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Did you install it yet?
July 1, 2002 7:05 PM   Subscribe

Did you install it yet? You may want to think twice. That new software update for Windows Media Player isn't just a security update, if you read the End User License Agreement carefully, it states:
"In order to protect the integrity of content and software protected by digital rights management 'Secure Content', Microsoft may provide security related updates to the OS Components that will be automatically downloaded onto your computer."
Does anyone know anything more about this? How about recommendations for a suitable replacement for WMP?
posted by Hackworth (31 comments total)

 
How about recommendations for a suitable replacement for WMP?

*tries to think of an un-snarky way to say 'get a Mac'*

*fails*

*goes back to watching Buffy reruns*
posted by toddshot at 7:08 PM on July 1, 2002


Quicktime for video, Winamp for audio, and I use a program called EO Video that is great at reading foreign formats quicktime doesn't pick up, as well as converting back and forth between most formats.
posted by tomorama at 7:12 PM on July 1, 2002


I have a Mac. I don't ever use it.

Quicktime would be the obvious answer, and of course, I over looked it. Will Divx work with the quicktime player? It doesn't seem to read my movies.
posted by Hackworth at 7:19 PM on July 1, 2002


Um, howzabout just running mplayer2.exe, which is v6.something of MediaPlayer and *should* work on all versions of Windows (excepting XP, I dunno if it works there or not).
posted by WolfDaddy at 7:22 PM on July 1, 2002


hey hackworth, wanna give me the Mac you never use?
posted by nonreflectiveobject at 7:31 PM on July 1, 2002


Technically, v6.4 has some of these security flaws as well. However, I read through the details of what the patch fixes and found that none of them affect me. One requires I use IE, which I almost never do. Another requires I use v7 on Win2K or NT, but I'm using v6.4 on Win95 (don't laugh... c'mon, stop!). And the third, well, it's just really unlikely. So no patch for me.

It's really more of a lazy thing than a moral outrage thing, though. ;-)
posted by whatnotever at 7:32 PM on July 1, 2002


From the article: But some commentators fear this would give Microsoft free reign over a computer.

And this is different than running an Operating System from MS how? Strangely, I don't think there's anything to get worked up on. I think this has to do with "secure content" only, which relies on the Windows Media structure to turn a profit for the media distributors (Mostly porn sites, online movie rental's, and crappy music I believe).

Sure, there are alternatives to the closed nature of WM...some of which the player also supports. But if you really want to utilize WM secure media, is there a choice?
posted by samsara at 7:58 PM on July 1, 2002


I think samsara's right. It sounds like it'll block video screen capture software.
posted by destro at 8:04 PM on July 1, 2002


nonreflectiveobject: Funny, that's exactly how I ended up with it :)

destro : Ah, that's probably not so much of a worry, then.

So, is this *real* push technology, though? I'm really wondering about the "updates to the OS Components that will be automatically downloaded onto your computer" thing. I know the new Windows Update thing that is being used on Win2K and WinXP lets you set an option for automatic downloading of updates, but is this the same thing? I'm just hoping this doesn't pave the way for intrusive system maintenance on Microsoft's part, not to mention h4x0rs, either.
posted by Hackworth at 8:14 PM on July 1, 2002


I think samsara's right. It sounds like it'll block video screen capture software.
posted by destro at 8:28 PM on July 1, 2002


Let them dig their own graves. I had problems with the security of IE and switched to the excellent Mozilla. I can't afford MS Office so I use OpenOffice. I had problems with the security of IIS so I run Apache. When mplayer stops working for me there's a good chance there will be a better alternative out there. If there isn't one or two already.

I also use the auto-updater. I never saw nor clicked a EULA.
posted by skallas at 8:36 PM on July 1, 2002


Yeah, I installed it without reading anything, either. That's one lesson I won't soon forget.
posted by Hackworth at 8:41 PM on July 1, 2002


You can try to wade through the /. thread, but most of it was discussing circumventing the EULA.
posted by hobbes at 8:48 PM on July 1, 2002


You know, I've been avoiding /. for so long, I almost forgot that it could be informative on occasion...
posted by Hackworth at 8:55 PM on July 1, 2002


For what it's worth, BSPlayer (mentioned in the /. post) is looking like a nice alternative to WMP, for now.
posted by Hackworth at 9:20 PM on July 1, 2002


I'd like to congratulate everyone in this thread so far, for not using the following terms to describe Microsoft:

M$
Microshaft
Microshit
The Evil Empire
etc.,

Nice for a change. On a related note, some detailed info on how WMP sends data back to MS.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 9:53 PM on July 1, 2002


The 6.x series of WMP was pretty solid. It was everything the operating system wasn't: compact, efficient, stable, flexible. The M$ management (sorry KevinSkomsvold) must have taken note and decided that it should be more feature-rich. It's a shame because it was a nice piece of software.

The *nix-based MPlayer is very powerful. It plays just about every format, and uses very little overhead, so it works well with older hardware. And the EULA is the GNU General Public Licence. I don't think it's been ported to Windows, though. As Hackworth mentioned, the BSPlayer has a good reputation. If I were using Windows, I'd give that a try.
posted by Loudmax at 11:01 PM on July 1, 2002


I just upgraded to SuSE 8.0 using KDE 3.0.1 as my windowing environment (default KDE). Do yourselves a favor and try it out! I guess that is if you don't want to go out and buy a mac.

I am nothing anywhere near a computer whiz. Look at me, I still use archaic forms of referring to geeks as Computer Whizzes. But this distribution is awesome in my opinion. I've already installed it on two friend's machines who had prior never used Linux. They tell me, at least, that they love it. That reminds me, I need to find the file and install a linmodem for one of them.

