Note: if you're here looking for a beta of WMP12 you're in the wrong place and the supposed private beta 1 is a fake. This post concerns my opinions as to the direction MS should take with their next gen media player.
Michael Gartenberg asks
if there will be a Windows Media Player 12 in the future seeing as it's been around a couple of years and we have news of IE8.
Personally, I think a new incarnation of a music player for Windows will be a while coming and will be a departure from what we have come to know as the WMP format. Why? Well, the Zune of course. Microsoft's own PMP (portable music player).
The Zune is slow to roll out beyond the US - we had it announced at CES that Zunes are coming to Canada this year - and without localised Zune Stores around the world there is little incentive to really push on. Once Zunes are available in a lot more markets around the globe I can see a shift in the Windows media playing environment. I envisage that the Zune software will grow and take over from Windows Media Player meaning that everyone is instantly ready to start syncing with a Zune if they get one. Why have two Microsoft media players on your PC when you can have just one that does it all.
A single player will need a few changes, however. The updated Zune/WMP software will need to be able to sync to different types of devices so that Windows Mobile users are not left out but, by the time all this happens, we could have entered the era of the "Zune Phone" anyway. Now, Microsoft have said they will not be creating an actual Zune Phone but, let's face it, it's only logical that future versions of Windows Mobile will have their media playback provided by a Zune style player on board.
Whether the new version is called WMP or Zune or something else I feel the current player is on it's last legs