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Play Digital Media in Windows Server 2012 Essentials

Updated: January 15, 2014

Applies To: Windows Server 2012 Essentials

Digital media refers to audio, video, and photo content that has been digitally compressed. Windows Server 2012 Essentials makes it possible for networked computers and some networked digital media devices to play digital media files that are stored on the server.

The following topics provide information about accessing and playing digital media files that are stored on Windows Server 2012 Essentials:

Digital media refers to audio, video, and photo content that has been encoded (digitally compressed). Encoding content involves converting audio and video input to a digital media file such as a Windows Media file. After digital media is encoded, it can be easily manipulated, distributed, and played by computers, and it is easily transmitted over computer networks.

Examples of digital media types include: Windows Media Audio (WMA), Windows Media Video (WMV), MP3, JPEG, and AVI. For information about the digital media types that are supported by Windows Media Player, see File types supported by Windows Media Player.

Many people store music, video, and pictures in shared folders in Windows Server 2012 Essentials. There may be times when you want to do following:

  • Watch videos. Your server can be used to store and stream large collections of videos and recorded TV shows to your computers or other playback devices on your network. You can stream videos to an Xbox 360 or to a computer by using Windows Media Player.

  • Play music. When you turn on Media Sharing for the Music shared folder, you can access your music from devices that support Windows Media Connect. You do not need to enable or configure any user accounts to stream from the Music shared folder after sharing is turned on.

  • Present photo slide shows. You can store your digital photos in the Photos shared folder on your server and then access them from any computer or from an Xbox 360 that is connected to a TV in your home or office. You can watch photo slide shows, which is like turning your TV into a large picture frame.

Windows Server 2012 Essentials does not support sharing copy-protected media. This includes music that is purchased through an online music store.

Copy-protected media can be played back only on the computer or device that you used to purchase it. Copy protection prevents you from playing media on more than one computer or device, even if you copy the media to your server and play it from there. However, you can store the copy-protected media on Windows Server 2012 Essentials and continue to play back the media on the computer or device that you used to purchase it.

After you set up your network and successfully connect your computers and media devices to the server network, you can search for any digital media files that you store and share on the server.

noteNote
For a current list of digital media player/receive devices that are compatible with Windows Server 2012 Essentials, see the Windows Compatibility Center.

You can use either of the following ways to search for and play digital media files that are stored on your server:

When your device is joined to the Windows Server 2012 Essentials network, you can search for and play digital media files in any of the following ways:

  1. Click Start, click All Programs, and then click Windows Media Center.

  2. On the Windows Media Center page, scroll to the type of media you are searching for, and click the media library.

  3. Manually search for the file you are interested in, or click Search and type the name of the file you want to find.

  4. Click the media file image to view or play the file.

  • From the computer or media device, open Windows Media Player and search for your media library.

    noteNote
    The search steps vary depending on the version of Windows Media Player that you are using. For detailed information, consult the Help for your version.

  1. Connect your Xbox 360 console to your home network by using a wired or wireless connection.

  2. On the computer that is running Windows Server 2012 Essentials, turn on media sharing. For more information, see the topic Enable media streaming.

  3. To play digital media files using your Xbox 360 console:

    1. Go to My Xbox, and then select Video Library, Music Library, or Picture Library, depending on the type of media you want to view or play.

    2. Select the name of your server.

      noteNote
      If the name of your server is not listed, select Computer, and then click Test Connection.

    3. Browse the file list and select the item you want to play.

  1. Go to the Windows Compatibility Center and make sure that your digital media player or receiver appears in the list of compatible devices.

  2. Because search steps vary depending on the digital media player that you are using, consult the Help for your device for detailed instructions.

  1. Sign in to the Windows Server 2012 Essentials Launchpad.

  2. From the Launchpad, click Shared Folders. A Windows Explorer window opens and displays the shared folders on the server.

  3. In the Search box, type the name of a media file. The results of your search query are displayed.

    noteNote
    As an option, you can also double-click a shared folder to browse the folder contents.

  1. Log on to Remote Web Access.

  2. Click Shared Folders. The Shared Folders section of the web page displays a list of shared folders on the server.

  3. Double-click a folder to view the contents of the folder.

Use Windows Media Player to search for the media file that you want. Right-click the media file and then click Play To to send the media file to a networked media device.

