WaPo Reviews WMP11

Rob Pegoraro, The Washington Post's personal technology editor, reviews Microsoft's Windows Media Player 11, which MS claims, possesses an ease of use and simplicity to match iTunes." As if MS would recognize ease of use if it bit them in their text assembler.

First, WMP11 teams up with über-hip MTV and its own MSN store for the music store function. BMAFG! MTV?

It gets worse. Urge, as the music store is called, is so crippled, er, connected to WMP11 that you can't shop there or even play Urge selections on anything else! (Nor can you easily shop anywhere else.) Once installed, Pegoraro warns, it can only be removed with Windows XP's System Restore tool—so don't install it lightly.

And then there's the whole Urge "rental" model. For $9.95/month, you can download songs to your computer and listen to them (but only on that computer) as long as you're paid up. For $14.95/month, you can download your rentals to compatible WMP devices, but not burn them to CD—and the music dies when you stop paying the ransom.

Of course, there's no mention of sound-quality, but the iTunes Music Store hardly sets a high standard there either. However, the iTunes management program is elegant and intuitive and the ITMS is easy to use and the song bought there are transportable. However, that's not the biggest arrow in Apple's quiver, Pegoraro observes, that would be the fact that the dominant personal portable—the iPod, with 49% of the market— works with iTunes and it doesn't play WMP11 or Urge files. Ignoring the 800 lb. gorilla is never a good formula for success.