April 17, 2006 4:00 AM PDT

XP and Vista to get new media player

Microsoft plans to jazz up its music player in Windows Vista, the company's next operating system. But at least some of the new features will debut much sooner.

The software, which will be built into Vista, is designed to offer better synching with portable devices, make it easier to scroll through long libraries of music, and be tightly integrated with Urge, a new subscription and download music service co-developed by Microsoft and MTV Networks.

But while most people won't be able to get their hands on Vista until next year, consumers will be able to get some of the media enhancements sooner. Microsoft is on track to release a Windows XP version of Windows Media Player 11 before the end of June, the company confirmed last week.

Microsoft has been uncharacteristically tight-lipped about the XP incarnation. The company briefly demonstrated it at the Consumer Electronics Show in January but has said little since. Microsoft has said the XP version won't have all the features of its Vista sibling, but the company won't say which features will be excluded. The company also has yet to offer a public test version of the software.

The Vista version, which has been in public testing for months, offers significant changes from the current version of the media-playing software, particularly when connecting to portable devices.

With the new media player, consumers will be able to "reverse sync," meaning they can send content from a digital device to a PC. That will allow users to transfer pictures taken with their camera phone, or music purchased on a wireless device.

Other sync options include synching a player to multiple PCs and filling a device with random tracks--a la Shuffle in iTunes--according to a Windows Vista product guide that was briefly made available on the Internet last week.

Another change is the ability to alter protected music and video files to change their quality level. With the new software, protected Windows Media files can be converted to smaller file sizes for playback on mobile devices, where there is less need for very-high-quality video files.

Windows Media Player 11

Of course, the player that most people want to connect with is Apple Computer's iPod. And no, Windows Media Player 11 won't allow conversion of purchased Windows Media Songs into iTunes' proprietary FairPlay format. So songs bought from a Windows Media store still won't play on the iPod.

"When people are taking their songs off their computer, it's usually to an iPod," said Yankee Group analyst Nitin Gupta.

It is unclear whether Microsoft plans to build any special options to connect to the world's most popular digital music player. With the Xbox 360, Microsoft allows users to play music from the player, even though it can't process songs purchased from iTunes.

"That's certainly something they could implement," Gupta said. "The real issue is the purchased music portion. That's not going to change anytime soon."

CONTINUED: Making music with MTV…
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68 comments

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iTunes more advanced than I thought
I've been taking my "reverse sync" and "indexed search" for granted, not knowing some people don't have that luxury today.
Posted by nmcphers (261 comments )
Reply Link Flag
If it makes you feel better. Keep making up lies.
Gee. I guess all these helpless windoze users can't sync their movies and music to those snazzy looking portable music/movie players with 4" screens that's been for sale for the last 2.5 years.

Uh huh. Keep playing with those tunes there. It'll make you "smarter".

Oh, and it'll also make you GREENER too. Since Apple is SO politically correct. Just that Apple is fighting tooth and nails against legislation to recycle toxic computer parts. Something about the typical Apple user being too stupid to know the difference anyway.
Posted by kamwmail-cnet1 (292 comments )
Link Flag
well, uh, thanks...
"Some tracks can be played on a PC but not burned to a CD or added to a portable player. Others can be put on a player but not burned, while still other tracks can be used in all three ways.
"Windows Media Player 11 includes features that make it easier to understand these rights and troubleshoot any problems that may arise," Microsoft said in the Vista product guide."

Great, so we'll be better able to see clearly how we're getting screwed by our own media. That really solves the problem... or maybe the troubleshooting will include a remove DRM now button? ;)
Posted by skeptik (590 comments )
Reply Link Flag
pssst!
If you can burn the file to disk, then get a CDRW, or DVDRW, and burn the file onto it as an audio cd. then you just rip it back off, and there ya go. however, prolly won't do much for you if you are looking to save a video.... the songs that are PC or player only, are your problem.
Posted by Amazingant (146 comments )
Link Flag
Amazon.com's Subscription Music Service
In addition to MTV's new service, it's rumored that Amazon.com is going to offer a subscription music service.