Therefore I'm not necessarily advertising, but then, neither are Christians necessarily proselytizing when they've recently accepted the LORD.
posted by crasspastor at 11:24 PM on July 1, 2002


Look at me, I still use archaic forms of referring to geeks as Computer Whizzes.

Oh my. *drops wineglass*
posted by skallas at 11:28 PM on July 1, 2002


Winamp 3 is at beta 2, I think, and it does video quite well indeed.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 1:21 AM on July 2, 2002


It might be of benefit to point out that most of the programs mentioned use the Microsoft Media SDK to render their video anyway. Note that the aforementioned BSPlayer requires DirectX Media 6.0+, which is probably required because it contains DirectShow, which is what the media SDK uses to render video.

Considering all of the codecs available and their own internal variations, it would be very difficult to write a program that could play back enough useful formats that did not use the microsoft media SDK. C|Net notes that Quicktime lacks support for certain audio formats, which would indicate that it would probably have the same problem with video, perhaps even to a greater degree due to the additional complexity of rendering video.

Also, I'm not sure what the big deal is about Microsoft installing security updates (or whatever) for media player on systems automatically. If you are running the patched media player on your servers, you're a fool, and if you think that Microsoft would be interested in, inclined to, or have the time to snoop on your system contents if you're one of the millions of home users, you're delusional and probably already employ adequate firewall/paranoia software.

In addition, I can't imagine that the plethora of codecs is as great on Mac as Windows. There must be video files that you simply can't play on a Mac because the codec was developed only for Windows. One prime, popular codec I can think of that might not be included in Mac playback software would be Indeo (Intel Video 1). Apple's site even mentions that OS X doesn't support it. Boot to a different OS version just to watch a video? Not with Windows.

Finally, if Microsoft thinks they can solve the problem of rights management with software, then more power to them. In the past it seems that the only available secure content was in their WMA format, which is easily circumvented (if that's what's getting everyone bent out of shape) simply by not using it and using MP3 instead.
posted by ringmaster at 6:33 AM on July 2, 2002


Well, Apple and others (Sony, AOL, Sun, IBM, etc.) hope that MPEG-4 will be the next step in video, online and off. QT6 supports it - I'm not sure about any other players.

Which is not to say that the ISMA is anything but a pack of media-player also-rans, of course - but MPEG-4 is a great format, and has the potential to be - well, the next MP3.
posted by D at 6:50 AM on July 2, 2002


...and if you think that Microsoft would be interested in, inclined to, or have the time to snoop on your system contents if you're one of the millions of home users, you're delusional and probably already employ adequate firewall/paranoia software.

It has fuck-all to do with covert snooping and everything to do with them reserving the right to later install software on your machine without your knowledge or your permission. Software which, in the glorious name of Digital Rights Management, will likely refuse you access to files you've created on your machine for personal use, including days, months, or years of your own work in some cases.

On a side note, do Mac users honestly believe that the solution to every minor PC stumbling block is to immediately flock to Apple like so many sheep? Jesus, talk about delusional...
posted by Danelope at 7:09 AM on July 2, 2002


Oh. Right. I'd forgotten. To the majority of Mac users, Macintosh is, unerringly, the answer to every problem. Nevermind.
posted by Danelope at 7:19 AM on July 2, 2002


Will Divx work with the quicktime player?

Short answer: yes. It's a codec you download and install, just like the Windows version of DivX. Here's the link.

Long answer: While the standard DivX codec works on Windows for most of the movies you'll be downloading, there's some hinky thing going on with audio in Quicktime, for DivX. So sometimes, if you want to hear the audio, you'll have to convert the movie to Quicktime format, with a program that can be found here.

Of course, sometimes movies just won't want to play in the Quicktime movie player. These times, it's handy to have this little piece of software (OS X only, folks) that will play the movie, if it can, and if it can't, will tell you the codec used so you can go and find something to play it on.

At any rate, I've been watching movies on my Mac for about 2 years now, with much success. All it takes is a little knowledge of codecs and what they do, and you'll be off and running in no time, especially with OS X. And you certainly won't have to put up with as much spyware.
posted by schlaager at 7:57 AM on July 2, 2002


Sasami2k for video - Winamp for audio.
posted by Nauip at 10:08 AM on July 2, 2002


do Mac users honestly believe that the solution to every minor PC stumbling block is to immediately flock to Apple like so many sheep

No, but it is sometimes hard to sympathize with Windows users and the endless flood of bizarre legal & technological problems they have to deal with. I don't understand why people are surprised at new evidence of Microsoft's invasive, customer-hostile nature; it's not as though it has been a secret at any time in the last couple of decades. And yet people continue to use their products. Sheep, you said?
posted by Mars Saxman at 1:01 PM on July 2, 2002


Oh shit, here we go again.
posted by Hackworth at 6:52 PM on July 2, 2002


Just as a follow up, after installing the update, I found that all of my mpeg4 v3 encoded content didn't play correctly anymore, audio, but no video. This didn't affect wmp only, any video program did the same. I tried downloading the codec again an re-installing it, but no dice. I eventually had to install wmp 7.1 (which in my opinion, is a down-grade from 6.4) to finally get the videos working. And now they still only work in wmp, not any other video program.

I'm not amused.
posted by Hackworth at 6:27 PM on July 6, 2002


Update: Microsoft to release Windows Media 9 soon, which will only work with microsoft's licencing sceme. They want the windows media format to be ubiquitous, and unfortunatly, most users will probably swallow it.
posted by Hackworth at 10:11 PM on July 15, 2002


Wow - thanks for that sasami2k heads-up, Nauip. Very cool player.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 1:48 AM on July 17, 2002


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