Windows Media Player (abbreviated WMP) is a media player and media library application developed by Microsoft that is used for playing audio, video and viewing images on personal computers running the Microsoft Windows operating system, as well as on Pocket PC and Windows Mobile-based devices. Editions of Windows Media Player were also released for Mac OS, Mac OS X and Solaris but development of these has since been discontinued.
In addition to being a media player, Windows Media Player includes the ability to rip music from and copy music to compact discs, burn recordable discs in Audio CD format or as data discs with playlists such as an MP3 CD, synchronize content with a digital audio player (MP3 player) or other mobile devices, and enable users to purchase or rent music from a number of online music stores. Windows Media Player replaced an earlier application called Media Player, adding features beyond simple video or audio playback.
WMP uses the WMV , WMA and ASF file formats to encode audio and video downloaded from the Internet or ripped from compact discs or other storage media. Recent versions of WMP also include the ability to synchronize digital media with a portable media player, like Microsoft’s Zune or Creative’s Zen , and purchase or rent content from online media stores. Because WMP uses Microsoft’s Windows Media DRM , not FairPlay DRM, files encoded using WMP are not compatible with the iPod .
Facing increased competition from Apple Computer’s iTunes software, Microsoft released Windows Media Player 11 in the fall of 2006. The new version incorporated improved navigation, with graphical representation of media files, live search features, CD burning , media library sharing and improved support for streaming media over a network. Windows Media Player is offered as a free download from Microsoft’s Web site, with the exception of the mobile version of the software, which only ships with Windows Mobile devices.