Microsoft Windows Media Player 7 Handbook

Overview


With Windows Media Player 7, consumers get one-click access to the richest multimedia experience on line. And with this comprehensive handbook, they get one-stop information on how to use new Media Player capabilities and quickly create their own digital music, video, and art. Written by members of the Microsoft Windows Media Player team, this concise guide delivers inside insights on the technology -- including interactive ""skins"" that allow users to change the look and feel of the Player; customizable ...
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Overview


With Windows Media Player 7, consumers get one-click access to the richest multimedia experience on line. And with this comprehensive handbook, they get one-stop information on how to use new Media Player capabilities and quickly create their own digital music, video, and art. Written by members of the Microsoft Windows Media Player team, this concise guide delivers inside insights on the technology -- including interactive ""skins"" that allow users to change the look and feel of the Player; customizable animations; and CD-quality audio that's half the size of MP3 files. Users get easy-to-follow tips for everything from ripping tracks from favorite CDs onto their PCs to animating the user interface and porting digital media to a Pocket PC player.
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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
There's more to Windows Media Player 7 than you might expect -- and there's more to this book, too.

Yes, it's a guide to using the latest Windows Media Player (as included with Windows Me, downloadable from Microsoft, and a quantum leap forward from earlier versions). Seth McEvoy walks you through finding, downloading, and playing media files; getting new codecs; and copying music to CDs or portable devices. But that's only the first third of the book.

The second third focuses on creating your own skins, presenting previously scarce information on morphing WMP7 with any look and feel your twisted mind desires. Skins programming happens in two languages: XML, for defining the characteristics of each button, slider, and text box; and JScript for adding new functionality. McEvoy discusses both. He also offers a complete process for designing skins, involving deciding what you want your users to be able to do, designing your user interface, creating your artwork, and writing your code.

That's still not all. Part III shows how to use WMP7 in your web pages: in the background, as a simple default media interface, or with your own custom interface. You'll also learn how to create custom media content and visualizations. The CD-ROM contains the complete Microsoft Windows Media Player 7 SDK, Skin Construction Kit, Advanced Script Indexer, ready-to-use visualizations, sample code, and more. Hey, as long as you've got WMP7, why not flaunt it? (Bill Camarda)

Bill Camarda is a consultant and writer with nearly 20 years' experience in helping technology companies deploy and market advanced software, computing, and networking products and services. His 15 books include Special Edition Using Word 2000 and Upgrading & Fixing Networks For Dummies®, Second Edition.

Booknews
Provides instructions for using Windows Media Player 7 to play music on a PC, customizing the look of the player with skins, and embedding the player in a web page. The CD-ROM contains the Media Player 7, tutorials, and sample skins and visualizations. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780735611788
  • Publisher: Microsoft Press
  • Publication date: 11/4/2000
  • Series: Eu-Undefined Series
  • Pages: 336
  • Product dimensions: 7.34 (w) x 9.12 (h) x 1.01 (d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 2.
How Does the Player Work?
  • Playing a file in only three steps
    • Step 1: Start with the full mode Player
    • Step 2: Choose a song
    • Step 3: Click Play
  • Using the navigation buttons
  • Watching visualizations
  • Changing other settings
    • SRS WOW Effects settings
    • Graphic Equalizer settings
    • Video settings
    • Windows Media Information
    • Captions
  • Using menus
    • File menu
    • View menu
    • Play menu
    • Tools menu
    • Options dialog box
    • Help menu
    • Compact mode shortcut menu
  • Finding files on the Internet
  • Copying music from CDs
    • Copying tracks
    • Selecting copy options
  • Using playlists
    • Using the Media Library
  • Using the Radio Tuner
    • Using Station Finder
    • Using station presets
    • Working with radio stations in the Media Library

Chapter 2 How Does the Player Work?

In this chapter you’ll learn how to operate Windows Media Player 7. You’ll see how to play files, use the buttons to navigate, change the settings, use the menus, and switch to different views and modes. You’ll also be shown how to find files on the Internet, copy music from CDs, and use playlists.

Playing a file in only three steps

Playing music or video on the Player is a simple 1-2-3 process:

  1. Go to the Now Playing view.
  2. Pick a song from a playlist and click the song title.
  3. Then click the Play button to begin playing.

The three steps to playing a song are shown below in more detail.

Step 1: Start with the full mode Player

When you start Windows Media Player 7 for the first time, and you are connected to the Internet, you should see the full mode Player in the Media Guide view. Figure 2.1a shows a typical Media Guide view.

Figure 2.1a: Full mode Player in Media Guide view with Internet connection. (Image unavailable)

The Media Guide is a Web site that gives you a doorway into the world of audio and video on the Internet. The contents change nearly every day, giving you new audio and video selections, current entertainment news, and free downloads.

If you are not connected to the Internet, you’ll see a screen similar to Figure 2.1b.

Figure 2.1b: Media Guide view without an Internet connection. (Image unavailable)

You can now get started using Windows Media Player. Click Now Playing on the left side of the full mode Player. You should see a view similar to Figure 2.2.

Figure 2.2: Windows Media Player in full mode in the Now Playing view. (Image unavailable)

If you don’t see something like Figure 2.2, you’re probably looking at a skin. A skin may have been loaded by the last person to use the Player; you won’t be able to see the Now Playing view when a skin is running. If you are viewing a skin, you will want to return to the full mode of Windows Media Player.

Windows Media Player comes in two modes: full mode and compact mode. The compact mode is used to display skins, and the full mode displays the standard Player. To return to full mode from any skin, right-click anywhere on the skin and then click Return to Full Mode on the shortcut menu that appears.

The full mode has several different views it can display. Right now, all you want to do is play a file, so click Now Playing at the left side of the full mode Player. You should now see something that looks close to Figure 2.2. You probably will have a different visualization or a different playlist loaded on your computer, but you’re ready to start.

Step 2: Choose a song

There are several ways to choose a file to play, but the easiest way is to use a playlist. Playlists will be covered in greater detail later in this chapter, but to get you started, use the playlist that should be visible on the right side of the Now Playing view.

