Windows Media Player 11 best iTunes says writer

Posted:
in iPod + iTunes + AppleTV edited January 2014
http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/ZDM/story?id=1962880



Quote:

Apple has been amazingly successful at winning over PC users and infiltrating their machines via iTunes, but with Windows Media Player 11 (WMP 11), Microsoft says "No more."





The new release, launching Wednesday as a public beta download, beats Apple iTunes in many aspects. It acts as a repository and player for all your music, video, and images, unlike Apple's popular player. And while WMP 11 doesn't integrate with the iTunes Music Store, it also doesn't lock you in to one purchasing source. In fact, it integrates numerous stores including Napster, audible.com, Movielink, and MTV's new Urge service.





This release represents a major departure from the feel and navigation styles of WMP 10 and iTunes. With many other media players, you scroll through a list of files; WMP 11 lets you browse your library by cover. Some other players, like Yahoo! Music include the capability, but none do it as well. Bringing art to navigation makes the process much more appealing visually?your music collection no longer looks like a spreadsheet.





You'll also find the Word Wheel search technology Microsoft has implemented with Vista. Its speed is stunning?start to enter the first few letters of a track, album, or artist into the search bar, and the appropriate music will be waiting for you before you stop typing. Although iTunes has the same basic feature, seeing album art pop up is much more compelling than getting a list of tracks.?Continue reading



All Together Now



Navigation is also more unified than with iTunes, which still hasn't found a smooth way to integrate video files and podcasts into a general media library. With the Apple player, you use entirely different interfaces for the different media types. In WMP 11, though, the interface looks the same for all content types in all locations, so you browse, search, add, and delete photos no differently than music or videos. Searching for and editing content on portable devices works the same way as well. Windows Media Player 10 has a poorly integrated navigation system, so I'm pleased to see such a consistent one now.





During setup, the new media player searches your entire PC for compatible files and adds them to your library. If you're like me, though, you've got all kinds of cruddy audio files on your drive, and as happened with me, they'll end up in your library. I cleared out the whole list and started over, but on the second try, I specified the folders to be searched. The process wasn't as intuitive as iTunes' Add Folder command but was easy enough.



Once the player has built your library, the default view divides your music by album, with the artwork and artist info on the left, followed by track information. I love being able to browse by artwork, but in these days of Bit Torrents, indie music, and downloaded singles, large chunks of your collection will probably be missing such images. No worries: Half of my collection had no art, but when I started WMP the next day, Presto! It was magically there. Of course, if you don't want to browse by artwork, you can always use a simple List view.



In a few instances, WMP didn't find album art or had incomplete ID3 info, forcing me to search the database myself?a bit cumbersome, as I had to associate tracks to the album one by one. But as I did so, the software kept updating metadata, so most albums worked themselves out on their own. I was surprised by the depth of the ID3 catalog, supplied by All Music Guide. An album by my own band, Mere, automatically retrieved album art and ID3 info, despite having sold only 3,000 copies or so.



There was a hubbub a few months ago concerning privacy with the iTunes Mini Store because it phones home to transmit info about your listening (as do several of the popular players). For those with such concerns, the WMP 11 setup asks you if you'd like to disable the auto-connect capabilities, which are set on by default. At any time, you can turn off features that require connecting to the Internet.



The window layout is fairly straightforward. The familiar tree navigation, reminiscent of WMP 10 and iTunes, sits on the far left side and lets you select among views: Album, Artist, Song,, and others. Back and Forward buttons that look like those in Internet Explorer 7 reside at the top left and greatly simplify navigation.?Continue reading



Cheese and Other Features



The cheesy visualizations of the previous version remain?why, I don't know?and the equalizer is still just as hard to find. I was intrigued by the Display Lyrics and Captions option but wasn't able to get it to work, even when I chose ultra-poppy songs like The Beach Boys' "Surfin' USA," Michael Jackson's "Beat It," and Kelly Clarkson's "Since U Been Gone."



Windows Media Player 11 also includes easy-to-use ripping and burning features. You can compile and burn either audio or data CDs?you can even burn collections that span several discs. Very cool. I found the ripping options to be fairly extensive. You can rip to MP3, WAV, WMA (with several bit-rate options?full quality, variable bit rate, or up to 192 kbps). MP3 ripping maxes out at 320 kbps.



