(A rather negative) Windows Media Player (WMP) 11 Beta review

WMP logo
Alright, just downloaded the beta of Windows Media Player (WMP, -Ver 11.0.5358.4826-) but I have to say, I’m rather un-impressed by it overall.  Why?
Well, it is mostly down to the workflow compatibility with older versions of WMP (those of you who are long time users of WMP for music will know what I’m talking about when they use it).
My main problems of WMP 11 are:
• The lack of good support for traditional menu strip.
• Problem with workflows (compatibility issues).
• Quirks with the interface.
The lack of good support for traditional menu strip
Well, I know MS is trying to kill the menu strip as we know it (you know, the File, Edit, Tools, Help etc… pull-down menu?), but they could do a slightly better job at making the menu strip on WMP 11 pretty (or at least the same as in any application)…
WMP 11 menu strip
WMP 11 menu strip
WMP 10 menu strip
WMP 10 menu strip
I mean, the WMP 11 menu strip is simply UGLY!  (Just like the blue crap they are using for Office 2007… but that’s another story for another time…)
Alright, fine, you are now forced into using the interface MS wants you to use and guess what, now when you press Alt, you get a pop-up context menu instead of the full menu strip (like in the screenshot of WMP 10 above).
The Alt key pop-up context menu
The pop-up context menu when you press the Alt key
Yes, some people might argue that it’s smaller, takes up less space etc… but that means forcing users to re-learn how to approach the menu system, which I definitely aren’t a fan of (and by the way, keep the force theme in your head, there will be plenty more to come!).
Problem with workflows (compatibility issues)
Now that you have gotten over the menu strip, you now want to cheer yourself up by getting some tunes playing from a playlist…  Oh wait, you can’t from the "Now Playing" tab, you need to:
Go into the "Library" tab –> double-click on a playlist –> go back to the "Now Player" tab (to get the visualization back).
I mean, come-on…  Even WMP 10 has that button next to the "Now Playing" tab that allows you to quickly switch playlists (amongst other things) and I use that all the time…
WMP 10 quick access panel
The button in WMP 10 that allows you to switch playlists quickly and easily…
I really hope MS will put that button back in WMP 11 for my (and probably many other people’s) sanity’s sake!
Alright, fine, I’ll re-learn (by being forced into…) how I play my music…
Right, whatever, let me take a look at the media library – wtf!?  What happened to my nicely categorized playlists (i.e. whether it’s a normal or auto playlist)?
All playlists are in one folder in WMP 11... - click for full-res. version.
Oh, great, it’s all now mixed in 1 folder…  Guess I’ll (again) be forced into digging it up – though the experience is made (a lot) less painless by the (very, very much) improved search features which now displays search results live  .  Still… one would probably prefer just doing things the old way (especially when it works for them)…
And yeah, unfortunately, MS have basically eliminated all the tree list from the left hand panel (see previous screenshot) and now, you’ll have to spend a few extra mouse clicks / key presses to get to the whatever category you wanted to go to…
In a way, I guess this might be good but in my opinion, I’d rather they just stuck with the old workflow but (of course) replacing the old and shitty search system.
Oh, and another thing, why the hell can I not turn off categorizing?  I mean, it’s good and all that the songs are sorted alphabetically (or whatever), do I really want a group title on top of every single section now that we can simply search by pressing Ctrl + E.
I could go on and on about how much workflow compatibility WMP 11 seems to be breaking with previous versions of WMP but I’m sure by now you are probably tired of me bitching on and on… (but yeah, there are more to come in the following section – or if you want to see some positive things I have to say about WMP 11, skip to the last section  .)
Quirks with the interface
Yeah I know… Beta, beta, beta…  Still, they could have spent a little more time on making sure the GUI works properly…  Afterall, that’s the first thing people often make their impression on an application.
Alright, I have to say, it actually looks good – at least "Vista" good,  (those who knows me and my view on Mac interfaces make your judgement as to what that means now).
I was actually impressed by it initially – it’s much prettier than what MS have come up with in the past – but… the quirks in little details made me a little less impressed…  (Yeah, I know… the whole beta thing…)
Some of the quirk involves the way the mini-button (at the bottom of each tab) reacts to clicks.
tab's mini-button
But I’m not going to talk about them – since they have no where near as much impact as the workflow problems WMP 11 suffers at the moment…  Still, it would be nice to see them corrected…
Oh, yeah, and you can’t change the background color anymore… – I really feel sorry for those people getting blinded when using a dark-colored visual style / Theme…
Some positive things about WMP 11
Alright, there are good things things in WMP 11…  The things I like the most are:
• GUI – it looks "Vista" good.
• Nice volume fade out when pausing – though only if you pause it by clicking on the center "Pause" button…
• Mini-button below each tab allowing quick access of various features.
• Live search.
• It also does pictures too! – Though half-ass-ed-ly does it… (where’s the rotate, zoom controls?)
Well, here’s my review – sorry about the negativity towards WMP 11… but that’s just how I feel about it…
I hope MS will fix some of those issues before it’s finalized…
(Oh, if you wanna see more screenshots of WMP 11, you can go here:
What do you think?
Do you feel like I’m trashing WMP 11 just because I can?  Or do you also agree with me?

3 Responses to “(A rather negative) Windows Media Player (WMP) 11 Beta review”

  1. Unknown Says:

    omg you gotta come out the closet omg!

  2. Paul Says:

    That’s a bit of a mean comment!!!
    Well i wouldn’t know about 11, i didn’t like 10 so i’m still using 9!!!
    But it sounds as though they’ve cocked up again

  3. Unknown Says:

    haha its a south park quote, and it’s "aimed" at windows for producing such continually shit gui’s! … altho saying that it looks better than wmp10 :$

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