Windows Media Player 11 review: Windows Media Player 11

6
This content is rated TV-MA, and is for viewers 18 years or older. Are you of age?
Sorry, you are not old enough to view this content.
  •  
  • 1

CNET Editors' Rating

4 stars Excellent
  • Overall: 8.0
  • Installation and interface: 8.0
  • Features: 8.0
  • Performance: 8.0
  • Service and support: 8.0
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good Windows Media Player 11 has a simple and visually effective interface; excellent performance, especially with large media libraries; and solid integration with Urge, its de facto music service.

The Bad Still in beta, Windows Media Player 11 has some bugs to work out, though we didn't notice any major ones. Plus, there's no podcast directory yet.

The Bottom Line For Windows XP users, Windows Media Player 11 is a must-have upgrade. It's Microsoft's best jukebox effort to date, thanks to a thoughtful redesign, impressive performance, and a ton of useful features.

Don't Miss

Editor's note: A picture's worth a thousand words. For a closer look at Windows Media Player 11 and Urge, check out our slide show.

Windows Media Player (WMP) 11--which debuted at CES earlier this year and features a visually appealing interface, as well as impressive features and performance--is Microsoft's best jukebox to date. Not that it was a grand feat to improve upon a generally disappointing string of versions, including the somewhat awkward version 10. Still, if Microsoft is ever going to seriously challenge the iTunes music empire, the time is now. With the addition of MTV's Urge, the jukebox's resident music service, WMP 11 (available Wednesday as a free beta download) certainly seems poised for battle.

It's not like Microsoft had trouble distributing any version of WMP; after all, the jukebox comes stock on any Windows system, and in fact, you can't get rid of it. The trouble was the software was never particularly compelling, though it was pretty much essential for users of non-iPod MP3 players. With this beta launch, Microsoft has transformed its omnipresent media player from a state of default mediocrity into a powerful must-have application for music and media. Windows Media faithful will be pleasantly surprised upon installing the revamped WMP 11 for XP; Microsoft has put significant effort into creating a seamless digital media environment for the user, the software, the service, and portable devices.

WMP 11 for Windows XP is at its core the same jukebox you'll experience for the upcoming (but tardy) Vista OS. It all begins with the interface: Microsoft product managers admitted that it needed to be much simpler, more visual, and more like iTunes. Rather than dumbing down the GUI, Microsoft has smartened it up with wise design decisions that open up the desktop without eliminating the powerful features within. For example, the playback controls (at the bottom) are now glossy and inviting, and they include repeat and shuffle options. Additionally, the back and forward navigation buttons (upper-left corner) ensure that you'll never get lost. However, the revamped menu buttons have the most significant impact on the interface. Boiled down to five choices--Now Playing, Library, Rip, Bun, and Sync--each button has its own sub-button that opens up a slew of useful menu items. So when you activate the split menu for Rip, you'll get options to adjust format, bit rate, and so on.

ALT TEXT
WMP 11's interface is graphically intense, with stacked album art for artists who have more than one LP in your library.

Don't Miss

 

Join the discussion

Conversation powered by Livefyre

Where to Buy

Windows Media Player 11

Part Number: CNETWINDOWSMEDIAPLAYER11 Released: May 17, 2006

Download for free from Download.com.

Quick Specifications

  • Release date May 17, 2006