Syncing and loading portable players is much, much, much easier than with WMP 10, and is as smooth as what any of the other services, including iTunes, offer. Surprised? So was I. Getting music onto a portable player using the previous version was a truly awful experience, but this one lets you hook up your player, then simply drag files and drop them into the right-hand pane. As the media player scans your library, a meter lets you know how much room the device will have left when the files are copied onto it. When you get close to the limit, just hit sync to actually transfer the files.





The iTunes transfer feature has one advantage?it loads your device as you drag and drop, but that's the only way it's better. And there's a trade-off ?WMP 11 lets you see what you're loading without switching views; iTunes doesn't. And with WMP 11's reverse sync you can easily get pictures or voice recordings off of your portable device and into your library. Still no iPod compatibility, though. If you've been holding your breath waiting for it, I'd exhale. It'll never happen.





As with music album covers, the folder view of photos shows the pictures in each folder in the form a virtual stack, with the top image visible. Clicking on a folder takes you inside. Clicking on an individual image blows it up to full size and starts a slide show of all the folder's images.





Microsoft still has some work to do before it launches Windows Media Player 11 for real. Metadata lookup could be faster, and the interface, while good, needs tweaking?for example, some of the buttons you use most often are too small. But this media player is a lot more fun to use than any other, and just as powerful. To check it out for yourself, go to http://www.microsoft.com/windowsmedia/player/11 (the link will be live on Wednesday, May 17th).




Wow it took Microsoft "how" long to finally get it right. I like the feature where it finds and completes loading album artwork. I hope that's in iTunes next. I'll be looking forward to May 17th so that I can see if what he says carries weight or is he just blowing smoke.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 18
    eckingecking Posts: 1,588member
    From the photos I've seen it actually is a pretty nice interface.



    I've always liked itunes but always thought it could use some interface changes to make it a bit cleaner and nicer. And that video folder/panel/whatever where isgives video thumbnails of every video you have it just horrible, so that goes without saying.
  • Reply 2 of 18
    irelandireland Posts: 17,547member
    I think it looks ridiculous. With its unnecessary linear colored glass, and cluttered feel. Who cares about the fact that it links to so many online music stores when iTunes is the best, and the iPod is the best music player by a country mile!! That album cover idea just doesn't work either. There are a few reason why too. You don't choose your music tastes based on how nice a bands album cover is. It's destracting. And when you have over 2000 songs in your library you don't want to choose the song you want to listen to based on so many album covers. iTunes playlist system is one of the most important features, with smart album playlists. So you can organize you music in the source list be genre and catagory in an instant. The video thing, can be changed by a simple click of a button to view by video name/title if you want. Sure iTunes isn't perfect but over time it's changing thanks to the great old feedback button, and the great team at apple.
  • Reply 3 of 18
    hmurchisonhmurchison Posts: 12,227member
    http://www.winsupersite.com/showcase...gallery_01.asp





    confirmed.



    The writer is a freakin' moron.





    The "PC Magazine" should have given me all the info I needed.
  • Reply 4 of 18
    chris cuillachris cuilla Posts: 4,825member
    One thing I can say is that only Microsoft could figure out a way to turn "Get Info..." into "Advanced Tag Editor".



  • Reply 5 of 18
    benjbenj Posts: 68member
    To be honest WMP 11 isn't really an issue- you know what you'll be using- I know what I'll be using. I also know what the Millions upon millions of iPod users and Mac users will be using. No iPod compatibility- and no Mac compatible version- come on it's clear where Microsoft's priorities lie. iTunes is consistent- you don't have to keep adapting the eye to a new UI every time you click something!

    "Sorry we can't be bothered to program this for the Mac here have a plug-in that doesn't work for our new file types but I'm sure you'll do fine." is the long and short of the WMA Mactopia site.

    Make your decision but shiny and cluttered or simple, useful and easy to use - is your choice!







    BENj
  • Reply 6 of 18
    rongoldrongold Posts: 302member
    Maybe it should have read like this.



    Apple has been amazingly successful at winning over PC users and infiltrating their machines via iTunes, but with Windows Media Player 11 (WMP 11), Microsoft says "No more."