Figure 2.3 shows a Now Playing view with a playlist named "All Audio" that contains all the songs that the Player has information about. The third song, "Laure", is selected and playing. You can double-click any item in the playlist to start playing that item.

Figure 2.3: A playlist with more than one item. (Image unavailable)

You can learn more about using playlists later in this chapter. There are other ways to choose audio and video files as well, and they will also be covered in this chapter.

Step 3: Click Play

Now that you’ve selected a song title, click the Play button. It looks like an arrow that is pointing to the right. You can see it in Figure 2.4.

Figure 2.4: The Play button of the full mode Player. (Image unavailable)

When you click the Play button, two things happen. The music starts playing and the button changes. The button now looks like Figure 2.5.

Figure 2.5: The Pause button of the full mode Player. (Image unavailable)

This new button is the Pause button. Any time you want to stop the Player, just click the Pause button. That will stop the music playing and change the Pause button back to a Play button.

Using the navigation buttons

Windows Media Player has several other buttons you can use to enhance your playing experience. The following buttons are always at the bottom of the window in the full mode Player and are listed here from left to right:

  • Play/Pause
  • Stop
  • Seek
  • Mute
  • Volume
  • Previous
  • Fast Reverse
  • Fast Forward
  • Next
  • Switch to compact mode

If you hover over a button with the mouse pointer, the name of the button will appear.

Figure 2.6 shows the navigation buttons for the full mode Player. These buttons are also called transport buttons and use symbols that are common to the electronic industry for controlling tape recorders, VCRs, and CD players. You’ll often see the same button symbols in skins, but because every artist designs skins his own way, and the artwork varies widely, you won’t necessarily find all the same buttons in each skin, or the buttons may not be in the same order.

Figure 2.6: Navigation buttons. (Image unavailable)

Here is a brief explanation of each button.

Play/Pause
This button toggles back and forth between two states: Play and Pause. Play starts the selected music or video playing, and Pause pauses it. Clicking Play from a paused state will start the program playing from the same position it was paused at.

Stop
This button stops a currently playing program. If you click Play after clicking Stop, the program will start over at the beginning.

Seek
This is the long bar that extends above the other buttons. The Seek bar shows the current position in the file. If you click and drag the tiny box, you can change the current position in the file to anywhere you want. The left end of the Seek bar represents the beginning of the file, and the right end represents the end of the file. So the midpoint of the bar represents the midpoint of the file, regardless of its length.

Mute
Click this to mute the sound of the currently playing file. Click it again to return the sound to its previous volume.

Volume
This is a short triangular bar with a box above it. Click and drag the box left or right to increase or decrease the volume of the sound.

Previous
Click this to go to the previous title in a playlist.

Fast Reverse
Click this to move the current seek position of the file backward. Click it again to start playing from the new seek position. This button only works for video files that use the Windows Media video file format.

Fast Forward
Click this to move the current seek position of the file forward. Click it again to start playing from the new seek position. This button only works for video files that use the Windows Media video file format.

Next

Click this to go to the next title in the playlist.

Switch to compact mode
Use this to change the Player display to compact mode. This will change the user interface to the default skin or the last skin you selected.

Watching visualizations

At the bottom of the left side of the Now Playing pane, you’ll see two buttons. Click these to change visualization presets. These buttons are shown in Figure 2.7.

Figure 2.7: Previous visualization and Next visualization preset buttons. (Image unavailable)

Visualizations draw moving shapes and colors on the screen that rise and fall in time to the beat and tone of the music. Several visualizations are included with Windows Media Player, and more are available from the Windows Media Player Visualizations Gallery. Click Download Visualizations on the Tools menu to go there.

Each visualization has several presets. Each preset gives a different "flavor" or "twist" to the visualization; for example, one preset might make all the colors soft pastels and another preset would make them vivid primary colors. You can change visualizations and presets by clicking the Previous visualization and Next visualization buttons. The visualization and preset names are displayed to the right of the buttons, with the visualization name first, and the preset name following, separated by a colon.

You won’t see a visualization if you’re playing a video, because they both use the same display pane.

Changing other settings

There’s one other button that can be useful when playing audio and video. At the top of the full mode Windows Media Player, just to the right of center, you’ll see the Show Equalizer & Settings button that looks like Figure 2.8.

Figure 2.8: Show/Hide Equalizer & Settings in Now Playing button. (Image unavailable)

Clicking this button will show a new pane in the Now Playing area that is below the visualization/video pane. This pane covers several settings. To move to a new setting, click the Previous setting or Next setting button. These buttons are shown in Figure 2.9.

Figure 2.9: Previous setting and Next setting buttons. (Image unavailable)

The following settings are accessed from this pane by clicking the Previous setting and Next setting buttons:

  • SRS WOW Effects
  • Graphic Equalizer
  • Video Settings
  • Windows Media Information
  • Captions

Here is a brief explanation of each setting.

SRS WOW Effects settings

This pane allows you to adjust the SRS WOW settings. SRS is a type of surround sound that makes your audio sound more lifelike and three-dimensional. You can see the SRS WOW Effects pane in Figure 2.10.

Figure 2.10: SRS WOW Effects pane. (Image unavailable)

On the right is the logo for SRS. Click it to find out more about SRS. On the left are two horizontal sliders that adjust the TruBass and WOW Effect. Between the two sliders and the SRS logo are two buttons: the top turns SRS on and off, and the bottom one toggles between various presets.

Here is a brief explanation of each button:

TruBass
Sliding this all the way to the right increases the bass enhancement of the audio. Sliding to the left decreases it.

WOW Effect

Sliding this to the right increases the perceived height and width of the audio image.

On/Off
Click this toggle button to turn the SRS WOW Effects on or off.

Speaker Settings
Click this to toggle through the following speaker settings: normal speakers, large speakers, and headphones.

Graphic Equalizer settings

This pane allows you to adjust the audio to make it sound exactly the way you’d like. If you want to boost the bass or cut out high notes, this is the place to do it. Figure 2.11 shows the Graphic Equalizer pane.

