Coffeehouse Thread

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How should Media Player be improved?

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  • User profile image
    nektar

      From what I can gather Windows Media Player WMP will get a major update to version 10 in a few months. Therefore, now that the development team are preparing for the new release, I think we as users of the product should start making our suggestions.
    For me I believe that WMP needs improvements in two areas: Usability and support of more formats.
    Usability: I believe that WMP 9 is difficult to use for the average user. Loaded with a great number of icons, little buttons and controls, WMP's interface is not simple to navigate, learn and take advantage of. WMP uses non-standard menus and dialogs and it draws in its own way its controls. I think the interface should be made simpler by grouping commands in standard menus and dialogs, and by streamlining the way that users access the various functions of the player. This might be done by including more wizards or simply by starting WMP in a simpler mode with the minimal buttons (play, pause, stop, etc) on the screen and by including a button let's say called Show in Full Mode, for displaying the more advanced interface.
    WMP also needs to improve its accessibility for people with disabilities by providing keyboard shortcuts (that work!) to many of its functions. Currently, the Rewind shortcut CTRL+SHIFT+B never ever works and the Jump Forward command CTRL+SHIFT+F works only for file played from the local computer but not for music played on cds or on the Internet. In addition the CTRL+SHIFT+F shortcut changes the speed of the song instead of jumping forward in it as it should. However, I believe that adding straight forward shortcuts to the player will assist everyone of us, since we would be able to quickly access its functionality without spending time with the mouse. Take example from the old Winamp v2's shortcuts:
    z for previous song, x for play, c for pause, v for stop, ctrl+v for stop after current song (something that WMP does not support!), shift+v for fading out (something that is not easy to do in WMP!), b for next song, j for jumping to a song by typing the beginning of its name (very handy!), cursor right for forward, left for rewind, up for volume up and down for volume down.
    Support for more formats: Since WMP is provided with every copy of Windows it should by default support most popular formats for streaming, playback and ripping cds and not simply what Microsoft offers. Also developpers would be greatly assisted in their own programs if the standard Windows codex could support most of the major formats for playback. Currently, WMP only supports ripping to WMA. I think it should support wav, mp3, aac and if possible Real Audio. Ripping cds to wav is very useful to my mind and should be added. Since most sound editing programs accept the wav format whilst support for wma is not so high still and if not using lossless WMA the sound quality also degrates, wav should be supported by all means. In addition WMP should playback aac format, Quicktime video, mp4 video and if possible streaming Real Audio/Video in addition to the current support. And if all these formats should appear to some to be very costly for Microsoft, it should be pointed out that Real Player v10 currently supports all of them and even more with extra plugins and it is still free. So, the only reason for Microsoft to continue only supporting WMA for ripping and for streaming over the Internet and not supporting aac, Real Audio/Video streaming, ripping to wav, etc, appears to be to push its own WMA/WMV format. Without saying that WMA is not a good format, since WMP ships with every copy of Windows it should at least support a bit more.
    What do you think? Do you agree or disagree? What other suggestions should be added for the next Player, especially for developers?

  • User profile image
    ZippyV

    I agree with you on the codec stuff. WMP should be able to play: RealAudio/Video, Quicktime (without installing the program from Apple) and Ogg Vorbis.
    I know for the encoding part of MP3 that you have to pay for it, but there are other company's like Creative that still give their player away for free with mp3 encoding capabilities.

    Also fix the crossfading problem when WMP is playing the last song in a list, starts crossfading with the first song and after the last song ends restarts with the fist one.

  • User profile image
    Manip

    One thing I would like to see is the ability to pause a film... exit WMP and come back later and re-load and continue where you left off... With video tapes you can do this.. pause turn off the VCR and then come back later and continue, you can even change tapes and then continue watching the original from where you left off. So I am surprised so few media software vendors are adding cool features like this. I thought the idea was to replace VCR and other analogue forms of media ... shouldn't you be replacing their features?

    Also, could you have media player draw to the GDI when it detects a screen-print, currently movies can't be seen in screen-prints because it is being rendered above the layer of the screen print...

  • User profile image
    sbc

    Control playback with keyboard

    Like Quicktime and Media Player classic (which can play many media types and looks a bit like Media Player 6.4) you can use the spacebar to pause and resume playback on a movie. You can also use the left and right cursor keys to go forward and backwards through a movie (rather than using the mouse to drag the movie progress indicator)

  • User profile image
    Jaz

    Media Player used to play Real, but i think Real and MS had a falling out.

