Technology news website ZDNet reports that Windows Media Center is dead with no hopes of being revived. To rub salt in the wound, the site also posted tweets from Microsoft’s Gabe Aul confirming the news on Twitter that the beloved software had in fact been discontinued due to decreased use. Despite tech geeks mourning its loss, it’s an excuse to trick out your old computer and turn it into a PC-powered home theater. The process can be as simple or as complex as you want, but the end result is a streamlined server for your movies, shows and music.
Before you get started, sort out your basic hardware first. Ideally, you want to get up and running with a PC running Windows and an Intel Core 2 Duo processor at 2.4GHz or better and 2GB of RAM. You can always just try to use Chromecast and send all your media directly to your television with the use of a Chrome browser, the Chrome dongle for your TV and nothing else but an Internet connection.
But if you’re going to hook up directly to a television, look to see what the cable outputs of your PC’s video output looks like. Check for DVI to HDMI and MDP to HDMI connections and opt for a high-speed HDMI cable for better color and audio. You could stop there and then stream all your media from your PC to your various devices from TV to tablet. Or you could make your home theater experience to a new level and invest in a 4K TV. If you can’t get enough pixels and sharp picture, then 4K is the way to go. Imagine the chills running down your spine when all your media from your PC is blasting to 4,000 pixels wide and 1080 high.
Leverage what you already have
You don’t necessarily need to buy new hardware or expensive software to transform your PC into a home theater. Drag out an old PC laptop from the closet and wipe off any old files and media you don’t need.
Plex your media muscles
Next, install Plex and download its Media Server software to set yourself up to store and distribute the media. Plex also lets you connect all your devices to your new server so you can watch your shows, listen to your music or get a slideshow up and running almost anywhere. Import all of your media via hard drive or sync up to your cloud storage to get up and running.
Sync it up
Other software like Emby work similarity and can tie together your videos, photos, music and live television. The server will automatically convert and stream your media in real time so you don’t miss anything, whether you’re using your smartphone or tablet. You can sync all your media from Emby to your devices like a smartphone to enjoy offline access, then re-sync whenever you add new shows and movies.
How to Make a Minecraft Server 1.8.8 [Animated Tutorial]
Minecraft is good to its legion of fans and even lets you host on your own servers. Launch the game on your PC and start a LAN world and follow Gamepedia’s Java edits to get Minecraft jiving with your new set-up. Now your PC is essentially just a compact server to connect gamers looking for an escape to the Nether.