A friend bought a new Microsoft desktop set today and was initially having problems getting Winamp to work correctly with the multimedia keys. They worked apart from the fact that Winamp would come back into focus when minimised when pressing the Play/Pause key.
I decided to install the new IntelliType Pro 5.2 software supplied with the set on my own machine, as I own an older version of the same desktop set. And it turned out to be a problem with the latest software, as I started experiencing similar issues – whenever I pressed Play/Pause, my default media player (which happens to be iTunes) started up.
The easy solution to the problem is to downgrade to the older 5.0 version of the software which, fortunately, is still available to download here on Microsoft’s site. I decided to get rid of IntelliPoint, the associated software for the mouse, as I don’t use any functions, but I guess you could stick with IntelliPoint 5.2 or give 5.0 a try.
I found this blog post which proposed a couple of alternative solutions – either set the key function for Play/Pause to “disabled”, in which case it will only work in Winamp, or get rid of IntelliType altogether and instead use Microsoft’s free TweakUI PowerToy to set the key functions (under Explorer -> Command Keys), although I found that not all the keys on my keyboard were listed so this may be a less than optimal solution.
The conclusion? Microsoft hardware might look nice and is cheap compared to alternatives such as Logitech (my friend’s set was Â£40 in Dixons and mine was a Â£30 OEM version), but it can be a pain to set up given its bias towards Microsoft software. My personal bugbear with this line is the fact that Microsoft has deviated from standard keyboard design in a number of minor but irritating ways.
All this just makes me want to go out and by a dual G5 with 30″ Cinema Display (I was in the Apple store in Birmingham’s Bullring shopping centre today and was in awe!) but I’ll probably just end up with a Mac Mini and the same old trusty MS desktop set a few months down the line, especially given the news of Apple’s controversial switch to Intel processors.