Use this guide to replace the button in the application template with the one from the Z sample application. This is a good example of separation of logic/data from the visuals enabling development of each to remain separate in a distributed development environment.

1.       Start a new application with the Windows Media Center Application template and complete the application as outlined in the readme.htm file.

2.       Using Windows Explorer copy the following files from the Z sample application source folder into the corresponding new application folders, overwriting existing files if present:

a.        \Markup\Button.mcml

b.       \markup\Styles.mcml

c.        \images\ButtonFocus.png

d.       \images\ButtonNonFocus.png

3.       Select the Images folder in Solution Explorer.

4.       Select Project > Add Existing Item from the menu.

5.       In the Add Existing Item dialog:

a.        Select Image Files in the Files of type drop down list.

b.       Navigate to the \Images folder for the project and multi-select ButtonFocus.png and ButtonNonFocus.png by clicking on them with the mouse while holding down the Control key on the keyboard.

c.        Click the Add button.

6.       Open Resources.resx for editing.

7.       In Resources.resx:

a.        Press Control+2 on the keyboard to switch to images.

b.       Drag and drop ButtonFocus.png, ButtonNonFocus.png and ButtonNonFocus.png from the Solution Explorer into Resource.resx to embed these files in the assembly.

8.       Double click \Markup\Button.mcml in Solution Explorer for to open for editing.

9.       Find and replace every instance of "resx://Z/Z" with "resx://[ApplicationName]/[ApplicationName]" where [ApplicationName] is the name of your project. For example: "resx://Z/Z.Resources/Styles" would read "resx://Application1/Application1.Resources/Styles"

10.    Double click \Markup\Styles.mcml in Solution Explorer for to open for editing.

11.    In Styles.mcml:

a.        Delete the following MCML: <Image Name="ContainerImage" Source="resx://Z/Z.Resources/Container" NineGrid="40,40,40,40"/>

b.       Add the following MCML: <Color Name="BackgroundColor" Color="Black"/>

c.        Find and replace every instance of "resx://Z/Z" with "resx://[ApplicationName]/[ApplicationName]" where [ApplicationName] is the name of your project.

12.    Select Compile and test using DevInstall.cmd or create the MSI as outlined in readme.htm to install and test.

Categories: Template | Comments [0] | # | Posted on Saturday, August 25, 2007 4:39:47 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)   

Edit: Adding links to Apple Hot News: and RSS

I subscribe to the Apple Hot News RSS feed. It's clearly biased, as any official corporate public relations web site is going to be. I think they let one slip through the censors. I'm going to copy it here because I'm willing to bet it will be taken down as soon as someone realizes what they are saying:

Vista blazes when running under Boot Camp on a Mac
“If you install Boot Camp on a well-equipped Mac model, it can become a blazing fast Vista computer.” That’s what Walter Mossberg (Wall Street Journal) concluded after installing Vista and Boot Camp on a new iMac. Mossberg tested the iMac’s performance “using Vista’s built-in Windows Experience Index, a rating system that goes from 1 to 5.9, with scores above 3.0 generally required for full, quick performance. My iMac scored a 5.0, the best score of any consumer Vista machine I have tested.” That score, he remarks, is “very impressive for a computer that wasn’t designed with Vista in mind.” [Aug 23, 2007]

That first sentence *could* imply that any other operating installed on the Mac makes it not so 'blazing fast' by comparison.


Seriously, if the MacOS is all that why even bother installing another operating system. Oh, what? You want a blazing fast computer? Then install Windows Vista on that MacBook (Pro) and you'll have your wish. Of course, some folks will point out Mossberg limited it to comparisons with 'Vista' computers. Lots of people will miss that distinction as I did when I first read this pull quote.

Furthermore, what Apple is reinforcing is the concept of the Mac being the best Windows Vista machine out there. If true, that backs up my assertion that the Mac hardware is gaining personal computer market share directly as a result of the fact it is a Windows machine, capable of running the best darn operating system in the world: Windows Vista. Yeah, there is a Halo Effect -- it's called 'we do Windows and do it great!'