I am interested in listening to new-to-me music, so I would prefer the subscription model to the iTune's pay-per-song model.

I hope that SOMEBODY can challenge iPod/iTunes; competition being a good thing for all consumers.
Posted by john55440 (1020 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Placing the Blame where it should lay
This article makes it look like it's MS fault for not being compatible with Itunes file format! That's rediculous. Apple has closed their format and is not licensing to anyone. It is Apples fault that no other MP3 player on the market or software works with Itunes music files.

Itunes users are isolated from the rest of the market...every other store Napster, BuyMusic.com, WalMart, Amazon, Yahoo Music...they all use WMA format. MS freely licenses the format to anyone that would choose to use it. All MP3 players other than Ipod support WMA format.

Apple has indeed created a "Walled Garden" and this is why they are being sued in France and elsewhere. It's monopolistic to close a format from all hardware and software vendors.

Cnet should get on the bandwagon and criticize Apple at every turn for not allowing their file format to be licensed to other companies or not making Ipods compatible with WMA. They should also be criticized for not having a subscription service!!! I mean come-on...everyone else is way ahead of the game.
Posted by deitiphobia (16 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Yeah... placing the blame....
Actually

You can put AAC (16 to 320 Kbps), Protected AAC (from iTunes
Music Store), MP3 (16 to 320 Kbps), MP3 VBR, Audible (formats
2, 3 and 4), Apple Lossless, WAV, AIFF files on an iPod.

Why should Apple pay MS money to license the inferior sounding
WMA file format?

It's not Apple's fault that the store you purchased your music
from won't allow you to convert it to a file format that the iPod
can use. If you purchase music from the iTunes store, you can
burn it to a red book audio CD, and then rip it to a .mp3 file and
put it on any player out there that is NOT an iPod.

With iTunes music store, you have options... with most other
stores, you don't. You make it sound like you can ONLY play
songs from iTunes in iPods, and that is simply not true. You
also make it sound like songs purchased from the iTunes music
store can ONLY be played on an iPod, and that is equally untrue.
I have hundreds of songs from the iTunes store and no iPod.

What you are saying that is true is that the store you purchased
your songs from won't allow you to make copies to place on an
iPod, and that is hardly Apple's fault.
Posted by jltnol (85 comments )
Link Flag
The blame lies with the Music Labels and no one else.
If it wasn't for their stupid insistence on the use of DRM then
this entire problem would not exist AT ALL. I would much rather
tech journalists spent their time lambasting the stealing away of
consumer rights by all the download services.

The solution is very simple - DO NOT BUY music online from
anyone using DRM! It is just supporting scum companies in their
efforts to screw you out of your property rights. iTMS or Napster
or WalMart or any of the other "legitimate" online music stores
are for suckers and idiots. WMA is an even worse poisoned
chalice than AAC+Fariplay. You'd have to be pretty damned
stupid to think otherwise.
Posted by No invasion of privacy (52 comments )
Link Flag
A closed format?
The very fact that you an have a "closed" format is declarative of a basic contempt for the consumer.
Posted by Zymurgist (397 comments )
Link Flag
Great - something else I dont want deeply embedded into windows
First it was the IE browser that they so tightly dug into windows that you cant remove the spyware prone junk or at best get it out but with a broken os

last I heard M$ had said IE would not be dug into windows in Vista as it now is in all versions from 9x to XP

I guess they had the heart to dig out IE was because they had been cooking up some other buggy software to embed so deeply into windows...
Posted by tech_junky (56 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I have a solution....
Dont click on the IE or WMP icon. MS is not reaching through your broadband connection and forcing you hand on your mouse to double click on IE or WMP.

Download whatever you want make it the default and get on with it.

