Reviewing Microsoft's Windows Millennium Edition

Closing our review of Microsoft’s Windows Millennium Edition..

Let’s spend some time with the improvements Microsoft has made to the Multimedia
Experience found in Windows ME and the new Digital Tools…

Given the leaps companies like RealNetworks have been making recently with personal digital media, its no surprise that Microsoft has made a serious effort to beef up their own media player. Microsoft’s Windows Media Player 7 is their juiced up juke box, replete with support for streaming audio, video and MP3s. It also provides you with the ability to encode your own CD’s, along with direct access to Pocket PC’s and portable MP3 players.

Although the beta download of Windows Media Player 7 had a few problems crashing on Windows 98, it appears that this has been resolved in Windows ME. We conducted several test drives of the Windows Media Player 7 on dial-up connections beginning with 28.8 through 56K and were amazed to learn that while a 28.8 connection made the download of the codec seem like it was taking forever, once the download was finished, the media experience was truly amazing. On a 56K dial-up or on DSL, the play was fantastic.

Windows Media Player 7 handles downloadable media beautifully, has its own radio tuner and if your video card is so equipped, it can play clip feeds right from external sources. On top of all of this, Media Player 7 is skinable!

But wait!! that’s not all…

Microsoft has added yet another feature to this version of Windows. Included with Windows Me is its very own video editing application, called Windows Movie Maker. Microsoft’s Movie Maker is only a basic editor that allows you to capture video and audio (as well as still images) and then slice the footage into segments. This will allow you to arrange the sliced segments in any manner you wish, and when you’re done, you can even convert what you’ve done into a highly compressed format so that you can e-mail it or even post it on the Web.

Adding external imaging devices such as scanners and cameras is a snap with the new Scanner and Camera Installation Wizard!

Microsoft has added an entirely new technology to its stable of wizardry called Windows Image Acquisition (WIA for short) that will automatically detect the attachment of scanner devices and digital cameras to your computer. Very much like some of the available third party applications, WIA lets you manage the images scanned or stored on cameras and then transfer them to your PC. Note though that in order to use this feature you will need a digital camera that supports WIA. We have tested this with a few different digital cameras, including several Kodak models.

To further enrich the users multimedia experience, Microsoft has built the access to the MSN Gaming Zone right into Windows ME. Do you enjoy playing Solitaire? Most do, but wait and see what’s included with Windows Me! In addition to solitaire, there several new games. And five of them, Checkers, Backgammon, Hearts, Reversi, and Spades, can be played online via the MSN Gaming Zone. 

One of the better features added to the online game play experience is that of DirectPlay Voice. With this Gaming Options applet (Windows Control Panel), and a sound card that supports a microphone, you can enable voice chat during multiplayer games.

Note however, DirectPlay will only work with games that support the DirectPlay SPI (Service Provider Interface) Networking protocols.

All in all, if you choose to purchase a computer that already has Windows Millennium Edition pre-installed, or choose to upgrade to Windows ME from either Windows 95 or Windows 98, we believe you will be pleased with this robust experience. There are hardware demands that you may want to consider, such processor speed and especially memory. If you would like to know more, click here.


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