Windows Media Player 10

If you’ve been keeping up with the latest WMP news, then you’ll know that Microsoft has released the full version of WMP 10. You may have already downloaded the beta version of WMP 10. If you have, you won’t see very many differences between it and the final release except for the insertion of a new service by MSN called MSN Music Preview. This service allows you to buy the album of the current song you’re listening to. I’ve never used an online music service before, so, I can’t rate how this one is. As I said, the layout and design are virtually the same as the beta with a few minor tweaks here and there. The most noticeable difference is the missing image layover for what I’m assuming would be the “Choose Online Store” button. This is quite annoying at first, as there is the usual white box with a red “X” in it, denoting the programmer’s error. I have tried reinstalling this several times and have been unable to resolve this issue. Several other users have encountered the same problem; hopefully, Microsoft will come out with a fix for this soon.

Another visible difference is the absence of the Sidebar that was formerly on the left side of the screen, displaying links to Now Playing, Library, Guide, Skins, and others. This has been replaced by several tab links to the same places directly above the viewing area. This is smart as you can access any one tab from anywhere. Not much else is all that different except for the color schemes. You can change the colors of the outside tabs and menu bars, but the inside viewing area remains a bright blue and a stark white. This sometimes shows a sharp and annoying contrast, depending on your selected color scheme. Overall, this media player rates up there with iTunes for its ability to play Internet radio, quickly find song info, and easily categorize your library. Of course, at $0.00, the price is right. [Josh Mitchell]