Figure 2.11: Graphic Equalizer pane. (Image unavailable)

On the left you see ten sliders that correspond to ten divisions of the audio spectrum. Move the leftmost slider up to increase the power of the lowest frequencies, move it down to reduce them. Similarly, the rightmost slider controls the upper tenth of the spectrum (the highest frequencies). Play with the sliders to see what sounds good to you.

To the immediate right of the sliders are two buttons. The top one turns the graphic equalizer on or off. If it is off, the settings are completely "flat," that is, no modification is made to the sounds. The bottom button toggles through several presets that are based on popular styles of music. For example, the Jazz preset will boost the middle frequencies more than the Acoustic setting. If you make changes in the Custom preset, those changes will be saved for the next time you use the Player.

To the right of those two buttons is a final horizontal slider that allows you to adjust the stereo balance. Move it to the left to increase the apparent volume of the left channel and to the right to increase the right volume.

Video settings

This pane allows you to adjust the video to make it look the way you like it. If you want to adjust the brightness or the intensity of the color, this is the place to do it. Figure 2.12 shows the Video Settings pane.

Figure 2.12: Video Settings pane. (Image unavailable)

On the left side of the pane are four horizontal sliders. They adjust the Brightness, Contrast, Hue, and Saturation of the video picture. To the right of these sliders is a button that resets all the sliders to their default (centered) positions.

Here is a brief explanation of each slider:

Brightness
This adjusts the brightness of the video picture. Slide it all the way to the left to make the picture completely black and all the way to the right to make it completely white. Usually you’ll want it somewhere in between.

Contrast
Use this to sharpen or blur video images. Moving this slider all the way to the left makes the picture sharper. This effect is sometimes known as posterization. Moving it to the right makes the image look blurry, as if everything was photographed in a dense fog or underwater.

Hue
Adjust the hue for basic color changes. Slide it to the left to make everything more red/purple and to the right for green.

Saturation
This adjusts how much color is shown in the video. Slide the slider all the way to the left, and only the gray tones are used, with no color at all. Slide it all the way to the right, and the colors are extremely intense (saturated).

Windows Media Information

This pane isn’t really a setting, but shows additional information about a particular item. For example, if you load the Sample Playlist, and open the Windows Media Information pane, you’ll see something like Figure 2.13.

Figure 2.13: Windows Media Information pane. (Image unavailable)

The Windows Media Information pane can display details such as genre and label, but can also display pictures, links, and other useful information. In this example, if you click the album cover or the link to the right of it, you’ll be taken to a Web page that gives more details about the artist, album, label, and so on. For more information on how to create advertising information such as the kind you see in the Windows Media Information pane, see Chapter 13.

Captions

This pane isn’t really a setting either, but shows captions for video files. See Figure 2.14 for a typical caption file.

Figure 2.14: Captions pane. (Image unavailable)

For more information about captions, see Chapter 13.

Using menus

Many of the operations you can perform with buttons can also be done through menus. The File menu is always available in the full mode view but is also available in skins that provide menus. Here is a brief listing of each menu item and what it does.

File menu

The File menu helps you work with files. The following commands are available on the File menu:

Open
Use this to load a file, using the standard Windows Open dialog box. The file you select will be loaded into a new playlist, and the file will start playing.

Open URL
Use this to load a file from a Web site or over a network. A URL (Uniform Resource Locator) is a path to a file; for example, http://internalsite/laure.wma is a URL. You must type a URL that links to an audio or video file. If you type a URL to a Web page, you will get an error.

Close
This doesn’t close the Player; it closes the media file that is playing. It stops the Player and deselects the current item in the current playlist.

Add to Library
Use this to add a track to the media library. The media library is the collection of all audio and video that the Player has information about. When you select this option, you are given three choices: Add Currently Playing Track, Add File, and Add URL. The first choice is useful when you want to add the content that is currently playing to the media library. The second and third choices are similar to the Open and Open URL commands on the File menu except that instead of playing the file, the Player just adds it to the media library.

Import Playlist to Library
Use this to import a playlist into the media library. Playlists are Windows Media metafiles that have an extension of .asx, .wax, .wvx. You can also import a .m3u file which will automatically be converted to a playlist.

Export Playlist to File
Use this to save a selected playlist in a text file. If you don’t have any playlists selected (or any playlists at all), the media library will be saved as a playlist.

Copy to CD
Use this to copy files to a CD. You must have a CD-ROM that is recordable and a CD drive capable of recording. For more information about copying files to a CD-ROM, see Chapter 3. You may not see this menu item if you do not have a recordable CD drive installed on your computer.

Properties
Selecting this will display information about the audio or video that is currently playing.

Work Offline
Use this option if you don’t want the Player to go out to the Internet to gather information about CDs.

Exit
This will shut down Windows Media Player.

View menu

The View menu helps you see all the different parts of Windows Media Player and work with visual elements. The following commands are available through the View menu:

Full Mode
This option returns you to the full mode view.

Compact Mode
Use this to change from full mode to a skin. Whatever skin you used last will be the default skin.

Now Playing Tools
Select this to change how the Now Playing area looks. You can choose to hide or display the playlist, title, and visualization portions of the pane. You can also show or hide the following settings: SRS WOW Effects, Graphic Equalizer, Video, Windows Media Information, and Captions. Finally, you can also hide or show the resize bars, which are the bars that separate the sub-panes of the Now Playing area.

Task Bar
The Task Bar menu command provides access to the same features found on the Task Bar tabs at the left side of the full mode Player. The following features are provided: Now Playing, Media Guide, CD Audio, Media Library, Radio Tuner, Portable Device, and Skin Chooser. For more information about the Task Bar, see the "Changing views in full mode" section of this chapter.

Visualizations
Selecting this option provides a list of the currently loaded visualizations. Selecting a visualization shows you the presets that are available for each visualization.

File Markers
Use this to go to a specific position in a file that has markers. If a file doesn’t have markers, you can’t select this option. For more information about file markers, see Chapter 12.