Categories: Apple | Mac | Windows Vista | Comments [7] | # | Posted on Friday, August 24, 2007 3:37:54 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)   

Wow. Has it been this long? I guess it has. Anyway, Mack has a great writeup on the history of Windows Media Center which is worth reading.

"On September 3rd, Microsoft will celebrate the five year anniversary of Windows Media Center, arguably one of the company’s more successful products. Windows XP Media Center Edition was released to manufacturers in the United States and Canada in 2002, and Microsoft has followed up with a number of releases since then, most recently as part of Windows Vista. The software is at the core of Microsoft’s digital media strategy and looks to have a bright future ahead. In this post we’ll take a look at what Windows Media Center is, the levels of success it has achieved thus far, and finally we’ll touch on where Microsoft might take the product in the next few years."

Get the full story over at

Thanks, Mack...!

Categories: Windows Media Center | Birthday | Comments [7] | # | Posted on Thursday, August 23, 2007 9:51:04 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)   

This past Sunday I played goalie for our soccer club (Salsa FC) for about 20 minutes. This is only the second (or maybe third) time I have ever played that position, and the first time I've ever faced a penalty kick. I squared off against the opponent, reacted well and (pretty much) flung my body to the right in an effort to block the kick. I missed, and had the 'wind knocked out of me' badly -- see for a pretty good physiological description. It was very, very scary to not be able to take in a breath at all for what seemed like a very long time -- to the point of nearly passing out. At most it was probably 20 seconds before I was able to begin taking some tiny breaths back in -- but it felt much longer, and I did start to panic a little bit.

After laying there for about 5 minutes I got up and walked back to the sideline unassisted, and even substituted back in to my regular positions a couple of times (fullback or midfield) but felt a growing discomfort in my mid chest region, just below the pectoral muscles. I just couldn't seem to take in any deep breaths without a lot of discomfort. I say 'discomfort' because at the time it wasn't painful -- I just couldn't seem to inhale deeply. It seemed to get worse on the car ride home, and the pain started to set in.

Turns out I have some number of cracked ribs. It's actually quite painful to move. Breathing is pretty shallow because anything deeper hurts. A suppressed cough is pretty bad -- if I don't suppress that it really lights up the pain receptors. I sneezed last night and was seeing stars and had to sit down in a hurry. Even clearing my throat or yawning results in a good bit of pain. My left side is worse than my right, to the point I can't even sleep on my left side -- and I'm very definitely a side sleeper. Once I get into a comfortable position on my back or right side I'm able to sleep -- until I shift the least little bit, then I'm awake for the next 15 minutes or so trying to get comfortable again.

But I'd do it all over again. Why?

My good friend Michael, who along with his wife Wanda got me involved with soccer as an adult said the following as I was desperately trying to find some air laying in the goal:

'Yeah, you missed it. But you looked good.'

Uniform: $30

Shoes: $80

Shin Guards: $15

Having great friends who will make you laugh when you have no breath to do so: Priceless.

Go Salsa...!!!

Categories:  | Comments [2] | # | Posted on Tuesday, August 21, 2007 6:37:04 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)   

That went pretty smoothly -- thanks Scott, Omar and the rest of the dasBlog development team for putting together 2.0. You guys ROCK...!

Also using Windows Live Writer for the first time with this post. Configuration with dasBlog was an absolute snap. Blogging just got a whole lot easier.


Categories: Blog | dasBlog | Windows Live Writer | Comments [1] | # | Posted on Saturday, August 18, 2007 6:11:14 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)   

That's the title of a blog post I would love to see Jeff Atwood write. :-) As I was sitting there playing with one of my children this evening I noticed we were using a box of Legos which contained a mixture of their brand new ones and those from my childhood (30+ years old in most cases). Suddenly it dawned on me that none of these pieces had any comaptibility issues -- we could mix and match at will and they always, always fit. Of course, there are exceptions when it comes to Duplo and Technic -- but those have always been present. Talk about legacy support...!

Categories: Legos | Fun | Comments [1] | # | Posted on Saturday, August 18, 2007 1:48:54 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)   

Dear Apple,

Tonight I stopped by the Apple Store at Alderwood Mall specifically to pick up iLife 08. The young man at the checkout counter was having difficulties swiping my credit card for payment on the handheld devices you use for this purpose (I believe they are made by Symbol). He tried three of them before saying sarcastically: 'These run Windows Mobile which explains why I can't run your credit card.' It worked after he removed and then forcefully jammed the mag stripe reader into the bottom of the fourth device.

