RocketScientist's Miscellaneous Ramblings
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Windows Media Player vs iTunes

So Graz has this ongoing vendetta against iTunes, mostly because the interface doesn't follow Windows guidelines.

And I just got Microsoft Office OCS here at work.  And if I use Windows Media Player (WMP) then it'll auto-pause music when I get a phone call.  So I decided to try out WMP.  After all, it's made by the BIGGEST SOFTWARE COMPANY IN THE WORLD and a media player is a fairly simple thing, what could possibly go wrong?

Ok, doesn' t support drag-n-drop. Well, it does, and it'll give me the little + of "valid to drop things here" when you drag something, and then I drop it and...nothing happens.  It doesn' t add to the library.  So it follows the interface guidelines, but doesn't actually WORK.  I tried, over and over, incredulous that MICROSOFT COULD JACK UP DRAG AND DROP but there it was.  Drag file, drop, nothing.  It acts like it's going to work, but doesn't actually DO anything.

Then I go to the library and tell it to add files to my playlist from a directory.  It processes 650 files and adds 150.  Um.  Ok.  Why did you skip 500 files?  No information on why.  It just did.  Turns out it didn't like them because they're m4a files (DRM free Apple AAC files).  Sigh.  So then I go and find an addon to read m4a files.  Because, you know, it's just the default format for the best selling music player in the WORLD, why would they add it into the default installation?  Now with the codec I can listen to the AAC's but it won't add 'em to the library.  So I look at help and it says that anytime I play a file it'll add to the playlist.  And it doesn't.   So the help file is lying.

Back up a second here.

A long time ago, back in 1993, a company called Nullsoft, that was basically 2 guys in a kitchen, wrote a piece of software called WinAmp, the best media player ever made.  Why?  It worked.  Get this: you could drag and drop files into it and it'd play the files and add them to your library.  It eventually could play video too.  And it just all worked.  It was simple, robust, and reliable.  And windows media player CAN'T DO STUFF THAT WINAMP WAS DOING 15 YEARS AGO.

Now the fun part.

It turns out that if I make a playlist, I can create a playlist with these songs, but it won't put them in the library.


I gotta figure out of OCS will play nicely with any other audio players, or if I'm locked into this godawful piece of crap.

OK, so here's what's going on.

In order to use m4a files (Unprotected AAC's) in WMP, you need to install 2 things.  First, you have to install a codec for AAC, then you have to install another, completley separate, piece of software to make WMP recognize the AAC tags.  If you don't have this, then WMP won't really import the files into your library DESPITE TELLING YOU IT'S GOING TO.

The absolute biggest sin any user interface can make is to lie to users.  WMP delights in telling lies.  "Sure that worked LOL".

The tagging thingy can be found here:

The AAC codec can be found with a google search.


Print | posted on Wednesday, November 26, 2008 10:48 AM |



# re: Windows Media Player vs iTunes

Ha! Bring it on you apple fan boi beeee-yatch! I'll go feature for feature! PITA for PITA.

(The sad truth is I hate them both. I'm just not sure which I hate more. iTunes just sucks at anything that doesn't come from their store.)
11/26/2008 2:59 PM | Bill Graziano

# re: Windows Media Player vs iTunes

I don't have any problems with iTunes. I drag MP3's into it and it puts them into nice little folders for me. Drag, drop, done. Works with AAC and MP3. Doesn't work with WMA, but really, what *does* work with WMA? I'm sure the 10 people who bought Zunes are happy with that, but....

The *only* reason this is an issue is that OCS can't mute anything but WMP. If they had a standard protocol for this it wouldn't be an issue. Oh wait...they do have one, it's whatever multimedia keyboards tie into. But if Microsoft and Apple used that, they wouldn't be able to tie us into their crapfest.

Seriously, take 3 of Microsoft's programmers (1 UI guy, one codec guy, and one file system guy) and slap 'em in a room for a weekend, slip pizza under the door, and anytime a marketing person comes up and suggests a feature, shoot the marketing person and leave the body for the others to trip over. I *know* they can write good UI's. Well, ok. That's stretching it. There's got to be at least one person there who can write a UI though.


11/26/2008 3:08 PM | Chris Miller

# re: Windows Media Player vs iTunes

So on Wednesday I, as usual, closed my laptop, put it in my bag, and left.

Unfortunately my laptop decided it didn't want to go to sleep, and stayed running, in my bag for the last 2 days, depleting the battery. Instead of going into hibernate mode, it just shut itself off. I don't think it can hibernate, because my infernally stupid operations team decided that all laptops shall have a 12gb C: drive, and I don't have room to install anything, much less have a 2GB hibernate file, in that 12GB.

They also decided that every bootup will cause a full virus scan to start, because you never know you *might* have gotten a virus while your computer was turned off. So 20 minutes after ever reboot my computer is unusable.

Anyway, Windows Media Player decided, all on its own, that the reason my laptop crashed was a third party plugin, and it helpfully disabled all the third party plugins.

They don't tell you how to turn them back on.

Then you hit the "Web Help" button and it tells you how to turn them back on. You click on the "Tools" menu.

There is no tools menu. I have "Now Playing", Library, Rip, Burn, Sync and Napster. I don't know why I have a Napster button. I don't subscribe to the service, they don't know me, but there you go. What I don't have is a "Tools" menu. Or, for the people who think that all applications should follow the UI design guidelines, I don't have a File or Edit menu, and the menu bar isn't a normal one. MICROSOFT DOESN'T EVEN FOLLOW THEIR OWN GUIDELINES FOR UI DESIGN.

Anyway. I'm off to find a tools menu. This should take awhile.
11/28/2008 8:37 AM | Chris Miller

# re: Windows Media Player vs iTunes

>>it's just the default format for the best selling music player in the WORLD, why would they add it into the default installation?

And mp3 format is the most widely used audio format in the WORLD, but iTunes haven't used that, have they? ;)
11/28/2008 9:34 AM | georgev

# re: Windows Media Player vs iTunes


Last time I checked, iTunes plays MP3's just fine out of the box, with no issues. If you want to play the "Why did they use DRM?" game, then you need to talk to the record companies who insisted on it.


Ars Technica did a writeup on AAC and said it sounded better than MP3, with less tendency to roll off high-end notes and less noise, and said it's basically the best compressed format. Good 'nuff for me. If you want the best format, go with an uncompressed lossless one, like FLAC or the lossless AAC formats. Both FLAC and AAC do simple Run Length Encoding instead of compressive lossy encoding.

11/28/2008 9:55 AM | Chris Miller

# re: Windows Media Player vs iTunes

They've made a lot of improvements in WMP over the years but iTunes wins for ease of use in my view.
2/8/2009 7:57 AM | Rhys

# re: Windows Media Player vs iTunes

Itunes falls down om basic usability, usually Apples strong point. If I search for a song and play it in WMP 11, I can click the artist or album name and be taken straight to it. In Itunes, I cant. I have to go back and and browse through artists and albums to go 'one level up'. Rubbish, utter rubbish.
2/21/2009 2:30 PM | soily
Comments have been closed on this topic.

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