Statistics
Selecting this option can show you how well the file is playing. This can be particularly useful if you want to report problems with files that you are receiving in real time through the Internet (called streaming). If there are problems, you usually will know, but this option can give you exact answers, such as how many packets are being lost during transmission.

Full Screen
If you are playing a visualization that supports it, use this option to have the visualization display over the full screen of your computer. Once in full screen, you can return to normal mode by pressing the ALT and ENTER keys simultaneously.

Refresh
Use this to refresh the page when you are using the Media Guide, Portable Device, or Radio Tuner panes. If you think you’re looking at yesterday’s Web page, you may be right. Some information in these task panes is cached, that is, stored on your hard disk, depending on the settings in Internet Explorer or your portable device.

Zoom
This allows you to change the size of a video that is playing. You can choose to make it fit the screen, or pick a specific percentage of the original. The percentages are 50%, 100%, and 200%.

Play menu

The Play menu gives you most of the same options that the transport buttons offer. The following commands are available through the Play menu:

Play/Pause
This starts the music or video program playing, or if it is already playing, pauses it. The Player must have at least one item in the media library in order to play. Playing a paused file starts the file playing at the same position it was paused at.

Stop
This stops the currently playing program. If you click Play after stopping the program, the song or video will start over at the beginning.

Skip Back
This stops the currently playing item in the playlist and plays the previous item in the same playlist. This corresponds to the Previous button in the Player buttons at the bottom of the full mode Player. If you are at the first item in a playlist and you select Skip Back, the last item in the playlist will be played.

Skip Forward
This stops the currently playing item in the playlist and plays the next item in the same playlist. This corresponds to the Next button in the Player buttons at the bottom of the full mode Player. If you are at the last item in a playlist and you select Skip Forward, the first item in the playlist will be played.

Rewind
This rewinds a video in short intervals. You can only rewind videos that are encoded in Windows Media Format. This corresponds to the Fast Reverse button in the Player buttons at the bottom of the full mode Player.

Fast Forward
This fast forwards a video in short intervals. You can only fast forward videos that are encoded in Windows Media Format. This corresponds to the Fast Forward button in the Player buttons at the bottom of the full mode Player.

Shuffle
This plays the items in the current playlist in a random order. It does not change the order of the items in the playlist, only the order in which they are played while the shuffle option is selected.

Repeat
This repeats the playing of the entire current playlist, not specific items in a playlist. If you want to repeat only one item, create a new playlist, put only that item in it, and repeat that playlist.

Volume
This lets you nudge the volume up or down by a small amount. It also allows you to mute the volume.

Tools menu

The Tools menu is for advanced features of Windows Media Player. The following commands are available through the Tools menu:

Download Visualizations
Select this to go to a Web page that will let you download new visualizations.

Search Computer for Media
Use this to search your computer for all audio and video files. The Player will add the files it finds to your media library and divide them between the audio and video collections. If you choose the option to search for WAV and MIDI files, you will add a lot of Windows sound effects that you may not want to play with the Player; on the other hand, you may discover some interesting MIDI files that are hidden away inside your Windows folder. You can choose to load from local drives, network drives, all drives, or a specific drive, and even a specific directory. If you have mapped a network drive to your computer, you can search that drive as well. For example, if drive X: is mapped to a network drive, you can search that drive, or directories on that drive.

License Management
If you download music that requires a license, or make copies of CD tracks, this option specifies where you want to store the licenses on your computer. You might want to pick a folder that you can find easily so you can conveniently back up your licenses to another drive or storage medium. If you pay for a song and the song needs a license to play, you’ll want to take good care of your licenses. For more information about licensing, see "Understanding digital rights" in Chapter 3.

Options
This is the option for everything else not covered in other menu items. The following section, "Options dialog box," provides more information about this menu item.

Options dialog box

If you go to the Tools menu and click Options, the Options dialog box is displayed. It covers various options you may want to change. The following tabs are included in the Options dialog box:

Player
This tab lets you set how often you want Windows Media Player to check for software upgrades (daily, weekly, monthly), whether you want the Player to automatically download codecs it needs (See Chapter 3 for more about codecs.), whether you want the Player to identify itself to Web sites and download licenses automatically, whether you want the Player to start up in Media Guide (instead of whatever you mode you used last time), and whether you want skins to be on top of other windows. You can also decide whether you want the anchor to be displayed when using skins. The anchor window is a small window that appears in the lower right corner of the screen when Windows Media Player is in compact mode. You can click the anchor window, and then click Return to Full Mode to return to the full mode of the Player. Most of the time you’ll want to leave these options the way they were initially set.

Network
If you are an advanced networking user, you can use this tab to set proxies, ports, and protocols.

CD Audio
Use this to set up how you will play or record CDs. For playing CDs, you can choose whether to use digital playback, if your computer supports it, and whether to use error correction. Change these options if you are having problems playing CDs. For copying music from CDs, you can select how much compression to use when converting music from CD format to music file formats. You’ll have to choose between smaller file sizes and better quality. You can also choose whether to use digital copying or error correction, and whether to use personal rights management. Finally, you can choose what folder you want the copied audio files to be created in. For more information about copying CDs and digital rights, see Chapter 3.

Portable Device
If you have a portable device, you can use this pane to decide whether to let the Player convert the music automatically or let you pick a tradeoff between file size and audio quality. You can also click a button and find out what devices are supported by Windows Media Player. For more information about portable devices, see Chapter 5.

Performance
You might want to use this tab if you are having trouble with viewing live files (streaming). You can tell the Player what network connection you have, how much buffering to do, whether you want to use hardware acceleration with video, and how to adjust digital video settings. For more information about streaming, see Chapter 4.

Media Library
Use this tab to set access rights to your media library. You can specify what levels of access you want to grant outside Web sites to read or modify the media in your library. This involves both security and privacy issues. This also specifies whether you want Internet music purchases to be added to your library automatically.

