XP Embedded

Hacking Dell MediaDirect

Note – title is for ‘catchy title’ purposes only, I don’t claim this is actual hacking on any level

One of the nifty features of my new laptop is ‘Dell MediaDirect‘ – essentially a button which quickly loads a hidden partition allowing you to listen to your music, see your pictures, watch videos and DVDs and display PowerPoints all without ever booting up Windows. It’s nice to have – and though not as pretty as Windows Media Center – a fairly cool thing to have available.

MediaDirect runs on Windows XP Embedded, so I wondered if there was a quick and easy way to have a bit of a play about with it. Thankfully, there is!

1. Make a PowerPoint presentation containing a hyperlink to C:\Windows\explorer.exe

2. If using Office 2007, save this in the 97-2003 file format so that MediaDirect’s 2003 viewer can open it

3. Boot into MediaDirect and click on the link – and voila!

4. To enable the Task Manager so that you can quickly repeat this process in future, find taskmgr.ex_ in the ‘Windows \ System32’ directory and rename to taskmgr.exe.

XP Embedded

XP Embedded

(Paint isn’t included in that version of XP Embedded and loading Vista’s version from the main partition didn’t work, but a copy of XP’s Paint did the screenshot job nicely.)

So – what practical purpose does this all serve? Probably very little. There is some space – about 265MB worth – for adding your own ‘quick access’ stuff. A fully functional (it appears) version of Windows Media Player 10 is included. A few DOS games – loaded from the Vista partition – also work, which is useful since they didn’t in Vista. It could also be feasible to update the PowerPoint viewer and allow viewing 2007 file formats. It also occurred to me that if your main Windows installation was damaged beyond repair that this could be a good way of easily accessing your files from the hard drive, since USB devices are recognised by XP Embedded. But really, it was just nice to achieve – really by accident – at 2 in the morning

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5 Comments on :
Hacking Dell MediaDirect

  1. McPingu says:

    You actually have a copy of xp running on your shiny new Vista box? You must be gutted!

    Anyway, it’s all a bit pointless. With a Mac laptop, there’s no need to ever shut it down. The sleep function is so power efficient, you can leave it for days. Then just open it up, and it’s ready to go in around 5 secs. I guess that would never work with Windows, as it needs it’s daily reboots….

  2. Red Dalek says:

    Um, Windows hasn’t needed daily reboots since 9x days (if that…) and Vista does sleep (naturally).

    Sleep is never as power-efficient as actually turning it off though, from an electricity consumption point of view.

  3. Andy Kings says:


    For once, I am out-geeked.

    It is a nice feeling

    Whay, the verification has 69 in it.


  4. Alex says:

    Very clever way to do it. I’d been going at it for hours without getting anywhere.
    A good purpose is to install divx and me able to play divx files in media direct.

  5. Shikhar says:

    Awesome man. I was wondering how 2 install codecs 4 mediadirect as it cannot play divx/xvid and your article has really solved the problem.
    just fabulous.

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