windows pain

So I'm trying to modernise my mum and got her an Asus tablet PC (she hates mice and has been a dedicated long-time user of WordPerfect 5.1 for DOS). So the new machine came loaded with Windows Vista. Business edition. I'm personally rather sceptical of what I've heard of Vista's DRM but she won't be buying digital media anyway so it should be fairly harmless bloat..

Then one sunny day we insert a DVD in the built-in player and Windows media player kindly informs us that it lacks software for DVD playback. In fact, Microsoft expects us to buy more software in order to use the hardware we already spent a ton of cash on. What the..?

This is just crap. I thought Microsoft was trying to turn Windows into the one and only platform for digital media, and then they ship seriously crippled versions of Vista, annoying customers to get them to spend a meagre $15 or so on extra software to use their own pc. Now that's really a way to treat customers who know you're sitting on one of the richest cash machines in the world.. I really don't know much about DVDs and related software, and I don't want to spend time learning – I want the silly drive to do its job, that's all, and preferably without paying Microsoft or anyone they recommend..

In annoyed mode I look for alternatives. We have a Nero media player on a disk that came with the external DVD-player I use. No joy on Vista though, seems it is compatible with XP and 2K only. On Nero's website I can't find a "media player", only a "digital media suite" for about $70 – um, no, I don't want a "suite" and there is a limit to how much I'll spend to avoid paying Microsoft.

RealPlayer? Uh, no, I don't like their interface and I've seen RP hijack DVD playback even though it could not actually play the disks. One to stay away from. What about QuickTime? Seems the free QT player with a $20 MPEG-2 decoder might fit the job. That's an Apple PR toll of $5 or 33% more than the MS option, but sending some money to Apple would be most satisfying right now. Hey, Fake Steve, your Opera-bashing is almost forgiven..

So I get the latest QT player from and try to buy the MPEG-2 playback. Site says "if you live in the U.S. select your operating system. Otherwise select your country". So I choose "Norway" and end up on the Norwegian Apple store where the MPEG-2 decoder is nowhere to be found! The U.S. store requires a U.S. postal address (hey Apple, this is a download!) so no luck there either. Apple seems determined not to take my money :(.

Next I have a look through relevant categories on, the most interesting thing was a Google text ad that took me to the Cineplayer site – one of Microsoft's links. Oh well, at least this time and Google will get a cut – any Microsoft competitor will do..

And with Cineplayer installed, WMP…shows a different error. Now it claims I may have to adjust the screen properties.

I'll just go to bed and dream of buying a Mac, somehow getting over my habitual dislike of their UI and dive into a world where what you buy Just Works. Windows regularly Just Sucks.

Any good tips is welcome (though please note: I'm not looking for warez or illegal downloads.)


20 thoughts on “windows pain

  1. Install this for free and it should fix all of your worries. It's Vista Codec Package..which simple gives support to media players that lack support on various formats..including dvds. should fix compatibility issues for most all media that will ever be played on that pc. ;)Might I also suggest "Quicktime Alternative" and "Real Alternative". These three downloads are in the top 10 things I install first on a fresh new pc everytime..Opera being the very first, lol.

  2. Problem is, if MS included DVD playback in Vista, someone would probably sue them…Usually, WinDVD or PowerDVD are pre-installed on most computers. If not, you need a MPEG-2 codec. Simply install the _trial_ version of WinDVD or PowerDVD. Then you can play DVDs in almost any player, such as Windows Media Player, MediaPlayer Classic etc.

  3. Like burnout456, I recommend VLC. It's simple enough but still has all powerfull features I need (multilanguage support, subtitle support and not only for DVDs)It is OpenSource and available for quite a bunch of OSes. But I am also not sure about the Vista compatibility…

  4. @Smir: The latest versions of VLC are Vista compatible. But I would not recommend it for non geek persons. It simply does not have the native Windows look & feel wich makes it a pain to use in my opinion. ;)On the other hand you can use it without any conflicts with the othe madia players, because it comes with it's one codecs and does not care about the system codecs.

  5. I recommend Media Player Classic (MPC) for any media playback. As pointed out already you need a MPEG 2 decoder. The easiest thing to do is to use a good codec pack with selcted and well tested components like the K-Lite codec packs it contains MPC and all codecs you ever will need to play any media around. MPC has the clean look and feel of the good old Windows Media Player 6.4 but with more advanced features.

