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Run geek-friendly searches on Microsoft.com with Microsoft’s Desktop Player

26 January 2012, Mike Williams

If you’re looking for advanced, low-level information on Microsoft technologies then it’ll probably be somewhere on Microsoft.com. But where, exactly? MSDN? Technet? One of the hundreds of team blogs? Somewhere else entirely?

Microsoft’s Desktop Player (a beta, but it seemed stable to us) aims to remove this uncertainty by providing a simple desktop client where you can enter your search query, discover related podcasts and webcasts, and even play the ones you need with a click.

The program is easy enough to use. At a minimum, all you have to do is choose your role (IT Professional or Developer) and select your area of interest, which could be anything from Microsoft technologies like SQL Server and Exchange, to more general areas such as “security” or “web development”.

You might optionally also enter more about your role, and a few key words, if appropriate, but otherwise clicking the Search button will be enough to return useful information. In theory, at least: in practice, we often found that the “IT Pro” role in particular returned surprisingly little data, and even the Developer role had occasional obvious omissions.

One possible reason might be that the Player isn’t supported any more. It’s been in beta for a very long time – more than a year – and notably the News tab is topped by stories dating back to last summer. Perhaps Microsoft have forgotten about it.

Still, we did manage to locate at least some information we didn’t know about before, so if you need to research the gory low-level details of a particular Microsoft technology then the Desktop Player just might be able to help.

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