Just ahead of the delivery of Windows 7 Service Pack 1 (SP1) Release Candidate (RC), Microsoft has offered a refresh designed to kick up notch the Windows Media Center components of Windows 7.

As users know, Windows 7 Home Premium, Professional, Enterprise and Ultimate all contain Windows Media Center, and as such the update applies to all SKUs mentioned above.

Customers running the select editions of Windows 7 with extended media capabilities are now able to either manually download and install the Media Center refresh, or to have it delivered and deployed automatically through Windows Update.

The October 2010 Cumulative Update for Windows Media Center in Windows 7 includes the June 2010 Cumulative Update for Windows Media Center in Windows 7, as well as all other previously released updates for Media Center in Windows Vista’s successor. More »

Microsoft is ready to offer free upgrades from Windows Vista to the latest iteration of the Windows client for participants in a Windows Media Center testing program. But the prizes go beyond the free Windows 7 upgrades, and include laptops, Xbox Elite consoles and even a PC Home entertainment System. In order to be eligible for the prizes, users must first get accepted into the Windows Media Center TV Ambassador program. The catch, well, there’s always one, Microsoft is accepting participation requests only from UK residents.

“Become one of our TV Ambassadors! If you’ve already got Windows Vista Home Premium or Windows Vista Ultimate, you could receive a free TV tuner valued at £60 so you can enjoy watching and recording live Freeview TV channels on your PC,” revealed Microsoft’s Rob Margel. “Just turn it on, watch and record your favourite TV shows from over 50 Freeview channels including BBC Three, ITV2, Film4, E4 and Dave, and tell us what you think. Spread the word and you could win free stuff: software, games, an XBox 360, and an ultimate home entertainment system. You could even be in our next ad.”
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Windows 7 General Availability will in just a few days be only two months away and Microsoft is laboring to catalyze the adaptation of the ecosystem of hardware and software solutions orbiting Windows to the latest iteration of the platform. In this regard, the Redmond-based company has supplied developers with the RTM bits of Windows 7 via MSDN, but has also offered the developer resources necessary to tailor apps to the operating system.

But the Microsoft Windows SDK for Windows 7 and .NET Framework 3.5 SP1 is not the only software development kit for Windows 7. At the end of the past week, the Windows Media Center Software Development Kit for Windows 7 went live on the Microsoft Download Center.

“This release includes documentation, tools, sample code. The Windows Media Center SDK is designed to help developers create applications and software components that take advantage of features provided by Windows Media Center, and documents programming technologies that you can use to extend the capabilities of Windows Media Center,” Microsoft stated. More »

With Vista Codec Package installed, you won’t need to install any other codec or filter. Many user suggested default settings are implemented. It does not contain a media player. It does not associates filetypes. With this package installed you will be able to use any media player (limited only by the players capabilities) to play DVD’s, movies and video clips of any format. Streaming video (real and quicktime) is supported in web browsers. Visit the homepage to get a 64bitAddon which enables xvid, divx and DVD playback in Vista’s MediaCenter.

Codecs have always been a pain in the butt. This package takes from the best, all the big name creators, several small guys too, and compiles all this into a single pack. All possible conflicts are already dealt with, many user suggested default settings are implemented. More »