if you will be using a dial-up connection via an analog modem. At that point, the wizard will display additional screens to step you through the connection process you have chosen.


If you need more information on the types of Internet connections that are available, see the section "A Few Words About Your Internet Connection," in Chapter 1.

Figure 3.4Figure 3.4 This screen is the first step in setting up your Internet connection, which Media Center needs to access its free program-guide data.

Setting Up Your TV Signal

Next, you'll tell Media Center how TV programming comes into your home. You'll be prompted for information about the source of your TV signal (antenna, cable, digital cable, or satellite), as well as details about the operation of your set-top box. Choose the appropriate TV services you receive, and then select Next.


There is also an option to select No TV Service at This Time. Choosing this will allow you to go back and configure your TV signal connection later.

Depending on your choice of TV programming source, you'll be asked which brand of service you subscribe to, and other questions that will help Media Center determine whether and how to configure your set-top box. (If you don't have a set-top box, the wizard will just move on to the next setup task.) You'll be prompted to confirm that your set-top box is turned on, that it is attached to your Media PC, and that your IR blaster is correctly positioned in front of the set-top box's IR sensor. Now you're ready to start the TV signal setup sequence, which includes the following steps:

  1. Choose your TV signal. Pick whether your Media PC should look for the TV on channel 2, 3, 4, or S-Video (see Figure 3.5).

  2. Choose the number of digits. You'll need to select how many digits there are in the highest channel numbers you receive on your system (that is, 2, 3, or 4 digits).

  3. Figure 3.5Figure 3.5 You should see a live TV signal display in a small window on the wizard screen, confirming that Media Center has located your video feed. If you don't see live video displaying as it does here, try verifying that your video feed is working by hooking it up to a regular television. After ensuring that you are getting a good signal feed, you can go back to configuring—and if necessary, troubleshooting—your Media Center setup.

  4. Specify how you change channels. The wizard needs to know whether you normally change channels by selecting the channel number only, or whether you typically have to press an Enter or OK button after selecting the channel number.

  5. Choose your set-top box brand. Pick from dozens of brands to tell Media Center which set-top box you have.

  6. Choose an RC code. If your set-top maker offers multiple models that use different code sets, Media Center will prompt you to try different ones until your set-top box responds.

  7. Try changing channels using the number keys. You'll be asked to test the RC code set you selected by using your number buttons to choose a channel, and confirming that it worked as expected.

  8. Try changing channels using the CH+ and CH- buttons. You'll be asked to try pressing your remote control's Channel Up and Channel Down keys to confirm that they are changing channels properly.

  9. Choose a remote control speed. Here you'll have an opportunity to fine-tune the channel-changing speed, in some cases, so you can select "slow," "medium," or "fast," depending on which mode of operation is the most reliable.


If you think you made the wrong selection at any point, you can either select the Back option onscreen or use your remote control's Back button, located just to the lower left of the green Start button.

Setting Up Your Program Guide

After you've finished setting up your TV signal, you'll be prompted to configure your program guide. This portion of the setup process is crucial to load your Media PC with correct data on the channels and programs available to watch and record.

Here's how to configure your program guide:

  1. You must agree to the Media Center's Terms of Service by using the down-arrow button on the remote and scrolling through all 44 pages. When you reach the last page, you'll be able to select I Agree and continue.

  2. Use the number buttons on your remote to enter your five-digit ZIP or postal code.

  3. Select Next and Media Center will automatically begin downloading your program-guide information.

  4. You'll be asked to select from various programming services that match the information you provided during the TV signal setup routine. When you select Next, Media Center will continue downloading program-guide information specific to your geographic area and TV programming service. A status bar will show your progress toward completing the program-guide update (see Figure 3.6).

  5. Select Finish to complete the process and be taken to the Media Center startup screen.


If at any point you want to go back and reconfigure your program guide, you can restart that portion of the setup wizard by choosing Settings from the Media Center main menu. Then select TV/DVD and choose Guide Setup. The wizard starts when you pick Change Lineup.


If you realize you made a mistake—such as entering an incorrect ZIP code—after you have already started downloading guide data, it's better to let Media Center finish downloading, and then go back and reconfigure the channel lineup. If you cancel the program-guide download while it is in progress, you may find yourself unable to reload the program-guide data without rebooting the system. An error indicating you cancelled the program-guide download will come up every time you try to reload the data until you reboot.

Figure 3.6Figure 3.6 Downloading detailed local program-guide data can take several minutes. This screen displays a progress bar to let you know your status.

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