It's totally lame to have this attitude.

And this isn't the first time I've encountered this at your stores. When I bought my MacBook down in Portland back in December the pre-purchase conversation with two of your floor staff was filled (and I mean filled) with anti-Microsoft rhetoric. Even when I tried to get them to focus on features of your product it came around quickly to 'Microsoft stinks at this.' I was asking pertinent questions to my purchase, not trying to goad them -- I truly wanted to learn more about the experience I could expect with Windows running in Parallels Desktop. After about 20 minutes of lame interaction I informed them I was a Microsoft employee, and pointed out some of the inaccuracies of their statements about Microsoft products. A few people were listening in (it was right before Christmas so the store was really, really busy) and eyebrows went up. Both guys started back pedaling, and became quite apologetic. The conversation then took on a very professional air (thankfully). When I concluded our discussion by stating I'd like to purchase a MacBook the guy who rang up the purchases gave me the educational discount across the entire purchase, even though I don't qualify. I gave him a nice shoulder hug and said 'see, Mac and PC can get along' which resulted in quite a few laughs from his peers who had gathered around. One of them even asked when Windows Vista would be out for him to try, and he thought Windows Media Center was really cool. True story. My wife will back me up. I have the receipt. I'm pretty sure I still have the follow up emails I sent to these guys with information they had requested.

Your commercials are funny, and draw folks into the stores or online to check out your products -- they shouldn't be the net total of your sales training materials. You make good, solid products -- both on the hardware and software side. If the best thing you can say about them is nothing but bad things about Microsoft you are truly doing yourself a disservice. You would do well to train your staff at the Apple store to always take the high road and truly get educated on Microsoft products, as well as those of your other competitors. I would even be willing to come in once a month to an Apple store or two in the Seattle area for Q&A time with your staff to help them get it right.

I'm hoping you agree our mutual customers deserve better.


Charlie Owen

Categories: Apple | Comments [5] | # | Posted on Thursday, August 16, 2007 7:04:24 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)   

I've recently cropped up on a couple of Microsoft blog listings (Brier, Ed). I feel kind of ashamed because, well, I haven't been personally blogging very much over the last few months. So, some folks may be asking why and perhaps wondering what I've been doing as of late. Well, here goes if you are interested.

Like Steve and Robert I sort of 'burnt out' -- not over blogging per se but rather being 'connected'. Something like...

Wake up in the morning, check email and RSS feeds, shower, walk to the bus stop, reading email on the phone on the way, getting to work, doing the day job (which involves lots of being connected), getting back on the bus to ride home (reading email on the phone), dinner with the fam, bedtime routine with kids, back online, email + RSS feeds, checking out various discussion groups (Sandbox, GreenButton), more email, going to bed. Rinse. Repeat.

Then my bus route got WiFi. And it's pretty darn fast and reliable. And free. So instead of using the phone on the bus with more limited features I've got the MacBook out with everything at my fingertips.

In early June I noticed something: I could literally go all day with a computer on and connected. About the only time that wasn't true was the 3 minute walk from the house to the bus stop and back (but the phone easily filled the gap, and was still fully connected). I vaguely remembered too much of a good thing can be a bad thing.

I had become simply too connected.

So, taking a small page out of Jeff's book I disconnected. And this is what I did...

