Windows Media 10

Windows Media 10 is always going to invite comparisons with iTunes, but there are many features built into WM10 that Apple’s music client won’t have for a while, if ever. This latest release of is part of Microsoft’s latest strategy to get into the living rooms (and pockets) of media-savvy households by providing useful tools and an easy to use interface for accessing music, video and more.

The first thing I noticed after Windows Media 10 installed, was that it’s much faster and responsive than the iTunes client. iTunes has a habit of pausing and sitting there unresponsively after some tasks. WM10 will then scan your hard drive for all compatible media types, from MP3s to recorded TV shows. High Definition video is supported, with tools and advice for optimising the experience.

The Media Library view is, for me, the most useful and shows off WM10’s Media Centre capabilities best. Recorded programmes can be sorted by series or actor, for example, and even includes a separate category for programmes that have not been watched yet.

One of the most interesting features of the player is the way that it integrates with online stores, including MSN Music. The execution is simple – the player just acts as a web browser – but works beautifully and demonstrates that Microsoft really only needs a web-based store and not a software client like iTunes. Support is included for a broad range of stores and media types – users can even buy and view content direct from CinemaNow without leaving the player.

As promised, synchronisation with more than 70 hardware players has been extended and simplified and will automatically update your portable media centre with new music or video when attached.

Definitely the best media player out there – and it’s difficult to see Real or iTunes catching up on functionality or ease of use any time soon.

Windows Media 10

Published by

Fraser Lovatt

Fraser Lovatt has spent the last fifteen years working in publishing, TV and the Internet in various capacities, and believes that they will be seperate platforms for at least a while yet. His main interests at the moment are exploring where Linux is taking home entertainment and how technology is conferring technical skills on more and more people. Fraser Lovatt was born in the same year that 2001: A Space Odyssey was delighting and confusing people in the cinemas, and developed a lifelong love of technology as soon as he realised that things could be taken apart, sometimes put back together again, but mostly left in bits or made into something the original designer hadn't quite planned upon. At school he was definitely in the ZX Spectrum/Magpie/BMX camp, rather than the BBC Micro/Blue Peter/well-behaved group. This is all deeply ironic as he later went on to spend nine years working at the BBC. After a few years of working as a bookseller in Scotland, ("Back when it was actually a skilled profession" he'll tell anyone still listening), he moved to England for reasons he can't quite explain adequately to himself. After a couple of publishing jobs punctuated by sporadic bursts of travelling and photography came the aforementioned nine years at the BBC where he specialised in internet technologies and video. These days his primary interests are Java, Linux, videogames and pies - and if they're not candidates for convergence, then what is?