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Huslage's Thoughts

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Media Player Confusion

I am continually amazed at the inability to add basic things to the UIs of media players. I’ll confess to being a mac head and as such iTunes is my preferred program for listening, but I like to play the field once in a while to help remind me why it is so good.

My employer’s operating system comes with what is billed as their best media player ever, and indeed it does work well for playing media, but it should also do a few other things. A good media player organizes your songs intuitively and also allows you to save off frequently listened to tracks and streams. Windows Media Player seems to fall down in the library arena. I can’t for the life of me figure out how to save the stream for KEXP Radio as a favorite. Here’s the UI as it’s playing:

Windows Media Player

There are no options evident. Even right-clicking shows me a little menu with nothing obvious to add this stream to my library or save it as a favorite.

 With iTunes, however, things are quite different. Here’s the UI:

iTunes

Here we see a convenient listing of radio stations and all I need to do to allow iTunes to remember it is drag the track to the Music tab on the left. It’s now saved forever. Anything that is playing can be done this way. Dragging the stream to “Library” on Windows Media Player doesn’t do anything obvious for me.

I could go on and on about the hideous UI tragedy that is Windows Media Player. Microsoft keeps wondering why it’s not “winning” at stuff and often overlooks what’s right under its nose. Users hate interfaces that make no sense and don’t do what they want out of the box. You can study this stuff in a vacuum all you want, but the real test is comparative/competitive testing with real-world scenarios. Fear not your competition, but learn from them and make something even better.

One Response to “Media Player Confusion”

  1. February 14th, 2008 at 2:28 am

    vm says:

    But the proper comparison for itunes is not windows media player. That one matches to quicktime. Windows Media wins! It has a -library!- Quicktime does not!

    iTunes is meant to be compared against Zune software. Any other comparison is false! False! Microsoft wins! YEAHHHHHHHHHHH!

    Oh wait. Right.
    Let’s actually hire some outside UI people test stuff and tell us what they think and then do something with it!

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