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Thread: Revisiting Windows Media Center as a front end...

  1. #1
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    Revisiting Windows Media Center as a front end...

    During the current rebuild of my CarPC, I have been playing left and right with different front ends, their stability, look and feel, usability etc. While most of them offer a lot of "functionality", I'm finding that none of them "look and feel" as good as a stock system, for e.g. the stock Mercedes command system, the Audi MMI based system or the BMW iDrive. Why is that?

    Is that because the front end may be written by one company/person, while the additions/plugins are written by many others? Is it because we haven't focussed enough on the "usability" and user experience of these front ends?

    I'll take Windows Media Center as an example. First, this is NOT designed to be a car front end as such, it is designed for a "media experience" in your living room. However, THAT experience is absolutely beautiful. The media listings, searching, playback, album art, browsing etc etc are absolutely FLAWLESS. And the interface is "intuitive" and pleasing, which I find to be lacking in almost all car specific front ends.

    Thoughts?

    I almost feel like adding a few pieces of functionality to Media Center to make it more car friendly, the basic framework is there.

  2. #2
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    I can give you a thought.

    You're comparing a piece of free software written by volunteers in their free time on their own good will to a multi-million dollar corporate software project written by software engineers that get paid to sit at a desk for 8 hours a day and develop/design desired products.
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  3. #3
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    i have to agree with kapone.... WMC (windows 7) is a great, nothing comes close
    now to use it for carfront end... well the WORK involved would be way too much, and without the knowleged of WMCs internals... really close to impossible task
    the best thing for WMC is media browser, simply amazing...

    now i believe with say RideRunner you could develop a carpc user experience that has equal look and feel to say Audio's MMI or BMW idrive
    again its work, and graphic talents a must

    need a professional ManMachineInterface designer, who knows intutive

    FYI, i dont have a Carpc
    -Thanks
    Mitch
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    "Did you test it in carwings??"

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  4. #4
    Mod - iPad Forums RipplingHurst's Avatar
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    I have a button on CF 3.0 to open Windows Media Center 7. I tried their app loader plugin, but the developer has no interest in integrating WMC with CF, and he ignored me.

    It works, kind of. I let it load on top of CF, mute the audio, and, with a 3G Internet connection, I can check a lot of things - Netflix works, for instance. As well as any Media Center Plugin, sports scores, players, latest pictures, etc.

    I only use it parked, or when the wife is driving. I miss permanent arrows to navigate side to side and up and down. It has a lot of command line parameters so you can launch it playing tv, radio, or browsing videos, whatever. I plan to integrate hotkeys to my steering wheel (joy con) for basic play/pause/next/previous/up and down control. I also use the high contrast white option, so the screen background s all white, with black/dark text and pictures: it was made for the car that way, highly visible!

    Some paramenters:

    ehshell.exe /directmedia:tv

    Launches Windows Media Center in full screen mode and navigates to the recorded TV library. Great if you sync the weeks night shows from your HTPC. They can share recorded tv content with you car. I don't do this mainly because MSdvr files are too big. But it would work. I think there's a way to stream content from your WMC HTPC via internet, so you don't need to copy any files to your carputer.

    ehshell.exe /directmediaictures

    ehshell.exe /directmedia:music
    Launches Windows Media Center in full screen mode and navigates to the [COLOR=blue ! important][COLOR=blue ! important]music [COLOR=blue ! important]library[/COLOR][/COLOR][/COLOR], a new switch as part of Windows HotStart feature that can be used to launch Windows Media Center and cause it to navigate directly to one of the built-in experiences.

    ehshell.exe /addinfallbackpath:<path>
    This parameter starts Windows Media Center and causes it to use to locate and load add-in assemblies. This location is only used after Windows Media Center attempts to load add-in assemblies from the global assembly [COLOR=blue ! important][COLOR=blue ! important]cache[/COLOR][/COLOR] (GAC) and %windir%\ehome. This switch can be combined with the /entrypoint switch described above to allow prototyping of Windows Media Center [COLOR=blue ! important][COLOR=blue ! important]applications[/COLOR][/COLOR] without needing to install an updated assembly to the GAC each time you rebuild your project in Visual Studio.


    ^^^^ WTF? No idea what that means...LOL




    More here:

    http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/bb189052.aspx

  5. #5
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    i think he ment to use WMC completly, not just as a media player
    no other Front End SW would be used
    and you could!
    just so much work
    -Thanks
    Mitch
    www.rush2112.net

    "Did you test it in carwings??"

