My Movies is arguably one of the most popular and longest-supported add-ins for Windows Media Center. This week, Media Center users and enthusiasts can enjoy the latest release of this great product, My Movies 5. Of course, with all of the platforms supported by the My Movies application suite these days—Mac, iOS, Android, and Windows Phone included—you don’t need to be a Media Center user to catalog and enjoy your video library with My Movies.
The My Movies 5 update includes a number of core platform improvements, and as a result this may not seem like that big a release on the surface. Part of that is by design, as this release takes some of My Movies’ most useful features and either automates, extends, or simplifies them.
Let’s start with installation. My Movies 5 consolidates most of the multiple products previously available into single installers for either Windows (7 or 8.x) or Windows Server (Home 2011 or 2012 Essentials). The respective installers bundle all of the necessary components required to run on the target environment, including the server components, Collection Manager, and Media Center add-in, as appropriate.
The biggest enhancements to this release are probably the fully-automated disc backup and video conversion features—capabilities that previously required manual operation. Properly configured, the system now automatically backs up inserted discs and, optionally, creates copies converted for your favorite devices. You can even configure which drive(s) should trigger the automatic process and choose from a variety of backup and conversion formats. Of course, My Movies doesn’t circumvent your media’s DRM protection—there are already solutions available for that, and My Movies assumes that if you’re backing up your media, you already understand the technical and legal challenges in your locale.
In My Movies 5, media backup extends to audio discs, too. In addition to standard rips in popular formats, My Movies also offers to automatically create secondary copies in an alternate (e.g., lossless) format for your audio library.
Perhaps one of the most interesting new features in My Movies 5 is something that 5.0 lays the foundation for but doesn’t yet deliver: title-centric movie libraries. My Movies has always had an unapologetically disc-centric organization, visualized as disc covers framed in DVD, Blu-ray, and HD DVD cases. Title-centric organization will allow users to display titles—even from multi-title disc packs—by movie posters, rather then disc covers. A 5.1 release will deliver this feature to Media Center users in the coming months, with corresponding updates to other platforms following several months after that.
This new release features numerous other updates and enhancements, making it a solid update for existing My Movies users and perhaps more appealing to holdouts hoping for greater library control.
The team at My Movies advises that you should first back up your My Movies 3 or 4 database before upgrading and provides instructions on how to do just that on the download page.
Listen to Entertainment 2.0 episode 280 for an extended conversation with Brian Binnerup, the creator of My Movies. We talk about this release, the product roadmap, and some of the challenges the entertainment industry poses for developers of great products like this.