AfterDawn: Tech news

Microsoft releases Windows Media 9

Written by Lasse Penttinen @ 09 Jan 2003 3:00 User comments (17)

Microsoft has released their latest version of the infamous media format. Previously Windows Media has been quite competitive in low bitrate video, but has been defeated by most other formats in audio. It will be interesting to see if v9 makes any change.
The release includes new player and encoder software.

REDMOND, Wash. -- Jan. 7, 2003 -- Today Microsoft Corp. announced the immediate availability of Windows Media® 9 Series, the next-generation digital media platform that offers benefits for hardware and software vendors, the media and entertainment industry, consumers in the home, and organizations looking to communicate and train more effectively.

Microsoft also announced a new licensing program for Windows Media Audio and Video 9 Series that enables device manufacturers and software developers to build high-quality digital audio and video features into a broader range of their products -- with longer terms and lower prices than those of other technologies such as MPEG-4 and MPEG-2.

Windows Media has been widely adopted by device manufacturers, software vendors and content providers, with more than 170 devices, hundreds of applications, and hundreds of thousands of popular songs and movies currently available supporting it. Today's release of Windows Media 9 Series and the new licensing program delivers on Microsoft's long-standing vision of enabling digital media everywhere. With innovations such as high-definition video at up to six times the resolution of DVD, the first 5.1-channel surround sound streaming audio, and a faster, more-televisionlike experience with media on the Web, Windows Media 9 Series provides dramatically improved media playback for all users and offers the most comprehensive platform features for hardware and software manufacturers, enabling them to build their own unique products and services.

"The unmatched audio and video quality of Windows Media 9 Series is now available under the most flexible and attractive license terms in the industry," said Will Poole, corporate vice president of the Windows New Media Platforms Division at Microsoft. "This combination of best-in-class technology and compelling licensing means the entire digital media ecosystem -- from lens to screen -- can grow and thrive more easily and cost effectively."

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17 user comments

19.1.2003 3:47

I'm curious about this. Just curious.... I'm contemplating downloading this thing, to see if it's just another in a long line-up of flash-in-the-pan WMP updates. For my Win-98 SE, it's a 13+meg download. But maybe you can answer something. I've heard horror stories that when/if you install *any* WMP past ver 6.4, you can never really completely uninstall it. There are always scads of entries left in your Window's registry, for example, and god-only-knows how many folders and files scattered all over the place. (Reminds me of Apple's QuickTime installs -- Bloatware). If I later decide it is more hype than substance, will I ever really be able to get rid of it without a whole new Win-98 install? To tell you the truth, I'm downloading the smelly thing in the background as I type this, but probably won't install it unless I hear from someone. As you know, any version of WMP from 7.0 up is clogged with DRM copy-protection, requiring licences to be downloaded to your HDD just for the priveledge of time-limited playback of promo tracks, for example. Some (all?) pay-music sites won't even let you *on* their webpages unless the site detects you are running a modern WMP version. Has anyone tried this new baby out? Are there any media9 files (audio and/or audio/video) one might freely download just to check the thing out? Are you 'allowed' to create any media9 files yourself with the software? Seems not long ago Microsoft was glowing with pride and promises over it's media8 stuff. It seems to me that if media8 was half as phasmagorical as MS told us it was, then why such a rapid udate with media9? Will media10 be coming out next month? Thnx. -- Mike --

29.1.2003 5:44

Yes I have been using it for a couple of days now without a hitch. Has new dvd capabilities, I downloaded it along with other important windows updates.


39.1.2003 8:34

Oh dear god *don't* install it!!! MP9 gave me huge problems playing video files - some played at half speed, others had distortion, once I removed 9, problems went away. Can't tell you about the leftovers it leaves in the registry, but I would imagine so, knowing Microsoft. Beyond that, I couldn't answer the rest of your questions. I've read posts about DRM problems if you uninstalled 7.1, it rendered your files unplayable, but I can't vouch for that.

49.1.2003 8:39

Have you made any of your own media files, T2K? What can WMP 9 do with dvds? Just as an aside, after downloading the install program, I clicked on "Demos", and got the (usual) message that I couldn't download anything from the demo page, 'cause it had detected that I didn't have a (modern-ish) version of WMP installed. (I am still reluctant to install it). Do your vids really look any better than before? Thanks. -- Mike --

59.1.2003 11:06

Thank You! Vukovar, for that info! I was able to download a 3-1/2 meg media9 demo video file from the MS website called "Do More", but I'm scared to install WMP9 now! <gg> What version WMP do you run now? Have your vids returned to normal speed again? Does anything else look or run weirdly? (I'm not overly fond of MS; they're sneaky). Obliged. -- Mike --

69.1.2003 12:20

I'm using WinXP Pro and i've just downloaded WMP9 - it runs much faster than before and there's been no problems so far - it's worth a try.

