The latest iteration of Windows Media Player adds a lot of useful bells and whistles, succeeding in many ways as a competitor to iTunes for Windows. A tree-style file directory makes it easy to find the music you want quickly, and a simple search box gets you where you want to go immediately. A five-star rating system lets you rate your music, then organize it by rating, so it’s easy to group your favorite songs. Drag-and-drop functionality and a handy Create Playlist button take any confusion out of the process of making your own playlists. Creating the perfect mix CD is equally as easy–simply drag and drop songs into a Burn List in the right panel, then click Start Burn to finish. Ripping was reasonably fast on our test machine, and the program let us pick our preferred bit rate and audio file type.
The biggest new feature in WMP11 is the ability to sign up with paid music and video services. Without registering, we were able to browse various sites and compare prices among services including XM Radio–all from the Windows Media Player interface. We like the new, cleaner look, and the back and forward buttons make it easier to navigate. The ability to sort music by year released makes for some great reminiscing. Overall, we think the latest Windows Media Player offers almost everything you need for every type of media, making it a solid choice for an all-in-one jukebox.