Got The ‘Urge’ For Windows Media Player 11?

Microsoft has released Windows Media Player 11, the latest update to its Windows multimedia playback device, and it could be the last for some time, according to one analyst.

One of the hallmarks of Windows Media Player 11 is its integration with Urge, the digital music service from MTV Networks. The search capabilities of WMP 11 provide users with the ability to dig through 2 million songs from 110,000 artists.

But with Zune coming out in less than one month, Matt Rosoff, analyst with Directions on Microsoft, wonders how long Microsoft  will be sticking with MTV.

“Compared with past revisions [to WMP], this one is pretty minor. They are just doing some integration, such as with Urge. Again, with the rise of Zune, you have to question how long that deal will last or the depth of Microsoft’s commitment,” he said.

Microsoft did not have anyone available to comment on the release of WMP 11, which may be telling in and of itself.

WMP 11’s other features include thumbnail and album art during music playback, improved library management with shuffle and sync playback, dedicated categories for media types, support for audio fingerprints to recognize track information, and support for two new formats: Windows Media Audio Professional and WAV Lossless.

The relative lack of new features and functionality, combined with the WMP team being scattered throughout Microsoft’s entertainment devices division, lead Rosoff to think WMP has become much less important to Microsoft’s digital media strategy recently.

“I would be very much expecting most of their work to go into Zune and other products coming out of that entertainment group,” he said. “Microsoft has a lot of reason to put more and more effort than into Windows Media Player.”

Windows Media Player 11 is available now via a free download from Microsoft. If you are playing an earlier version of WMP, expect a window to pop up informing you of the update.

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