HTPC Operating Systems
Windows 7 –The common operating system used in laptops and PCs can also be used in HTPCs. Windows 7 comes with a built-in media center program which gives an easy way to access all your music, pictures, and movies files. Windows 7 also has DVR capabilities including TV show recording and pause/rewind live-TV. Many companies make remotes for Windows Media Center which makes navigating all your pictures, music, and movies easier from the couch. DVD codecs to play DVDs and the ability to work with popular Blu-ray viewing software such as TotalMedia Theater and PowerDVD are also features of Windows 7. Additionally, accessing a Windows 7 HTPC through other networked computers is made easier with Window's Homegroup feature.
Google TV (Android) – Based on the mobile Android OS , Google TV is designed to navigate the Web and all its content on a big screen TV. The focus of Android TV is search, which is used to easy find recorded shows, video on YouTube and other sites,and upcoming shows. Apps will be available to bring games, music, pictures and other applications to Google TV. For example, a NBA app will give users an easy way to interact and view highlights from previous games. Multiple devices with Google TV including media boxes, Blu-ray players and HDTVs will support Google TV.
Apple TV (iOS) – the original Apple TV is a media box which came out in 2007. Apple TV offered a way to use iTunes on a big screen TV including the purchase of movies and shows. YouTube and Netflix were also available on the original Apple TV along with a 160 GB hard drive to store content. The second generation of Apple TV does not include an internal hard drive, but it will have an app store. The interface will be similar to the popular iPhone OS.
Windows XP – An older version of Windows with benefits including software compatibility and Blu-ray support. However, it does not have some of Windows 7's features such as built-in DVD support, a media center designed for HDTVs, and Homegroup networking.
Windows XP 64 – Similar to Windows XP except with the added benefit of full 64–bit CPU functionality. XP 64 is known to have some software incompatibilities issues.
Linux – a great operating system for the tech savvy user. Ubuntu has made great strides to make Linux work for the everyday user, but it's still not there. Linux's is free so it's price is hard to beat. A great program for a Linux HTPC is LinuxMCE.
Mac Operating System – a good operating system, but not as compatible with third-party hardware/software as Windows. For example,TotalMedia Theater does not support Mac. Front Row is a media center program included with Mac operating systems and would be useful to any Mac HTPCs. Front Row uses the same user interface as Apple TV.