VICTORY IS MINE! I have defeated the XBox 360 and its media playing demons!
Or something like that.
What I ended up doing was this:
Re-Install Windows XP
Re-Install All Software.
Fortunately I have two hard drives and I could use the second for backup. I don’t recommend this if you don’t have any way to do your backups.
Not the best solution in the world, but whatever. It worked.
I just watched a slide show of photos from one of my recent hiking trips while playing music from my computer. Very nice now that it works.
I am using Apple’s iTunes software to manage my music collection because my wife has an iPod. I’ve shared the music collection between us using information gleaned from a post on marius.org. I have turned off iTunes “Keep iTunes Music folder organized” feature and am organizing the music manually in a Genre -> Artist -> Album hierarchy. I’ve left the “Copy files to iTunes music folder…” option selected. So iTunes creates an Artist -> Album folder for me when I import it. Then I manually file the music where it should be. Then I remove the album from iTunes. Then I re-add the moved folder to iTunes. It’s a bit convoluted, but it does what I want it to.
Things to keep in mind to get Media Connect working with Windows XP:
1. File names – make sure you don’t have any illegal characters in them. Make sure these don’t appear in the Song Title, Album, Artist and file name for any music files you want to use. For the record they are these characters: / : ; * ? ” | I’m not sure if this is critical, but I did have some files with these characters in those fields which I then removed.
2. Share only those folders of media content that you actually want on the XBox 360. I have re-sorted my music collection into Genre sub-folders, and only shared those folders that I want to play through the XBox 360. Makes for a shorter boot time for the PC too as every time you re-boot, Windows Media Connect parses the list of files in the folders being shared.
Hopefully this information helps someone else someday. If it does, please post a comment to let me know!