Windows Media Player

Having been using Windows XP for as long as I can remember, when I installed Windows 98 on an old machine the other day I noticed the complete lack of multimedia support provided by the software supplied with the Operating System – Windows Media Player.

Luckily, it doesn’t have to be this way since the update to Media Player is available for free from the Internet for all users of Windows 98, ME and 2000.Obviously the new features that you acquire via the upgrade vary depending on the version of media player that you’re upgrading from but this week I plan to show you the new features that you can expect to gain that make it worth the download.

By far the most improved feature is the ability to rip music straight off your audio CD’s and store it onto your hard disk in WMA format as well as then being able to burn it straight onto a blank CD, SmartMedia or CompactFlash cards via a compatible recorder without any additional software.You are also able to store onto other devices such as a variety of different Pocket PCs.

The encoder used to save to WMA has been vastly improved to deliver almost CD-quality audio using half the space of MP3 and the program also includes new effects and equaliser controls so that you can alter exactly how the music is reproduced.Video has also been given the same treatment, with support included for the MPEG-4 standards included.

The program allows you to choose from over 1500 Internet Radio Stations which means that as soon as you’re connected to the Internet you are able to tune into huge variety of shows from Country and Western in the United States to local music from the Czech Republic, all completely free of charge, excluding the cost of your Internet phone calls.This in itself is a very nice feature that I fully appreciate when using a fast connection.The new version of Media Player also allows you to access streaming data from sites such as www.skynews.co.uk and www.cnn.com which provide direct video and audio feeds on the latest news events or a variety of other sites such as www.vh1.com which offer music videos online.

The new Media Player is also a lot more customisable; you can download visualisations that play on your screen in time with the music you’re listening to as well as a host of new skins that allow you to change the way that the player looks to the user.These are all available free of charge off Microsoft or third party websites.

In terms of actually acquiring the product, if you head to www.microsoft.com/mediaplayer you are able to download the current version 7.1 or if you use Windows 95/NT then unfortunately the latest version you can use is version 6.4 which doesn’t contain many of the features I’ve listed above.You are also able to download versions for Apple Macs or a variety of different Pocket PC’s if needed.

To summarise, unless you have Windows XP which includes at least all the features above as standard, I would recommend that you take the time to update your version of Media Player, especially if you currently benefit from an Internet Service Provider which gives you 0800 access as this way the upgrade won’t cost you a penny.

 

About the Author – Chris Holgate works for Refresh Cartridges who supply a wide range of printer cartridges at the UK’s lowest prices.

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