customize media center menu.jpg

I use Windows Media Center as my primary source for watching live TV, and last weekend I decided to figure out how I could customize the placement of menu items. For example, I don’t really listen to music or look at photos on my Media Center computer so having these options visible only makes it take longer to navigate to some of the other menu rows. I wish customizing the interface was offered out-of-the-box, but I figured that I wasn’t the only one wanting this. So naturally I jumped over to The Green Button to see what I could dig up.

After clicking through some of the forum posts I came across the free Media Center Studio app. I was excited at what I saw after looking at some of the screenshots, and the list of features led me to believe that this was exactly what I was looking for:

  • Edit your start menu – rearrange or disable native menu items
  • Create your own menu strips, and your own items to go in them
  • Monitors your application and returns to Media Center when it exits
  • Set up a button on your remote to exit your application
  • Create menu items that take you to native Media Center pages, or start media
  • Apply themes to Media Center
  • Create new themes or edit existing ones

There was just one problem. I downloaded it, made some changes and then saved them. It didn’t look any different in Media Center though. After a little research I found out that Microsoft released an update earlier this year that broke a lot of the functionality that Media Center Studio offered, but all hope was not lost. Clicking through a few more forum posts led me to a simple solution. It consists of deleting and creating a replacement dummy DLL:

  • Download Media Center Studio and install it (if you haven’t already)
  • Navigate to C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\eHome\Packages\MCEClientUX\dSM
  • Backup the StartResources.dll file, and then create a blank file (creating a new text file and changing the extension is fine) with the StartResources.dll filename. It’s important that you create the dummy file with the same filename and extension, otherwise Media Center will recognize that it is missing the next time the system looks for guide updates and it will be recreated.

After I did this I was able to fully see all the changes on both the local machine and on my Media Center Extender (the Xbox 360). It’d be awesome if the developer was able to update the app to accommodate the changes Microsoft made, but in the meantime I’ll just keep my fingers crossed that no other updates are rolled out that cripple this awesome functionality.

Media Center Studio Homepage (Windows only; Freeware)