A Couple of Thoughts and Questions on Windows Media Player 10

Windows Media Player 10 is one of the best software packages ever created. For free our friends at Microsoft give us an incredible player that does so many things so right. And while at times I’m disappointed at the molasses like speed of the software with my large mp3 library (hopefully we see the library indexed and this fixed soon), overall you really have to be impressed by this completely free offering by Microsoft.

I have four different copies of the software on four different machines which has been bringing up some questions for me. My primary copy is on my home office PC. This PC is connected to a number of 250 gig external drives and is where I manage my library. This is where I rip my CDs, sort and organize my music into folders in Windows Explorer, find missing artwork and metadata on the internet etc. and rate songs. Usually if I’m in my home office and I’m listening to music I’m working on the library while listening.

My next most commonly used copy of Windows Media Player is in my living room on my Microsoft Media Center Edition PC. This PC is connected to the same mp3s over a gigabit network.

My third copy is on my laptop — my own personal portable mp3 player. This machine is mostly mobile when I’m using it and so as such I don’t connect it to the main library of hard drives, but rather I’ve copied a bunch of my 5 star rated songs from my main PC and dumped them on the laptop’s hard drive for remote and mobile listening.

My fourth copy is on my second and back up PC in my home office, a Dell. This is rarely used unless my brother or someone else is over and the two of us are on PCs at the same time. This PC is also my wife’s primary PC, although she never listens to music on it.

So first a comment. It really annoys me that after a song has been played through completely once in WMP10 that it automatically bumps the song from a 3 star rated song to a 4 star song. I think if it’s played enough it automatically bumps it to a 5 star song. I hate this and wish there were an option to disable it. Frequently I’ll get sidetracked, leave the house, etc. with my player still running and a bunch of songs that I end up not liking end up in the automatic 4 and 5 star playlist and it’s a pain to try to manage this. Give the user an option to turn off this annoying feature.

I love the automated playlists and mostly use the 4 and 5 star playlist one and the play tracks I have not rated to rate more songs. How about just a straight 5 star rated playlist. I know that I can do this manually in WMP but in MCE I don’t have access to this only to playlists. Alternatively, how about putting a “star” option in MCE to play only a 5 star list.

Now the questions. Does anyone know exactly how the ratings and their migration work with WMP 10? When I rate a song in my home office, how can I ensure that this song is also reflected as a 5 star song in the library? I do have the “maintain my star ratings as global” in the option settings on both machines, but I assume that when I rate a song in my home office that it isn’t instantly reflected on my living room machine. What is the technical act that migrates the rating to the player in the living room? Is it the next time I do a search of a given drive? is it when it loads up? My five star song counts are different on both machines so I’m not exactly sure how this process takes place. I would love it if someone who has more knowledge on this could shed some light.

Similarly with metadata. When I make changes on my library PC, when and how are these changes incorporated into my living room machine’s player?

And what if I rate a song in the living room? When and how will that rating be reflected in the master library and on my home office PC machine.

If you get a chance to comment on this, thanks in advance.

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  1. Peter Near says:

    “someone who has more knowledge” is certainly not me, but I’ve been giving this more thought since doing my PMC review and getting a bit frustrated there.

    1. Metadata should live with the file. Period. Index that info to make it easier to deal with locally, but the file and metadata are portable.

    2. Leverage the device synchronization feature to sync content to not only media players, but also to other PCs. Specifically useful for laptops.

    3. Sync engine should be aware of the capabilities of the remote system and provide media in a format compatible with that device. Similar to sync for portable devices, this new sync for remote devices can discover playback capabilities. If it can only playback WMA, then everything is converted to WMA for that machine. More relevant is an MCX where video contennt can only be MPEG2 or WMP – the transcode and sync service should be able to handle that.

    The concept of a “media server” is becoming more and more a reality based on the habits of end users, not necessarily due to the market positioning of MS products. I want to be able to have all of my media on one machine, and intelligent ways to make it available to all other machines/devices that might want to connect. There is a system of record that will sync back all changes to files, provide media services, etc. Currently, MCE is the closest thing we have to that.

    PMC review: http://mcemvp.us/blogs/pnear/archive/2004/12/14/340.aspx

    Cheers,
    Pete

  2. Anonymous says:

    overall you really have to be impressed by this completely free offering by Microsoft
    completely free is quite a misrepresentation, as far as i’m aware it is only available bundled with a rather expensive operating system.

    it is also a very poor media player. for the following reasons:

    1)not being able to encode mp3’s without paying even more. – you are forced to use WMA

    2) DRM

    3) very poor visualisations

    4) as you stated, the library management sucks