    Sun, Come shine my way
    May healing waters bury all my pain
    Wind, Carry me home
    The fabric of reality is tearing apart
    The piece of me that died
    Will return To live again

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by mitchjs View Post
    i think he ment to use WMC completly, not just as a media player
    no other Front End SW would be used
    and you could!
    just so much work
    Yup. And here's my reasoning.

    Take RR or CF for example. They provide a basic framework for skinning, overlays, (some) media management etc. And then, over time, things like GPS, phone support etc has been added.

    Now, take WMC as an example. It ALREADY has all of the overlay framework written and it is vastly superior to almost anything out there. Now, when it comes to "skinning", yes, WMC is not skinnable per se, unless you wanna muck around with the embedded bitmaps in the ehres resource files. That IS a drawback, but not in my opinion, a show stopper. Between the standard MC color scheme and the high contrast (black and white) schemes, it has pretty good skins to begin with.

    It even has radio support built in! Although it only supports "tuner cards" for radio, and none of the external radio units like the Visteon or Directed radios.

    Now, what it lacks is, GPS, phone as basic building blocks.

    Adding GPS can't be THAT difficult. Hell, the amount of time the developers here have spent in embedding iG, Mappoint etc into various front ends, we could have done that easily with MC as well. And you know what? I'm not one for idle talk. I'll take on that task. I'll embed Mappoint into MC. Why Mappoint? Because I have it. (I have an enterprise MSDN subscription)

    As far as phone goes, yes, a native .NET bluetooth stack will be "ideal". I think some folks here have already written that. I'd love to get together with them and see if it can be integrated.

    And Mitch...how about writing a "virtual" radio tuner device driver, based on your work with HD radios? That may make it work with ANY application (including MC) that has support for the Windows radio framework.

  7. #7
    Mod - iPad Forums RipplingHurst's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kapone View Post
    Yup. And here's my reasoning.

    Take RR or CF for example. They provide a basic framework for skinning, overlays, (some) media management etc. And then, over time, things like GPS, phone support etc has been added.

    Now, take WMC as an example. It ALREADY has all of the overlay framework written and it is vastly superior to almost anything out there. Now, when it comes to "skinning", yes, WMC is not skinnable per se, unless you wanna muck around with the embedded bitmaps in the ehres resource files. That IS a drawback, but not in my opinion, a show stopper. Between the standard MC color scheme and the high contrast (black and white) schemes, it has pretty good skins to begin with.

    It even has radio support built in! Although it only supports "tuner cards" for radio, and none of the external radio units like the Visteon or Directed radios.

    Now, what it lacks is, GPS, phone as basic building blocks.

    Adding GPS can't be THAT difficult. Hell, the amount of time the developers here have spent in embedding iG, Mappoint etc into various front ends, we could have done that easily with MC as well. And you know what? I'm not one for idle talk. I'll take on that task. I'll embed Mappoint into MC. Why Mappoint? Because I have it. (I have an enterprise MSDN subscription)

    As far as phone goes, yes, a native .NET bluetooth stack will be "ideal". I think some folks here have already written that. I'd love to get together with them and see if it can be integrated.

    And Mitch...how about writing a "virtual" radio tuner device driver, based on your work with HD radios? That may make it work with ANY application (including MC) that has support for the Windows radio framework.

    Yes, that would be great.

    I don't need phone and navigation features. Still I don't think WMC is ready for the car. Navigation is still difficult with a touchscreen.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by RipplingHurst View Post
    Yes, that would be great.

    I don't need phone and navigation features. Still I don't think WMC is ready for the car. Navigation is still difficult with a touchscreen.
    This part is intriguing. Why do you think so? Is it controllability, skinning, transport mechanisms, viewability, ???

  9. #9
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    virtual drivers ?!!? to make a driver that is BDA compatable is WAAAY over my head
    -Thanks
    Mitch
    www.rush2112.net

    "Did you test it in carwings??"

    Sun, Come shine my way
    May healing waters bury all my pain
    Wind, Carry me home
    The fabric of reality is tearing apart
    The piece of me that died
    Will return To live again

  10. #10
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    in any case you could write a WMC add on that controlled the HD Radio
    that prob isnt that hard
    -Thanks
    Mitch
    www.rush2112.net

    "Did you test it in carwings??"

    Sun, Come shine my way
    May healing waters bury all my pain
    Wind, Carry me home
    The fabric of reality is tearing apart
    The piece of me that died
    Will return To live again

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