A couple of weeks ago I installed the beta for Windows Media Player 11 which has proven to be a solid release. I agree with much of PC Magazine's review, though I'd rate WMP 11 a 4 1/2 rather than 4 out of 5. I like the interface, but found that authorizing accounts on more than one computer can take a while and the album art database is not complete. From PC Mag:

"This release represents a major departure from the feel and navigation styles of WMP 10 and iTunes. With many other media players, you scroll through a list of files; WMP 11 lets you browse your library by cover. Some other players, like Yahoo! Music include the capability, but none do it as well. Bringing art to navigation makes the process much more appealing visually—your music collection no longer looks like a spreadsheet."

I wish I could say the same for MTV's Urge: so far, it's a 2.5 or 3 out of 5 (oh, that's right, the numeric review is on the way out). Let's just say it "needs improvement."

Initially, I've found the service frustrating, as signing up for the free trial of the Urge "All Access To Go" service was somewhat difficult: I first went to register for the 14 day free trial off of the WMP11 sign up page and after downloading the 9MB installer for Urge, was able to get through the sign up. But then I found that I was unable to proceed: I was presented with a "please wait" that never went away. After generating a new password for my account a couple of times followed by a few notes to their customer care email address, I was still unable to get on the free trial. Given the activities over the past few weeks have been at work, I'll try again this weekend.  

After installing WMP 11, I have found that syncing with my WMA player (which is PlaysForSure subscription compatible) is easier that it was with WMP 10, and I prefer the new sync experience over Rhapsody... and I can now load my Rhapsody tunes to devices through WMP 11. A good thing, as I found that after I installed WMP 11, Rhapsody is no longer able to transfer to my device. Perhaps there's a setting or check box I've missed, but this was a bit of a surprise.

Personally, I prefer the user experience and layout of Rhapsody: MTV's new Urge service is a little more chaotic and not as refined as Rhapsody, but that should change as they get more customer feedback on the service UX.

If you're interested in a new review on the Urge service, the Seattle Times posted one online today (in the Saturday paper). Unfortunately, the reviewer wasn't impressed...

"Like every other Windows Media-based store, Urge suffers from the Not iPod problem — its downloads don't work on Apple's elegant music players. Instead, you can choose from a wide assortment of other devices that all seem to fall short of the iPod's high standards.

"Not only has MTV failed to match iTunes, it has repeated some of the worst mistakes of earlier iTunes challengers."

I expect that more will come from the version 1.0 of the Urge service. As soon as I get on to the trial, I'll give it a fair shake.

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