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Media Player 10 makes an appearance

Microsoft has released the technical beta version of its new Media Player 10 software.

Microsoft has released the technical beta version of its new Media Player 10 software, which includes all the functions of the previous release, such as video viewing, audio listening, online radio, CD ripping and burning, plus a host of new features.

Media Player’s user interface has been tidied up, so that as well as having a new look and feel it can be resized at will. It has also been designed to allow better access to popular tasks from any Media Player window. For example, Sync and Burn buttons are included in the Media Library window, which means users can instantly burn CDs and sync tracks to digital devices while browsing their media files.

Media Player’s support for digital media devices has been improved and its new Auto Sync function, which employs Microsoft’s proprietary Multimedia Transport Protocol (MTP) technology, gives what Microsoft claims is seamless access to digital devices. For users running Windows XP, Auto Sync will automatically recognise and configure itself to suit supported digital devices, so that no driver downloads are necessary. It can also be set-up to automatically start downloading specific content each time a device is connected. Media Player’s jukebox mode has also been enhanced with new auto playlists and the ability to integrate digitally recorded TV programmes into Media Player’s file library.

Media Player 10 also features Microsoft’s next-generation digital rights management technology, code-named Janus, and gives online access to a wider range of music stores via Media Player’s 'Digital Media Mall'.

The technical beta version of Windows Media Player 10 will be included on Windows Middle East’s September cover CD, along with the new version of RealPlayer and Apple’s popular iTunes software.

The European Commission (EC) is currently in dispute with the world’s biggest software firm over its bundling of Media Player with its Windows OS. The EC claims Microsoft's dominant position in the OS market gives it a monopoly advantage in the fast-growing media player market, a similar gripe to the US Justice Department’s issue with Microsoft bundling its Internet Explorer browser with the OS.

After talks between Microsoft and the EC collapsed earlier this year, the EC chose to pursue Microsoft for 497 million euros (roughly $600 million) as punishment for the company not allowing its competitors a fair crack of the media player whip. While the doomed talks between the two parties did see Microsoft offer to include competing media player software with Windows, the EC wants much more and as such is looking for MS to offer two distinct versions of Windows - one featuring Media Player, one without.

It's highly unlikely there will be an outcome to this case soon, which means that until then, users buying or upgrading Windows should still receive Media Player software bundled with the OS.

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