You can play your media files when you are away from your Windows Server 2012 Essentials network by using Remote Web Access. You can use a cell phone, a remote computer, or a digital media player to search for and play the shared media files that you stored on your server.

  1. Open an Internet browser.

  2. Go to your Remote Web Access website. Type https://<YourDomainName>/remote in the address bar of the Internet browser, and then press Enter.

    noteNote
    <YourDomainName> is a placeholder. It will be a name that is unique to your server, so the address you type will look like https://contoso.com/remote. If you do not know the name of your domain, ask the administrator who chose the domain name when the Remote Access functionality was set on the server. For more information, see Turn on Remote Web Access.

  3. On the Remote Web Access sign-in page, type your user account name and password, and then click the arrow.

  4. Use whatever method you like to search for the media file that you want to play.

  5. When the media file name appears, click the file name to play the media.

The server administrator can add digital media to shared folders in the media library by accessing the server directly, or by using the Remote Web Access site to sign in to the Dashboard. Other users can add media files to the server by using the Shared Folders connection on the Launchpad, by using the Remote Web Access site, or by using the My Server app for Windows Phone. For information about playing media, see Play and share digital media.

noteNote
You can also upload media files to the server by using the My Server app for Windows Phone. You can download the My Server app from the Windows Phone store. For more information about the My Server app for Windows Phone, see the blog post My Server phone app for Windows Server 2012 Essentials.

  1. Use one of the following methods to sign in to the server:

    1. For information about logging on to Remote Web Access, see Use Remote Web Access in Windows Server Essentials.

    2. For information about signing in with Launchpad, see Overview of the Launchpad in Windows Server Essentials.

  2. Search for and click the folder for the media that you are adding.

  3. Copy and paste, or drag-and-drop the media files that you want to add to the appropriate shared folder on the server.

There are two options for downloading files. These options are available only when you are downloading multiple files or a folder to a Windows-based computer.

Choose the following option that fits your needs for downloads:

  • Compressed ZIP file (.zip)

    Zipping a file creates a compressed version of the file that is smaller than the original file. The zipped version of the file has a .zip file name extension. File types that are reduced the most by zipping are text-oriented file types (such as .txt, .doc, and .xls), and graphics files that use non-compressed file types (such as .bmp). Some graphic files, such as .jpg and .gif files, already use compression, and the file size is reduced very little by zipping. Also, a Word document that contains a lot of graphics is not reduced as much as a document that is mostly text.

    noteNote
    This option provides limited support for international file names.

  • Self-extracting executable file (.exe)

    A self-extracting executable file is a file that you can download that combines the decompression (executable) program with the compressed files. When you run the executable program, it automatically decompresses the compressed files. This is a common way to distribute compressed data without worrying about whether the recipient has the right decompression utility.

    noteNote
    This option supports Unicode characters.

Before the actual download begins, the .exe or .zip file is created. Depending on the number of files and the total size of the files to be downloaded, this may take several minutes. After the download file is created, downloading the file occurs in the background. This allows you to continue working while the download process completes.

The Easy File Upload tool streamlines the process of uploading files on your Windows Server 2012 Essentials server. You can add as many files as you want to the Easy File Upload tool, and then upload them to the Shared Folders on the Windows Server 2012 Essentials server in a single batch. For more information, see the blog post Understanding Remote Web Access File Sharing.

You can view or browse resources either by using the Dashboard, the Launchpad, the Remote Web Access website, or the My Server app for Windows Phone.

  1. Open the server Dashboard.

  2. On the main navigation bar, click STORAGE.

  3. Click the Server Folders tab. A list of server folders appears.

  4. Double-click a folder to view the contents of the folder.

  1. Sign in to the Launchpad.

  2. Click Shared Folders. Windows Explorer opens and displays a list of shared folders on the server.

  3. Double-click a folder to view the contents of the folder.

  1. Log on to Remote Web Access.

  2. Click Shared Folders. The Shared Folders section of the web page displays a list of shared folders on the server.

  3. Double-click a folder to view the contents of the folder.

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