Feeling the Urge for WMP11 and Vista

The KillersWhew. Crazed schedule at CES, I really haven’t had time to post as I’d like. The Windows Vista/MTV-Urge party last night was completely crazed. I’ve literally never seen lines that long (about 200 feet) to get in, and when in, the floors were completely packed. Microsoft parties have had great attendance before, but the buzz I kept hearing was about the Urge announcement (and the party). I get irritated with large crowds so I ended up hanging out in the “VIP area” most of the night trying to keep away from the crowds.

The keynote went well the day before- I had lunch with BillG’s speechwriter the week before and made a few jokes about the importance having an electrical engineer monitoring the power after last year’s power outage. It’s good to be able to laugh about it now. It’s even better when the keynote went so well. One thing that did bother me though- little applause, little laughter. This is a fundamental difference between MS and Apple – they surround themselves with their fans, throw a bash for them, and THAT is where they announce their products (like next week). The buzz is infectious. Press and public alike get wrapped up. I don’t buy statements that CES or other shows are the equivalent of a “WinWorld”. The problem is too many audiences to make this work effectively.

One of the pieces that has me so excited this year is the new Windows Media Player 11. This is part of the reason I re-joined the group. Can you say performance? I have over 10,000 tracks in my library. I was so tired of UI freezes and slow searches that I started using Windows Desktop Search as my way of finding music. WMP11 takes a completely rethought and highly optimized database that is hands-down the fastest media player library I’ve ever seen- visually and logically. Album art is amazing. There are tons of perf improvements folks are just starting to see. I’m also hearing about additional perf optimizations in Vista’s USB stack that will help as well. MCE users will benefit from all of this as well. More on this over on the new Windows Vista site at : http://www.microsoft.com/windowsvista/community/mediaplayer.aspx

I’ve accepted recently that I’m now more a part of the VH1 demographic than MTV. At first I wasn’t wild about Urge but then I realized that MTVN (Networks) recognizes this fact, and that’s part of the reason they created the Urge brand. I’ll be able to tap into my favorite “classic rock” like Alice in Chains, Aerosmith, and Now, I’m addicted. Urge integrates cleanly into the UI, I can download and sync a playlist in one step. And my favorite is “Feeds”- these are truly smart playlists. This concept takes the best of smart playlists, smart sync, and concepts like RSS and mashes them together. What you get is truly smart playlists that update (and sync) to your device automatically. More on that later.

There’s so much more to WMP11 and Vista which hasn’t even been announced yet. Stay tuned.

6 responses to “Feeling the Urge for WMP11 and Vista”

  1. You are definitely in the VH1 demographic if you think Alice in Chains is "classic rock".

  2. "Album art is amazing"

    I must admit, I use Apple iTunes on my PC for all my music needs. IMHO it’s more intuitive than WMP9 and WMP10’s UI. But I also have a Media Center PC. I’m hoping that the next version of WMP and MCE will be able to use album art which is embedded in the MP3’s ID3v2 tag instead of the loose thumbnail files in my music folders. I have all my tracks w/ embedded art through iTunes, but when I copy those files to the MCE machine, it attempts to download art, and only about a quarter of my albums then have art.

    PS: can I sign up for WMP usability studies? I’m in/around Seattle.

  3. WMP 11 is looking really great but my question is will it have support for iPods built in? I end up having to use iTunes even though i prefer WMP.. (I know there are plugins for WMP but none I’ve tried so far do a very good job)

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  5. So what exactly do you mean by "Album art is amazing"? Improved image quality? Easier to manually set the art for a given album? Uses album art embedded in the file?

  6. Do the WMP11 smart playlists allow users to group tracks (e.g. classical or live-track sequences) without having to edit the text of a WPL file?