This argument is lame at best.
Posted by Lindy01 (443 comments )
Link Flag
Learning the lesson of Realplayer
I've been setting my freeware non-premium version of Realplayer as the default media player on all my computers for the last 5 years because, despite limitations for non-paying customers, there's still a ton of content there and Realplayer is constantly upgrading drivers. It's maddening to get a succession of messages on MP about not being able to read a file and even stupider when it goes to the web, downloads some kind of driver update, and then still tells you it can't read the file. Microsoft staff need to set Realplayer as their own default media player and see how much better an experience it is than their own empty product...
Posted by Razzl (1318 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Monopolist not making Mac, or Linux versions!
Emulation will not due!
My, my, is this an exclusionary tactic my a "remedied" monopolist?
Is this the "kinder gentler" Microsoft (like in those "warm and fuzzy" commercials on TV)that the DOJ supposedly reigned in? Hello oversite group??

Windows Media Player on the Mac stinks, but I need it to be compatible with numerous web sites, including Educational/training, State, Federal sites, and entertainment sites.

These web sites are employing the use of WINDOWS Media by virtue of the Windows monopoly (not quality or innovation). The web site admin.s use WiMP because it has "widest user base", and "people don't have to install it, because it's the DEFAULT ON WINDOWS.")

Must Microsoft control freakin' THING?! What has Microsoft done historically for digital media artists?? It's been an empediment! It's made creating and distributing documents and apps difficult, that's what! Didn't the antitrust case WARN about "emerging markets" being threatened?? So MS is threatened by little old Apple computer/iTunes and they take their Media ball and go home?! Outrageous. Go E.U.!
Posted by technewsjunkie (1265 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Yeh, and...
It's called competition. I remind you that Apple/iTunes is also an exclusionary monopolistic entity. They're kind of acting like businesses aren't they? Let's call it both ways.
The half-full is that you're very right about Windows media player needing to work better on other systems (and Apple to work on any other systems other than they're own or at least let me control the hardware), or for on-line entities to recognize that options are necessary for public access.
I would point out that quality and innovation frequently don't win out. Shame really. But price and market share seem to determine much of the IT industry. Look at networking technologies, IEEE hardware standards, and backwards compatibiliy issues that determine people's choices.
Let's face it. It will never be a level playing field. Will government actions help? Maybe. Will government actions be politically motivated? Probably. Can governments fix competition so that everyone cooperates? Mutually conflicting goals.
Posted by Fly on the Wall (15 comments )
Link Flag
Why should they?
Microsoft isn't responsible for coding a media player for OSX, that's apple's job. Microsoft isn't responsible for coding a media player for linux, that's the responsibility of linux users. According to your logic, you would have Exxon responsible for refining the gasoline for Cheveron and BP. Why not take your complaints about not having a new media player to the people responsible... Apple.
Posted by Seaspray0 (9714 comments )
Link Flag
Yawn, why bother?
I already have iTunes so why would I want this? For that matter, I already have OSX, so why would I want Vista (or is it vapor?)?
Posted by miketkrw (86 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Just More DRM
I will pass...
Posted by umbrae (1073 comments )
Reply Link Flag
2 Problems
MicroSoft makes terrible media players and MTV dosent play music.
Posted by JJWhitney (32 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Just use AllofMP3.com - No DRM
and lots music to pick from.
Posted by bobby_brady (765 comments )
Reply Link Flag
WMP 11 GETS AN "iTUNES TUNE UP"
"If you cannot innovate...imitate." Citizen Gates.

Q: Huh...where does that super geek Gates come up with all of that innovative stuff?
A: Apple / iTunes / iPod / iTune Music Store.
80-90% of the computer market & they still must "catch-up & copy" from Apple.

ALSO, just copy your WMF/MTV files to a CD, then load into iTunes for Windows...Bingo, auto-syncs with iPods!
Posted by Llib Setag (951 comments )
Reply Link Flag
WMP 11 GETS AN "iTUNES TUNE UP"
"If you cannot innovate...imitate." Citizen Gates.

Q: Huh...where does that super geek Gates come up with all of that innovative stuff?
A: Apple / iTunes / iPod / iTune Music Store.
80-90% of the computer market & they still must "catch-up & copy" from Apple.