79.1.2003 12:52

Thanks Martin. 1 = Problems 1 = No Problems Score: 50/50 I'm a cautious kind of guy. So I put the executable on a cd-rw, and I'll add to that whatever (for now) free demos I can find. After I can get more info, I'll make a decision. Normally I don't waver about things like this - I just install a program and if I don't like it, I nuke it. Completely. But if this things leaves stuff all over the HDD or compromises anything else I run after I try to uninstall it, I might not install it at all to begin with. The various articles I've been reading on it praise this newest version to High Heavens. Everyone is drooling and practically tripping over their feet trying to explain how magnificent it is. Frankly, I think it looks horribly complex. There's an *awful* lot of stuff (features, options, menus) in there, many (most?) of which I may never figure out, let alone use. Thanks for the feedback. Am going to do more research. - Klingy --

89.1.2003 14:59

Very unhappy/scary news over at Doomy's Windows Media 9 Forum. DRM is put on your system whether you like it or not, and whether you ask for it or not during installation. The program immediately tries to contact the MS website right after installation, whether you are online or not. It also tries to contact other sites repeatedly. There is no UNinstall feature; just something called "rollback" which supposedly takes you back to whatever version you were using. General consensus is that it performs no better than media 8 anyway. You can read all the sad stuff below. See especially Page 2. (I will NOT be installing it!) -- Klingy --

99.1.2003 20:55

Wow that’s the most ridiculous statement I have ever heard, sounds like this person has a virus or something, maybe they downloaded a faulty version with a virus attached, I’ve had none of those things happen to me. and I’m not to keen about Microsoft either.


1010.1.2003 1:41

I'm certain the fellow (Jorgosch) doesn't have a virus. I think the only real virus here is WMPlayer 9. I'm glad you're not keen about Microsoft. You shouldn't be. From way back in 1999, here's something Billy-Goat Gates said of the Chinese: "Although about three million computers get sold every year in China, people don't pay for the software." [[ what/whose software is he talking about? ]] "Someday they will though. And as long as they're going to steal it, we want them to steal ours. They'll get sort of addicted, and then we'll somehow figure out how to collect sometime in the next decade." Ref: Well, the next decade is upon us. Are you "addicted" to Media 9 yet? I suppose Microsoft spent $500 million on media 9 out of the goodness of their heart, right? (I've got to install a firewall one of these days). I've filed my WMPlayer 9 installation file under "dead dogs". -- Mike --

1110.1.2003 7:50

Microsoft has got this one sewn-up. They are selling licenses to record companies in order to make it a download standard. Don't worry about removing it 'cos there is software to *rip* it out of the system. They could be looking at yet another law suit if they keep on. I happen to prefer Quicktime for quality, with it's Mpeg4. Plus it lest you download it fully before playing, no silly buffering problems here! Unfortunately Microsoft likes it's Spyware, sorry I mean *Customer Experience Improvment Program*, I am still using Windows 98 on my main PC, mainly to play games. I really do not like the , Got to Buy it 'XP' 'cos nothing will work with 98. It WILL work with 98, Microsoft, etc make sure it doesn't. If I remember correctly, I am not yet using a 64-bit processor, so why *fuck* the code up? BTW I use WM8 on my iPaq because it is supplied with it, just convenience really. And Pocket PC is based on Windows NT. So why insist that I have to buy 98SE so I can use it on my main PC? I have a friend who is using Win98SE and his installation had the same .CAB installation errors as Win98, so where is the improvement?

Play Atari today, it won't break-down tomorrow ;-)

1210.1.2003 15:43

Great to hear from you, 8-bit !! :) Yes indeed, "Customer Experience Improvement Program." WoW! How can I possibly refuse that one, eh? Gates is such a sweetie. He would never 'spy' on anyone, would he? If you read *any* of the MS blurbs, it is so full of bulls---, .. er, I mean, .. glowing praise and syrupy-sweet gobble-dee-gook promises, that I have NO idea of what they are talking about half the time, but you can tell it's Bull. Yes, I've been reading how MS is actively wooing (courting/sucking up) to the major record companies - surprise surprise. (not). It's good to know that someone has created a proggy that will 'rip' the damn thing out of your system if it screws up other things. Perhaps I should try to get my hands on it before I do anything 'stoopid'. Also, I *like* Win-98. I'm gonna keep it. One very telling tale, is that 98% of anywhere I go, you can't get any media 9 files unless you *have* WMP 9 installed. It would be *far* safer, to just get a few media 9 files (I can only get the *one* "Do More" demo file from the MS website), and then find a hacked codec somewhere that will enable me to view the damed thing with another player. In fact, I think one gentleman over at Doom 9's has done just that. That would assume (of course!) that the demo file is truly "free" and doesn't require a downloaded license to view it. Nope, I'm gonna sit this one out until all the horror stories are in. 'Appreciate your input, 8-bit. -- Klingy --

