WMP 11 – I love this media managing/playback program. Has a wonderful graphic UI, simple to use, does many functions, supports many devices and online stores, and does supports a ton of add-ons.
Zune program – The newest one is SO easy to use. You don’t even need to be an expert to use it. The UI moves very fluidly, marketplace offers a ton of artist info, and the whole experience is very nice.
However, they both have their flaws.
WMP 11 – doesn’t support podcasts, doesn’t do internet radio, included visualizations are kind of bland and ugly, help files are still an ugly mess and hard to decipher, many online stores are rather weak, and doesn’t support the Zune.
Zune – no 5-star rating, no auto/smart playlists, things are not easily editable, supports far less formats than WMP 11, no official add-on site, no dynamic search, and there’s just not as many ways to customize your Zune player.
So wouldn’t it be awesome of Microsoft would make their next Media Player do the best of both players? And fix the cons of that affect bother players?
Yeah, that would be awesome. So, let’s say that Microsoft did a WMP 12.
So what should be in WMP 12? Well, let’s think of WMP 12 as the best of WMP 11 and Zune. There would be:
- Merging together the best of WMP 11 and Zune player – they’re both way better than iTunes, that’s for sure. And they both have definite strong features, so why not put the best and the best together? Instead of keeping two separate brands? This would be feasible if the Zune Marketplace was imported to WMP, and all the Zune syncing features, libraries, all just worked off of WMP instead. Just bring the Zune stuff over to WMP
- Internet radio – A lot of people really do like listening to the radio (even terrestrial). So can’t we have it be able to stream via the internet? I think it is out there, but in a low quality way. How about Pandora Radio integration (they do it on MSN Music)? Or how about getting deals with Sirius/XM radio to make their desktop version work on WMP 12? That’s really bringing it to the next level.
- Better burning/ripping feature – The burning/ripping feature in WMP 11 works well for the most part. But I’ve heard it doesn’t do as well as for other people. So if Microsoft could enhance the burning/ripping feature as much as possible, that would be awesome.
- Podcasting feature – this is already here for the Zune program, but WMP needs it too. A podcast aggregator would also be awesome as well.
- Better help files – The help files for both prove to be rather useless. The ones in WMP 11 are ugly, bulky and hard to navigate and use. The Zune doesn’t have enough. I want help files that work right in the player (not taken to another site/window), have a useful search feature to find help, offer visual elements like screenshots or even a quick video stream, and actually be useful. And if that doesn’t work, a simple phone number for support, or even online chat with a helper would be awesome.
- Tagging feature – Another extension of the popular web 2.0 feature. I think a lot of people would love to tag specific songs, albums, videos, podcasts and what other media content they have. Makes it much easily searchable if you identify a type of media with something other than what’s there.
- Support practically every format (VERY IMPORTANT) – Microsoft HAS to support many of the codecs out there, even if it’s not in Microsoft’s best interest. People are going to alternatives like VLC Player, because they have problems with playing their files with WMP, and don’t know about getting codecs from the official WMP add-on site. So sooner or later, Microsoft’s going to lose on this one. So why not just put all the codecs to work on WMP, instead of encouraging users to find alternatives, or have them suffer to find downloadable codecs? It makes no sense Microsoft. Just make it work with WMP from the start, and have built-in native support.
- Better pre-installed visualizations and skins – Seriously, many (or all) the visualizations that come with WMP 11 are UGLY. Namely the "Battery" series. Thankfully, I found this nice set of visualization pack, called Pyschedelia, from Long Zheng’s post. I think the best one is the "Ribbons" set, and the "Bubbles" come a close second. The included skins as well, really do suck. Although I’m not a really heavy user of skins in the first place, for some reason. You can find some right here. I use the Xbox Live/Xbox ones. I’m really looking forward to where Microsoft pre-installs Pyschedlia by default, and includes even better ones like a lava lamp, a moving strand of light (like in Sprint Speed ads), and so on. Something new. And maybe better skins, none that I can come up with.
- More better layout views – 5 layout views should be : list (just a simple list of media, preferably similar to iTunes style with different color bars every 1 row), album art + list, panes (similar to Zune browse style), carousel view (similar to CoverFlow, but in a carousel fashion, can improve off of CoverFlow), and Space (random floating album/media art that comes based on similarities to previous media). Those 5 layout views are definitely a must need.
- Better internet streaming version – WMP 11 in an internet browser is just plain ugly. Sometimes it can be very hard to get it to just work and stream the media. It can feel rather bulky on a webpage, and takes a long time to load. The layout of the buttons is also depressing, compared to the real version. That’s why more people are using Flash and even the latest Quicktime to display video on the web. WMP on the web needs to be less bulky, less slow, and look more simple and easy to use. And all in a way that’s visually pleasing.
- Bar stacks – I just simply want to see bar stacks (graphics that visually show a string of bars moving up and down, along with the music), in a more larger sense on WMP, than in the small one on the bottom left.
- Silverlight-made – I don’t know the true capabilities of Silverlight, but I would love to see the next WMP done this way.
- Custom lyrics support – There is a way to put lyrics for your songs, but it’s so complicated that I can’t even do it. I wish there were a way to easily put lyrics for your songs. In fact, it would be nice if Zune Marketplace offered lyrics with the songs, or MSN Music took care of the web version of that. Just saying.
- Allow more edit options – give the user the power to edit as much as they can on the track
- Audio editing – I’m quite sure many people want an official audio editor from Microsoft. Could it come in WMP? I heard there was a project called Monaco, that would beat the heck out of GarageBand, but have yet to seen it. So can we get that ability in WMP?
- Zune Marketplace and Zune are PlayForSure – Since the Zune stuff is now in WMP, that would make Zune Marketplace and Zune a PlayForSure group, right? I’m quite sure that if Microsoft offers more content and makes it more convenient to use Zune Marketplace, they don’t have to worry about that under the PlayForSure program. Such as offering TV shows, movies, and games, and putting a WiFi Store version of it on the Zune. And the Zune should sell hotcakes itself.
That’s the best I can think of. It took me a long while, but that’s my list of features for WMP 12.
I’m quite sure if Microsoft followed a path similar to this one, WMP 12 would definitely be the top-notch media management/playback program there is. For sure.
So it’s really up to Microsoft to see if this all fans out. Hopefully, it will.