Friday, November 03, 2006

Windows Media Player 11 Released

Microsoft have released version 11 of Windows Media Player, which now offers new ways to store and enjoy digital media beyond music. Access all of your video, pictures, and recorded TV on your computer - play it, view it, organize it, sync it to a portable device for viewing on the go, or share with devices around your home, all from one place.

Billed as the "most-used media player in the world", Microsoft claims that with version 11 you can now access music "faster than on any other media player". With the upcoming release of their Zune portable media device, Windows Media Player will also act as the conduit for sharing media files between devices and Microsoft claims support for more than 200 devices through the new software as well as access to hundreds of online music and video services and radio stations.

Windows Media Player 11 also features integration with the MTV URGE music service, which gives it access to over two million tracks and MTV exclusives. URGE also includes hundreds of playlists, radio stations, music blogs, artist profiles, and feature stories and URGE Feeds keep new music flowing straight to your PC and portable music player. Of course it'll connect to lots of other online music stores as well.

In addition to the current format options for ripping your music—Windows Media Audio (WMA), MP3, Windows Media Audio (Variable Bit Rate), and Windows Media Audio (Lossless)—Windows Media Player 11 introduces two new options: Windows Media Audio Pro and WAV (lossless). It also comes with Advanced Audio Fingerprinting, which helps ensure that album art and track information gets added as you import music. And then there's Instant Search, which allows fast access to your digital music collection. Just type in the track, album, artist, or a keyword or even part of a name and results are returned with each keystroke, narrowing down the choices as you type, and providing lightning-fast response time, regardless of the size of your library.

Obviously version 11 has been developed as a means of competing with Apple and to help get their Zune player quickly accepted by the masses and this upgrade looks like a major step forward. I love Apple but with iTunes and iPod they've dominated the downloadable music market with no serious competition for a long time now.

1 comment:

Jim Henderson said...

It would appear Alan, that Zune users must use a new piece of library software - and not Windows Media Player (from a review quoted on the BBC Technology site)
Dealbreaker for education users is that Zune does not "do" podcasts either.