    The new release, launching Wednesday as a public beta download, beats Apple iTunes in many aspects. It acts as a repository and player for all your music, video, and images, unlike Apple's popular player (which provides access to all your music and video album art AND podcasts AND PDFs AND online movie trailers). And while WMP 11 doesn't integrate with the iTunes Music Store, it also doesn't lock you in to one purchasing source. In fact, it integrates numerous stores including Napster, audible.com, Movielink, and MTV's new Urge service (almost as many as Apple's iTunes Music Store which provides more songs than Napster and Urge put together (3 million) as well as Audible content along with the various Universities' repository content, government hearings and addresses, movie trailers, and TV shows from the many networks like ABC, Bravo, Comedy Central, CBS Sports, Disney Channel, ESPN, Fuel TV, FX, Jetix, NBA TV, NBC, Nickelodeon, Sci Fi, Showtime, SPEED, USA and ummm... oh yeh, and MTV themselves).





    This release represents a major departure from the feel and navigation styles of WMP 10 and iTunes (with its use of an intuitive UI from Apple). With many other media players, you scroll through a list of files; WMP 11 lets you browse your library by cover. Some other players, like Yahoo! Music include the capability, but none do it as well. Bringing art to navigation makes the process much more appealing visually?your music collection no longer looks like a spreadsheet.





    You'll also find the Word Wheel search technology Microsoft has implemented with Vista. Its speed is stunning (almost as fast as Apple's implementation in iTunes)?start to enter the first few letters of a track, album, or artist into the search bar, and the appropriate music will be waiting for you before you stop typing. Although iTunes has the same basic feature (plus the incorporation of Smart Album Playlists and their other appropriate navigation systems), seeing album art pop up is much more compelling than getting a list of tracks.?Continue reading



    All Together Now



    Navigation is also more unified than with iTunes, which still hasn't found a smooth way to integrate video files and podcasts into a general media library (unless you want to count the simple click of a button to toggle between the different methods of viewing the content in iTunes). With the Apple player, you use entirely different interfaces for the different media types (which is quite appropriate to the way a person searches and absorbs specific content). In WMP 11, though, the interface looks the same for all content types in all locations, so you browse, search, add, and delete photos no differently than music or videos. Searching for and editing content on portable devices works the same way as well. Windows Media Player 10 has a poorly integrated navigation system, so I'm pleased to see such a consistent one now.





    During setup, the new media player searches your entire PC for compatible files and adds them to your library. If you're like me, though, you've got all kinds of cruddy audio files on your drive, and as happened with me, they'll end up in your library. I cleared out the whole list and started over, but on the second try, I specified the folders to be searched. The process wasn't as intuitive as iTunes' Add Folder command but was easy enough (maybe next time).



    Once the player has built your library, the default view divides your music by album, with the artwork and artist info on the left, followed by track information. I love being able to browse by artwork, but in these days of Bit Torrents, indie music, and downloaded singles, large chunks of your collection will probably be missing such images. No worries: Half of my collection had no art, but when I started WMP the next day, Presto! It was magically there. Of course, if you don't want to browse by artwork, you can always use a simple List view.



    In a few instances, WMP didn't find album art or had incomplete ID3 info, forcing me to search the database myself?a bit cumbersome, as I had to associate tracks to the album one by one. But as I did so, the software kept updating metadata, so most albums worked themselves out on their own. I was surprised by the depth of the ID3 catalog, supplied by All Music Guide. An album by my own band, Mere, automatically retrieved album art and ID3 info, despite having sold only 3,000 copies or so.



    There was a hubbub a few months ago concerning privacy with the iTunes Mini Store because it phones home to transmit info about your listening (as do several of the popular players). For those with such concerns, the WMP 11 setup asks you if you'd like to disable the auto-connect capabilities (wow, just like Apple's iTunes Music Store, except it actually offers usable feedback), which are set on by default. At any time, you can turn off features that require connecting to the Internet.



    The window layout is fairly straightforward. The familiar tree navigation, reminiscent of WMP 10 and iTunes, sits on the far left side and lets you select among views: Album, Artist, Song,, and others. Back and Forward buttons that look like those in Internet Explorer 7 reside at the top left and greatly simplify navigation.?Continue reading



    Cheese and Other Features



    The cheesy visualizations of the previous version remain?why, I don't know?and the equalizer is still just as hard to find. I was intrigued by the Display Lyrics and Captions option but wasn't able to get it to work, even when I chose ultra-poppy songs like The Beach Boys' "Surfin' USA," Michael Jackson's "Beat It," and Kelly Clarkson's "Since U Been Gone."



