Today is the day that Windows users have been waiting for since 2001- the day when Microsoft releases an XP update that isn’t complete and utter crap. Unlike Vista, Windows 7 maintains the low profile of Windows XP while also giving the user the interface of Vista. Many people had to skip Vista due to slow or old computers, but with Windows 7 you can run the newest version of Windows on more or less any machine that runs XP- including netbooks.
This is of course an MP3 player website and so computer operating systems isn’t normally our business, but the release of Windows 7 does bring a lot of features that directly affects how you use your MP3 player with the OS. Read on for a list of how WIndows 7 will improve your MP3 player experience.
We’ve covered device stage before, so I’ll only do a quick summary of the feature. Device stage is basically a dedicated console on your computer which gives you information about your MTP player. This can include manuals, links to accessories etc or a more basic interface like with the S540 in the picture, which gives you a few transfer options as well as a capacity meter and battery meter. Device stage is accessible through “devices and printers” in the control panel and should also pop up as an autorun option when you plug in your player. Note that this is for MTP players only
The Library feature is basically a set of virtual folders than consolidate the files from selected folders into one. The music library will for example let you select various folders with music in them located in different places on your computer or the network (if the files are properly indexed, which requires Vista or 7) and the content of these folders will show in the music library folder as if they were all a single folder. This makes it a lot easier to keep track of your music and should also make it easier to use music software that looks for changes in a folder once that is supported by the programs in question. So far I’ve been disappointed with the lack of support for this feature; yes, Windows 7 wasn’t released until today, but the public beta has been out for 8 months. If they wanted to support it, they had plenty of time- nothing stops anyone from supporting a feature before the release instead of after.
Windows Media Player 12
While not technically a feature of Windows 7, the OS does come with Windows Media Player 12. Many people don’t know that MTP while acting like drag-and-drop in Windows actually require Windows Media Player installed to work. Therefor a lot of people who don’t use WMP still run version 10, which lacks several MTP features introduced in WMP 11 and 12. This includes better understanding of supported files, so that it will let you transfer files that WMP 10 will insist are unsupported and even ask you if you want to transcode files that the player doesn’t support. Bottom line, Windows 7 will force people to upgrade their WMP version to one that will make MTP a lot better even if they never use WMP.
Removable media capacity meter
While a small feature, it’s one I find really useful havign used Windows 7 for a while now. Vista added a new feature where you could see the capacity of a drive as a small capacity meter under the disk icon in “My Computer”. This did not work for removable media, but that has been fixed in Windows 7, allowing you to see the available capacity of your MSC/UMS (not MTP this time) player without right clicking -> properties.
Windows powered media devices
The last few years computer parts have gotten cheaper, smaller and more power efficient. Windows 7 is the first Windows OS that supports multi-touch, which opens up for tablet devices that don’t need keyboard to work. This combined with devices the shape of the Viliv S5 will make for killer PMPs, and the prices are coming down so much it’s actually a viable option. Among the first manufacturers to do this is Archos, which is coming out with the Archos 9 Internet tablet this fall. While larger than most PMPs, it’s comparable in price and usability to the old Archos 704/Archos 7 type PMPs but with a lot more functionality under the hood.
Should you upgrade?
My definite answer to this would be “yes”. No matter if you run XP or Vista at the moment, Windows 7 will be a major upgrade in any way. Normally an OS is full of incompatibility issues and bugs when it’s first released, but Windows 7′s excellent backwards compatibility and the extensive beta testing that was done on the OS before release means that you can safely move over to the new OS with no regrets. The cheapest option is an upgrade pack to home premium if you have a qualifying system to upgrade from, and the cheapest option if you don’t is the $199 Windows 7 Home Premium. >z always, Amazon has them all.