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98-349: MTA: Windows Operating System Fundamentals : Module 3: Understanding Native Applications, Tools, Mobility, and Remote Management and Assistance :
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WMC is an exciting milestone in the evolution of PC OSs that began in earnest back when the first
spec for a multimedia PC (MPC) was issued by Microsoft. I
Microsoft has upped the ante in terms of value-added features for WMC customers new and old
alike. Many original features remain intact, but more importantly there are much-needed upgrades
to the way existing features function and multimedia collections are accessed, displayed, or navigated.
Windows 7 makes multimedia a core component of its operation to include native DVD playback
(in other words, no third-party software installation), support for unprotected iTunes music,
and support for AVCHD video from popular high-definition (HD) digital camcorders.
The following features cover most of what’s new in Windows 7 WMC:
- Start menu improvements include text visibility for enhanced readability and increased icon size for better viewing. WMC is now visually less cluttered than previous versions, the Start menu overlays any currently playing media, and it also recalls the last location strip between sessions instead of resetting to TV and Movies.
- Now Playing features upsized thumbnails, improving visibility over the miniscule proportions of Windows Vista, which irked many users. The thumbnail tile’s title is situated for better readability and usability—particularly among international versions of WMC in which foreign languages make for long title displays.
- Music library enhancements further improve user-friendliness, especially with regard to large audio collections. Obscure albums lacking album art are no longer treated to bland blue backgrounds with white text—random color schemes now help those entries visually blend with other artwork within the Music Library gallery.
- Music Now Playing is
treated to a much-welcomed makeover. WMC begins music playback at the Now Playing page, but after a while the action items (for example, View Queue, Visualize, Play Pictures, Shuffle, Repeat, Buy Music) fade away into an animated backdrop of scrolling album cover art—a neat visual effect. If you press a remote control button or move the mouse, the action items come back into full view against the backdrop of album covers.
- Content rating is even easier through Rating Shortcuts. Press numeric buttons 1 through 5 on your remote or keyboard to rate music and pictures in real time.
- Turbo Scroll caters to large media collections. Hold down on left or right directional buttons to transition into an abbreviated content listing ordered in alphabetical chunks. Let go on the appropriate letter combination to position the library at an exact location. • Shared Libraries builds upon the Home Group features of Windows 7 and is common across Music, Pictures, Video, and Recorded TV. You can
peruse and enjoy content from a variety of computers on your home network and select among local media collections or browse among remote shared media libraries.
- Ambient Slideshow enhances the Pictures viewing experience. It launches both in screensaver mode and upon invoking the new Play Favorites feature on the Start menu. Ambient Slideshow corresponds directly to the content rating system by playing only the pictures you’ve rated as 3 stars or higher. Also provided are zooming features, zooming animations, and slideshows within slideshows for enhanced picture viewing experiences.
- Videos library enhancements are purely functional—no cosmetic changes are involved. Like other categories (Pictures, Music, and Recorded TV) it draws upon the Shared Libraries feature for remote and local media collections. H.264 (MPEG-4) playback is supported by default and the Video Play All feature cycles through all entries in a specific category in continuous playback mode. You can also resume previous playback exactly where you left off.
- Integrated TV Pack Enhancements provides additional support for Asian, European, and U.S. TVviewing customers. Apart
from upgrades for foreign audiences, the seek bar is interactive and allows you to select relative positions within playing content. Users that enjoy mouse navigation in WMC can enjoy greater interactivity than before.
Aside from functional improvements, Microsoft has gone to great lengths to improve the visual
aspect of WMC. There are lots of subtle behavioral changes and visual improvements that further
enhance the WMC customer experience. And with greater availability across a variety of Windows
7 products, WMC is fast becoming a fixture of the modern media-rich lifestyle.
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