    Windows Media Player 11 also includes easy-to-use ripping and burning features (just like Apple except that when they incorporated it they were acting as thieves, according to Steve Balmer - Silicon.com interview). You can compile and burn either audio or data CDs?you can even burn collections that span several discs. Very cool. I found the ripping options to be fairly extensive (almost as many options as what Apple provides, sans AIFF, AAC, Apple Lossless, etc.). You can rip to MP3, WAV, WMA (with several bit-rate options?full quality, variable bit rate, or up to 192 kbps). MP3 ripping maxes out at 320 kbps.



    Syncing and loading portable players is much, much, much easier than with WMP 10, and is as smooth as what any of the other services, including iTunes offer (except Apple does offer more flexibility). Surprised? So was I. Getting music onto a portable player using the previous version was a truly awful experience, but this one lets you hook up your player, then simply drag files and drop them into the right-hand pane (now all they have to do is make it automatic like the iTunes true syncing experience or maybe even provide desktop integration like iTunes). As the media player scans your library, a meter lets you know how much room the device will have left when the files are copied onto it. When you get close to the limit, just hit sync to actually transfer the files.





    The iTunes transfer feature has one advantage?it loads your device as you drag and drop, but that's the only way it's better. And there's a trade-off ?WMP 11 lets you see what you're loading without switching views; iTunes doesn't. And with WMP 11's reverse sync you can easily get pictures or voice recordings off of your portable device and into your library. Still no iPod compatibility, though. If you've been holding your breath waiting for it, I'd exhale. It'll never happen (that's to bad since 80% of the players won't work with it).





    As with music album covers, the folder view of photos shows the pictures in each folder in the form a virtual stack, with the top image visible. Clicking on a folder takes you inside. Clicking on an individual image blows it up to full size and starts a slide show of all the folder's images.





    Microsoft still has some work to do before it launches Windows Media Player 11 for real. Metadata lookup could be faster, and the interface, while good, needs tweaking?for example, some of the buttons you use most often are too small. But this media player is a lot more fun to use than any other, and just as powerful. To check it out for yourself, go to http://www.microsoft.com/windowsmedia/player/11 (the link will be live on Wednesday, May 17th).
  • Reply 7 of 18
    19841984 Posts: 955member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by hmurchison

    http://www.winsupersite.com/showcase...gallery_01.asp





    confirmed.



    The writer is a freakin' moron.





    The "PC Magazine" should have given me all the info I needed.




    Looking at that I can't see why anyone uses Windows anymore. Wow, what an elegant interface... So logical and easy to navigate.
  • Reply 8 of 18
    shady104shady104 Posts: 332member
    in those screen shots look at the left side it says ipod and ipod video???im confused any thoughts
  • Reply 9 of 18
    benjbenj Posts: 68member
    Fuck me it does as well!! Well if these are Microsoft's pre-release screen shots maybe it's their idea of a 'funny'!! Well to say that WMP11 isn't even compatible with iPod!
  • Reply 10 of 18
    icibaquicibaqu Posts: 278member
    I actually would like to scroll through and look at albums by artwork. i'm more visual and sometimes remember cd's i own by the color of the CD. So that's lost on me with itunes. I'd like being able to flip through like a jukebox.



    Otherwise, it would also be nice (and bust up any competition in that regard) if iTunes did implement the ability to interelate with other music services. That way, even if they don't have the amount of content now, the alliance is built for the future as a protective measure of when they DO have the content. B/C w/ Apple, if the allegance to iTunes is gone, they're basically fucked on a hardware level.
  • Reply 11 of 18
    I agree with 1984; looking at those screenshots reminds me of something a friend told me back when I switched to the Mac in '99. She said, "the fundamental difference is that, in Windows, you must click on each control/button/link to see what it does, and then log that result into your brain. Or you have to read each and every 'Tooltip.' With the Mac, you instantly and intuitively know what a control does simply by looking." I know this is said often, but you guys are my witnesses: it's been seven years, and I would never go back. Especially now.



