September 14, 2006

WMP 11 vs iTunes 7

Well its time for another irregular movement, and there hasn’t been one for a while. Need more fibre…

I’ve downloaded both WMP 11 beta 2 and iTunes 7 recently, and my brain automatically started making comparisons.

A lot of people have something against MS products (MICRO$OFT HAXORD!!!1!!) but I’ve always found WMP 10 to be a very good piece of software, despite trying other music players. iTunes on the other hand I’ve always found to be lame. I appreciate that as a Windows user I’m not getting the full experience, but why should I use a player not designed for my system?

For the longest time I didn’t even have iTunes on my PC, as I don’t have an iPod (style over substance anyone?) and don’t like the interface. But in Apple’s infinite wisdon, you can’t upgrade Quicktime without getting iTunes. Installing iTunes didn’t hagger my system too much (despite it insisting that ‘ituneshelper’ run in the background, which iTunes won’t let you turn off, but XP has no problem blocking), and I did end up finding some features in it that I prefered to WMP 10.

wmp 11 screen shot

So here we go with the comparison…

WMP 11 has had a massive overhaul with its interface and it has made a good thing better. One major gripe with WMP 10 was that shuffle and repeat was a single button. MS have listened to complaints and now you get two buttons. The library system now goes for a Cover Art based approach that takes some getting used to, but once you have, you’ll wonder how you got by without it. The default skin is also very sexy in an ‘I’m-gonna-tie-in-very-nicely-with-Vista-Aero’ kinda way.

So all in all, i’m very impressed with WMP 11. Its still only in beta 2, but seems very stable and I would happily recommend it.

Having just installed iTunes 7, what can it do to tempt me to its side. I still don’t have an iPod (nor want one) so its ‘seamless integration with the iTunes Store’ isn’t gonna do it. And its this ‘integration’ that gives iTunes 7 its very bad mark. Cover Art. I’m sorry, but why do I have to be signed up to iTunes Store for it to download cover art? Yes its probably free, but why is it necessary? WMP has no problem fetching it without any ‘sign-up’, why can’t this?

iTunes screen shot

This makes some of the ‘features’ of iTunes 7 rather pointless. It’s Cover Browser, while looking quite nice if you do have art, looks dumb if you don’t and is completely unusable. So my only option for browsing my library is the ‘list-of-songs’. Hmm, iTunes is losing already.

I did mention that there were some features I likes in iTunes. One of them is Party Shuffle. I’m yet to understand why MS can’t put an enqueue system in WMP, but maybe a plugin will be developed. Still, its at least 1 tick in the Apple column.

The second reason I liked iTunes is the easy library sharing. Problem is that WMP 11 has a very smart library sharing system that can pick up other users with WMP 11 and asks you whether you’d like to share with them. Its more detailed than the iTunes version, and IMHO, better.

One more menial point, but one still important to me is the inbuilt crossfader. I use WMP’s set to 0.1 seconds to eliminate the jumping between loading mp3s and making mixed CDs smoother whin ripped. I’d love to do that with iTunes, but the smallest you can set the crossfader is 1 second, which is a bit lame. Admittedly I haven’t tried the ‘gapless playback’ that might get rid of the problem.

So far WMP is whipping iTunes, and there are more points I didn’t go into, like WMP’s superior toolbar mode, and how much iTunes seems to run slowly on a mediocre machine.

At the end of the day nothing I say is going to sway people away from iTunes. If you have an iPod (and, unfathomable to me, millions do) you pretty much have no choice. But for the rest (all three of you), I would recommend checking out the beta to see what you think. At least you don’t have to subscribe to anything to get Cover Art.


- 30 comments by 3 or more people Not publicly viewable

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  1. Mathew Mannion

    MediaMonkey is still where it’s at if you want something that does everything without the guff on top of it. I let iTunes 7 try and fetch all my cover art for me since I already had an iTMS account, and it spent 2 hours using up 300mb of RAM and 50% CPU and filled in about a third of them (and all my music is painstakingly well tagged). Not really impressed at all, and sluggish as hell.

