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January 16, 2014, 06:32 PM
Join Date: Jan 2009
The ubuntu/XBMC combo is the nicest (and cheapest) solution you can get for a media center. But the drawbacks are (as you said):
-You might not be able to play some of your games.
-Bluerays may be a big problem.
I love XBMC but for one thing: their TV PVR solutions are still a bit weak and seem "forced" onto the main system. For TV recording and viewing I use Windows Media Center, XBMC is for everything else but live TV.
So if you have to decide on Window 7 vs. Windows 8, I'd get windows 7. I've used all their editions, even the Win 7 Enterprise one which I have on my work laptop.
I have four htpcs running Windows and a combination of windows media center (WMC) and XBMC. Here's my experience:
In Windows 7, it didn't really matter if you chose Windows 7 home Premium, Professional, or Ultimate, they all came with windows media center, and setting them up for a full media center experience was dead easy (one of my htpcs is a combination WMC and XBMC). If you care about Windows Media Center at all, you should avoid the Windows 7 Starter (it is not easy to buy) and Windows Home Basic (does not come with Media Center and does not have a built in DVD decoder).
Windows 8 alone is like Windows 7 home basic. You need to get your own DVD player (with mpeg2 and dolby sound decoder), and it does not come with windows media center anymore. To get that, you need to upgrade to Windows 8 Pro and add the Media Center Add-on.
I don't know if Windows 8 would be OK with XBMC (I think so, because XBMC has its own players and codecs). I have Windows 8 Pro (bought it for my work). But I hated it so much I stopped using it for work and changed it to an htpc running XBMC. As an htpc, it is working very well.
My two main htpcs: One is running Windows 7 home premium with both WMC and XBMC, and the other is running Windows 8 Pro with XBMC (with the capability to run WMC if I decide to later). I'd like to try the Ubuntu/XBMC thing one day, but now I need bluray playback and other windows software so I'm stuck with windows. Windows 8 is not for me (even on the Pro version I bypassed the new menus, start screen and apps as best as I could and stuck to the desktop), and I will stay with Windows 7 as long as I can.
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