Enjoying Downloads on Windows

Out of necessity, I’ve had to become a black-belt master of audio and streaming formats in the Windows OS. With the arrival of Windows 7 and a couple of terrific free programs, I can say that my experience is almost as happy as that on a Mac or Linux box. Here’s what I use:

I’ve never been too happy with Windows Media Player — its interface isn’t intuitive, and worse yet it does not play lossless FLAC files natively. There are acouple of plug-ins you can download and install to make WMP FLAC-ready, but why bother when you can download the free version of Winamp? Winamp also supports cue sheets, a separate file which most of the “hi-def” download stores prefer.

If you’ve hooked your PC into a receiver or home theater system 3 or not, for that matter — you’ll love XBMC, a full-featured media controller that is well-suited to large hard-drive-based music collections (and it’s also available for Mac and Linux). Visit their site to get the full 411 on this terrific software.