ALSO, just copy your WMF/MTV files to a CD, then load into iTunes for Windows...Bingo, auto-syncs with iPods!

Also, where did they get all those fancy, slick graphics & buttons? Mac OSX + Aqua Interface.

Finally, If you're tired of waiting for the Vaporware/Longshot/Astalavista OS you will be able to download a WinXP version of WMP11. But it will just look like the Teletubbies OS, not the slick transparent version that C-NOT is showing from the Vaporware MS Site...

Have Fun! (NOT)
Posted by Llib Setag (951 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Innovation
like how Apple purchased SoundJam to create iTunes or how OSX is built on BSD. Remember there's nothing wrong with building on existing ideas and that there's more to innovation than just visuals.
Posted by Charleston Charge (362 comments )
Link Flag
"TUNE UP" eh?
I think your missing the idea that there is only so much that can be done in the world... Look at music for instance, Classical music has already been mapped out for Mozart and the other greats long ago. And everything used today is just a different variation, with minor suttlties. There is always one or the other. And reguardless if MS is borrowing a few ideas, they are ideas nothing more. They are there for to be built upon until nothing else can be done to them...
Posted by bobj123 (94 comments )
Link Flag
To much confusion in DRM rights
Music bought in iTunes is practically the same as normal MP3's,
thats a big advantage.

Windows Media has:
- play on computer, don't burn, don't put on player
- computer, don't burn, on player
- computer, burn once, on player
- computer, burn unlimited, on player

- Rented music, computer, don't burn, put only on compatible
players
When changing to another renting service (MTV) we need to
delete all rented music and re download if possible. What it boils
down to is that most non iPod users only play unprotected files
or rent music to hack those into unprotected files.

This will never work, MS needs to simplify drastically. The only
option IMHO is going to a 100% renting model and leave buying
to iTunes but i don't think MS is willing to take such a drastic
step.
Posted by Peter Bonte (316 comments )
Reply Link Flag
iPod Support
The only iPod support that I really want is to support people throwing their iPods away and get real digital music players, like the Creative Zen products.
Posted by bigjim01 (75 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Rumors says that Microsoft wants to be compatible with iPod
┬┐What company doesn't want to? ...from Whirpool to Toyota...
Posted by victor1719865543 (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
But you don't mind...
if Microsoft doesn't allow competition and is a monopoly. Who is
forcing anyone to buy an iPod? Who is forcing anyone to purchase
music from the iTunes Music Store. Oh, I see. It's perfectly ok for
Microsoft to own 95% of the desktop OS market but it's NOT ok for
Apple to own 80% of the legal music download market. Microsoft
got that market share buy being a GOOD monopoly but Apple got
that market share by being a BAD monopoly. That makes perfect
sense...if you're a MS fanboy.
Posted by lkrupp (1608 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Oh goodie, Just what WE wanted...
...Even more, "DRM", ...to be used as an ever tightening noose around the consumers throat.

...And yet another, completely un-related, "product" bolted directly into the core of a Microsoft-OS, ...clearly designed, solely, to give Microsoft even more "market-leverage" and control over consumers.

...And best yet, another "feature" integrated into your Operating System, ...which actually will only exist to try to sell you more Microsoft "products and services", ...as another, probably un-removable, "system-component".

Yippee...
Posted by Had_to_be_said (384 comments )
Reply Link Flag
iPod not really an advantage
Having a NON-iPod MP3 player, such as my creative zen, means that I already have that capability anyway, regardless or iTunes or Windows Media or whatever.

I can also get the autofill option through the new Winamp..

Just because the iPod is popular doesn't mean that it has absolutely every feature that you could want in an mp3 player. For example, why would you want something that syncs and works better with a Mac when you probably don't own a Mac anyway? Why would you want to deal with proprietary formats (not saying that windows media is much better here, but at least it gives you a choice of MP3 player brand..)? Apple is shooting themselves in the foot with this proprietary crap, they would have sold twice as much if it didn't require that you use the iTunes bulls--. When I owned an iPod, the current version of iTunes at the time (dating back to probably v4) wouldn't even recognize it or sync. I had to download EphPod. Not to mention that the store itself is a DRM nightmare...

