Life With a Plugin, Episode 10: MC Menu Customiser

Jun 02 2008

One of the biggest complaints I've heard throughout the years about Windows Media Center is that everything is locked down. Changing the background or appearance usually takes some sort of odd registry edit, and who wants to do that? Well, fortunately, there's some great developers out there who feel your pain & design apps to help you out. 

Overview

MC Menu Customiser is a 2' Application (meaning it's meant to be used with a keyboard and mouse) designed for Vista's Media Center. The goal is simple--allow users to rearrange 3rd party application shortcuts from the Media Center start menu. Before getting started, just understand there are inherent limits overall with the flexibility of the interface. If you want total control of your Media Center appearance, there are some great apps such as MythTV, SageTV or BeyondTV, just to name a few, which allow a LOT more control of the appearance.

But for those of us committed to Vista's MCE offering, Customiser is here to allow us to add at least a bit of a personal flavor. You launch the app, and then drag & drop the tiles you want. You can also rename the two custom rows to anything you want.

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Basic Interface
Using almost every space available!

Above & Beyond

There is maximum control of the Start Menu when using this application. You are given control of the available two rows, and a maximum of 5 tiles per row. Add to that the 1 separate tile for the stock rows of Music, Pictures, and TV, and you will never have to go to the Program Library for an app you love. Fair warning--Online Spotlight applications are NOT customizable via this tool. I'm sure this is a limitation of Media Center itself, and is a bummer as having to go to the Online Media section just to access news everyday is somewhat annoying. But enough of my gripes with MCE, onto the review!

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Welcome to your new Start Menu!

Falling Short

Being a reviewer, I have to add & remove applications often...and in this case, I was tweaking quite a bit with the setup of my Start Menu. While not a huge deal, I would love to have a reset or restore option in MC Menu Customiser which would restore my original configuration setting...in case I (or my housemates) disapproved of my changes.

Also, it could use some optimization. I'm not sure if it was my system or other influences, but the app would hang on occasion--it would always recover, but it was a slight annoyance nonetheless. I'm sure it would just take some code tweaking to prevent this, and hopefully will come in future versions.

Grade: Once A Month

Under no circumstance should you take my grade of this application to be an indication to the quality of the application. If you have ever wanted to rearrange even a few of the Media Center tiles, then this is THE app (again, lack of competition makes it a no-brainer). But still, it's simple to use, does exactly what it promises, and is a TINY application. 

Product Vitals

Website: http://www.xpmediacentre.com.au/community/vista-plugins-addons/25714-new-util-mc-menu-customiser.html

Creator: Advent

Price: Free! 

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