Helping Windows 7 Media Player 12 Find Your Music

The vinyl LPs in my basement and CD collection upstairs represent a significant investment as well as source of enjoyment. Over the years, our kids have acquired – or had acquired for them – books on disc and other music. I’ve been using an Iomega Home Network Drive to act as a central location for this music and this was fine. Until we recently upgraded all of our Windows XP computers (3) to Windows 7 Home Premium. Suddenly, the music was no longer there.

I won’t retread the long and dusty road for why Windows 7 doesn’t seem to support Iomega.  I’m not sure I entirely understand, although it’s not really Windows’ fault.  I have had similar problems in Ubuntu accessing this Iomega drive.  The reality is that you can access it by mapping a network drive to the IP address and folder you want to use.  Once mapped, you can browse.  If you don’t map the drive, then browsing spits back an error.  This is both on the Windows and Ubuntu systems.

But this didn’t make Windows Media Player 12 happy, and you can’t downgrade to Windows Media Player 11 either.  Even if you show WMP 12 where the music is on the mapped drive, it won’t add it to the music library.  In this case, it’s not a problem with the drive, it’s the software.

I came across this tip the other night and it seems to have mostly solved the issue for me.  In Linux, most users would be familiar with the concept of symbolic links but I had never come across them in Windows.  You may be familiar with Windows shortcuts, which are pointers from one folder or location to a file in another folder or location.  Deleting the shortcut does not affect the file.  Symbolic links work the same way, except that they are shortcuts to folders. The instructions tell you how to open a terminal as root (administrator) on Windows 7 and use the mklink utility built into Windows to fool Windows Media Player into thinking that the network drive is actually local.

This may be the crux.  Home Premium, the upper end of the home consumer versions, may have been sufficiently crippled by Microsoft that this is a feature in Pro or Ultimate versions of Windows 7.  It’s hard to tell; it certainly doesn’t make any sense when there are a lot of home media networked resources for sale.

To be honest, I had moved on.  I tried the free Winamp player but the features I really wanted were in the Pro version.  I have settled on Songbird because it seems to be the most reliable.  It also has a fantastic Android music player app.  While the symbolic link may enable you to get access to your music through Windows Media Player 7, it may still be worthwhile looking at a player like Songbird that doesn’t require those contortions.