Visualizations

If you have installed a visualization that has properties you can change, go to this tab to change them. For example, the Ambience visualization will let you set the full-screen size and offscreen buffer size. You can also use this tab to load a visualization that is stored on your computer but that is not registered with the Player. Be sure you know the source of any visualization before loading, and load them from only trusted sites, so that you can avoid viruses.

Formats
Use this tab to make sure the Player plays the file formats you want it to play. If another brand of player starts playing a file that you want Windows Media Player to play, change the file association here, if it is a file format the Player can play.

Help menu

The Help menu gives you help and information. This menu has the following three commands:

Help Topics
This command launches the Help file that comes with Windows Media Player. The Help file covers all the features you need to know about to use the Player. You can also get the Help file by pressing the F1 key on your computer at any time while Window Media Player is the active Window.

Check For Player Upgrades
Use this command any time you’re curious about upgrades to Windows Media Player. The Player will do this automatically for you, but you may want to do it yourself if you’ve heard news of a new version.

About Windows Media Player
This will display the name, copyright, version number, and product ID of Windows Media Player.

Compact mode shortcut menu

When Windows Media Player is in compact mode, you can right-click the skin and get a menu. Each of the commands on the menu corresponds to a similarly named command on one of the menus of the full mode Player. Table 2.1 shows the commands on the menu of the compact mode along with their corresponding full mode menu commands.

Table 2.1: Menu commands of the compact mode Player.

Compact mode menu command Full mode menu command
Open File menu Open option
Open URL File menu Open URL option
Shuffle Play menu Shuffle option
Repeat Play menu Repeat option
Volume Play menu Volume option
Play/pause Play menu Play/pause option
Stop Play menu Stop option
Skip Back Play menu Skip Back option
Skip Forward Play menu Skip Back option
Return to Full Mode Play menu Skip Forward option
Full Screen View menu Full Screen option
Properties File menu Properties option
Statistics View menu Statistics option
Options Tools menu Options option
Help Help menu Help Topics option
About Help menu Windows Media Player option
Exit File menu Exit option

Changing views in full mode

The full mode of Windows Media Player has seven views that are accessed by clicking tabs on the Task Bar, which is on the left side of the window. Each view gives you a different way to interact with audio and video. Here is a list of the views:

Now Playing
This view shows a visualization or video on the left pane and a playlist on the right. You can also display a hidden settings pane to make various adjustments or see additional information. You’ll spend most of your time in this view.

Media Guide
This is the default view of the Player and opens up a world of audio and video through the Internet. You can get daily news of new audio and video releases, tune in to Internet radio stations, and download tons of things to see and hear, most of it free! For more help with downloading, see the "Finding files on the Internet" section in this chapter.

CD Audio
If you have a CD player in your computer, you can play your CD tracks using Windows Media Player. For more information about using CDs, see the "Copying music from CDs" section in this chapter. For more information about creating your own CDs, see Chapter 3.

Media Library
This is where you can organize all your audio and video. You can search for audio and video files on your computer, create playlists, and change your Internet radio presets here. For more information about working with playlists, see the "Using playlists" section of this chapter.

Radio Tuner
Use this feature to search out and sort Internet radio stations. From around the world or around the block, you can listen to music every hour of every day and never hear the same thing twice!

Portable Devices
Use this pane to download music to your Pocket PC or other portable device. For more information about portable devices, see Chapter 5.

Skin Chooser
Use this to apply skins that came with your installation. You can also use this feature to download new skins from the Windows Media Skins Gallery Web site. Once you try one skin, you’ll never want to stop! New skins will be appearing frequently, so check this site often.

Finding files on the Internet

Now that you know how to use the Windows Media Player, you can go out on the Web and find more music. You can use a browser to do this of course, but Windows Media Player gives you a special window to the world of music and video. This window is called the Media Guide. Earlier in this chapter you saw a typical view of the Media Guide in Figure 2.1a.

The Player will start up with the Media Guide view. You can always get to it by using the full mode of the Player and clicking Media Guide on the Task Bar on the left side of the Player. If you don’t want Media Guide to be the default view, go to the Tools menu and click Options; then click the Player tab and clear the Start Player in Media Guide check box.

The Media Guide is a window to the WindowsMedia.com Web site. The Media Guide has hundreds of links to new audio and video files to play and download, and gives you lots of information about what’s new in the world of audio and video. You can spend hours and hours exploring the Media Guide.

For more information about file formats you can download, see Chapter 3. For information about seeing and hearing files without waiting to download them (streaming), see Chapter 4.

Copying music from CDs

If you want to listen to music from different CDs without inserting and removing your CDs all the time, Windows Media Player can save you a lot of time. All you have to do is copy the CD (or just the tracks you want) onto your computer, then assemble the tracks into playlists and create your own customized musical experience.

Also, you can have the Player compress the files so they won’t take up as much room on your hard disk. You can control the amount of compression you need. Choosing high compression will create files that won’t sound as good but will take up less space.

Copying tracks

Copying CD tracks is extremely easy. All you need to do is load a CD into your CD-ROM drive and start Windows Media Player. When the Player starts, it loads the CD tracks into a playlist and displays the CD Audio pane of the full mode Player. Figure 2.15 shows a typical CD Audio pane, which you can always get to from the full mode view of the Player by clicking the CD Audio tab of the Task Bar on the left side of the Player.

If you are connected to the Internet, the Player will go out to a database and get information about each track on the CD, showing you not only track names and lengths, but artist, genre, style, and so on. On many CDs, you can even click the Album Details and go to a Web site that contains more information about the CD.

After you’ve loaded your CD, all you have to do is decide which tracks you want to copy to your computer. After you’ve decided, select the check box at the left of each track to select the tracks you want to copy.

Figure 2.15: Audio CD pane. (Image unavailable)

When you’re ready to copy, just click the red Copy Music button. You’ll see that the Player starts copying because there is a Copy Status column in the CD Audio playlist, and the status will be displayed. Files that are being copied will have a percent-copied display; files that will be copied are labeled "Pending" and when a file is finished copying, it will be labeled "Copied to Library" in the status column.

