Windows Media Player

In the beginning, Windows Media Player was the headquarters for music and video on your PC. It was the Grand Central Terminal for things like music CDs (you could play ‘em, copy songs off ‘em, and burn ‘em); MP3 files and other digital songs (you could sort ‘em, buy ‘em online, and file ‘em into playlists); pocket music players of the non-iPod variety (fill ‘em up, manage their playlists); Internet radio stations; DVD movies (watch ‘em); and so on.

Media Player still does all that, and more. But it’s no longer clear that this is the program you’ll use for these activities. Gradually, the Media Player audience is splintering. Nowadays, a certain percentage of people is using alternative programs like:

  • iTunes. If you have an iPod, you use Apple’s iTunes software to do your music and video organizing.

  • Zune software. If you have a Zune music player, you have to use yet another jukebox program—the software that came with it—for loading up and organizing your player.

  • Media Center. Many of Media Player’s functions are now duplicated in Windows Media Center, a specialized program (included only with the higher-priced versions of Windows Vista) that’s designed to be operated with a remote control while your PC is hooked up to your television.

Still, most of the Windows world continues to use Windows Media Player as their music-file database. It’s worth getting to know.

The Lay of the Land

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