There were rumors earlier this month that Windows Media Player 11 for Windows XP would ship in September, but if so, they’ll have to work fast because beta 2 was released yesterday – you can download it here. What’s new:
In addition to allowing users to download music from MTV Networks’ Urge and a host of other online music services, Microsoft also has added eMusic, VidZone and Music Giants stores to Windows Media Player 11. This brings the total number of online stores that a user can access from within the software to 14.
Microsoft also added Windows Media Connect functionality to the player in beta 2 as a new feature called Media Sharing. Windows Media Connect allows users to stream the content of their Windows Media Player library to networked devices such as the Xbox 360. More information about how to use Windows Media Connect and what digital receivers support the technology can be found here.
The Microsoft Media Connect download site is here. WMP 11 will also be in Vista when it ships.
Update: While on the subject of Media Player, I should mention that Microsoft is working on a patch to fix a hack that surfaced this month that strips the digital rights management copy protection from Windows media files:
Microsoft is preparing a fix for a program that strips the digital-rights-management protections attached to its Windows Media file format, representatives said Monday night.
Armed with the program, users could theoretically download an unlimited amount of music via MTV’s Urge music service, as well as other sites that offer music for download.
The FairUse4WM program was released earlier this month, and advertised as a tool to remove the rights restrictions from files encoded with Windows Media Player 10 or 11. The program’s creator, “viodentia,” published the orignal file to a message board on August 19, and the file has been quickly mirrored around the Web.
Update 9/7: Windows Media Player won’t stream video to Xbox 360:
With this week’s release of Beta 2 of Windows Media Player, Microsoft caused a little bit of excitement in the so-called blogosphere with this quote:
If you have a home network (wired or wireless), you can use Windows Media Player 11 to stream the contents of your library to networked devices. For example, if you have an Xbox 360 or other digital media receiver (DMR), you can use Windows Media Player to stream music, pictures, and videos from your computer to that device.
The upshot was that you could use WMP to stream video to an Xbox.
After seeing this touted at a few other sites, I decided to fact check it and drop Microsoft a line. The bad news is that it was an error on their part. While WMP does support Windows Media Connect for pictures and music, video is not supported.