So why downplay a media player that is going to be 10x as versatile as iTunes by design? 'Cause if it's got a lowercase 'i' in front of it, it has to be cool..
Posted by DraconumPB (229 comments )
Reply Link Flag
iPod not really an advantage
Having a NON-iPod MP3 player, such as my creative zen, means that I already have that capability anyway, regardless or iTunes or Windows Media or whatever.

I can also get the autofill option through the new Winamp..

Just because the iPod is popular doesn't mean that it has absolutely every feature that you could want in an mp3 player. For example, why would you want something that syncs and works better with a Mac when you probably don't own a Mac anyway? Why would you want to deal with proprietary formats (not saying that windows media is much better here, but at least it gives you a choice of MP3 player brand..)? Apple is shooting themselves in the foot with this proprietary crap, they would have sold twice as much if it didn't require that you use the iTunes bulls--. When I owned an iPod, the current version of iTunes at the time (dating back to probably v4) wouldn't even recognize it or sync. I had to download EphPod. Not to mention that the store itself is a DRM nightmare...

So why downplay a media player that is going to be 10x as versatile as iTunes by design? 'Cause if it's got a lowercase 'i' in front of it, it has to be cool..
Posted by DraconumPB (229 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Why bother with an ipod anyway? waste of money.
Having a NON-iPod MP3 player, such as my creative zen, means that I already have that capability anyway, regardless or iTunes or Windows Media or whatever.

I can also get the autofill option through the new Winamp..

Just because the iPod is popular doesn't mean that it has absolutely every feature that you could want in an mp3 player. For example, why would you want something that syncs and works better with a Mac when you probably don't own a Mac anyway? Why would you want to deal with proprietary formats (not saying that windows media is much better here, but at least it gives you a choice of MP3 player brand..)? Apple is shooting themselves in the foot with this proprietary crap, they would have sold twice as much if it didn't require that you use the iTunes bulls--. When I owned an iPod, the current version of iTunes at the time (dating back to probably v4) wouldn't even recognize it or sync. I had to download EphPod. Not to mention that the store itself is a DRM nightmare...

So why downplay a media player that is going to be 10x as versatile as iTunes by design? 'Cause if it's got a lowercase 'i' in front of it, it has to be cool..
Posted by DraconumPB (229 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Why bother trashing the iPod?
Just because it has 80% of the market and is hands down the simplest and most reliable music player on the market? Sounds more like you have iPod envy and are furiously trying to convince people your zen is just as cool. Bottom line is, enjoy your zen and let everyone else enjoy their iPod.
Posted by miketkrw (86 comments )
Link Flag
As PA puts it
here is an example of someone that thinks they are a bit over priced too, its from the online Comic Penny Arcade:
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2003/05/28" target="_newWindow">http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2003/05/28</a>
Posted by CaptDave86 (30 comments )
Link Flag
Thats Dumb...
That player sucks, and the software sucks even more.
Posted by Fritzw (10 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Reasons for the Inferiority?
Well are you going to back up what you have to say about WinAmp are you just going to say "it sucks" and run and hide behind your little pink iMac? I would really like to know why you think WinAmp "sucks" so much. Really indulge me in your reasonings.
Also can you Informe me on why so the Zen sucks too? As far as I know , Creative has some of THE best Audio devices in the world for the computer. and Boes doesnt count here. they are not a Copmputer primary company, they are Home and Car audio.

So Ingulge me if you please.
Posted by CaptDave86 (30 comments )
Link Flag
Another day, another load of misinformed BS from c|net
All this BS from c|net whenever Apple is mentioned is really
starting to annoy me. I don't know whether it's ignorance or FUD
but it surely has no place in "intelligent" journalism from what
you would imagine are people who know/understand the topic
they're writing about.

