Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Whole-house Entertainment with Windows 7 Media Streaming

Published by Sunbelt Software FORUMS | RSS | MY PROFILE | PRIVACY  

Vol. 1, # 15 - Dec 10, 2009 - Issue # 15 
 Whole-house Entertainment with Windows 7 Media Streaming

This issue of Win7News is sponsored by
  1. Editor's Corner
    • Whole-house Entertainment with Windows 7 Media Streaming
    • Follow-up: Whose idea?
    • Quotes of the Week
  2. Cool Tools
  3. News, Hints, Tips and Tricks
    • Windows 7 Satisfaction Survey: Mostly Positive
    • Will new technology render cyber attacks "computationally impossible"?
    • Windows 7 Family Pack discount ends; will it be back?
    • Does Windows 7 Starter Edition include ad hoc networking after all?
  4. How to: Using the New Windows 7 Features
    • How to find out the security key for your wi-fi network
  5. Windows 7 and Vista Security
    • Full disk encryption for Windows 7 Home Premium and Pro
  6. Question Corner
    • ISO Burner is lost!
  7. Windows 7 Configuration and Troubleshooting
    • Setting speech options in Windows 7
    • Background colors and images don't print from IE 8
  8. Fav Links
    • This Week's Links We Like. Tips, Hints And Fun Stuff
  9. Product of the Week
    • 20 Free PC Performance Reports

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Editor's Corner

Whole-house Entertainment with Windows 7 Media Streaming

Media streaming has been around for a long time; the term refers to the live or on-demand delivery of multimedia content over a network (as opposed to, for instance, downloading the entire media file from a server to the hard drive or flash memory on a device and then playing it from the device). Streaming was difficult to do in the early days of computing because slow processors and slow networks resulted in uneven or "jerky" playing of the content, but with the advent of high speed networks (both LANs and Internet connections) and fast processors, even large volume high definition content can be played smoothly over the network.

Microsoft has built several new media streaming features into Windows 7, with the goal of providing a "whole-house entertainment experience" that's easy to implement, both for streaming music and videos between computers and devices across your local network or streaming across the Internet. First off, Windows 7 supports the DLNA (Digital Living Network Alliance) standard. This is a standard for sharing digital content that is supported by many different consumer electronics vendors in their devices, which means Windows 7 can share content not just with other computers, but with DLNA compliant sound systems, televisions, electronic picture frames and other types of devices. Such manufacturers as Motorola, Philips, Panasonic, Pioneer, Samsung, Nokia, Sharp and Sony (and more) have DLNA devices on the market or in the works. You can find out more about DLNA on the Alliance web site at

DLNA specifies four different "roles" that a device can play: Digital Media Servers (DMS), Digital Media Players (DMP), Digital Media Controllers (DMC) and Digital Media Renderers (DMR). Windows Media Player 12 in Windows 7 supports all four roles. You can install DLNA software on a Windows or Linux PC to make it function as a DLNA device. Some examples of such software include Cyberlink Media Server 2 (a DMS) and Cyberlink SoftDMA 2 (a DMP). HP's Media Vault home servers, Microsoft's Xbox 360 (with Media Center Extender), some Nokia cell phones, Sony's PlayStation 3 and some Pioneer amplifiers and TVs are just a few examples of DLNA devices. You can see a video demonstration here, showing how DLNA works in Windows 7:

Windows 7 implements streaming on your local network through the "Play To" feature. The "Play To" option appears in the context menu when you right click a media file and lets you send it to devices on your home network that are capable of functioning in the DMR (renderer) role. Once you've enabled that role, the device will show up in the "Play To" list in the right context menu for media files on other computers and devices on your network.

For example, in WMP 12, you first need to turn on media streaming because it is disabled by default. You do this via the Stream menu (in Library view). You'll be notified that if you turn on media streaming, your network profile and firewall settings will be modified, and that you should only turn on media streaming on networks you trust, such as your home or work network (not when you're connected to a public network such as a wi-fi hotspot). You'll be asked to choose media streaming options and name your media library (by default, the name is your user account name). To allow your computer's media to be detected and added to the "Play To" menu on other Windows 7 PCs, select "Allow remote control of my Player" in the "Stream" menu.