  • Organized a 'Fun Zone' sponsored by Microsoft for teens and tweens attending the Little People of America National Convention in Seattle. We had Windows Media Center / Extender, Zune and Forza Motorsport 2. A total volunteer effort by Microsofties. Along with about 30 other volunteers Chris came one night and demonstrated Zune. Joel from the Forza team came and set up a freakin' AWESOME racing chair custom made for attendees at the event (seriously, go follow that link and check it out). We gave away four Zunes (including one to a young man who lost his iPod while traveling to the event) and four copies of Forza Motorsport 2, all courtesy of the graciousness of those teams. As one of my peers put it in a private email afterwords: "It was great being part of a Microsoft event where we weren’t selling anything, just providing entertainment for a very worthwhile cause." Yep, Microsoft employees utterly and totally rock and I'm proud to be associated with them. Much thanks to my management supporting my being out of the office for about a week to put this together.
  • Took a vacation! Went back home to North Carolina to see family and friends. The first part of the trip was to Ocean Isle Beach with my extended family while the second part was in Charlotte seeing more family and friends. 2.5 weeks of (nearly) zero connectivity -- I suffered a bit of withdrawal, I will admit -- but it was nice to finally get to a feeling of total online ignorance.
  • Re-read two Clancy novels ("Patriot Games" and "Clear and Present Danger") and bought (and read in two days) Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows the day it came out. It had been so very long since I picked up more than a coding reference book!
  • Returned home and got back into the swing of things at work, but pacing myself -- getting done what could get done in an 8 hour work day rather than trying to answer each and every email and being connected 24/7. Instead of getting online during the 25 minute bus ride I'm reading books. Currently that's RESTful Web Services (recommended in Scotts blog --  I think -- can't find the link back to him unfortunately). This book really helps the lightbulb go on for us Program Manager types on the subject.
  • Developed PowerPlaylist for Windows Media Center which adds a custom Start Menu strip to Windows Media Center with five tiles. Each tile represents an audio plus slideshow or visualization combination which will start when the tile is selected. It is highly customizable by the end user in a myried of ways: Strip name, tile title and image, audio, picture and visualization source are all configurable, including the number of tiles in the strip (1 to 5 at your discretion). It was really nice to just dig in and code for a while (with a side bonus of finding some areas for improvement we can make to the Windows Media Center platform and SDK). If you want to beta test, drop me an email to charlieo at microsoft dot come or leave a comment here.
  • Quietly released the lastest version of the Windows Media Center SDK (5.2) -- read about it here and get it from here.
  • My disconnected time was very much needed, and has helped me focus on the important things while getting back into the groove.

Couple of things noticed recently...

  • Go get 'em Ed. I'm not sure why he subjects himself to this stuff, but I'm glad he tells it like it is. :-)
  • From what I've read (which I will admit is not a ton) something either went horribly right or horribly wrong at Gnomedex. I've wanted to go to this conference the last two years but have had conflicts with the dates. I'm defintely going to calendar it for next year, assuming Chris does it again.
  • Yay! Welcome aboard Scott -- we are so very lucky to have you here. Stop by the office when you are in town -- I've got some things to bounce off your brain when you have some time. :-)

Categories: Be Smart | Comments [1] | # | Posted on Thursday, August 16, 2007 6:39:05 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)   

An updated version of the Windows Media Center Software Development Kit is now available for download from This is the same link as before so no need to change your bookmarks. These links also persist in the navigation section at

The following is a summary of the key changes to the Windows Media Center Software Development Kit for this version:

  • The Windows Media Center Application Step By Step document which helps you create a Windows Media Center application from an empty project using Media Center Markup Language (MCML), C# and Windows Installer XML (WiX).
  • The C# project template has been revised and now includes Windows Installer XML (WiX) 3.0 scripts for generating a setup program to install the application. See the Readme.htm file when you create a new application with the template for more information. This application template is the same result you get from working completely through the new Step By Step document.
  • The MCML file template has been revised to work better with the C# project template and includes the basic Properties, Locals, Rules, and Content elements typically needed.
  • A Visual Studio solution for the MCML Sampler making it easier to search, copy, and paste from the markup and code files.

I'd like to take a moment to thank our community of developers over at who provided lots of feedback on the Step By Step document to make it a great resource for beginners.


Categories: SDK | Comments [1] | # | Posted on Tuesday, August 7, 2007 12:46:01 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)   

A good part of my professional life last year was taken up working with Showtime and Method (among others) to get Showtime Interactive built while we were still creating the Windows Media Center Presentation Layer platform (Media Center Markup Language + .NET 2.0).

Thanks to our friends over in developer envangelism you can learn more about what it took to build this experience at


Categories: Application | Comments [6] | # | Posted on Wednesday, August 1, 2007 5:41:45 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)   
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