Selecting copy options

There are several options you can select that will allow you to change the way that the Player copies files from a CD to your computer. Click Options on the Tools menu, and then click the CD Audio tab. You’ll see the following choices:

Digital playback (under Playback Settings)
This setting only applies to playback, not to copying CDs. If your computer supports digital playback, select this check box and see how digital playback sounds. If you don’t select this option, you will not be able to see visualizations.

Use error correction (under Playback Settings)
This setting only applies to playback, not to copying CDs. If you are experiencing a lot of errors, selecting this check box may help correct them during playback. You’ll know you’re getting errors if the audio sounds as if parts are missing or the video starts jumping around and missing frames. You can only select this if you have also selected the Digital playback check box.

Copy music at this quality (under Copying Settings)
Windows Media Player can compress the digital information in the files it creates so that the files will be smaller. It does this using a variety of techniques. Depending on the type of music you’re copying, you may or may not notice the difference. You can choose the amount of compression with a slider bar. An average music CD can be compressed from as small as 28 MB to as large as 70 MB. The larger the file, the better the sound quality.

Digital copying (under Copying Settings)
Select this check box to copy CD tracks to audio files that enable digital playback. Not all computers and sound cards have digital playback. If yours do, this is a good option to use, and the sound doesn’t need to be converted to analog and back to digital. If you’re not sure, try a track both ways and see what you like.

Use error correction (under Copying Settings)

You can only select this check box if you’ve also selected the Digital copying option. Use this if your tracks are producing errors. Once again, if you’re not sure whether to use this, try a track both ways and listen to the results.

Enable Personal Rights Management (under Copying Settings)

If this check box is selected, the files you create will have information attached to them indicating that they were created on your computer. You will definitely want to keep this option checked if you want to copy your files to a portable device such as a Pocket PC; many portable devices will not play music if you have not licensed the appropriate rights for a particular file. However, if you keep this option checked, you cannot play files you have copied on another computer. So if you want to copy files from your CD and then transfer them to another computer, you should not select this option. Of course, before copying and transferring, be sure you have the legal right to do so. The issues of digital rights are covered in Chapter 3.

Using playlists

A playlist is a convenient way to organize groups of audio and video files. The term comes from the radio industry and refers to the list of songs that a disc jockey plays on a particular radio program.

You might want to make up playlists for different performers or different kinds of music or videos. You can shuffle playlists or repeat them endlessly. This way, you can create a media experience that is continuously entertaining.

You can see which playlist is playing by looking in the upper-right corner of the full mode Player. You will see a drop-down list box, which shows the current playlist.

Using the Media Library

The Media Library is the key to understanding playlists. The Media Library is where you create your playlists. You can get to the Media Library by choosing the Media Library tab on the Task Bar of the full mode Windows Media Player. Figure 2.16 shows a typical view of the Media Library.

Figure 2.16: Media Library(Image unavailable)

On the left side of the Media Library you’ll see a tree-like list of all the audio and video that the Player has information about, as well as all playlists and radio presets. This is set up similar to Microsoft Windows Explorer in that you click an item on the left and the contents of that item appear on the right.

The Media Library is divided into the following sections:

  • Audio
  • Video
  • My Playlists
  • Radio Tuner Presets
  • Deleted Items

Each section is a node in the tree. Figure 2.17 shows the five nodes of the Media Library.

Figure 2.17: Five nodes of the Media Library(Image unavailable)

Figure 2.18 shows the nodes expanded by one level for each node. You can expand a node to show the items inside it by clicking the plus sign to the left of the node name.

Figure 2.18: Media Library nodes expanded by one level. (Image unavailable)

You can explore the contents of the Media Library by expanding the nodes. Any time you click one of the node item names, the contents of that node, if it is a folder, will be displayed in the right pane of the Media Library.

Understanding the audio collection

The audio collection is the part of the library that keeps track of audio files on your computer and other audio files that the Player has information about (for example, files on the Internet).

Adding Audio Files

You can add to the audio collection in several ways:

  • Click the File menu, click Open, and then choose an audio file.
  • Click the File menu, click Open URL, and then choose an audio file.
  • Click the File menu, click Add to Library, and then choose an audio file.
  • Click the File menu, and click Import Playlist to Library (if the playlist has links to audio files in it).
  • From the CD Audio task pane, copy a CD track to your computer.
  • Start an audio file playing by double-clicking it.
  • Start an audio file playing by right-clicking it and selecting the Play option.

Sorting audio files

You can find a file by clicking the Search button at the top of the Media Library pane.

The Audio collection is a database of audio files, and like other databases, it stores not only the file name and location of audio files, but additional information such as artist, album, and genre. This additional information is used to sort the Audio collection into at least four categories. You can see the categories by clicking the nodes to the left of the Audio label. Figure 2.19 shows the four nodes inside the Audio collection.

Figure 2.19: The four nodes of the audio collection. (Image unavailable)

Here is an explanation of each category:

All Audio
This includes a list of all audio that Windows Media Player has information about.

Album
This shows a list of all music that is associated with albums. The album information can come from a CD, from a playlist, or can be embedded in the file itself. The Player can get album information about CDs from Internet databases.

Artist
You can see a list of all the artists that are associated with the audio files in the Audio collection.

Genre
If you want to find audio files that have a genre associated with them, this is the place to look.

Understanding the video collection

The video collection uses the same concepts as the audio collection except that it keeps track of video files. Instead of All Audio, the video collection will refer to All Clips, Artist becomes Author, and there is no album or genre equivalent for videos.

Understanding My Playlists

This is a collection of all playlists that the Player has information about. Playlists are lists that you create of audio and video content.

Creating playlists

Creating playlists couldn’t be simpler. Click the New Playlist button at the top left of the Media Library and enter the new playlist name.