    Saying that, I wasn’t really impressed with WMP11 (or 12) either…

    14 Sep 2006, 13:43

  2. In general I prefer WMP to iTunes, although one thing iTunes does better is the quick searching. A negative for both programs is that they both love their stupid custom interfaces. What’s wrong with a nice clean standard windows interface?

    I use MediaMonkey quite a lot of the time too – it handles your library, has a nice quick search, something pretty similar to party shuffle and you can turn off the stupid skins :-)

    I didn’t know there was a new version of WMP out, so I’ll give it a whirl

    14 Sep 2006, 15:49

  3. Hello Jeff, I like music and music players, but most importantly, are you missing me yet? Also, is the word ‘bowel’ supoposed to be implicit in between the words ‘irregular’ and ‘movements’. I think yes.

    14 Sep 2006, 15:51

  4. Matthew Jones

    Nick: The search in WMP 11 is much faster than 10, so def worth a look.

    Nat: Of course I miss you, and yes it is supposed to be implicit. It’s a play on words you see. Irregular movements normally means bowel movements, but I don’t update my blog very often. So it is irregular, like a bowel movement. But not exactly, cause its a blog. So it’s a play on words.

    Do you see?

    Do you?

    Do you see!

    14 Sep 2006, 16:31

  5. I use foobar2000 because it’s completely customisable and extremely lightweight

    14 Sep 2006, 16:33

  6. Mathew Mannion

    Ask iTunes to find artwork for such classic albums as Back in Black and The Bends and it will fall over. But occasionally, just occasionally, it comes up trumps.

    14 Sep 2006, 16:35

  7. I use winamp, it plays music without having fancy tabs that I feel the need to investigate and then get flummoxed by.

    14 Sep 2006, 16:48

  8. I’ve just had a quick look at WMP11. You’re right about the search – very nippy, and I like the new album art based library.

    14 Sep 2006, 17:06

  9. 14 Sep 2006, 18:46

  10. I KNEW IT! Hahaha you have irregular bowels :)
    Also, I spelt the word ‘supposed’ wrongly in that last comment.

    Did you see it?

    Did you?

    Did you see it!

    14 Sep 2006, 18:47

  11. David

    When Microsoft uses the word beta isn’t that code for this product will mess up my computer?

    14 Sep 2006, 21:13

  12. Hey guys! I like music players too. Music players high five! Awesome. Nice one David about the Microsoft joke, Microsoft jokes high five! Awesome. A gramophone! That’s like the oldest schoolest music player of all. Antiquated technology high fives! Most Excellent.

    14 Sep 2006, 22:37

  13. Yeah, I agree with Holly. These days my LP player gets more action than the media library on my computer. Old style is the best!

    15 Sep 2006, 06:34

  14. me

    Amarok is pretty nifty. It does the whole cover-art thing, no signup, it has party-mode (there’s also ‘pub mode’, designed for running jukebox-style in a pub, or somewhere you don’t want people messing with anything else on the machine) and it has last.fm integration. It will use your profile to suggest things you might like based on what you’re playing (highlighting those you have in your collection already) and you can last.fm radio by dragging links into the player- there’s a shortcut for ‘neighbour radio’ if that’s your thing.

    15 Sep 2006, 08:24

  15. As a counterpoint, I have both an iPod and a Store account. The experience is incredible.

    17 Sep 2006, 16:24

  16. Charlotte Morgan

    I thought I saw one of John Dale’s entries on one of these sorts of blogs once. Any of you ever heard of him? x

    18 Sep 2006, 20:21

  17. Matthew Jones

    I thought I saw one of John Dale’s entries on one of these sorts of blogs once. Any of you ever heard of him?

