Windows Media Player 11 Review: A closer look at the new Media Player WMP11 from Microsoft

Windows Media Player 11 Review: A closer look at the new Media Player WMP11 from Microsoft
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Windows Media Player 11

Watch films on your TV wirelessly

Gone are the days of hooking up lengthy cables to view your videos and music on TV, or converting and burning your media files in DVD format. WMP11 has built in media sharing which allows you to watch your videos through a wireless device such as a standalone media player or a games console. You can access this under the Library menu by clicking on Media Sharing.

Update album information

If you’ve got any information missing from your music, you can right-click on it and choose Update Album Info. Your PC will then check online databases to find the missing details. If that doesn’t work, you can open up the album, right-click on a song or songs, and choose ‘Advanced Tag Editor’.

Use AlbumArt

In a feature similar to Coverflow in iTunes, WMP 11 now lets you browse your music collection by looking at small pictures of album covers. When you look at an artist, there is even an image that looks like a pile of their albums: the more albums you have by that group, the bigger the pile appears!

If an album is missing a cover in WMP11, you can try the Update Album Info option. If that doesn’t work, you can take any image (for example, from the relevant Amazon listing), copy it (either with a right-click and copy, or pressing CTRL and C), then right clicking on the album cover in WMP11 and choosing ‘Paste Album Art’. It’s best to choose images which are at least 200 pixels by 200 pixels, and square images work best.

There is also a free, independently produced program named AV Art Fixer which automates this process and helps you fix all your missing album files.

Listen by year

As well as the usual options to pick a song, artist, album or genre, you can now go into the WMP11 library and choose to listen to music from a particular year. This doesn’t work brilliantly as many of you music files may be missing this information, but it’s a neat trick if you’ve got a themed party or need to make a nostalgic compilation.

Search for information more quickly

When you type a phrase into the search engine, possible results appear before you’ve even finished typing. Each letter you type reduces the number of results, so you’ll often see what you are looking for before typing the entire phrase.

Burn a series of CDs

To burn a CD, you simply click Burn, drag across the songs you want, then choose Start burn. What makes the burn function in WMP11 particularly smart is that if you put too much music in the list (more than 74 or 80 minutes depending what type of disc you use), it will automatically split the songs across two or more discs.

Synchronise a media player

Like previous editions, WMP11 allows you to connect some types of portable music player (though not the iPod) and automatically add any new music files from your computer to the player. However, WMP11 also allows you to synch in the other direction, copying new songs from your player to the computer. That can be very handy if you use more than one computer, move to a new computer or, best of all, move in with a new roommate and decide to merge your music collections!

Switch to video

By default, WMP11 is set up to display menus and options for music as that’s the most common use for the program. But it still handles video and picture files: to get to them, simply click on the picture of a musical note in the top left of the screen and choose a different type of file.

Get online

WMP11 has a built-in link to several legal music and video download services, which you can access by clicking on the Media Guide button. Anything you buy will then automatically be added to your library. You may well find these services aren’t as comprehensive as iTunes, but they do give you several alternatives.

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