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 apple.com 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 download.com, 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 download.com 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.)