Windows Media Player History and Resources
Most of us take for granted that we can use computers to listen to audio files, watch videos, and view our pictures. But the software you use to do that can make all the difference in your multimedia experience.
Windows Media Player is one of the most often used software applications for managing multimedia, but there’s a lot more to it than you might think!
Here’s how to make the most of this commonly used software and level up your multimedia experience.
What Is Windows Media Player?
Windows Media Player, commonly abbreviated to WMP, is a media player with tools for managing your media library. It’s downloadable software that can be installed on your Windows computer to play audio and video, view images, manage your library, and more. It comes installed by default on Windows computers, and there are versions available for the Mac OS, Mac OS X and Solaris operating systems as well.
WMP doesn’t just play music. You can use it to:
- Play a variety of audio files;
- Watch videos in different formats;
- View your pictures one at a time, or as a slideshow;
- Rip and burn CDs;
- Sync your MP3 player;
- Purchase or rent multimedia from online music stores.
A Bit of History
First developed by Microsoft in 1991, WMP was originally built using the Windows Media Framework, a flexible framework design to handle all aspects of multimedia in Windows. But starting with Windows Vista, the Windows Media Framework was replaced by Media Foundation. Windows Media Player is now built on the Media Foundation framework.
WMP Version 11
WMP 11 is included with Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008, and is also available for Windows XP.
WMP Version 12
Version 12 is the latest version. It was first released in 2009 along with Windows 7. It’s now available for Windows 8, Windows 8.1 and Windows 10. It included support for more media formats and added a few new features.
Ready to learn more about WMP? Check out these resources to get started.
- Get Windows Media Player: find out which version of WMP is compatible with your operating system, and download it straight from the source.
Want to learn how to use WMP? Get started with these tutorials.
- Watching Videos in Windows Media Player: a basic guide on using WMP to watch videos. This guide is for Windows Vista but also applies to other versions.
- How to Rip Audio CDs to Your PC or Mac: a detailed guide on digitizing the audio files from your CD collection using WMP.
- How to Burn CDs and DVDs in Windows Media Player 12: how to burn music CDs or pictures, songs and videos onto Data DVDs.
- How to Listen to Internet Radio on Windows Media Player: listen to your favorite internet radio stations with this guide.
- How Do I Capture an Image from a Movie in Microsoft Windows Media Player?: how to make photos from your video files.
- How to Create a Picture Slideshow in Windows Media Player: enjoy and show off your photos to friends and family by creating a fun slideshow.
- Clear Playlists and Library in Windows Media Player: if you have a lot of files you don’t use anymore, you can clean them up using this guide.
See how WMP looks in action with these video tutorials.
- Learn Windows 7 — Windows Media Player Overview: watch this 3-minute video for a quick overview of Windows Media Player in Windows 7.
- How to Use Windows Media Player on Windows 8 For Dummies: find out how to setup and use WMP to listen to music, browse your pictures, and watch videos and recorded TV on Windows 8.
- How to Burn a Cd to Windows Media Player Step by Step: a detailed walkthrough on creating your own CDs with WMP.
- Learn Windows 7 — Windows Media Player: beginner’s guide to WMP in Windows 7, in video form.
- Windows 8 — Windows Media Player 12: a quick tutorial on Windows media player 12 for windows 8.
- How To Open Media In Windows Media Player Windows 10: a 1-minute video guide on how to open WMP in Windows 10.
- How to Play Any Video File Format in Windows Media Player: if WMP tells you it "cannot play this file," watch this video to find out how to get around that.
You can customize your installation of WMP to play different file types using codecs, filters, plugins, and skins. Here’s how.
- Codecs: Frequently Asked Questions: straight from Microsoft, here are answers to the most common questions on codecs, filters, and plugins.
- How to Install a New Codec in Windows Media Player: how to add a new codec to your WMP installation.
- WMP 12 on DeviantArt: browse available skins to change the look of your player.
- How to Download, Install and Apply Skins in Windows Media Player 12: here’s how to put those skins to use.
If you’re having problems getting WMP to work correctly, try these troubleshooting guides.
- How to Reinstall Windows Media Player in Windows 7, 8, or 10 to Solve Problems: if WMP is refusing to play your audio files, the problem might be with the software. Try reinstalling it to fix the problem.
- How to Troubleshoot Audio and Video Issues in Windows Media Player: a somewhat technical but useful guide from Microsoft on troubleshooting common issues.
- Fix Windows Media Player Video, and Other Media or Library Issues: use this automatic repair tool from Microsoft to instantly fix common problems.
For more in-depth user guides, try these books.
- Using Windows Media Player 11 (2006) by Tony Campbell: your complete guide to using WMP 11.
- Teach Yourself VISUALLY Windows 10 (2015) by Paul McFedries: this guide to Windows 10 includes everything you need to know about WMP Version 12.
Is Windows Media Player Not for You?
WMP is popular not only because it comes with Windows, but also because of its flexibility and ease of use.
But WMP isn’t for everyone. If it’s not a good fit for you, try out these alternatives:
- VLC: a free and open source cross-platform multimedia player and framework.
- MPC-HC: a free, lightweight, open source media player for Windows.
- KMPlayer: a multimedia player supporting 36 different languages with 300 million users globally.
- Daum PotPlayer: a free advanced multimedia player with plenty of features and customization options.
Further Reading and Resources
We have more guides, tutorials, and infographics related to internet multimedia:
- Silverlight Hosting : learn about using Silverlight to deliver streaming media and alternatives to it.
- Creating Viral Content: learn what makes content go viral with with this short video.
- SHOUTcast Hosting: learn the secrets of creating an internet radio station.
Secrets to a Killer Viral Video
Check out our infographic, Secrets to a Killer Viral Video You can't be certain to make your videos go viral, but you can increase your chances.