Windows Media Player 7

Date Released: July 17, 2000

File Size: 23.6 MB
Platforms: IA-32, Alpha, MIPS
Operation Systems: Windows 95/NT 4.0/98/2000/ME
Last Updated: December 05, 2023

Windows Media Player 7 is an ambitious update to Microsoft’s Media Player 6.4 application, a one-size-fits-all program that lets you play almost any audio or video file format (except RealNetworks’ RealMedia).

Depending on your tastes and how powerful a machine you have, you might either love or hate Windows Media Player 7 (WMP7). It’s jam-packed with a number of remarkable and eye-catching features, but it’s also much bulkier than previous versions, taking a good deal longer to load. If speed of access is what you’re after, Windows Media Player 7.0 can’t compare to Nullsoft’s tightly written and smartly organized WinAmp.

What’s more, WMP7’s default interface takes up more than one-and-a-half times the screen real estate of the old Media Player, and at least twice as much as WinAmp. Granted, you can collapse Media Player 7 a bit so it takes up less space, but you also lose some control in the process. WMP7 is also slow: On a Pentium III it took nearly seven seconds to open the program. On the other hand, WinAmp, even with a fairly large set of plug-ins and codecs, opened almost instantly on the same system.
Of course, there are some good things about WMP7. Its two best features are the ability to burn audio CDs in Windows Media format, and digital playback from your CD drive. (The rip-to-file feature includes built-in copy protection, so the created files can’t be played back anywhere else.) The list of supported portable playback devices is pretty impressive. WMP7 also delivers multiple “skins” — the ability to transform the look and feel (and even the software controls) of the user interface. WMP7’s skin system is more flexible and more advanced than WinAmp’s, and RealPlayer has nothing like this yet.
One of its most striking features is a set of built-in visualization effects for music, which are lovely to watch and mercifully relinquish CPU as needed when other things are running. These effects cue themselves to the music you play; basically, it’s the equivalent of those light-show effects boxes you used to plug into your stereo. Hardly essential, but entertaining.
Microsoft also touts support for SRS Labs’ WOW audio technology, which boosts bass and dynamic range to improve the perception of audio quality. It’s basically a “sound-sweetening” plug-in that makes audio sound more spatially prominent and “three-dimensional,” but it can’t do much for monaural sound or material that was mixed badly to begin with.
But things like skins and visualization are only the icing on this cake — features aimed primarily at the teen set, who are among the biggest consumers of online audio. For many of us, this smorgasbord of features may have a lot more calories than it’s worth. Microsoft has taken what was once a lightweight player and transformed it into a big application. It’ll appeal to some people, but not to others. And I’d have to place myself in the “not for me, thanks” camp.
Windows Media Player 7.0 and 7.1 are not supported and no longer available for download from official Microsoft web site. On the other hand, you could find and download the complete releases Windows Media Player 7.0 and 7.1 below on this page.