Up until version 7, I quite liked Windows Media Player
. Its one irritating quirk seemed to be that if it couldn't resolve codec
s.microsoft.com (when you opened a media file of unknown format) it would then try the same site fifteen times - very annoying if you have a modem and have to cancel the same stupid dialog box every time. Apart from that one flaw, it did the job quickly, efficiently and with a minimum of fuss - just how I like my software.
Windows Media Player 7
has changed all that. It is has changed into this horrible behemoth of a "Media Hub". It tries to do everything media related, and in the most intrusive way possible.
I like my media player to open promptly when I double-click
a file - I do not want it to spend five seconds malloc()
ing half my RAM. I do not want my media player to scan my hard disk for media files: I am not a moron
, and know where they are. I do not want my media player to open a web page full of adverts when I play a music file, however tailored to the ID3
tags it may be. When I alter ID3 tag information, I want my media player to alter the actual file so that other programs can see the change, not store the information in its own proprietary database somewhere else. If I had a portable MP3 player
, I would like to transfer files to it as I would any other disk: as a disk mounted in Explorer
, not via the program I use to play media files. If I want impressive visual effects along with my music, I will use Winamp
, as it is several orders of magnitude more impressive than Microsoft's lame attempt. Finally, I do not want my media player to constantly try and assimilate the rest of my computer - once I have told it not to associate itself with every media filetype in existence, I want it to stay told!
Please, join me in a big Fuck You to Windows Media Audio
I received a message recently informing me that a lot has changed with WMP since I wrote my writeup, so I took a look at its ninth incarnation.
What's changed? Well, there's a new skin that does make the player look better (better, not good). It also sports a spiffing EULA that apparantly allows Microsoft the right to do evil stuff to your computer.
Apart from that, the player is still slow, bloated, annoying, limited, the visualisations are still crap, and it still tries to associate it with every type of media file under the sun. Of course, since WMP9 is made by Microsoft, it is privy to some kind of feindish, hidden mechanism that allows it to maintain its control over the filetypes it chooses, even after you have gone into Explorer's options and specified that you want the filetypes to be associated with your chosen media player.
One thing that was missing from my writeup before was a plug for a wonderful piece of software called Media Player Classic. Its site appears to be down right now, but you can download it from <http://www.divx-digest.com/software/media_player_classic.html>. It's basically what Windows Media Player *should* be... a player, not a borg collective of half-assed software components. It does one thing (playing movies) and it does it damn well, be they MPEG, DIVX, Quicktime, Realplayer, or any other format. It does so efficiently and unobtrusively. It is lightweight, minimalist, perfect. But don't take my word for it... it's an 800K download! And since it doesn't assimilate your file associations, if you try it out and decide you like some other player better, you can just delete it.