Boing Boing: Songbird, the “open source iTunes killer,” flies today Xeni has a post over at Boing Boing interviewing Rob Lord about his new open source music player which will compete with Windows Media Player and iTunes.
Not to bring up the Firefox/Internet Explorer analogy but there may be an interesting Songbird/WMP analogy to be made. Both IE and WMP were enormously popular free software that Microsoft gave away. While important in keeping Microsoft connected on the PC, neither really are that great of profit centers for Microsoft as it’s hard to make money on software when you are giving it away.
I think that because of this, like IE, the attention that in the past should have been given to Media Player was not. For years it has been horrible at handling large databases, slow and sluggish and a bear of an experience for the end user.
Now this free slick player comes along that may be a much better version of WMP. And of course, like the next version of IE, Microsoft also supposedly has a much better version of WMP (WMP11) coming out with Vista — but will that be too little too late?
In order to compete with Songbird (assuming it’s any good and it likely is) now, my thought is that Microsoft should quickly release a stand alone beta version of WMP11 for XP. If it’s beta it’s ok that it’s buggy, but it gives people something to chew on while they wait for the finished version to come out in Vista.
Hopefully I’ll be able to put together a review of Songbird shortly. If it’s fast with my large library I’m going to be pretty excited.
Of course one thing that Microsoft still has going for it is that WMP is necessary for Media Center. I can’t imagine that Songbird will work with MCE and to the extent that MCE is integral to your home entertainment solution this will limit your ability to use Songbird. As MCE though is open to outside developers it would be interesting to see someone create a Songbird plug in for MCE (doubt you’ll ever see this happen for some reason).