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 »

The componentized and embedded flavor of Windows 7 has been released to manufacturing, just a little over six months since the fully fledged Windows client’s GA, and nine months after it hit RTM. As announced previously, Windows Embedded Standard 7 was launched at the Embedded Systems Conference (ESC) Silicon Valley, on April 27th, 2010. With the latest iteration of the Windows Embedded platform, Microsoft is introducing Windows 7-specific technologies to device manufacturers.

Unlike the Windows 7 client, the successor of Windows Embedded 2009 is available only to original equipment manufacturers, and not to the public. OEMs are free to take advantage of the customizable and componentized form in order to build a variety of embedded devices including thin clients, digital signage and industrial controls, but also even set-top boxes (STBs), connected media devices (CMDs), and TVs. Windows Embedded Standard 7 brings to the table Windows Media Center, Windows Touch and power management APIs. More »

Microsoft has made available for download a number of updates targeting the Windows Media Center component of some editions of Windows 7, including Home Premium, Professional, Enterprise and Ultimate. The new refreshes offered to customers are designed to resolve reliability issues reported by them, such as Windows Media Center displaying Low Bit Rate overlay messages, but also problems related to TV tuner functionality. A total of four updates are currently up for grabs via the Microsoft Download Center, for both the 32-bit and 64-bit flavors of Windows 7.

The Low Bit Rate issue can impact Windows 7 machines used by customers to watch live analog TV in Windows Media Center via an analog TV tuner. Microsoft informed that some users had experienced intermittent Low Bit Rate overlay messages in Windows Media Center, and offered an update to deal with the glitch.

“Windows Media Center monitors the incoming bit rate of live TV. Without this monitoring, the bit rate drops very low when the analog TV input is weak or does not have a signal. More »

With Service Pack 1 still in the distance, customers need to turn to Windows Update for refreshes designed to improve their experience with the latest Windows client and server platforms. Although Microsoft is not emphasizing the relevancy of WU over that of major service pack upgrades for Windows 7 to the same level it did for Windows Vista, the company is indeed relying on its update mechanism for the evolution of the operating system ahead of the delivery of the first service pack. Since the RTM of Windows 7, the software giant has made two stability and reliability updates available, via WU and as standalone packages on the Microsoft Download Center. Refreshed versions of both were offered to customers on March 8.

Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 users are free to download revised versions of “The January 2010 stability and reliability update for Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 is available” and the “The October 2009 stability and reliability update for Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 is available.” This is the third time that the company tweaked the two updates and offered them to users running the successors of Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008 R2.
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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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