Must See: Windows 7 “Play To” in Action

Windows 7 Senior Program Manager, Gabe Frost, demonstrates Windows 7 “Play To” functionality to the crew of [WMV (High Quality)]. For those unfamiliar, Play To is a new function introduced into Windows 7 that allows one to send a media file (from the same PC, shared media library derived from networked PCs, or a dedicated home server / NAS) for playback or display to a DLNA / UPnP device like a music streamer, digital media adapter, or photo frame with a simple right-click of the mouse. In fact, you can send different audio tracks to multiple devices or a single song to a group of devices (UPDATE: Gabe Frost provides a quick clarification on this in the comments below). In addition, Frost briefly explains what “Wireless Protected Setup” is (aka Wi-Fi Protected Setup, WPS) and how easy it is to use to add devices to the network securely. He also demonstrates shared media and search functionality in Windows Explorer and Windows Media Center. All great stuff! Note: shared content is now aggregated in real-time when content is available on the network – and no more drive mapping!


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Filed in: Industry Buzz, Software, Streaming Media Devices

6 Reactions to “Must See: Windows 7 “Play To” in Action”

  1. Gabe Frost says:

    A few corrections:

    You can select one-or-more media items and play them to a capable device on the network (e.g. network audio receiver). You can even do this multiple times to have media playing in different rooms at the same time. However, you cannot choose media items and play them to multiple devices in the same operation. Otherwise said, Play To does not natively support synchronized playback across different devices. That said, Play To does work with devices that support synchronization in their own proprietary way, such as Sonos. In this scenario, a user may choose which zones to sync with the Sonos software or controller, then use Play To to a zone that is synchronized with another. As you would expect, the audio will be synchronized across those zones. It’s up to manufacturers to decide if they want to add software to Windows 7 that enables the user to individually control each of the zones.

  2. In a way I’m glad I made that error. Now we’ve got clarification — directly from you, Gabe — on a particular feature that has only been briefly touched on (and I’m sure our readers have been interested in learning more). Thanks for taking the time to explain. Too bad it’s not technically possible to select a group of music streamers from various makers to play a particular song / playlist / internet radio station in sync around the home. It would be cool!

  3. Gabe Frost says:

    No problem Alex,
    Feel free to shoot me mail if any other questioms come up. A great place to start for understanding how devices work with the feature, checkout this whitepaper from WinHEC:

    A number of manufacturers are working on syncrhonized audio products that interoperate with the Play To feature, so we look forward to seeing how they expose the ability to (1) specify what devices should be synced, and (2) how to manipulate controls like mute and volume for each individual device in the collective zone. The scenario for casual users was our focus, and we are really excited to see where device manufacturers improve the overall capabilities. Windows 7 is DLNA compliant for media server, media player, media renderer, and media controller, so has a fantastic interoperability story.


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