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Hands On with Netflix for Windows Media Center

Although it was long in coming, the Netflix app is an awesome addition to Media Center and, we hope, the beginning of more good things to come.

Julie Jacobson · May 20, 2009

I just installed Netflix on my S1Digital Media Center.

It wasn’t showing up on the Start screen—Microsoft says it’s been uploaded to their servers but it could take 24 to 48 hours to be pushed out into the field—I pushed it out manually.

Here’s how:

From the Start screen: Tasks > Settings > General > Automatic Download Options > Download now.

That took about 20 minutes or so and then, voila, there was Netflix sitting in my TV+Movies tab.

Now I’ve given it a shot and it is sweet, really sweet!

Installing is a Slight Pain

I had to jump through a bunch of hoops to finally get to Netflix:

  • Open the Web browser to install Netflix – it cannot be done within the Media Center environment
  • Then give my computer permission to install Netflix
  • Then actually install it and some updates to Silverlight, the Microsoft content platform required by the Netflix app. That took a few minutes.
  • Error message: unable to install. Restart your computer and try again.
  • Hit the OK button to restart. Not bad, it simply restarted Media Center and not the entire PC.
  • Member sign-in. I had a Logitech DiNovo keypad remote so it was no problem, but Netflix provides an onscreen keyboard for those less fortunate
  • Tadum! Netflix “Watch Instantly” queue and all the other goodies Netflix provides, all in a glorius TV interface.
  • Play a movie and it starts playing automatically, straight to the movie, right on the big screen.

Although it was long in coming, the Netflix app is an awesome addition to Media Center and, we hope, the beginning of more good things to come.

We know the content splendor will come with Windows 7, but can we get a few goodies now, like Pandora?

UPDATE: No, WMC Netflix is not supported on Extenders. Extenders don’t support Silverlight, the Microsoft content platform used for Netflix:
(thanks, DrFlick)

Take a look at Netflix in action on Media Center; click to enlarge


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  About the Author

Julie Jacobson is founding editor of CE Pro, the leading media brand for the home-technology channel. She has covered the smart-home industry since 1994, long before there was much of an Internet, let alone an Internet of things. Currently she studies, speaks, writes and rabble-rouses in the areas of home automation, security, networked A/V, wellness-related technology, biophilic design, and the business of home technology. Julie majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, spent a year abroad at Cambridge University, and earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin. She is a recipient of the annual CTA TechHome Leadership Award, and a CEDIA Fellows honoree. A washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player, Julie currently resides in San Antonio, Texas and sometimes St. Paul, Minn. Follow on Twitter: @juliejacobson Email Julie at

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  Article Topics

News · Media Center · All Topics
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