Adding to playlists

You can add to playlists by doing the following:

  1. Create your playlist.
  2. Find the audio or video file you want to add. You must open an Audio or Video collection and select a file from the collection. For example, open the Audio collection, then open the Artist collection, choose an artist you like, displaying all the songs by that artist in the right pane.
  3. Select the audio or video file, and add it to the playlist. You can do this in one of two ways. The easy way is to right-click the file and choose the Add to Playlist option. You’ll be provided with a list of playlists. Pick one and you’re done. There’s also an Add to Playlist button at the top of the Media Library pane if you prefer to click a button.
  4. You can also select the audio or video file and drag it to the playlist in the left pane. This requires a bit of opening and closing of nodes in the collection, but after you get used to it, you’ll find that this is a useful way to work with complicated playlists.

Deleting and renaming playlists

You can also delete and rename playlists by right-clicking a playlist and choosing the delete or rename option. Deleted playlists aren’t really deleted, they are transferred to the Deleted Items part of the Media Library.

Deleting media items and playlists

If you delete an item in the audio or video collection, the item is transferred to the Deleted Items part of the Media Library. The same is true for deleted playlists. This is similar to the Recycle Bin in Windows.

Restoring media items and playlists

You can get the file or playlist back by right-clicking it and selecting the Restore option. The file or playlist will return to the place you deleted it from.

Permanently deleting media items and playlists

If you want to permanently erase the media items and playlists you deleted, you can reclaim their disk space by right-clicking the Deleted Items node and choosing the Empty Deleted Items option. Be careful! After you do this, you can’t go back! But at least you’re given an option to change your mind before the media files and playlists are gone forever.

Using the Radio Tuner

The Radio Tuner feature lets you use the Player to listen to Internet radio stations from around the world. Thousands of stations broadcast audio programs of music, news, and commentary.

Figure 2.20 shows the Radio Tuner view, which you can get to by clicking Radio Tuner in the task bar on the left side of the full mode of Windows Media Player.

Figure 2.20: Radio Tuner view in the full mode Player. (Image unavailable)

The Radio Tuner view has two panes: Station Finder and Presets.

Using Station Finder

The Station Finder can help you tune in to Internet Radio stations. Even though there are thousands of stations around the globe, you can easily find one you like with only a few clicks. The contents of the Station Finder are updated frequently by WindowsMedia.com so that as new stations go on the air, you can tune in to them right away.

All the stations are listed in a table that sorts them by station name, speed, frequency, and format or city. You can sort the table rows by clicking the column heading you want to sort on. Double-click a station listing to start it playing.

Above the table of radio stations is one or more list boxes. The box on the left has several categories that you can use to find particular radio stations, including the following:

Format
This gives you a set of predefined radio station formats ranging from Alternative Rock to Classical to News Radio.

Band
You can choose to search through the AM band or FM band, or choose Internet-only.

Language
There are several spoken languages to choose from, including Chinese, English, Latvian, and 20 others.

Location
Countries such as the United States, Finland, Korea, and 30 others are represented in the table listings with radio stations. If you choose the United States, you can search by state.

Callsign
If you know the call letters of a radio station, you can find the station by typing the call letters in the search box. For example, if you type "CKWW", you’ll listen to station CKWW in Detroit, Michigan, that specializes in big band music.

Frequency
You can tune in to a station by typing the frequency; for example, 88.5 on the FM dial would give you radio station KPLU in the Seattle, Washington, area.

Keyword
If a station has a slogan, you can find it with a keyword. For example, searching for "oldies" will give you several stations to choose from.

Using station presets

There are two default presets that you can use to sort radio stations that you will want to use often. One is called Featured and has stations that are currently featured by Windows Media Player. You can’t add stations to Featured. But you can add radio stations that you want to use frequently to My Presets.

You can create your own preset categories by clicking the Edit button above the Presets list.

