The Xbox 360 gaming console has built-in compatibility with Microsoft Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7 operating systems. A local network connection allows the Xbox and Windows PC to share media; in addition, the Windows Internet Connection Sharing feature makes it easier to connect an Xbox to the Internet. Although the original Xbox console does not include the sharing features of the Xbox 360, it can also connect to a Windows PC.
Once connected, an Xbox 360 and a Windows PC can share music, pictures and videos between devices. Media stored on either system remains accessible on both devices as long as the network connection is maintained. Both devices support a similar range of common media files, including CDs ripped on the computer and videos downloaded from Xbox Live.
To establish a connection, an Xbox and a Windows PC must be connected to the same local network. The connection is routed through the Windows Media Center and Windows Media Player programs built in to several versions of Windows, as well as through the optional Zune software, available as a free download from Microsoft's website. Once connected, the Xbox will have access to the media library of that specific program. Establish the connection in Windows Media Center by selecting "Add extender" in the "Tasks" menu. In Windows Media Player, click "Turn on Media Streaming" from the "Stream" menu. In the Zune software, click "Xbox 360" in the "Settings" menu.
In addition to media sharing, the Xbox 360 is compatible with Windows Internet Connection Sharing. This allows a networked computer to give the Xbox console Internet access for connection to Xbox Live. An Xbox 360 with a wireless adapter can also take advantage of the ad hoc wireless network features of Windows 7 and connect to the system's wireless bubble for Internet access or media sharing.
Microsoft's original Xbox device does not include any media sharing features and cannot access the Windows media library. However, Internet connection sharing still works for Xbox users wishing to connect to the Internet through a Windows computer.
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