Microsoft Ships Windows Media Player 11 Beta 2 - InformationWeek

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Microsoft Ships Windows Media Player 11 Beta 2

The latest version of Media Player streams content to Xbox 360, sends content to wired and wireless media receivers, and integrates with MTV's Urge online music store.

Microsoft Corp. has released beta 2 of Windows Media Player 11, adding the ability to stream music, pictures and video to devices attached to a home network.

The media-sharing feature follows Microsoft's strategy of offering Windows as an entertainment hub for the home. Media Player 11 will be embedded in Windows Vista, which is set for release to consumers in January.

In describing the latest version of Media Player, Microsoft points out that it can stream content to Xbox 360, which Microsoft is also building into an entertainment center. Along with the gaming console, Media Player can shoot content to any supporting digital media receiver, such as the Roku SoundBridge or the D-Link MediaLounge, whether it's on a wired or wireless network. If the latter uses Wi-Fi technology, however, it's unlikely to have the bandwidth for video.

Media Player 11 also has tight integration with the Urge online music store, a joint venture with MTV Networks Inc. Microsoft, however, says the software can also access other stores that support its digital rights management software, which doesn't include the Web's most popular store iTunes from Apple Computer.

Media Player 11 will be tightly integrated with Zune, the portable media player Microsoft plans to ship this year. The device will be built by Toshiba and go head-to-head against Apple's iPod, which accounts for more than three quarters of the market, according to the NPD Group.

Media Player 11 also includes many of the capabilities of version 10, released two years ago, including the ability to rip and play CDs and DVDs and manage music libraries. Version 11 Beta 2, which was released this week, requires Windows XP Service Pack 2.

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