In the Windows 8 Microsoft is making sure users see the Metro interface first thing when the OS boots up. Even if you drag an application like XBMC into the Startup folder it won’t work exactly as you expect. Doing that will cause XBMC to start with Windows 8, but it will be running in the Desktop portion of the OS. That means you won’t actually see XBMC until you switch from the Metro interface over to the Desktop.
There are different ways around this, and I’m going to share my favorite way for anyone using their machine primarily as an HTPC. It leverages the kiosk mode that has been present in previous versions of Windows, and still remains available in Windows 8. The nice thing about this mode for anyone using their machine as a dedicated HTPC is that it keeps the minimal amount of processes and services running providing a highly optimized XBMC experience with very little tweaking.
–Enable Autologin in Windows 8–
- Open the Run command by pressing the WinKey+R from the Windows 8 Desktop, and type “control userpasswords2” followed by the Enter key:
- Select the account you want to autologin with, and then uncheck the box labeled “Users must enter a user name and password to use this computer“.
- Click OK, and you should be prompted to enter in the password for that user.
–Disable Password Protection When Resuming from Sleep–
If you want to seamlessly be able to put your computer to sleep and wake it up you might want to consider disabling the password prompt that will be displayed each time the computer wakes up.
- Open the Control Panel (you can just press the Windows Key and start typing “Control Panel”)
- Once in the Control Panel go to System and Security -> Power Options -> Change Plan Settings -> Change Advanced Power Settings, and click the link that says “Change settings that are currently unavailable“. Now you can set the “Require a password on wakeup” option to No.
–Set XBMC to Run at Startup in Windows 8–
Note that this uses the policy editor found in Windows 8, and I’ve confirmed myself that it is included in the the final version of Windows 8 Pro that is shipping. I have not, however, confirmed which other versions of Windows 8 this will work in. Here’s what you need to do to get XBMC to run when starting Windows 8 Pro:
- Open the Run command by pressing the WinKey+R from the Windows 8 Desktop, and type “gpedit.msc” followed by the Enter key:
- Go to User Configuration -> Administrative Templates -> System, and open the Custom User Interface option that should be listed along the right side:
- Fill in the Enabled bubble, and then provide the full path to the XBMC executable:
- Click OK, and restart your computer. XBMC should be shown immediately after startup.
You need to keep in mind that with this mode anything that you place in the Startup folder will not start with Windows 8. Those items are only triggered when the desktop or Metro interfaces run, but there is a way to get around this. If you need anything specific to run you can create a batch file that lists out each of the executables you need to start with Windows 8 (including XBMC), and then in Step 3 above you can put the path to the batch file.
–Navigating Back to the Desktop in Windows 8–
After you have enabled the kiosk mode in Windows 8 there will probably be times that you need to make changes to the system, and to do so you need to get back to the classic desktop. Here’s what you need to do:
- Exit from XBMC:
- Press Control+Alt+Delete, and choose the option to start the Task Manager:
- Once the Task Manager appears go to File -> Run new task:
- From the Run command type “explorer.exe” and press Enter:
- At this point you should see the Windows 8 Desktop, but the Taskbar may not have any icons. Just go ahead and press the Windows Key to flip over to the Metro interface, and the next time you switch back to the Desktop it should look just like you’d expect it to.
There you go. With all of that in place you should be able to start your Windows 8 computer and immediately begin enjoying everything that XBMC has to offer.
CyberNet’s XBMC Guides:
- XBMC: Introduction to Our Upcoming Guides
Our introduction provides some of the deciding factors for switching from Windows Media Center to XBMC.
- XBMC: Build Your Own HTPC
Our extensive guide on the hardware we chose for our home theater PCs (HTPCs), the cost, and some tips on choosing the hardware for your own HTPC.
- XBMC: Prepare and Optimize Windows 7
A helpful list of tips to optimize the performance of Windows 7 so that the system is able to offer as many resources to XBMC as it can.
- XBMC: IR Receiver and Remote (Harmony, Xbox 360, and More)
If you want your HTPC to operate like a set-top box you’ll definitely want to get a remote control configured, and for me this was a critical step so that I wouldn’t have to be concerned about less tech-savvy users trying to use my TV.
- XBMC: Share and Sync Media/Settings Between Multiple XBMC Installs
Configuring XBMC to share settings between multiple instances means you’ll be able to stop a show in one room, and seamlessly pick up where you left off in another room.
- XBMC: Fit the Picture to Your TV with Overscan
If XBMC doesn’t fit your TV screen perfectly there are a couple of steps you can take to get it just right.
- XBMC: Installing Skins
How to tweak the appearance of XBMC so that it looks the way you want it to.
- XBMC: Custom Home Screen Menu Backgrounds
Make the backgrounds of your chosen skin/theme a little more interesting by having it flip through artwork from your favorite TV shows and movies.
- XBMC: Dynamic Weather Backgrounds
If you’re using the Aeon MQ 3 theme you can have it use dynamic wallpapers that change based on the time of day and current weather conditions.
- XBMC: SMB on Mac OS X 10.7 (Lion)
I use a Mac to serve up files to my XBMC instances running on Windows, and so my preferred protocol for sharing files is SMB. This guide explains how you can get a XBMC-compatible version of SMB running on Mac OS X 10.7 Lion.
- XBMC: Adding Media Sources
Learn how to add your media to XBMC and turn on the appropriate content scrapers.
- XBMC: Troubleshoot Buffering Issues
Trying to troubleshoot buffer issues in XBMC can be quite a pain, and so I lay out some of the most common culprits.
- XBMC: Test Your HTPC with High Bitrate Sample Videos
Want to see how well your HTPC performs? Throw some of these high bitrate 1080p sample videos at it.
- XBMC: More Advanced Settings
Configure some of the settings that you won’t find anywhere in the GUI.
- XBMC: Stream Hulu, Food Network, and More
Thanks to add-ons you can stream videos from some of your favorite sources including Hulu, Food Network, HGTV, TWiT, and more.
- XBMC: AirPlay on Windows
Send videos from your iOS device to any XBMC instance with very little configuration.
- XBMC: Web Interface and Chrome Extension
As long as you are on the same network as your XBMC box you can control it from any browser using the built-in web interface, or you can install a Chrome extension to make it even easier.
- XBMC: iPhone and iPad Remote
If you own an iPhone or iPad you can enjoy one of the best XBMC remote control experiences I’ve seen, and it will only cost you a few bucks.
- XBMC: A List of Our Guides, Plus Helpful Wiki and Forum Posts
A recap of all the guides we’ve written as well as useful wiki and forum post from the official XBMC.org site.
- XBMC: Free and Official iOS Remote for XBMC Released
This is the free and official XBMC remote control iOS app (optimized for both the iPhone and iPad). It will let you easily control all of the XBMC instances in your house as long as they are all on the same network.
- XBMC: Running XBMC on Startup in Windows 8
Learn how you can make XBMC start automatically when Windows 8 boots.
- XBMC: Send YouTube Videos From Chrome to XBMC
Send YouTube videos from your PC to any XBMC instance in a single click.
- XBMC: Aeon MQ 4 Skin
If you’re looking for one of the best and most popular XBMC skins the Aeon MQ 4 is a great choice.
- XBMC: Android Widget Remote Control
Control multiple instances of XBMC without ever having to open an app on your Android device!