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Turning your old computer into a home theatre media centre PC using XBMC Part One

If you have recently purchased a new computer or if you've still got an old one laying around. Don't send it to landfill, install Xbox Media Center on it and give it a new lease of life as a home theatre PC.

Let’s face it, we’re a media hungry nation and whether it’s music, movies or TV shows whatever media you find yourself enjoying, there’s no better way (in my opinion) to enjoy it than using XBMC (Xbox Media Center).

With XBMC we have two options, we can run XBMC over the top of Windows as a separate program or we can install a ‘stand-alone’ version that runs as a customised version of Ubuntu or as the guys from XBMC say:

“XBMCbuntu (formerly XBMC Live) is the XBMC Media Center software bundled with an embedded operating-system, all pre-packaged for that set-top-box feeling. XBMCbuntu also lets you easily boot to the XBMC "Live" CD/USB in order to demo XBMC Media Center for your friends and family on practically any relatively modern computer, (as long as it was manufactured in the last 5-years or so it should meet the XBMC's minimum requirements).”

In this guide we’re going to cover installing XBMC on Windows, in part two we’re going to cover installing XBMCbuntu as a standalone all in one operating system.

Installing XBMC for Windows

The process for installing XBMC for Windows firstly requires that you download their Windows installer, which you can find and download the latest version for Windows here. At the time of writing it was this version:

Once you have downloaded the installer simply double click the XBMC icon as shown above.

As previously stated the installer is quite simple and should be relatively easy to follow.  The first screen we’re presented with simply informs us that it’s advisable to close any other running applications before continuing and we simply need to click Next to continue.

Next we’re shown the end user license agreement for the software that we’re installing, as XBMC is open source it’s a fairly standard GNU General Public License but I’d suggest reading it anyway prior to clicking I Agree to continue with the installation. 

Now is the part where the installation may need some input from us, we have multiple options on which core components for XMBC we want to install, I generally go for the full installation of XBMC to reduce any frustration if a feature you try to use at a later date wasn’t installed at this point. As default, it is set to install everything but you can change this as you require, such as removing additional languages etc. if they’re not needed.

We are now asked where we want to install XBMC. As default it’s set to install in Program Files\XBMC, I can’t see any reason why anybody would want to change this unless you have a different hard-drive for installing software to so for now we’ll leave this one set to default.

Another option that we can generally leave as default is the Start Menu folder in which we want our shortcut to XBMC to reside. Start > All Programs > XBMC is the default location and I think that works quite well – so again we will leave that as default for now.

The final part of the setup simply gives us the option to launch XBMC at the end of the installation, which, of course, we are going to want to do. So tick the Run XBMC box and click Finish.

That is it, we have successfully installed XBMC for Windows and you are now free to add as much content as you like and enjoy the home theatre experience powered by XBMC.