In case folks missed it, Microsoft opened up the beta for Windows Media Player 11 to the public. I’ve been using WMP 11 in Vista and in my opinion, it’s a much better interface than prior versions. Along with the WMP 11 soft-launch, you can get a free preview of the URGE music service that can be bundled with WMP. URGE is essentially an on-line music store to combat iTunes, Napster and the like.
You can try the "all you can
eat listen to" plan at URGE for 14 days and no credit card is required. I’m listening to an auto-generated playlist based on the genre of my choosing right now and I like what I hear. The songs are streamed at 128 kbps in the WMA format and the quality is outstanding, even via EV-DO, which is what I’m using. There’s no support for mobile devices just yet as URGE requires WMP 11 and that requires Windows XP. No luck on my XV6700 (yet!). In any case, if you’ve got a laptop, Tablet PC or UMPC and a WiFi or 3G connection, consider looking at URGE. For me, this likely won’t replace my XM streaming subscription, which is only available at 64 kbps and definitely won’t take the place of Pandora, which is my current favorite.