  6. Another vote for medi player classic – it's tiny and does the job super fast/It's times like these that I look wistfully towards thosenew Dell PCs with Linux Ubuntu…

  7. think you're underestimating the internet. The internet can already tell you just about anything you want to know.On Ubuntu I use VLC, but I also had to add the Medibuntu repository and install libdvdcss2. I think Ubuntu is easier to use once you have it setup, although setting it up isn't very easy, and you probably aren't looking to switch operating systems anyway.

  8. Media Player Classic HAVE OWN NATIVE SUPPORT FOR MPEG2-PLAYBACK (DVD), then you don´t need install codecs aside if you use this player for playing DVDs. Its interface is clear, simple, intuitive and powerfulVERY RECOMMENDED!On the other hand My favorite player is The KMplayer , IT HAS ALL ALMOST CODECS AND FILTERS NECCESARY FOR PLAYING DVDs, MPEG-4 (Divx, Xvid, H.264., etc).VERY VERY VERY VERY RECOMMENDED!

  9. I usea combination of VLC and and a Codec Package called K-Lite Codec Pack (which is from the people who put out Real Alternative and Qucktime Alternative, Codec Guides.Com).VLC has many integrated Codecs, but occasionaly has problems with protected physical content, which they usually fix in a short period of time, but until then it should play in Media Player Classic (included in K-Lite). Visa versa is also true.I strongly suggest using Real Alternative for Moms through MPClassic.Another big plus is K-Lite comes with a program called GSPOT and when a media file is opened with it you can ID what it is in great detail. Terrific for moms who say "how should I know what it is" or "It worked fine on my freinds computer, why not mine".*sigh*At least you have a Mom who you can get to try these things… my mother is still trying to figure out VHS and and when I mentioned DVDs after the the players here in North America got really cheap, she thought I was talking about Venerial Disease. I haven't even tried to mention HDTV and the new format wars. (no I am not trying to be funny… I am serious)

  10. I went through the same torture. I bought an OEM dvd drive from once and it said it'd come with Nero Express. It didn't. So I hunted all over the internet. I didn't need a suite, or anything that could copy the disc or burn it. I didn't need a program that managed all of my media files. I just wanted something that could play a dvd.nVidia has a free 30-day trial codec that installs for WMP. After 30 days, you gotta cough up the dough. So I used it for 30 days and continued looking.After installing 4 or 5 programs and deciding they all sucked, I finally stumbled upon "Media Player Classic", an ugly, WMP6-lookalike, with WAY more features under the hood.It plays all my DVDs. Sweet. Go grab Media Player Classic from SourceForge. doubt it supports Vista, but you might be able to compile your own version and make it work.I think it's stupid that DVDs and CDs are treated totally differently on computers. You can't get free players for dvds, can't copy them onto your computer, burn them and expect them to work in commercial dvd players… What's so different between the two? Is society really moving to DRM that quickly? Ew.

  11. I just got an idea besides VLC and the other proposals: on my (German) Matrix DVD was some version of Interactual Player. Maybe you can find some video DVD with similar software.I'd suppose this would install the needed codec so even WMP could playback DVD but I don't know as I didn't have a problem. If you find Interactual Player and there is a problem with Vista maybe the free upgrade possibility may help.

  12. @ResearchWizardDid you read my post earlier? The Vista Codec Package installs all of the codecs needed to play back dvds and almost all other media formats that aren't supported. Installing the codecs is better in my opinion because it provides a fix for all media players installed, rather than just installing another application to launch. DVDs will play in WMP after you install the codecs, that is what I use..just so I don't have to install pointless dvd programs that cost money..or cheap free ones that look bad.

  13. @ResearchWizardCool deal. Yea it really depends on what you want to be able to play. Quicktime and Real alternatives fit me as well since they take less space and seem to even take fewer resources to get the same job done.

  14. kyleabaker, right, I read your comment and I forgot about it – sorry about that. Nontheless: not everybody likes codec packs. And I didn't recommend to use another crappy or nice DVD player.

    I'd suppose this would install the needed codec so even WMP could playback DVD

    With the difference that only the one needed codec for DVD is installed (and yes, there may be the need for another codec but AFAIK even older WMP automatically downloads codecs. The decision what to do in this case will not depend on what I use (mainly VLC while QT+Real Alternative are installed and I think also some codec pack) but on what will cause the least effort to use and administrate the system.

  15. MPC and VLC, as cited above are probably your best optins on Windows but I agree, Windows lacks a good media player, Microsoft of otherwise.Alternatively, get the latest Ubuntu that was released a few days ago and scratch Windows from the laptop (OK, setup a dual boot): the Linux thing just works, doesn't ask question. And if it cannot do it out of the box, it proposes you to download the right package/codec right away, for free.

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