    With that said, I wouldn't be surprised if Apple managed to copy WMP 11 with an elegant "View By Artwork" or some such command for viewing your library. Hopefully, though, Apple can be convinced to change its iTunes video integration (or an option of it) to simply launch QuickTime Player like it does in iPhoto.
  • Reply 12 of 18
    nauticalnautical Posts: 109member
    What a mess that UI is. And that Vista look makes me cringe every time I see it. People might complain about the new MacBooks having glaring screens but when you see how Vista is going to look you have to give Microsoft credit for pushing the envelope since they are designing the entire interface to be glaring in itself.
  • Reply 13 of 18
    shady104shady104 Posts: 332member
    i DLed the beta...it sux! not easy to use at all! i love me itunes! lol
  • Reply 14 of 18
    chirhochirho Posts: 50member
    i've recently fallen in love with itunes on my PC. i do think MP11 looks FAAAR better (hate brushed metal, prefer the glass look), and i will use it to see if it's better.



    at the end of the day, i love itunes, so i hope this improvement in WM11 will spur apple on to fix the few problems itunes has (e.g. video integration, interface customisation, playing music without the need for a library etc)
  • Reply 15 of 18
    gene cleangene clean Posts: 3,481member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by shady104

    i DLed the beta...it sux! not easy to use at all! i love me itunes! lol



    Yeah, double-clicking on a file is pretty hard.
  • Reply 16 of 18
    shady104shady104 Posts: 332member
    no asswipe its not hard BUT the way they set up the interface and the library its just not as simplstic as itunes. even WMP10 was far better then the way they have it now. i think the album art concept is cool in theory but its far from perfect but they still ahve time to fix it.
  • Reply 17 of 18
    addaboxaddabox Posts: 12,660member
    I like the browse by album cover option. I wouldn't be surprised if Apple didn't toss this into iTunes fairly soon.



    But it seems to be in Microsoft's DNA that their answer, always always always, to making things "better" is "able to do more stuff in more different ways with more UI elements".



    At least previous Windows interfaces seemed to reflect this. With the Vista UI stuff there's this real disconnect between the "cleaner" design elements and the usual proliferation of visual clutter.



    It reminds of of a lot of CE design- an excess of pretty knobs and glowing things and displays and parts, to make the product look "cooler", without much thought to usability.



    Actually, a better comparison might be between Sony's stores and the Apple store. Sony puts the emphasis on "fun destination video arcade lots of stuff" whereas Apple stresses clarity and simplicity.



    Apple made some of these same mistakes in early iterations of OS X but has steadily been toning things down; MS appears to be intent on replicating all the excesses of 10.0 and then some.
  • Reply 18 of 18
    bergzbergz Posts: 1,045member
    WaPo: New Media Player: Nice Features, but It's No ITunes



    Excerpts:



    Quote:

    Microsoft and MTV say this integration of software and store offers an ease and simplicity to match iTunes. But if a week's trial of the service is any clue, Urge will have a hard time competing with such also-rans as Rhapsody, Yahoo and Napster, let alone Apple.



    ... its biggest problem: its integration into Windows Media Player 11. Not only does this new, Windows XP-only software promote Urge to the exclusion of other retailers, you can't shop at this store-- or even just play your Urge downloads -- in any earlier version of Windows Media Player.



    But Windows Media Player 11 ( http://www.microsoft.com/windowsmedia ) isn't any old beta release; it's essentially a system upgrade, one that can be removed only with XP's System Restore tool. Nobody should install this kind of preview software lightly.



    ... It cleverly represents how many songs you have in a given category -- from one artist, in one genre, released in a particular year and so on-- by stacking these thumbnails on top of each other.



    Aside from the way this redesign still places the play/pause/stop buttons at the bottom of the screen, as far as possible from every other control, this interface is a smart, creative way to organize a digital music library.



    It's too bad that Windows Media Player didn't locate cover-art images reliably -- most of my library was illustrated with generic blank-CD icons. For every obscure indie artist's cover art that the program found, it missed two or three releases from big-name acts.



    Apple needs -- and customers deserve -- vigorous competition. But that's not going to happen if the best Apple's rivals can manage is a combination of beta software of dubious reliability and a tie-in to a music TV channel that devotes most of its airtime to things besides music.



    --B
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