    It'd be nice to be able to minimize WMP to the system tray rather than the taskbar however keeping that option available too would be nice.

    Opening Folders like in Winamp is a much needed feature, I don't use playlists.

  • User profile image
    mvuijlst

    Speed improvements with large media collections would be handy too.

  • User profile image
    FrankCarr

    1. The storage of playlists needs to be more user friendly. Most other media players I've used have had a much more straight-foward way of managing and storing playlists. Look at how MusicMatch, Ultraplayer, WinAmp, and other do it.

    2. Random playing needs to be more random and not the same sequence every time. Also, if you choose a different track off the playlist, don't go back to playing skipped tracks. I find this behavior very annoying.

    3. Show whats playing on the start bar like MusicMatch does instead of just saying "Windows Media Player". It's very nice to have something like "track (artist)" show up in the tooltip.

  • User profile image
    miseldine

    Being lazy, I never used to organise my music. Windows Media Player 9 changed that with the Media Library. It automatically found my new music, added album art, categorised it, and even brought up music reviews. Fantastic stuff.

    But, in my attempt to remain cool, I've bought an iPod, meaning most of my new music is being encoded in AAC, which while supported through a codec for playback, isn't supported within the media library.

    Which makes me very sad Sad

    So, single thing needed in WMP? Open it up to different formats natively. WMA is fine and dandy, but give us choice. 

  • User profile image
    Shining Arcanine

    nektar wrote:

      From what I can gather Windows Media Player WMP will get a major update to version 10 in a few months. Therefore, now that the development team are preparing for the new release, I think we as users of the product should start making our suggestions.
    For me I believe that WMP needs improvements in two areas: Usability and support of more formats.
    Usability: I believe that WMP 9 is difficult to use for the average user. Loaded with a great number of icons, little buttons and controls, WMP's interface is not simple to navigate, learn and take advantage of. WMP uses non-standard menus and dialogs and it draws in its own way its controls. I think the interface should be made simpler by grouping commands in standard menus and dialogs, and by streamlining the way that users access the various functions of the player. This might be done by including more wizards or simply by starting WMP in a simpler mode with the minimal buttons (play, pause, stop, etc) on the screen and by including a button let's say called Show in Full Mode, for displaying the more advanced interface.
    WMP also needs to improve its accessibility for people with disabilities by providing keyboard shortcuts (that work!) to many of its functions. Currently, the Rewind shortcut CTRL+SHIFT+B never ever works and the Jump Forward command CTRL+SHIFT+F works only for file played from the local computer but not for music played on cds or on the Internet. In addition the CTRL+SHIFT+F shortcut changes the speed of the song instead of jumping forward in it as it should. However, I believe that adding straight forward shortcuts to the player will assist everyone of us, since we would be able to quickly access its functionality without spending time with the mouse. Take example from the old Winamp v2's shortcuts:
    z for previous song, x for play, c for pause, v for stop, ctrl+v for stop after current song (something that WMP does not support!), shift+v for fading out (something that is not easy to do in WMP!), b for next song, j for jumping to a song by typing the beginning of its name (very handy!), cursor right for forward, left for rewind, up for volume up and down for volume down.
    Support for more formats: Since WMP is provided with every copy of Windows it should by default support most popular formats for streaming, playback and ripping cds and not simply what Microsoft offers. Also developpers would be greatly assisted in their own programs if the standard Windows codex could support most of the major formats for playback. Currently, WMP only supports ripping to WMA. I think it should support wav, mp3, aac and if possible Real Audio. Ripping cds to wav is very useful to my mind and should be added. Since most sound editing programs accept the wav format whilst support for wma is not so high still and if not using lossless WMA the sound quality also degrates, wav should be supported by all means. In addition WMP should playback aac format, Quicktime video, mp4 video and if possible streaming Real Audio/Video in addition to the current support. And if all these formats should appear to some to be very costly for Microsoft, it should be pointed out that Real Player v10 currently supports all of them and even more with extra plugins and it is still free. So, the only reason for Microsoft to continue only supporting WMA for ripping and for streaming over the Internet and not supporting aac, Real Audio/Video streaming, ripping to wav, etc, appears to be to push its own WMA/WMV format. Without saying that WMA is not a good format, since WMP ships with every copy of Windows it should at least support a bit more.
    What do you think? Do you agree or disagree? What other suggestions should be added for the next Player, especially for developers?



