Without a doubt, Windows Media Center is the best media center software out there for Windows. But as you may know, it’s not available in all editions of Windows. If you are using an edition of Windows that doesn’t have Windows Media Center, XBMC is what you should install.
For starters, XBMC is a popular, open-source media center software for Windows, Mac, iOS, and Linux operating systems. The easy-to-use user interface lets you easily manage your photos, music, podcasts and movies, just like Windows Media Center.
The good news is that XBMC Foundation just released the first Beta version of upcoming XBMC 11 with a number of new features, improvements, and fixes. New in this version are updated interface, addon rollbacks, speed improvements, better library, upgraded weather service, better remote control support in Windows, better networking support and more.
In addition to the above mentioned features and improvements, hundreds of small improvements can be seen across the XBMC 11. Support for MP4 embedded subtitles, improved touch interface API has also been added in this version.
Addon rollback another new feature, which lets you easily switch to previously installed addons in case of compatibility issues. ISO image files of Blu-ray discs can be played without mounting the ISO file.
One can easily enhance the feature list by installing addons. Artist Slideshow, cdART Manager, Gmail Checker, Logo Downloader, Grooveshark XBMC, AudioPodcatcher, RSS Editor, Pseudo TV, MCERemote, JDownloader, TV Guide, and TvTunes are some very useful addons for XBMC.
The updated home screen (main menu) displays weather info, date and time, and also allows you choose Weather, Video, Music, Pictures, Programs, and System. The best thing is that you can customize almost every part of the user interface with a few mouse clicks.
Overall, a good Windows Media Center alternative software with decent set of features. Of course, the the user interface is not as rich as Windows Media Center but who cares as long as it works.