Two essential plugins for Windows Media Center have seen updates over the last week. If you’re a Media Center user or you’re thinking about using Media Center for watching TV and Movies then you must check both of these out – whilst there’s a lot of buzz out there about Boxee, XBMC and Apple TV, Windows Media Center in conjunction with Media Center Master and Media Browser takes a lot of beating.

First up, Media Center Master was updated last week to version 1.26.26110.406. But what does it do? Media Center Master browses the web to collect metadata for the TV Programmes and Movies stored on your Media Center PC or home server. It identifies Movies, TV Series, Seasons and Episodes from their filenames, then retrieves a heap of data including Posters, Backdrops, Cast and Crew Images, Episode Guides, Ratings and a whole lot more. Keep this to yourself, but dig a little deeper and you’ll find it can also automatically download TV Episodes and Movies from Bittorrent, but clearly you don’t want to condone that sort of thing, do you?

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The new release breaks out a Premium edition which is priced at $20 (annual) $50 (lifetime), offering said downloading features, caching, trailer and subtitle downloads,  and more. Check out a full comparison between the free and premium editions here.

All this metadata is no use without a way to display it. Enter Media Browser, which last night was updated to v2.2.8. Media Browser is a user interface plugin for Windows Media Center which happily gobbles up all of the metadata generated by Media Center Master and transforms it into a spectacular TV and Movie library.

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The great news is once both apps are installed and configured, there’s little interaction required – just enjoy your entertainment. Media Browser is completely free, but accepts donations.

Changelogs for both apps as follows:

Media Center Master

  • Media Center Master is now a licensed product with both a free and premium version. Please see this licensing page for full details.
  • Issue #102: fixed: Download Missing Trailers tool supports nested folders now.
  • Issue #157: duplicate of issue #178.
  • Issue #172: fixed: thetvdb.com fetcher no longer downloads multiple posters for a season, occassionally downloading a banner over the poster.
  • Issue #175: fixed: clearing meta data and then clearing it again (or performing other kinds of actions) no longer shows errors.
  • Issue #178: fixed: blank meta data (no LocalTitle in mymovies.xml or SeriesName in series.xml) will cause Media Center Master to display blank entries in the media list that show errors when interacted with.
  • Issue #179: fixed: T.V. shows with ampersands was causing ampersand code to display in media list and other media applications.
  • Issue #180: fixed: movie list cache was not being written to disk on exit, so cleared titles were not staying cleared properly (and other oddities).
  • Issue #182: fixed: uTorrent manager was showing errors and generally not working.
  • Issue #188: fixed: multiple backdrop support is no longer dependent on fetcher priority.
  • Issue #189: fixed: multiple backdrops aren’t being downloaded upon certain circumstances (like no backdrops at all at one source, or if one fetcher didn’t match the movie title, but the other fetcher did). Additionally, multiple backdrop support handles failures with backdrop downloading much more gracefully now.
  • Issue #190: fixed: adjusted for isohunt.com HTML change.
  • Issue #192: fixed: Media Center Master resized and repositioned its layout several times on start-up, causing it to appear to flicker and dramatically reducing usability for a few moments across network connections.
  • Issue #193: fixed: absolute episode numbering at thetvdb.com was not working properly. It now works when ‘treat SEE as AAA’ is turned on.
  • Issue #195: fixed: left/right pane sizing was causing layout issues if Media Center Master was closed while its window was maximized.
  • Issue #2: added: the download parser now supports specials (when labeled using thetvdb.com’s “season 0″ method).
  • Issue #155: added: media list columns are now selectable (right-click the columns and you can toggle on/off visibility for any column). Column visibility is persistent and will save between launches of Media Center Master.
  • Issue #171: added: when using XBMC meta data generation, T.V. show posters and banners preference is now configurable.
  • Issue #174: added: video/media information XML support for MediaBrowser 2.2.7+.
  • Issue #181: added: added a tool to undo the XBMC wide T.V. show posters (restoring folder_bak.jpg).
  • Issue #185: added: the media list filter is no longer case-sensitive.

Media Browser

  • Extended MediaInfo support with improved performance, detection and flexible custom image management through ImagesByName. Have a look here for details.
  • Various fixes for the High Quality Thumbnail plugin, improving performance and reliability
  • Default theme has been improved. Some new features have been added and various bugs have been squashed
  • Actor roles are now supported for TV Series through both Internet Providers as local metadata.
  • Internet Providers now fetch studios for movies and tv shows
  • Media files can now be deleted properly right after they have been played
  • The configurator interface has been cleaned up and offers some new options including additional extensions for external players

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