I am using Windows 7. I had tried Media Center in Vista but it was mostly an unpleasant experience. Win 7 was no better and I wrote it off. Then I discovered Media Center is meant to be manipulated with a remote control rather than a keyboard and mouse. After dithering for several months I ordered a remote for Windows Media Center. They seem to run between $12 and $25. I don’t know anything about them, chose the $18 variety.
Oh my! I opened my picture folder. I quickly learned I could make the picture the size of the screen which in my case is 22″ – which translates to 18.5 by 12. I quickly spotted details I had not noticed before. A little more playing and I found I could zoom in more and then once more. I can pan the picture, left, right, up and down. It’s great for group shots.
A long mysterious group shot containing quite a few relatives now can be seen to have background details virtually invisible before which might provide clues to the location of the event. I was able to study faces a lot better and have tentatively identified two more people.
Imagine doing this on a large flat screen television. I did not notice any distortion in going from the standard size from full screen. Who knows what one might discover.
You can also view videos, play music, even view and record tv assuming you have a tv tuner or have cable hooked up. I did run into trouble when I tried to access photos on my network attached storage which works well with other programs. I have not had time to look into that.
Media Center is part of the OS in Vista and Windows 7.
Have you updated to Windows Vista yet? I was forced to when I needed a new computer. Fortunately I have an older laptop running XP or I’d probably have jumped out the window. [It’s only about 6″ to the ground.] As it was I tore my hair out. Six months later I still prefer the old XP computer.
Several programs I use daily [not genealogy programs] do not work and were expensive upgrades, Adobe Acrobat Pro being one of them. There were some problems with hardware too including drivers for printers, scanners, etc.
I use TMG [The Master Genealogist]. The current version works with Vista with a few minor tweaks. I did check that out in advance of the install because in this case you need to know those things before installing. I also own Second Site, a program that works with TMG to create web pages. It works with Vista.
The latest version of GenSmarts works with Vista. GenViewer from MudCreek seems to work but GenMatcher does not. I like GenMatcher for comparing two GEDCOMS. Yes, I know other programs I own, including TMG, can do it but I like the way GenMatcher does it.
I have an old program which I believe is called Places. You type in a town name and state. The program tells you what county that town is in. Surprisingly it works just fine. I don’t have a place in the US without a county in my TMG database because of this nifty program.
I use a Palm LifeDrive and GedStar Pro. GedStar Pro contains my entire TMG database in my pocket. Palm does not work with Vista and therefore neither does GedStar Pro. The only option is to switch to a Windows based PDA and a Windows PDA genealogy program. That’s expensive, not to mention replacing all the other software I’ve come to depend upon in my 10 years with Palm. I also have several genealogy books on my Palm for reading on the go. I’m not giving it up any time soon.
Family Tree Maker says it works with Vista. I haven’t tried it.
If you are considering a new computer it is going to come with Vista and you are going to have as much “fun” learning the system as you can stand. Vista is to XP as a dog is to a spider unfortunately. Make sure you know upfront what programs and hardware you need to replace, update or learn to live without. More importantly, make sure your genealogy software is compatible or can be made compatible with an upgrade or a tweak. Changing programs with database is not something to take lightly.