indows Media Player 11 (WMP 11), a key part of Microsoft’s campaign to make
Windows the centerpiece of users’ digital entertainment collections, is notably changed in
Vista from earlier Media Player versions.
The so-called Media Library, for example, now provides additional views of digital files,
including genre, year of release, and ratings (see Figure 16).
Ripping CDs to digital files has been enhanced in WMP 11. Two new audio formats
appear for the first time: Windows Media Audio Pro and lossless WAV (see Figure 17).
The Pro format, strangely enough, digitizes sound at only 64 kilobits per second (64
Kbps), about half the bit rate of the older Windows Media Audio format. Lossless WAV, by
contrast, is so high quality—with a bit rate in the high hundreds of Kbps—that ripping a
single CD to disk produces files that total approximately 600 MB.
Hard drives are cheap these days, so whether you really want or need the extra tonal
range that comes from lossless ripping may depend on whether you’ve already filled up
most of your disk space.
If you happen to have more than one CD drive installed on your PC, WMP 11 will rip files
from all of them at once. That won’t make feeding your discs into the CD trays any more
fun, but it will get it over with faster.
The Windows Media Player 11 library view. Version 11 provides a variety of
ways to organize, play, and view your music and video collection.
In case you decide to reverse the process, and burn your digital files to CDs, WMP 11 has
added new forms of support here, too. A disk-spanning feature calculates the number of
CDs needed—if your collection exceeds the capacity of a single CD—and automatically
burns your playlist over multiple discs.
WMP 11 rip formats. Microsoft’s new player supports even more formats to store
CDs you’ve digitized