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.

Video Tutorials

See how WMP looks in action with these video tutorials.


You can customize your installation of WMP to play different file types using codecs, filters, plugins, and skins. Here’s how.


If you’re having problems getting WMP to work correctly, try these troubleshooting guides.


For more in-depth user guides, try these books.

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:

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