The Microsoft Desktop Player provides an easy way for developers and experienced PC users to search Microsoft's site for the podcasts, webcasts and other data they need.

If you've tried this manually then you'll know it can be, well, a challenge. If you're looking for advanced security information, where do you go? MSDN? Technet? One of Microsoft's hundreds of active blogs? Somewhere else entirely?

The Player is a desktop tool which aims to simplify all of this. Just choose your role (IT Professional or Developer), and select the topic you'd like information on (which can be anything from specific Microsoft technologies like SQL Server and Exchange, to general areas like Security and Web Development).

You can then refine your query further by optionally entering more details about your role (.NET developer, database developer or whatever) and entering a search term, but for now, just click Search, and the program will return all the matching podcasts, webcasts and white papers it finds. And you can watch podcasts and webcasts within the player, too, just by clicking on them.

Now, this isn't quite as good as it sounds, because in many cases the player simply doesn't find enough information. When we told it we were an IT Professional looking for information on security, for instance, it returned no webcasts, no white papers, one podcast and twelve links. Is that really all the relevant security information available? We suspect not.

In some situations it did prove more useful, though, in particular with the developer-related searches we tried. So if you'd like a quicker way to find and watch podcasts and webcasts from Microsoft, then give the desktop player a (brief) try: there's just a chance that it might help.

Verdict

It sometimes finds implausibly small amounts of information, but Microsoft's Desktop Player is useful just about often enough to make it worth a quick try.