Microsoft Windows Media Player 10.0 Technical Beta

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Microsoft is once again reviving its media megastar Windows Media Player (WMP). Version 10.0 offers a more streamlined design, improved syncing with portable devices, and something called the Digital Media Mall. At this point, the Mall lets you shop at only two online media stores. That said, this is only the Technical Beta, and smart money says Microsoft will likely add more stores with the final release.

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At this point, the only stores you'll find in the Digital Media Mall are Napster (for music) and CinemaNow (for movies).

Upside: Window Media Player 10.0 Technical Beta has a more user-friendly interface, but the real standout improvements are the program's enhanced portable-device syncing and the Digital Media Mall. The Mall is fairly self-explanatory; as for the syncing improvements, WMP now offers driverless support for many more portable devices and the option to customize synchronization settings to sync automatically upon connection or transfer all newly acquired tunes automatically.

Downside: Currently, the Digital Media Mall contains only Napster and CinemaNow, although we expect more stores to be added before the final version is released. The most popular MP3 player, Apple's iPod is still noticeably absent from the compatible devices list. (It works only with iTunes.)

Outlook: Extended device coverage and timesaving sync features are welcome additions. If Microsoft also convinces a good selection of online media stores and services to sign on for its Digital Media Mall, Windows Media Player 10.0 could become a must-have for music fans on the Windows platform.

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Microsoft Windows Media Player 10.0 Technical Beta

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