Improved interfaceThe first thing that will strike you when you start up Windows Media Player 11, is the complete revamp of the interface. No more deep blue, the whole application is now dark and shiny and you can customize it by selecting a hue of your choice. Windows Media Player's left side is a drop down pane for your library, the center displays your lists and the right side is used to create playlists which you can rip, burn or sync with a mobile device.
Compared to Windows Media Player 10, we feel that Microsoft has actually made an effort to simplify the interface and give you more ways to browse through your media list, whether by using the drop down menu or the quick rollout line on the top left. The 'play' and 'previous' and 'next' buttons are now nested at the bottom of the interface and have a jazzy glow whenever you roll over them. Microsoft has finally succeeded in integrating a good search function into its Windows Media Player interface. As you type the name of an artist or title the application will bring up the results in the main window.
Windows Media Player 11 makes all your media more accessible. Double click the Media Library button to browse from your music to pictures, movie files and recorded TV. The thumbnail view is a great way to quickly scan through pictures and videos and to include the album image to audio tracks. By clicking the “Media information changes” option under the Library button you can also scan your PC to automatically find new media files. Creating a playlist is a case of drag and drop and oddly enough you can integrate audio, video and pictures. Burning and ripping in Windows Media Player is also very simple, yet disappointingly converting is limited to WMA, WAV or MP3.
Easy to useThe sync process is promising yet remains a bit unstable. While it’s very easy to create a list and sync media, Windows Media Player can occasionally crash or fail to load your mobile device, even if you press the refresh button. When we tested it with a Pocket PC, we had to restart Windows Media Player 11 so that it would recognize it and let us sync our music. As soon as the device became accessible though, it also became visible on the left sided menu, making it very easy to browse through it for music or pictures.
A big improvementWindows Media Player 11 is a huge improvement from version 10. The whole interface is snazzier and makes browsing through your media simpler. Microsoft has also made creating playlists, syncing, burning or ripping just a case of drag-and-drop. Windows Media Player lets you check out music on dozens of online stores and is loaded with small features to customize your interface and change how you interact with your media.
ConclusionWhile the syncing process still remains a bit unstable and we lament the lack of podcast feed support, Windows Media Player 11 is a solid competitor to Apple’s iTunes.
NotesPlease bear in mind that this version of Windows Media Player is included in Windows Vista Home Basic, Home Premium, Ultimate, Business, and Enterprise editions. It also works on Windows XP.
Review last updated: 18/03/13