"Of course, the player that most people want to connect with is
Apple Computer's iPod. And no, Windows Media Player 11 won't
allow conversion of purchased Windows Media Songs into
iTunes' proprietary FairPlay format. So songs bought from a
Windows Media store still won't play on the iPod."

Is it just me that knows how to make a WMV file work on an
iPod? Am I some computer genius or something?

Why, when a player can play almost every format under the sun
is that player derided for only playing one format AAC? And
since when were MP4 files (to give AAC its "correct" title)
proprietary anyway? Protected MP4s are what iTMS sells - not
generic ones.

Apple's iTunes+iPod turnkey solution is seen as monopolistic
because why? Cause songs purchased through iTMS will only
play on an iPod? iTMS and iTunes aren't the same thing. You
want to rip all your CDs into iTunes? Use MP3 or WAV format if
you like, then transfer these files using A.N.Other jukebox to
your non-iPod music player. Apple are hardly forcing you to use
their solution; true they make it simple to use, but what's wrong
with that?

And all this incessant rubbish about Apple licensing Fairplay to
Windows-based music sellers, if these people were that
bothered about selling music that played on iPods they could do
it without Fairplay - sell your music in either MP3, MP4/AAC or
WAV formats (they'll all import into iTunes, and they'll all play on
an iPod. Indeed, is there anything to stop a music retailer
producing a plug-in for iTunes that would make this process
simpler? Or - and here's the simplest of all solutions - stop
******** about iTunes and actually write some half-decent
jukebox software of your own (and that certainly isn't WMP in
any format I've ever seen).

In short, I don't mind people complaining about some perceived
Apple music monopoly - but I want to see some facts to back it
up. Tell me why you view the iPod as "locked-down", tell me why
Apple needs to licence Fairplay and tell me why, if Apple's
"solution" is second-rate (as many people on c|net's boards
maintain) the company has such a large slice of the relevant
market?

RB
Posted by ross brown--2008 (57 comments )
Reply Link Flag
very true...
&lt;And all this incessant rubbish about Apple licensing Fairplay to
Windows-based music sellers, if these people were that
bothered about selling music that played on iPods they could do
it without Fairplay - sell your music in either MP3, MP4/AAC or
WAV formats (they'll all import into iTunes, and they'll all play on
an iPod&gt;

Which is why eMusic, who sells indie music in unprotected MP3
format, is the SECOND LARGEST digital music retailer after
iTunes trumping Napster, MSN, Yahoo, and Real.
Posted by Musica360.com (106 comments )
Link Flag
Article Serves Only One Purpose
This article serves only one purpose to make Microsoft money.
As if Bill needs anymore money.

Its unbelievable how people still think they're doing anything for
the tech industry these days instead of following other
companies ideas and trying to make a profit out of it, or try and
control public mindshare which is the only thing Microsoft
seems questionably good at and is the only thing this article
seems to reveal. This is definitely another paid advertorial to try
and create buzz for a product thats no more innovative than a
toaster, which I don't believe anyones going to fall for,
considering they can't even get they're OS (Vista) in order.

I don't believe any competition will work against Itunes right
now. The only way to unseat the lead is to actually get them to
open up Fairplay, Apple's Digital Rights Management format.
And thats not going to happen. Its very unprofitable and
ridiculous for Microsoft to compete against Apple right now (in
this space). Apple has the sizzle, because they've worked hard to
get there and its deserved. Now Microsoft is trying to angle
they're way in on that market by trying to create buzz for
another Itunes (WMP11).

I believe they should put all available man power in creating
something utterly new or speed up the process of bringing out
Vista. But they duplicate and ultimately digress which just isn't
going to cut it in today's industry.

Its a jack of all trades master of none, kind of business they
have there. No vision at all whatsoever. Apple's evil twin brother.
Posted by ServedUp (413 comments )
Reply Link Flag
thats bull shit
i want ipods to work on windows media player
Posted by bowlearley (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
 

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