1311.1.2003 13:51

I downloaded Windows Media Player 9 via satellite since I've about 2GB of quota left ;-) I wasn't too impressed when I tried installing it since the firewall started saying that Windows Media Player is trying to access the internet while the installation was at "Installing DRM components". I clicked "Deny" several times and gave up by selecting "Always deny for this connectoin". It continued installing and completed ok. Someone asked if it could play MP4 AAC files, so I encoded a track on Nero and tried playing it. Windows Media Player 9 considered it untrustworthy and asked if I should proceed playing this file. The program crashed with the usualy screen asking if I wanted to send a bug report to Microsoft. (I always select "NO"). I repeated trying to play the MP4 file and it just crashed again & again, so Windows Media Player isn't totally bug free yet. I tried then playing an OGG Vorbis track. It also said that this track is an Untrustworthy codec, but it played it fine. ;-) I do have OGG directshow codecs installed, so that's probably way it plays this fine and not the MP4 track.

1411.1.2003 15:59

Thanks, seanbyrne for your detailed installation notes. First of all, I'm glad you have a firewall. After doing what you could to say 'no' to the DRM when that section of the install came up, it would be interesting to see if you are now 'allowed' to acess free 'promo' tracks from both the MS website and any others. My guess is that you *will* be able to, because I have a sneaking suspicion that Microsoft installed the Digital Rights Management components *anyway*. But that was a *very* intelligent install that you did. It's too bad (maybe) that in actual practice, the playback quality of mwa audio files still have that 'metallic', or distorted sound. (I read your other 'Nero' post). I never use wma files anyway - it's probably the only format used by the pay music sites. Only if I could convert 'em, or burn 'em to conventional CD would I be interested (maybe - depends on content and quality). What a *joke* !!! That Windows Media Player would consider any of your tracks as "Untrustworthy". What a fu---ng load of Baloney !!! There's nothing wrong with your tracks other than WMP considers them as having too little DRM. To have Microsoft tell *anyone* what constitutes 'untrustworthy' is the epitome of gall. Much *much* obliged for your important information. -- Klingy --

1513.1.2003 4:45

I run WP7.1, which is actually upgraded from 6.4. Installed the WMPcodecs8 package with it, and along with the two divx codecs I've installed, I can play virtually anything through it. After uninstalling 9 and reinstalling WPM, my problems disappeared, so whatever the issue was, it has to do with 9. Tested the same process out on a different computer to make sure it wasn't a specific problem and got the same results. I don't know what causes it, but I'm avoiding 9 for the time being. I'm not all that concerned about DRM anyway - I routinely run spider116 to get rid of those annoying, undeletable *.dat files anyway. :) You need to go through the Options menu in WMP carefully and unselect the DRM crap there. I also supect they get installed anyway, especially with the expansions I see going on with Micro$oft's advertisements/demo software on Kazaa, etc. I object to it on the entire principle,period. It's like the old Windows 98 setup where you de-selcted the Online Services option, and it installed it anyway.

1613.1.2003 5:24

Hmmm.. Vukovar, that's interesting. I don't know enough about creating audio files from within any "modern" (crippled) version of WMP. Once, a long time ago, I had a printoutout of a guide which showed - step by step - how to make .wma files *without* any DRM. (At the time, I don't even think I knew what 'DRM' meant! I only knew I didn't want to have anything to do with 'licences' and stoopid self-expiring files.) Well, by following the guide verbatim, I managed to create a cd-r's-worth of schmaltzy "elevator music" (all .wma) from a multi-cd Reader's Digest boxed-set of Muzak-like schmaltzeroo. (Why waste any *good* music on wma? I was just experimenting anyway). Well, I filled the whole disc up by using the highest bit-rate I could select. The schmaltz didn't sound *too* crummy at that rate. I think I was using whatever ver of WMP that came out right after 6.4. (7.0 maybe ?) Well, is it particularly hard to make wmas now with whatever ver. you are using? (ver. 8 I guess). I'd like to do a few tests, but need a few hints on how to make 'em. (I *totally* forget how, and I've lost the printout). Many thanks. -- Mike -- P.S. You simply *must* tell me what 'Spider 116' is, and what those undeletable .dat files are that it gets rid of! =====

1713.1.2003 16:53

for a run down on spider116 aka Spider v1.16 see the author's own help file which descibes this freeware at

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