One of the main reasons why I like to use the Linux-based OpenELEC operating system is that it feels like using a device such as Apple TV.
However, if you wish to use Windows 10-based HTPCs, the major annoyance is that they look and feel like PCs. Luckily, this is not the case anymore.
In this post for advanced users, you will learn how make your Windows 10 Kodi installation behave like an appliance similar to OpenELEC by making Windows 10 almost completely invisible while booting and using Kodi media center.
In my case, I wanted to use Plex Media Server in the background. I watch Netflix, Hulu and other premium content channels directly from the Kodi Media Center, so I need to use Windows-based PlayOn Media Server software that is required to run in the background in order to watch Netflix via Kodi.
In this post you will learn to
- Change a motherboard’s boot screen to display a custom image
- Disable the Windows logo and loading circle from the Windows boot screen
- Make Windows automatically log-in to your user account
- Use Launcher for Kodi to launch Kodi directly after log-in
- Control your HTPC with any infrared remote control
So, let’s get started to modifying your Windows 10 operating system.
Step 1: Alter boot screens
Change motherboard’s boot screen
First, you will need to create a .BMP image up to 640 x 480 pixels in size with up to 256 colors.
If you want to use the My Media Experience logo, you can download my boot screen image here.
Depending on your motherboard manufacturer, there are different software available to change the default boot screen image.
Asus: Download ASUS AI Suite 3 under Utilities. You will also need to download the latest BIOS for your motherboard. You can search your motherboard here and download the latest BIOS file.
Install “EZ Update” using the ASUS AI Suite. After you launch ASUS AI Suite 3 for the first time, select EZ Update.
Then click “Browse” button under “Manually update Boot logo or BIOS” and locate the downloaded BIOS file. Then click “MyLogo” and select a image file for your boot logo. Finally, click “Update” and then “Flash” and wait 3-5 minutes for BIOS to be updated.
Gigabyte: Download and install Gigabyte Face-Wizard.
Launch Gigabyte Face-Wizard and press “Load Image” and then “Save” to change the default boot screen image into a custom one.
Remove loading circle on startup
Next, let’s remove the Windows logo, loading circle animation from the start up.
I am using an all-in-one app from Winaero to tweak certain Windows operating system options.
|First, download and install Winaero.
|After launching Winaero, untick the following three boxes: “Enable Windows logo”, “Enable loading circle” and “Enable text messages” under the “Boot and Logon”.
|You can also disable the Login screen background under the “Login Screen Image”.
Next time when you will boot up the computer, you will only see a blank screen during the Windows start up.
Step 2: Set automatic login
In order to automatically sign in to Windows 10, you should disable the need to input a user name and password every time you log-in.
I will show you a way to accomplish this without losing the additional security that comes with having a password.
|First, press the Windows key + R to bring up a run box. Then, type netplwiz and hit enter.
|Once the User Accounts dialog box is opened, select your user account from the list and uncheck the “Users must enter a user name and password to use this computer” checkbox.
|After clicking the apply button, you will need to input your existing password twice and click OK.
That’s it. Now, you can close the User Accounts dialog, and next time you boot up the computer, you will not need to sign in manually.
Step 3: Install Launcher for Kodi
In Windows 10, it is rather difficult to launch applications on start up so that they stay on foreground all the time.
Fortunately, there is a simple tool called Launcher4Kodi (was XBMC Launcher) that allows you to set up Kodi to start up automatically.
|You can download the Launcher4Kodi here and install it on your computer.
|After launching the Launcher4Kodi application, click “Start Kodi when Windows starts” and “Start Kodi when Windows resumes from Sleep” in the “Startup Settings” tab.
|Next, go to the “Shell” tab and choose Launcher4Kodi.
Now, you are ready to reboot your computer to launch Kodi automatically.
Step 4: Use a Flirc remote control
Last but not least, in order to have an appliance look and feel, you will need to have a remote control so that you can use your computer without a mouse and keyboard.
I would recommend buying a Flirc USB IR receiver (get it here) that allows you to control your computer with any infrared remote control. For example, I am using Logitech Harmony Smart Control to control my HTPC.
You can customize the remote keys using a separate app or use a default Kodi profile with the Logitech Harmony remote control, so your Flirc will work with the Harmony without any additional pairing.
Click here to read more about setting up Flirc.
Now that you have your Windows 10 Kodi installation running like an appliance, have a look at these customization tips to take your Kodi to the next level.