Working with radio stations in the Media Library

All presets created in the Radio Tuner are automatically copied to the Media Library in the Radio Tuner Presets category.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Introduction  Page ix
PART 1: USING WINDOWS MEDIA PLAYER  Page 1
CHAPTER 1: Getting Started  Page 3
    What is Windows Media Player?  Page 3
        Now Playing: plays music and video  Page 4
        Media Library: organizes your files  Page 4
        Media Guide: searches the Internet  Page 4
        CD Audio: copies music from CDs  Page 4
        Skin Chooser: provides custom user interfaces  Page 5
        Visualizations: dance to the music  Page 6
        Portable Device: copies music to your pocket  Page 7
        Radio Tuner: tune in to Internet radio  Page 8
    Installing Windows Media Player  Page 8
        Beginning your installation  Page 8
        Using auto upgrade  Page 17
    Using skins  Page 18
        Choosing Skins  Page 18
        Downloading skins  Page 20
        Changing modes to use the current skin  Page 20
        Borders  Page 21
    Using visualizations  Page 21
        Installing visualizations  Page 22
        Using presets  Page 23
        Using properties  Page 23
        Using full-screen visualizations  Page 23
CHAPTER 2: How Does the Player Work?  Page 25
    Playing a file in only three steps  Page 25
        Step 1: Start with the full mode Player  Page 25
        Step 2: Choose a song  Page 28
        Step 3: Click Play  Page 28
    Using the navigation buttons  Page 29
    Watching visualizations  Page 31
    Changing other settings  Page 32
         SRS WOW Effects settings  Page 32
        Graphic Equalizer settings  Page 33
        Video settings  Page 34
        Windows Media Information  Page 35
        Captions  Page 36
    Using menus  Page 36
        File menu  Page 36
        View menu  Page 37
        Play menu  Page 39
        Tools menu  Page 40
        Options dialog box  Page 41
        Help menu  Page 43
        Compact mode shortcut menu  Page 43
    Changing views in full mode  Page 45
    Finding files on the Internet  Page 46
    Copying music from CDs  Page 46
        Copying tracks  Page 47
        Selecting copy options  Page 48
    Using playlists  Page 49
        Using the Media Library  Page 49
    Using the Radio Tuner  Page 54
        Using Station Finder  Page 55
        Using station presets  Page 56
        Working with radio stations in the Media Library  Page 56
CHAPTER 3: Understanding Media Files  Page 57
    File formats  Page 57
        Determining file types with extensions  Page 58
        Changing file associations  Page 59
        Supported file types  Page 61
    Codecs  Page 66
        Sampling and Bit Rates  Page 67
        Using MP3  Page 68
        Using the Windows Media Audio codec  Page 68
        Where do you get codecs?  Page 69
        Which codecs do you have?  Page 70
    Understanding digital rights  Page 72
        Creating encrypted music files  Page 73
        Copy settings enable personal rights management  Page 75
    Copying music to a CD  Page 76
CHAPTER 4: Receiving Internet Audio and Video  Page 79
        Downloading files  Page 79
        Progressive downloading  Page 82
         Streaming media  Page 84
CHAPTER 5: Using Windows Media Player with Portable Devices  Page 91
    Using portable devices  Page 91
        Music in your pocket  Page 91
        PC in your pocket  Page 92
        Windows Media Player for Pocket PC  Page 94
    Using Windows Media Player on a portable device  Page 95
        Starting the Player  Page 95
        Using the buttons  Page 95
        Using the sliders  Page 96
    Copying music to and from your devices  Page 97
        Deleting songs from the Pocket PC  Page 99
        Files that can be copied  Page 100
        Digital rights management  Page 100
        Optimizing file copying  Page 101
    Creating playlists on a portable device  Page 102
    Using skins on portable devices  Page 103
        Loading skins  Page 103
        Creating your own skins   Page 104
    Using other portable devices  Page 104
PART 2: CREATING SKINS  Page 105
CHAPTER 6: What Are Skins?  Page 107
    Introduction  Page 107
    Architecture of skins  Page 109
        Skins drive the player  Page 110
    XML  Page 112
        What is XML?  Page 112
        How XML is used in skins  Page 112
        The rules of XML  Page 113
        How to author in XML  Page 115
        How to create the Skin Definition File in XML  Page 115
    JScript  Page 121
        Calling JScript functions  Page 121
        Controlling the Player  Page 122
    Art files  Page 127
        Art file formats  Page 128
        Simple art example  Page 129
CHAPTER 7: How to Design Skins  Page 135
    User interface guidelines  Page 135
        Windows interface  Page 135
         Windows Media Player interface  Page 136
    A process for designing skins  Page 144
        Step 1: Analyzing what to do  Page 145
        Step 2: Designing the user interface  Page 146
        Step 3: Creating the art  Page 147
        Step 4: Writing the code  Page 149
CHAPTER 8: Creating a Sample Skin  Page 153
    Step 1: Analyze what to do  Page 154
        Basic functionality of the sample skin  Page 154
    Step 2: Design the user interface  Page 155
        What user interface elements are available?  Page 155
        What will the sample user interface do?  Page 156
    Step 3: Create the art  Page 158
        Types of art  Page 159
        Creating the primary image file  Page 160
    Step 4: Write the code  Page 168
        Creating the skin definition file  Page 168
CHAPTER 9: Adding More to Skins  Page 177
    Adding a progress bar  Page 177
        Progress bar art files  Page 178
        Progress bar code  Page 179
    Adding a slider  Page 180
    Adding a custom slider  Page 181
        Custom slider art files  Page 182
        Custom slider code  Page 183
    Adding a video window  Page 185
        Video art files  Page 185
        Video window code  Page 185
    Adding a visualization  Page 186
        Visualization art files  Page 186
        Visualization code  Page 187
    Adding a sliding drawer  Page 188
        Drawer art files  Page 189
        Drawer code  Page 190
    Adding a dialog box for opening files  Page 194
    Adding a playlist  Page 195
        Playlist code  Page 195
    Adding text   Page 196
        Text code  Page 196
    Going further  Page 198
CHAPTER 10: Testing and Distributing Skins  Page 199
    Testing skins  Page 199
         Analyzing what is going on inside your skin  Page 199
        Using Microsoft Visual InterDev  Page 210
        Being sure your skin is complete  Page 211
    Distributing skins  Page 211
        Zipping it up  Page 211
        Testing it again  Page 212
        Sending it out  Page 212
PART 3: ADVANCED TOPICS  Page 213
CHAPTER 11: Using Windows Media Player in a Web Page  Page 215
    Getting started  Page 215
    Setting up your Web page  Page 221
        Using ActiveX  Page 221
        Using the OBJECT element of HTML  Page 222
        Defining the user interface with HTML  Page 223
    Implementing event handlers  Page 227
    Understanding Player control limitations  Page 228
    Previous versions of the control  Page 228
    Ensuring that the Player is installed  Page 229
    Going further  Page 230
CHAPTER 12: Creating Custom Media Content  Page 231
    Using markers  Page 232
        Inserting markers  Page 232
        Using markers in scripts  Page 235
    Using URLs  Page 236
        Inserting URLs  Page 236
        Using URLs in scripts  Page 239
    Using script commands  Page 241
        Inserting script commands  Page 242
        Custom script commands  Page 243
    Using captioning  Page 245
CHAPTER 13: Creating Multimedia Applications  Page 249
    Using borders  Page 249
        How to create borders  Page 252
        Creating a sample border  Page 256
CHAPTER 14: Creating Custom Visualizations  Page 259
    Software tools  Page 259
        Installing Visual C++  Page 260
        Installing the Windows Media Player 7 SDK  Page 260
        Installing the Visualization Wizard  Page 260
        Installing Windows Media Player 7  Page 262
     Creating your project templates  Page 262
        Project files  Page 262
        Creating the files  Page 264
        Building a test visualization  Page 266
        Seeing the test visualization  Page 267
    Implementing the Render interface  Page 269
        Control flow between Player and visualization  Page 269
        Parameters of the Render method  Page 270
    Implementing presets  Page 271
        Render method  Page 271
        GetPresetTitle  Page 271
        Preset Enumeration  Page 272
        Resource Header  Page 272
        Resource Strings  Page 272
    Sample code  Page 273
    Going further  Page 275
GLOSSARY  Page 277
INDEX  Page 289
ABOUT THE AUTHOR  Page 299
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