J River Media Center is the only important program on my computer developed by a small company. J River just released Media Jukebox 12, a simpler free version focused on music that you might want to consider if you’re not already using Media Center.

MJukebox Media Center is the only program I use for music. Media Center organizes and tags music files, it syncs with iPods, it burns music CDs, it holds playlists and ratings, it downloads podcasts and Audible audiobooks, and it serves up music to other computers in other parts of the house. It’s been a friend for years.

Media Center is also designed to work with photos and videos. Personally, I don’t think it’s as well suited for photos as dedicated programs like Adobe Photoshop Elements. I use Media Center for organizing and watching videos but not for many other tasks – it’s not designed for editing videos like Adobe Premiere Elements, and other programs seem easier for converting formats and ripping DVDs.

Now J River is offering Media Jukebox 12, which is focused on music. All the references to photos and videos have been removed. That makes it less complicated, without giving up any of the features that make it so good for your music library.

Most people use iTunes. It’s easy and perfectly fine – if you’re happy with it, keep using it!

Media Jukebox is for people whose libraries are getting larger – iTunes is not very good when you’ve got a couple of thousand songs or more. Media Jukebox is also a welcome relief for people who find iTunes is increasingly annoying and cluttered with advertising. And Media Jukebox will seem like a breath of fresh air if you’ve been using Windows Media Player or any other program to manage a growing music library.

You only need one program for music. Media Jukebox can be that program. It’s the only third-party program that can sync with iPods as well as any other handheld device on the market. (Not Zunes. You didn’t get a Zune, did you? Oh, dear, I hope not.) An iPod can only sync with one program – if you sync with Media Jukebox, you’re leaving iTunes behind.

Media Jukebox is free. Try it!

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