Windows Media Player

Category: Music

Microsoft Windows Media Player is the free, pre-installed media player for Windows 7, Vista and XP. It also comes built into Windows-based smart phones. Windows Media Player is a versatile player for nearly all types of audio and video files. It also rips and burns CDs, and does a lot more...

Windows Media Player

What is Windows Media Player?

Windows Media Player can do lots of things besides play music and videos. It will display static images in JPG, GIF, and most other formats. It can catalog all of the media files on your computer automatically. If you have a song saved on your hard drive, Windows Media Player can search the Internet and retrieve the song's artist information, album art, and other metadata. Shopping for songs or movies in online stores is easy with Windows Media Player.

You can transfer media files from one device to another using Windows Media Player; for example, copy a song from your computer to your smart phone, MP3 player, or even a game console such as the Xbox. Windows Media Player will even translate one media file format to another that is better suited for playback on the target device.

The latest version of Windows Media Player is version 12. Be advised that v12 works only with Windows 7 (all editions). Windows XP and Vista are compatible with Windows Media Player version 11 or earlier. Older versions of Windows (95, 98, ME) are not supported anymore.

You can even serve streaming multicasts to remote devices using Windows Media Player 12. That means your home computer can become your own private radio or TV station broadcasting whatever content you wish to select friends and family members, or to whoever knows the IP address of your server. Of course, you must have the legal right to broadcast such content.

With all these features and a price of zero, why would anyone consider an alternative to Windows Media Player? Some of the reasons are pragmatic and others are more emotional or philosophical.

Alternatives to Windows Media Player

Playback quality is a pragmatic reason to consider alternatives to Windows Media Player for certain non-Microsoft media file formats. The .MOV video format, for example, was developed by Apple Computer specifically for its Quicktime media player. Many users swear that MOV files play better on Quicktime than they do on Windows Media Player.

Speaking of Apple: there are versions of Windows Media Player for Mac OS. But they have not been constantly improved (or debugged) as the Windows versions are. So if you own a Mac you probably can find a better media player than Windows Media Player for Mac OS. iTunes is the default music player for Apple computers, and although it works great on that platform, many people feel it's a bit clunky on Windows PCs.

Bulk and complexity are other reasons many people dislike Windows Media Player. Just about any application that is up to its twelfth major version takes up a lot of disk space and RAM. "Mature" applications also suffer from featuritis - a confusing surplus of exotic features that the vast majority of users never need. Many users prefer a smaller, simpler, more agile alternative to Windows Media Player.

The VLC Media Player from The VideoLAN Project is one of the most popular alternatives to Windows Media Player. It's a free, open source media player that claims to "play everything." Unlike Windows Media Player, VLC Media Player will play all of the readable parts of a damaged file. It's smaller, faster, and easier to learn than Windows Media Player, according to most users. Other popular free alternatives to Windows Media Player include Songbird, Foobar2000, and WinAmp. Try them all and see which one suits your style the best.

What's your favorite media player? Post a comment or question below...

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This article was posted by on 9 Sep 2010

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Most recent comments on "Windows Media Player"

Posted by:

09 Sep 2010

Another excellent free alternative to Windows Media Player is Media Player Classic, available at

Posted by:

09 Sep 2010

I just got a new computer and when I transferred my pictures to it, Windows Media Player grabbed all my pictures. I didn't want them there. So far I haven't tried to remove them.

Posted by:

09 Sep 2010

Hi Bob, I just fixed a certain problem with my friend's toshiba laptop with Windows Vista. The WMP11 keeps popping up everytime you hit any key on the keyboard. This started when the keyboard got replaced. I did searched everywhere online just to look for an answer, and it seems lots of people having same problem. Whenever there is a new hardware or software installed, WMP11 keeps popping up and the keyboard become useless. Tried unintall/reinstall the keyboard and the software but no luck. Uninstall and reinstall programs still the problem showed up. Disabled wmp under services, deleted all the entries at the registry, but during start up windows wanted me to install wmp11 again and no way to escape. But last night I stumbled to a certain post in microsoft forum about "How to troubleshoot a problem by performing a clean boot in Windows Vista or in Windows 7". It solved my problem ...
here's the link

hope this is helpful.
p.s. thanks Bob for all the help. I learned alot from your website. Everytime we got a computer problem, we don't go to a computer tech anymore, just search here and I can fix it myself. More power!

Posted by:

10 Sep 2010

Try This One . . . It's FANTASTIC:

'Nuff Said.

Posted by:

Derla Lehnherr
13 Sep 2010

What is your opinion of Real Player? I downloaded it and it USED to automatically pop up and ask if I wanted a video downloaded -- doesn't do it any more.

EDITOR'S NOTE: In my opinion, RP comes with baggage that most people don't want or need.

Posted by:

Silver Queen
19 Dec 2011

Just got a new computer with Windows 7, and the Windows 12 Media Player. I'm rebuilding my audio library with strictly MP3 files (done with iTunes!). I also bought a Seagate FreeAgent Go 320GB external hard drive so I can regularly and easily back up my files as I add to my audio collection.

Initially it worked great, and as a double-check I always tried playing 1 or 2 songs from my external (G: Drive), through Media Player, to make sure the backup files were correct and "free-standing". However, at some point in a recent lengthy session of ripping CD's and backing up, I apparently did something (I didn't change any file names, as far as I know). I think I got confused as to whether I was in the Library, or in the Users/(user name)/My Music file on the C: Drive, or in the external drive itself. Whatever I did, my files will no longer play from the external drive when I back them up ("Media Player can't find file. Maybe renamed, moved, or deleted.") Which also makes me think they're no good as backup files.

I'm confused because playing files from the C: Drive folder works, which means there's a perfectly good set of MP3 files on my PC hard drive. So copying the C: Drive folder should give me the exact same thing pasted onto the external drive location, shouldn't it? That's what it was doing before. Or does it have something to do with how WMP reads the file, or what the settings were, when I ripped it? I usually leave all those settings alone. Bottom line--the system won't read my backup files, or something about them no longer translates back to a setting on Media Player. But since it worked before, and the backup is a straight copy, I'm suspecting the backup files, as files, are fine, but WMP is now twitchy as a reader/player.

What did I do?! And more importantly, is there a fix? I've tried troubleshooting on Windows, and it's useless.

Posted by:

25 Apr 2012

My windows media player doesn't work. went to the microsoft website & downloaded the windows player but i can't get any sound. I have sound on Itunes, youtube etc. hope you can help!

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