You can choose what files are streamed based on star ratings and parental ratings and you can select which other PCs or devices are allowed to access your media. The "Play To" feature can turn Windows 7 into a universal remote control for your media files. You select the media and then choose where you want it to be played, and there is a remote control window displayed for each "Play To" session. You can have multiple "Play To" sessions going on simultaneously, to different devices. The remote control window includes standard options such as Play, Pause, Skip, Seek and volume.

Note that this feature was changed between the Windows 7 beta and the final release, so if you used it in the beta, you might be wondering where it went. The beta had a "Share" menu in WMP 12, by which you checked an option to "receive media on your network." This was replaced by the "Stream" menu. Also note that "Play To" only exists in WMP and Windows Explorer, not in Windows Media Center (unfortunately). The option won't appear in the context menu (even if you've enabled media streaming for this PC) if Windows 7 doesn't detect another DLNA capable device on the network. For more instructions on how to set up and use "Play To," see this article:

Of course, we have long been able to share files among our computers. The most exciting thing - to me - about "Play To" is the ability to send the file to your DLNA enabled home audio system, TV or phone. This allows you to truly put your music or videos wherever you want them, anywhere in your house. Read Barb Bowman's "love story" about using Windows 7 Play To with a Samsung DLNA enabled TV:

The "Play To" feature is for sharing media files within your local network. Windows 7 also makes it easy for you to stream media over the Internet, e.g. from your home PC to your laptop when you're on the road. In addition to turning on media streaming in WMP, you'll need to select (in the "Stream" menu) to "Allow Internet access to home media" and link an online ID (such as your email address) to your Windows 7 user account. There is a wizard that walks you through that process. You have to do this on the home computer and on the remote computer. The home PC has to be set to a "home" network location for this to work. The network location setting is in the Network and Sharing Center. Once you have it set up, you can access your media libraries from any Internet- connected PC. No longer do you have to copy the files to a portable device to be able to enjoy them when you're away from home. You can find out more about remote media streaming here:

So what's the downside to all this goodness? Well, the first concern is security. When you open up access to your computer over the Internet, there is always some risk that some hacker will find a way to exploit it. That's why Microsoft requires that you use on online ID provider to access your media remotely.

Another concern some folks have is the Digital Rights Management (DRM) content protection supported by DLNA. There are several different DRM technologies and it's up to the DLNA device vendor to decide which DRM implementation to use. The DLNA standard specifies the use of a protocol called DLNA Link Protection to protect content during transmission from one device to another, but because there is no single DRM supported and because different DRM methods don't necessarily work together, you may be able to view streaming content but cannot save it to another device. For a discussion of the problems caused by this lack of standardization, see this article:

Despite the problems, with Windows 7 Microsoft has come a long way toward making whole-house entertainment and "anywhere media" a reality, and we expect it to get better in the future. Tell us what you think. Have you used the "Play To" feature in WMP 12 to send your music, pictures or videos to another computer? Do you have other DLNA compliant devices, like TVs and sound systems? Have you been able to get Windows 7 media streaming working with them? If you've encountered problems, tell us about them. Do you use remote media streaming to access your media over the Internet when you're on the road? What features would you like to see added to make media streaming even better? We invite you to join in the discussion on our forum at

Follow-up: Whose idea?

In last week's editorial, I discussed both the current Windows 7 ad campaign ("Windows 7 was my idea") and some of my own ideas that I'd like to see implemented in a future version of Windows.

Reader responses proved, once again, that one person's beloved feature is another person's annoyance. A couple of forum participants said they hate Aero Snap. I love it and use it all the time. One reader asked to "bring back the Show Desktop icon." You get that same function by clicking the clear bar at the far right of the taskbar by the clock (or the bottom, if you use a vertical taskbar as I do). Or you can just hover over that bar to temporarily show the desktop. Alternatively, you can use this method to get your Show Desktop icon back:

Another reader wants the PRTSCN button to actually print to the printer. I don't! I use PRTSCN for screen capture all the time - and many newer keyboards have a Printer button for sending to the printer. Stevetew wants "a Windows XP emulation mode." Well, Windows 7 Pro, Enterprise and Ultimate do support XP Mode (a free download) that does have all the functionality and terrain of XP. Download it here:

Some of you have great ideas of your own. Maybe we'll see some of them in Windows 8. Kenneth Fleischer suggested a desktop icon called "Jobs" that would provide a menu of "jobs" (or projects, as I'd call them), that will open all applications for that project opened to the same windows as when that job was last closed. You can "sort of" accomplish this by using virtual desktops (which requires you to install the Desktops v1.0 application offered on the Microsoft TechNet site). With this app, you can open the applications for a particular project on one desktop and switch between desktops for different projects (you can have up to four different desktops). It's not exactly what Ken is asking for, but it's not a bad solution. You can download Desktops v1.0 at

Another way that I keep my project data together is by using Microsoft OneNote. I can create a whole notebook, a section or a page for each project (depending on the size and complexity of the projects) and put notes there, as well as links or copies of Word docs, web pages, spreadsheets, graphics, presentations, etc. that are related to that project. And I don't have to worry about saving; it's all automatically saved for me and it's all there when I open OneNote again. These are just a couple of ways that I make Windows more "job oriented." I also like that IE 8 makes it easy to resume a previous browsing session, thus making it easy for me to go back to the same research I was doing before.

In response to Notageek's statement: "Notice how the writer of Wins 7 news loves it. But she swears she is not a flunky for Microsoft. Maybe not on the pay roll but she get her share of goodies in the form of invites to other things that she would not get otherwise," : Why in the world would someone who doesn't like the OS want to be the editor of a publication called Win7News? I'll bet you the editor of Mac World Magazine loves OS X. And it's highly likely that the folks who run love Linux. Sure, I get invited to some conferences and events due to my work - and not just by Microsoft. That's what happens when you build a reputation within an industry by publishing hundreds of articles, whitepapers, blog posts and dozens of books. But if loving Windows 7 makes me a "flunky," I guess a whole bunch of my readers are flunkies, too. And I love you all. :)

As always, thanks to everyone who joined in the discussion.

'Til next week,
Deb Shinder, Editor

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PS: Did you know this newsletter has a sister publication for XP users called WXPnews? You can subscribe here, and tell your friends:

And for IT pros, there's our "big sister," WServer News, at

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Quotes of the Week

Don't let yesterday use up too much of today. - Will Rogers (1879 - 1935)

By working faithfully eight hours a day, you may eventually get to be the boss and work twelve hours a day. - Robert Frost (1874 - 1963)

There is far more opportunity than there is ability. - Thomas Edison (1847 - 1931)

Kiss Your Antivirus Bloatware Goodbye

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News, Hints, Tips and Tricks

Windows 7 Satisfaction Survey: Mostly Positive

A recent poll of the Technologizer community attempted to gauge real world response to Windows 7 within that community, and found that by and large, poll participants had the same positive experience with the OS as reported by most of the tech press. Interestingly to me, the vast majority of respondents (82%) did a clean install of the OS. In my own experience, in-place upgrades of Vista to Win7 tend to go much more smoothly than upgrades in the past - but even so, most of the people I'm hearing from who did have problems with Win7 had upgraded from Vista. Only 3% of those surveyed reported major problems with the installation, but over 40% did experience driver issues and many also encountered software incompatibilities. See the full report here:

Will new technology render cyber attacks "computationally impossible"?

It certainly sounds like happy news: academic researchers report that a new cryptographic technique could make it impossible to attack web sites. Does that mean computer security issues will soon be a thing of the past? Forgive me if I remain a little skeptical. First, there is a lot more to computer and network security than the web - but it would be great if there really were a foolproof way to secure web transactions, especially those of a financial nature. There aren't a lot of details given, but you can read about it here:

Windows 7 Family Pack discount ends; will it be back?

It was a great deal: three upgrade licenses for Windows 7 Home Premium for $149.99. But it was advertised as a "limited time offer" and now it appears to have come to an end on December 1. Mary Jo Foley speculates that it may not be gone forever, though - especially if enough customers complain. See her thoughts here:

A Microsoft spokesperson said the offer simply sold out "in some cases" (locations). There are still some Family Packs available on store shelves, but it has been discontinued on Microsoft's web site. Read more here:

Does Windows 7 Starter Edition include ad hoc networking after all?

