Windows Media Player
Microsoft Windows Media Player is the free, pre-installed media player for Windows 7, Vista and XP. It also comes built into Windows-based smart phones. Windows Media Player is a versatile player for nearly all types of audio and video files. It also rips and burns CDs, and does a lot more...
What is Windows Media Player?
Windows Media Player can do lots of things besides play music and videos. It will display static images in JPG, GIF, and most other formats. It can catalog all of the media files on your computer automatically. If you have a song saved on your hard drive, Windows Media Player can search the Internet and retrieve the song's artist information, album art, and other metadata. Shopping for songs or movies in online stores is easy with Windows Media Player.
You can transfer media files from one device to another using Windows Media Player; for example, copy a song from your computer to your smart phone, MP3 player, or even a game console such as the Xbox. Windows Media Player will even translate one media file format to another that is better suited for playback on the target device.
The latest version of Windows Media Player is version 12. Be advised that v12 works only with Windows 7 (all editions). Windows XP and Vista are compatible with Windows Media Player version 11 or earlier. Older versions of Windows (95, 98, ME) are not supported anymore.
You can even serve streaming multicasts to remote devices using Windows Media Player 12. That means your home computer can become your own private radio or TV station broadcasting whatever content you wish to select friends and family members, or to whoever knows the IP address of your server. Of course, you must have the legal right to broadcast such content.
With all these features and a price of zero, why would anyone consider an alternative to Windows Media Player? Some of the reasons are pragmatic and others are more emotional or philosophical.
Alternatives to Windows Media Player
Playback quality is a pragmatic reason to consider alternatives to Windows Media Player for certain non-Microsoft media file formats. The .MOV video format, for example, was developed by Apple Computer specifically for its Quicktime media player. Many users swear that MOV files play better on Quicktime than they do on Windows Media Player.
Speaking of Apple: there are versions of Windows Media Player for Mac OS. But they have not been constantly improved (or debugged) as the Windows versions are. So if you own a Mac you probably can find a better media player than Windows Media Player for Mac OS. iTunes is the default music player for Apple computers, and although it works great on that platform, many people feel it's a bit clunky on Windows PCs.
Bulk and complexity are other reasons many people dislike Windows Media Player. Just about any application that is up to its twelfth major version takes up a lot of disk space and RAM. "Mature" applications also suffer from featuritis - a confusing surplus of exotic features that the vast majority of users never need. Many users prefer a smaller, simpler, more agile alternative to Windows Media Player.
The VLC Media Player from The VideoLAN Project is one of the most popular alternatives to Windows Media Player. It's a free, open source media player that claims to "play everything." Unlike Windows Media Player, VLC Media Player will play all of the readable parts of a damaged file. It's smaller, faster, and easier to learn than Windows Media Player, according to most users. Other popular free alternatives to Windows Media Player include Songbird, Foobar2000, and WinAmp. Try them all and see which one suits your style the best.
What's your favorite media player? Post a comment or question below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 9 Sep 2010
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Windows Media Player (Posted: 9 Sep 2010)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved