New Music Features in Media Center 7
There are also some important changes in how Media Center 7 handles music playback. Once an album starts to play, you see a much different background than what Vista Media Center showed. The album cover appears in the middle of the screen, along with the song name, artist, album title, and track time. Behind this information is a moving collage of album covers, culled from all the albums in your library. It's a neat effect, as shown in Figure 5.
Figure 5 The background album collage in Media Center 7.
Move the mouse, and you'll see a menu of additional optionsView Song List, Visualize, Play Pictures, Shuffle, Repeat, and Buy Music. All of these options should be familiar to experienced Media Center users save for the new option: Play Pictures. If you select this option, the background collage of album covers is replaced by a background collage of digital photos from your Pictures library; the pictures start out small but then enlarge and move from picture to picture.
There's also a small change in how you browse for music in Media Center 7. As with the Program Guide, the Music screen features turbo scrolling. Hold down the arrow buttons, and the albums become a blur; your location is shown in the alphabet above the album background.
Last and most certainly not least, Media Center 7 can now play files in AAC format. (These must be Non-DRM files only. Tracks with DRM copyright protection still won't play.) The practical significance of this new feature is that all of your iTunes music can now be played from within Media Center. That's a big deal, especially if you have an iPod. In older versions of Media Center, you could only use the iTunes player program to play the music stored for your iPod; with Windows 7, your iPod music can be played via both Windows Media Center and Windows Media Playerl. Personally, I think that this is a big deal, as it lets me consolidate my Windows and iPod music libraries. Finally, one player for all!