The Windows 7 Starter Edition is a low cost, limited functionality version of the OS that's made for netbooks. It doesn't include some of the features that are standard in other editions of Win7, such as Aero, Windows Media Center, remote media streaming, the ability to change wallpaper, fast user switching, and multiple monitor support. In the betas, it didn't support multi-tasking more than three programs (with some exceptions) but Microsoft changed that in the final release. Another feature that appeared to be gone was ad hoc wireless networking, for creating a wi-fi networking with a WAP or wireless router - but a noted Windows "sleuth" has discovered that it's still there; it's just hidden (at least for now). Read more here:

How to: Using the New Windows 7 Features

How to find out the security key for your wi-fi network

You configured a wireless network and now you want to join another computer to it, but you don't remember the security key. Now what? Well, if you have a Windows 7 computer that's already joined to the wi-fi network, you can go to that computer and do the following to recover the key:
  1. Click the network icon in the notification area of the task bar.
  2. Right click the name of the wi-fi network and click Properties.
  3. Click the Security tab.
  4. Check the box that says "Show characters." The key will be displayed in place of the asterisks that normally appear in the Network Security Key field. This trick is something to be aware of from a security point of view, because if someone else is able to log onto your laptop, that person can not only access your wi-fi network with it (if within range) but can also use the key to connect other computers to it.

Windows 7 and Vista Security

Full disk encryption for Windows 7 Home Premium and Pro

Although most Windows 7 users seem to be happy with the new OS, one thing that some don't like is that you have to spring for the most expensive edition - Ultimate - to get BitLocker drive encryption and BitLocker To Go for encrypting removable USB drives. Quite a few readers have told me that Windows 7 Home Premium or Professional edition fits their needs just fine, except for that one omission. As one person told me, "home users want to be secure, too." Well, you can have full disk encryption now on Windows 7 Home and Pro - and without paying extra. The solution is a free third party product such as TrueCrypt, which gives you encryption of the Windows partition or any other partition or drive, as well as encryption of USB drives. It even goes further, and allows you to create a hidden volume within a volume, so that if you're forced to reveal your password to the "outer" volume, the bad guy won't know the "inner" volume is there. It's "donationware," and you can find out more about it and download it at

Question Corner

ISO Burner is lost!

Somehow I have lost the .img and .iso association with the built in Disk Burner in W7. I used to be able to right click on an iso image and burn disc image. Now that option is no longer on the menu. And if I double click on the iso file it says no association. If I go into Control Panel and try and set the association iso isn't listed. I have tried to set all defaults back to normal but that didn't help. If I knew where the exe for the built in burner was that would help. Have you seen this before or do you know where the exe file is for the built in image burner? - Jim T.

The executable for the ISO burner program is in the same place as most of the small applications that are built into Windows: the Windows\System32 folder. Its name is (appropriately enough) isoburn.exe. However, in Windows 7 you don't even have to know the executable name and location to re-associate the file. Just select Default Programs in Control and then choose "Associate a file type or protocol with a program." Scroll down in the list of file extensions to .iso and then click the Change Program button and choose Windows Disc Image Burner from the list of recommended programs.

FYI, you can also run the ISO burner from the command line. At the command prompt, type:

isoburn.exe ":\"

Add /q if you want to start burning immediately from the command line

isoburn.exe /q ":\"

Meanwhile, here's a good tutorial on burning ISO or IMG images in Windows 7:

Windows 7 Configuration and Troubleshooting

Setting speech options in Windows 7

You can set options for the speech recognition and text to speech features in Windows 7 through the Ease of Access applet in Control Panel. Speech recognition is available in English, French, Spanish, German, Japanese, and both Simplified and Traditional Chinese, and you can set up multiple user profiles, too. Find out more about the advanced speech options at

Background colors and images don't print from IE 8

Even though you have selected the option to "Print background colors and images" from the Advanced tab in IE8 (Tools | Internet Options), you might find that the background colors and images don't print when you send the document to your printer. What's up with that? There's a workaround you can try, in KB article 974128 at

Fav Links

This Week's Links We Like. Tips, Hints And Fun Stuff

Disclaimer: VistaNews does not assume and cannot be responsible for any liability related to you clicking any of these linked Web sites.

Product of the Week

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Personal & Educational Use Only This blog consists mainly of FREE newsletters from computer web gurus that I receive. I thought you might like to see them all in one place than try to discover them on your own. A moderate amount of editing may be done to eliminate unrelated repetitious ads or unnecessary text which bloat the post. However I have given the authors full credit and will not remove their site links because you deserve to see where it comes from and they deserve to get credit for what they have written. Your use of this site is simply for educational purposes. For more computer-related help go to: CPEDLEY.COM for free software, advice and tips on low cost products which are very helpful. If you want to contact the editor, please go CPEDLEY.COM and check the Contact page for email address.