Following on from my first post on Windows 7’s streaming media functionality, and how it’s changed a little in the Release Candidate this post talks a little about the more advanced options for configuring network streaming.
Access to all of the features in this post is gained easiest through Windows Media Player. Click the Stream button and select More streaming options… to open up access to the Media Streaming Options page of Control Panel, which is the central hub of configuration for media streaming.
Changing the name of the library
One of the most simple things that you can do, but one that actually adds a tremendous amount of usability is to give the library a meaningful name. It might sound rather simple, but when you have a few PCs in different rooms in the home it makes a real difference. The best way to use this is to name the library after where the PC is or after who’s PC it is, for example my office PC is called “Study”, my living room is “Lounge” and my kitchen is “Kitchen” whilst my laptop is “Si”.
This really comes into it’s own with the PlayTo features, which allow remote control of media devices, where it becomes really handy to know where the media will play, for example PlayTo > Kitchen.
It’s possible to control exactly what can be played by each device on the network from the server and in this way you can place some limitations on what those remote devices can see. For example you can prevent your kids PCs having access to an music on your PC that might have adult lyrics. These settings are available on a per device basis and also the defaults can be changed (it’s the defaults that apply to new devices). It’s also possible to restrict the available content to only media that you like, based on ratings.
It’s also possible to completely block the access that a device is allowed to the library by changing the Allowed drop down to Blocked.
Preventing (or enabling) Standby
Imagine the scenario, you’re enjoying your favorite aria (or death metal, whatever floats your boat) then … silence … it all stops, how annoying would that be. Well it could quite possibly happen if the PC isn’t set to stay out of standby. To control the power options select Choose power options, (then its time to surface the feature for controlling power) Change when the computer sleeps then Change advanced power settings then scroll down to Multimedia Settings then When sharing Media and expand the option (phew you made it!) From here we decide when the computer can sleep if it’s sharing media and there are 3 options:
- Allow the computer to sleep – does what it says, which could stop streaming mid (er) stream.
- Prevent idling to sleep – stops the PC from being able to sleep, your media will continue but the PC will use plenty of power
- Allow the computer to enter Away mode – puts the PC into a special state when it’s idle turning off the monitor to save as much power as it can. This is probably the best option.
Selecting either the the last two makes sure your media keeps streaming.
Ok so that’s that’s some of the less basic and less obvious configuration explored, next up we’ll be looking at using PlayTo and how cool that feature is.