    Support for the RealMedia, Quicktime, DivX and Xvid without the need of third party codecs/software would be great. The ability to copy my DVDs to my computer (make a DVD version of CD Copy) would also be great as it would enable me to no longer need to find my DVDs when I am going to watch them. Having the overlays off by default would be great (as only one application can use them and this caused problems with ATI MMC until I realized it).

    Another thing I would like to see (as it makes my life easier) is the ability to minimize Windows Media Player to a system tray icon (so it isn't on the task bar). That would be a great space saver as I like to listen to music while doing things that require several windows open (e.g. web programming).

    The last feature I can think of that would be good to have would be an easier way to take screenshots of video. Currently, I have to use Print Screen, place the screenshot in paint, etc... The ability to simply press a button, get a save as window, and save the screenshot in either TIFF, JPEG, PNG, etc, would be great.

  • User profile image
    sbc

    I find Print Screen doesn't always work - perhaps due to the encoding (DivX)?

  • User profile image
    jamie

    please make it open to your playlist - not the nutty dhtml page on msn that takes for ever to load - even on 3 meg dsl

  • User profile image
    warren

    jamie wrote:
    please make it open to your playlist - not the nutty dhtml page on msn that takes for ever to load - even on 3 meg dsl


    This is easy enough to do:  add /Task MediaLibrary to the command-line parameters in the shortcut you use to launch WMP.

    Other command-line parameters are listed here:
    http://msdn.microsoft.com/library/default.asp?url=/library/en-us/wmplay/mmp_sdk/commandlineparameters.asp

  • User profile image
    SMac

    If as you say WMP-X is a few months away, then this won't make it in.. but if the media library would use WinFS available in Longhorn, that would be uber-cool.

    I've been wishing that the backing store of the Media Player library would be something like MSDE so that we could access the media information though a conventional means.

    How cool would it be to have a website up that listed all of your music that you have in your library and be able to stream individual songs or a playlist to whever you are.. (work comes to mind)



    Integration with WinFS would supersede MSDE and would allow these types of things as well as the network features that FS provides...

  • User profile image
    Shining Arcanine

    jamie wrote:
    please make it open to your playlist - not the nutty dhtml page on msn that takes for ever to load - even on 3 meg dsl


    That is already a setting but I agree, it should be set that way by default, not like it is now.

  • User profile image
    Manip

    Shining Arcanine wrote:


    That is already a setting but I agree, it should be set that way by default, not like it is now.


    Don't be silly, if they did that then how would the new MSN music store sell anything _sigh_

  • User profile image
    Shining Arcanine

    Manip wrote:
    Shining Arcanine wrote:

    That is already a setting but I agree, it should be set that way by default, not like it is now.


    Don't be silly, if they did that then how would the new MSN music store sell anything _sigh_


    Personally, I find it an annoyance.

    By the way, I didn't know that MSN had a music store, where can I find it and how much does each track cost?

    Edit: Regarding this article:

    http://www.nordichardware.com/interview/2004/ATi_Catalyst/

    ATI wrote:
    We have hardware acceleration for Windows Media Video coming, but we need Microsoft to provide an update to Windows first. Our code is complete in the control panel option, but the deblocking code is not functional yet, due to the Microsoft dependency. Unfortunately we didn't get all the dependencies we needed, so as of this time it’s just a hidden checkbox which does nothing


    I would like to see an update to the Windows Media technologies that would enable ATI to accelerate Windows Media Video. I'm not sure whether or not this would accelerate playing, encoding, or doing both in the Windows Media format but whatever improvement that Video Accelerating Windows Media Video brings I would like to see.

  • User profile image
    Catatonic

    I wish you could share the media library so everyone on the LAN doesn't have to do a "search for media files".

  • User profile image
    barogers

    sbc wrote:
    I find Print Screen doesn't always work - perhaps due to the encoding (DivX)?


    Most video is drawn in what's called Overlay mode, meaning that the frames are copied directly into a region of the frame buffer on the video card rather than through GDI. Print Screent (the keyboard button) operates at the GDI level.

    That said, many other media players have a special Capture Frame button that is smart enough to go find the frame you're looking for and write it into the clipboard. It's a handy feature.

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