Consumers curious about what's coming in Windows Vista will get a preview of sorts by the end of June, when Microsoft launches the Windows XP version of Windows Media Player 11.
The new features will eventually be built into the Vista operating system, due next year. They include technology designed to help synch with portable devices, handle large music libraries and work with Urge, a new subscription and download music service from Microsoft and MTV Networks.
The Vista version is a significant shift from the current media player software, in particular in the way it handles connections to portable devices. Still, no word from Microsoft on whether Media Player will connect to the most popular digital music player, Apple's iPod.
Bloggers were eager to get their hands on the new tools, and to find out which features were being held back.
Blog community response:
"For those of us with large digital libraries WMP 10 (as great as it is) has been a huge hassle for trying to sort through these tracks. Windows Media Player 11 (according to Microsoft insiders) has been tested with over 2 million tracks and runs much more smoothly."
--Thomas Hawk's Digital Connection
"A lot of the missing features are related to streaming DRM-protected content from a PC with Media Center features to other devices, especially modern extenders like the Xbox 360."
--Ed Bott's Windows Expertise
"Given the mobile revolution we're in the midst of, the more functions that enable mobility and file control in WMP, the quicker we'll see adoption of the new application."