    My sarcasm detector isn’t working this morning, so in case you’re serious, he’s my boss, runs blogs, and his blog is here

    19 Sep 2006, 09:55

  18. Charlotte Morgan

    He’s your boss? Wow! He set up an entry on a kids’ programme once. It used to go ever so well, until I caused it to shut down…

    19 Sep 2006, 15:37

  19. c.luo@warwick.ac.uk

    i recently got the new sansa (sandisk) mp3 player, and i find that it takes longer to download tracks onto it with WMP 10…i used to have an ipod (before one of my cousins sold it! aaaarrrggghh) and i found that it was easier to download tracks onto it on itunes….so personally, wen it comes to downloading tracks onto mp3 players….ITUNES all the way!!!

    20 Sep 2006, 14:41

  20. Charlotte Morgan

    What on earth does that mean? x

    20 Sep 2006, 15:45

  21. Mathew Mannion

    That John Dale fellow’s a lovely bloke.

    runs blogs

    GASP

    20 Sep 2006, 17:24

  22. Charlotte Morgan

    He’s a lovely bloke? Aw, how nice. Maybe you could get him to post on here?

    20 Sep 2006, 17:43

  23. Charlotte Morgan

    Hey, hang on, where IS every1? Matthew, make sure you post on here again soon, eh?
    Char x

    24 Sep 2006, 19:18

  24. James Littlewood

    iTunes really isn’t meant for people who don’t have a mac or don’t have an iPod. They may market to you non-apple people, but why wouldn’t they? They’re trying to make money off the store.

    The required sign up for artwork is to get your money eventually, I mean if you’ve got an account you might buy something. Apple is all about drawing you into giving over the cash.

    I don’t mind that cause I love their product. You guys obviously don’t, so why not just not bother with itunes and quicktime – Other formats are almost always supplied when it comes to movies. So no need to get it: Just leave all the fun/flaws for apple people.

    That’s all cool. One point you got me on was iPod insults. They’re solid bits of kit. I’ve owned two irivers (one hard drive H10 one flash Nsomething), a zen micro and spent much time fixing my friends zen vision. These are the alternatives and I’ve only seen them break where as the video ipod has held together. You wont know till you own/borrow one what they can put up with. Have a look.

    24 Sep 2006, 20:20

  25. Charlotte

    I’ve never owned an Ipod and I don’t want to xx

    25 Sep 2006, 07:04

  26. Matthew Jones

    Other formats are almost always supplied when it comes to movies

    Ah if only that were true. I believe movie trailers are one prime example of something that only come for quicktime. I have no problem with QT, its pretty ace, but I wish you could get it without iTunes

    25 Sep 2006, 13:04

  27. Charlotte

    Sorry I couldn’t come on here during the morning/early afternoon. I doubt we are allowed to use forums at school xx

    25 Sep 2006, 17:15

  28. Charlotte

    I 4got 2 say in my last entry, school today was TRAGEDY.
    PS: I no this isn’t any of your business, I just like saying it to people x

    25 Sep 2006, 19:27

  29. Sam

    to James…

    if you haven’t already travelled the web enough, some sites require that you have Quicktime installed to view streaming videos. yes and I mean just the Quicktime format is offered.

    Now on topic…

    I grew up using both Apples and Windows and both have their pros and cons. As far as media players go, i’d rather stick to WMP. Personally 11 givesme stress since it is still in its beta form, but i do like the interface more than 10. But I miss some stuff from 10. I’m very technical with things and iTunes is just way to simple for me to use, thus gets me bored from staring at it. I really don’t like the fact that I can’t play videos in fullscreen mode.

    11 Oct 2006, 02:23

  30. cona

    ipods are really the best but apple is totally CRAP. So dont use itunes use wmp 11 to get ur tunes on ur ipod. Oh you think its impossible???? NADA NO cause you can download MGTEK dopisp and that will let you download songs and let you play them back on your ipod. NOT A CON really download it now and i garutee you that you will never go back to using crappy old itunes ever again!!!!

    14 Feb 2007, 11:25


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