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I’ve been using Windows Media Center since 2006. I built my first Windows Media Center on an Asus M2NPV-VM motherboard with an Athlon CPU. That lasted until 2014 when I upgraded to a tiny Gigabyte BRIX Pro i5 4570R computer. However, with more HD free to air channels the little BRIX was getting a bit sluggish. With the advent of Skylake, Intel’s 6th generation CPU and motherboards a little update was in order.
The main problem in 2016 is that Windows Media Center is not part of Windows 10 nor 8.1 and 8. And Windows 7 isn’t really an operating system that Microsoft wants to support on the latest Intel CPU and motherboards. This is a post about installing Windows 7 Home Premium on a 2016 motherboard and getting WMC to work.
The steps are:
1. My PC build is using a Gigabyte GA-H170N-WIFI motherboard. I’m pairing an i7 and 16GB of RAM in a Streacom FC5 case. Pretty simple hardware. The case is fanless and so is the Zeroflex power supply. Nothing tricky here, just make sure your RAM is compatible with the motherboard.
2. Making a Windows 7 USB installer is a bit trickier. You need to download the ISO file from Microsoft or make one from an installation DVD. Once you’ve got the ISO file you will need to download the Windows USB/DVD Download Tool. This application requires .NET 2.0 and if you’re running it on a Windows 10 PC, you’ll need to enable the older .NET with this tip. Just run the app and follow the instructions.
3. The next problem to solve is to enhance the USB installer so that it will recognise USB 3 ports on the motherboard. Windows 7 only supported USB 2 ports and the new motherboards have a newer version that the installer won’t recognise. Luckily, the major motherboard manufacturers have posted drivers and procedures to update the installer to work. For Gigabyte motherboards, there is the Windows USB Installation Tool for Windows 7. Just download the utility and follow the instructions on how to update your USB installer.
4. Now armed with your USB installer, just boot up your PC and install Windows 7. Nothing tricky at this step. After Windows 7 is installed, you won’t have much functionality as none of the drivers are there. Download the LAN or WLAN driver for your motherboard so you can download updates.
5. Now that you’ve got Internet access, you’ve got to update Windows 7 with all the patches and drivers since the DVD was made. In April 2016, there are 213 updates at over 1GB. So this will take a bit of time. You may also need to download an update if Windows Update is stalling on checking for updates as described here. If it is, there’s a fix here. Start the update and come back in an hour.
6. Now your PC is up to date and ready for your peripherals. I have a dual USB tuner stick and an infra red receiver for the remote control. Download the drivers for your WMC and install them.
7. The final step is to setup WMC with your sound and TV preferences. Nothing tricky here. This was painless and is the same process as it was in 2006.
You should now have a functioning and very speedy Windows Media Center, running on 2016 hardware. Sit back and enjoy.