Note first that you
can never really get rid of Windows Media Player, nor should you want
to, if you use Windows. There are some media types designed for it that
require you to use it. But you can use alternatives for all other
Windows Media Player
version 10 (current as of this writing) automatically takes over all media
on your PC, installs Microsoft's rights management, and spies on your
music and video folders. It looks for new things to stuff into its library
without your knowledge -- unless you intervene by changing its options
during the setup process or right after installing it. You are essentially
about to put blinders on Windows Media Player to prevent it from performing
certain tasks automatically.
or upgraded, Windows Media Player is usually set up as the default for
everything from CDs and DVDs to MP3 music files -- shutting out all other
players. It also tries to trick you into setting up Microsoft's MSN Music
online music service as your active service by displaying a normal-looking
During Windows Media
Player setup, don't accept the first wizard page as if it were just a
simple license agreement. See the fine print at the top? Say no to Microsoft
-- decline the option to set MSN Music as your active online music service.
You can get around
the problem of shutting out other players by changing the file types associated
with Windows Media Player. The Customize the Installation Options page
in the setup wizard lets you change the file types, as shown below. Click
to remove the checkmark from each media or file type that you want to
reserve for other players. I suggest you only check the box for Windows
Media formats (as explained in the table below) and
skip all other media types.
During Windows Media
Player setup, be sure to uncheck the file and media types you may want
to use with other players. Don't let Windows Media Player take over all
these files and media types without a fight.
At the end of your
Windows Media Player setup procedure, a dialog appears that lets you choose
whether or not to search your hard disk and add files to its library,
as shown below. This is another important time to say no to Microsoft.
Click the No button, so that Windows Media Player doesnt go off
looking for media files to capture.
If Windows Media Player is already set up as the default player, you can
still change the file types that automatically activate it. In Windows
Media Player, select Tools > Options and then click the File Types
tab. Uncheck the file and media types that you may want to use with other
players. Remember, you can always launch Windows Media Player and open
any of these files or media types, but if you turn off this automatic
feature, you will have more choices.
Media for Other Players
To disassociate media file
types from Windows Media Player, thereby liberating them to be used with
other players, select Tools > Options and then click the File Types
tab. Decide for each media type as follows:
Media file (asf)
Media files with .asf, .asx, .wm, .wmx, .wmp, and .wpl extensions.
While many other players can play these files, Windows Media Player
will probably remain your choice for this type. Keep this box checked.
Media Audio file (wma)
Media files with .wma and .wax extensions. Windows Media Player is
the best choice and the only choice for protected files, so keep this
file type turned on.
Media Video file (wmv)
Media files with .wmv and .wvx extensions. While many other players
can play these files, Windows Media Player will probably remain your
choice here as well. Turn it on.
Video files with .vob extensions. Stop right there -- uncheck this
if you want to try other DVD video players that run on Windows, such
as RealPlayer or WinDVD.
with .cda extensions. Do you really want to use Windows Media Player
for your audio CDs? How about iTunes or RealPlayer or a dozen other
possibilities? Keep this unchecked.
video file (avi)
with .avi extensions. Keep this unchecked, because there are many
other players out there that support this type.
audio file (wav)
with .wav extensions. iTunes offers more choices for converting .wav
files into compressed formats. Definitely keep this unchecked so that
you can try other players. Everything out there plays .wav files.
with .mpeg, .mpg, .mpe, .m1v, .mp2, .mpv2, .mp2v*, and .mpa extensions.
Windows Media Player on automatic for these files? Fuhgeddaboutit!
Turn it off. Try RealPlayer, QuickTime, or an open source program
such as MPlayer.
audio file (mp3)
with .mp3 and .m3u extensions. MPEG stands for Moving Picture Experts
Group, a committee that recognizes compression standards for video
and audio. Windows Media Player is the absolute worst choice for playing
MP3 files. Definitely uncheck this baby. The noble MP3 format roams
freely across the Internet and from application to application, and
it should not have to put up with the disgrace of being played by
proprietary Microsoft code. Check out WinAmp, RealPlayer, iTunes,
with .mid, .midi, and .rmi extensions. What MIDI composer do you use?
There are lots of MIDI players out there -- what does Microsoft really
know about MIDI? Uncheck this as well.
audio file (aiff)
with .aif, .aifc, and .aiff extensions. How insulting to Apple! Uncheck
this type, which is the standard high-quality (uncompressed) format
for Apple Mac users. Obviously, iTunes does AIFF better, and so do
loads of other players.
audio file (au)
with .au and .snd extensions. Professional musicians and computer
music nerds already have better tools for playing AU audio files.
Uncheck this one too -- try RealPlayer.