Windows Media Bonus Pack – Part 1
I’m guessing that if you have Windows XP, you probably have Windows Media Player on your computer, too right? So, if you have that, you probably have Windows Movie Maker as well.
Well, along with all of that, Microsoft also provides a free bonus pack for Windows Media that’s a must have! Let me tell you, it brings in a whole new host of additional and useful functions. So, come along with me as I explore the Windows Media Bonus Pack in three parts. The next three days will take you to the wonderful world of extras. Here we go!
Today, I’ll just list the main features of the bonus pack and then I’ll dig a little deeper in to each one as we go along. To begin, here are some of the major features:
- Plus! MP3 Audio Converter LE: This saves space on your computer by converting your MP3 files to the Windows Media Audio (wma) format.
- PowerToys for Windows Media Player for Windows XP: This includes the MPXP Tray Control, Playlist Import to Excel utility, Media Library Metadata Update Wizard and PowerToy Skins.
- Windows Media Player for Windows XP Visualizations: This has over six new options for Windows Media Player for Windows XP Visualizations.
- Windows Media Player Skins: All new skins.
- Windows Movie Maker Creativity Kit: This includes sound effects, music loops, clips, title videos and images for Windows Movie Creator.
So, let’s have a look at the installation process next.
If you go here, you will be able to start the download process (see the image below):
After downloading, click on the file and allow it to run and install.
When you get to this window (below), make sure you select the Reinstall button. (Why reinstall? Well, to be honest, I have no idea, but just go with it!)
On the next screen, accept the options offered, unless there are some components you are not interested in. In that case, just uncheck them.
Eventually, the process will complete and you can then access the programs.
If you go to Start, All Programs and then Windows Media Bonus Pack, you will see the following components. The most important of which I have highlighted in red for you below:
So, now let’s go through each relevant feature in turn. I’ll explain what each does, how it does it and how to use it.
Plus! MP3 Audio Converter LE
WMA (Windows Media Audio) is a file type that takes up roughly half of the space an MP3 file does (quality is a subjective issue, which you might like to try out on one file first). So, if you are quickly running out of space on your hard disk for your music collection, this audio converter will be very helpful.
Fire it up from the Programs menu (as shown above) and you will get this screen:
Do you want to convert a whole folder of audio files to WMA or just specific files? Click the relevant button to choose.
In this example, we will work with just one file. You will see this screen next:
From here, select Add File to get an Explorer type window, from which you can select the desired track, just like this:
Click Open and then you will be presented with the following screen:
Unless you know something about bit rates, etc., accept the first option offered. Decide on the folder to put the converted files into for the second and decide whether to delete the source file or not. You also need to choose whether you want the new file added to your Media Library, which is the third option.
Click Next to come to the following screen and click on Start Conversion.
If you have done everything right, you will then be rewarded with this screen:
That’s it for the Audio Converter!
Now, let’s move on to the Windows Media Player Skins.
If you are a little fed up and bored with the standard look of Windows Media Player, you can create an easy makeover by changing the appearance with a new “skin.”
First, if you have the media player in its full size mode, go to View, Skin Chooser (see below):
You will then see a few available skins to choose from. If you like one shown there, select it and it will be applied immediately.
However, you may want to be a little more adventurous, so you can import a whole range of skins from a company called Winamp (click here). Select what you want and download it to a folder on your computer.
Now, select the Windows Media Player Skin Importer from the Programs list and you will be greeted with this screen:
Select the Winamp skin directory and the directory you want the converted skin to be in (in most cases, the default directory shown is Windows). Click Convert Skins and in a short while, the job is done! Go to Skin Chooser again, select the skin and apply it. You will then have a whole new look!
Now, let’s move on to the various PowerToys that are available. Of course, there are several of them, so we’re going to have to save that part for the next article in this series. So, be sure to stay tuned tomorrow for more Windows Media Bonus Pack fun!
~ David Woodford