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Windows Media Player on Windows 10

Getting Started with Windows Media Player 12

It’s safe to say that Windows Media Player 12 is one of the most popular programs on Windows 10. It plays music, it shows you videos, and can help you keep all of your media organized. You can even use it to burn copies of your files to discs to make sure that you have a backup copy of all of your favorite videos. It does everything that your television and stereo can do for you, and it’s much easier to keep a library of files organized than it is to keep an entire case full of physical DVDs and CDs neat and tidy.

It’s not too hard to get started with Windows Media Player 12. It might take a little while to get everything set up exactly the way that you like it, but it’s certainly quicker and easier than setting up an entire media center in your living room.

Getting the Program

Your computer probably came with Windows Media Player installed and ready to use. If it didn’t, or if you had to delete it, you can get it through a Windows Media Player download. Simply open your start menu, search for “windows features” and open it. This should bring up a list of features that you can toggle on and off. Find Windows Media Player in the list, turn it off, and reboot your computer. Open the list again, and toggle it back on to begin the Windows Media Player download. You can also download the program from a variety of third party websites, but setting it up from there takes a little more skill and you should use it as a last resort.

You might also want to download the DVD playback feature. Microsoft offers a set of official instructions and an FAQ about the process.

What Changed?

There have been a lot of other versions of Windows Media Player over the years. Version 12 has a lot in common with the older versions, but it adds plenty of new features that make it worth the upgrade.

There are two big features that make this version stand out from the others. It can handle a lot of file formats that the older programs couldn’t, which makes it much easier for you to play any video that you could ever want to view without having to tinker with your settings or download any support programs. It also features more support for networking and streaming. You can use the new features to stream video from your computer to your friend, or to receive videos from them. You don’t need to worry about uploading the content for your friends to download or burning a disc for them unless you want to give them a more permanent file.

There were also a few changes to the interface. Most of the changes were fairly superficial, so you should not have any trouble using the new version if you have any experience with the old ones. That having been said, there have been some changes to the Now Playing and library features. The new version separates them into two completely different lists that you can switch between whenever you like.

Customization Features

It’s fairly easy to customize the appearance of Windows Media Player 12 with new skins. The program ships with several options, but you can also find new skins to download all over the Internet. Microsoft even wrote a guide for making new skins, in case you can’t find one that you like.

Once you have downloaded or created a skin file, you need to import it to Windows Media Player. Find the file, click on it, and select “View Now” to view it in your media player. Once Windows Media Player is open, click on “View” and then “Skin Chooser” bring up a list of skins that you can apply to the program. Choose the skin that you want to use and then press the apply button to start using it.

You can also customize the some parts of the interface. The most useful option is probably the navigation window that lets you sort through all of your media files. You can change which categories show up in the navigation pane by going to Album, and then clicking on “Customize Navigation Pane.” That should bring up a checklist full of categories. Simply select the categories that you want to use and then press “OK” to save your choices. If you make a mistake, you can also reset the navigation pane to the default settings from this window.

Normal Use

Windows Media Player is versatile and customizable, but it’s also very easy to use. All that you need to do to play music or videos is open the file, and then the program will do the rest. You can also select media to play from your library, which is often easier than finding it on your desktop.

The most difficult process is burning a disc, and even that is fairly easy. Start by inserting a blank disc into your computer. This should bring up a list of options. Select Windows Media Player to open the program up to the burn list. Drag files from your library to the burn list to select them. You can open up the burn options page at this point if you want to adjust them, but the default settings will usually be fine. You can also name the disc. Once everything is ready, click on the “Start Burn” button and wait for the process to finish.

10 Tips for Windows 10 Optimization

Use a Flash Drive with Ready Boost

If your computer just doesn’t have enough memory to keep up with today’s Memory hungry applications, you might give Ready Boost a try. Simply plug in a flash drive, and in the Autoplay dialog under general options click “Speed up my system”. Then in the Properties dialog box click on the Ready Boost Tab choose how much of the flash drive to use and then click “OK”. Your system will start using the flash drive as extra memory.

Disk Cleanup to Remove Old Files

The Disk Cleanup utility removes old temporary files that are taking up space that could be used by the operating system to improve performance. If you have used your system a lot than you probably have a lot of temporary files just taking up space.

To remove these files click on the Windows button and type Disk Cleanup. Then open the Disk Cleanup application. Windows will ask you which disk to run the cleanup utility on. Select your Operating System drive (usually c:) and click “OK”. Windows will then analyze your disk drive and show you how much space can be reclaimed using the Disk Cleanup utility. Select the temporary items you want to remove and click “OK”. Windows will ask you for a confirmation and then will go to work. When the cleanup utility finishes you should have more disk space for your Operating System to use.

Disable Fancy Visualizations

Windows 10 has very fancy visualizations such as transparent window boarders and fading system messages. Your computer has to render all these visualizations. This is ok if your system is higher end, but if your computer is on the older side you might want to disable these visualizations to gain back system performance.

To disable the Windows Visualization effects and speed up your computer click on the Windows button and type “sysdm.cpl” without the quotes. Then click on the Advanced tab. Then click on the Performance Box Settings button. Finally, select “Adjust for best performance” and click ok. Alternatively, you can deselect each item manually if you want to fine tune your optimization. Windows won’t look as pretty, but it should run faster.

Windows Troubleshooter

Windows now has a built in tool to find and fix common problems. Since it’s already installed and available for use it’s worth a try. If you experiencing stability problems or noticing system errors, it could be caused by a system configuration issue or a corrupted file.

To run through the built in Windows troubleshooting software click on the Windows Key and type “find and fix” (without the quotes) and click on the “Find and fix problems” link. Then click through the category and descriptions to try and resolve any system issue you may be experiencing.

Uninstall Unneeded Software

Installed software takes up resources such as disk space. Also if the program has a service that runs a process on boot up it is taking up CPU time that could be used for other things. One or two applications aren’t too bad, but when you have 20-40 applications they add up.

To remove unneeded applications, click on the Windows button and then click on settings. Next click on System, and finally click on Apps & features. Look through the list of all the installed software and remove anything you don’t need anymore. After you are done give your system a fresh reboot to ensure your System memory gets cleared out.

Get an SSD

So one of the biggest thing I noticed about Windows 10 so far is that it can be very disk active. After upgrading a Windows 8.1 laptop to Windows 10 I discovered the disk usage was getting 100% use almost all the time. This laptop had a magnetic based platter style hard drive which are a lot slower than system memory. This caused it to have trouble keeping up with the demanding Operating System. If your system is on the older side, you are probably in the same boat and have a magnetic based platter hard drive too.

Solid State Disks (SSDs) use non-volatile flash memory to store information. Basically they are fast really big USB Flash drives. If your system disk is causing your operating system to slow down than you can definitely notice an increase in system performance.  Your system will boot way faster and will be more responsive.

To see if your system is suffering from high disk usage open Task Manager by holding down Ctrl+Alt+Delete (without the + signs) then click on Task Manager. Then click on the Performance tab. If your disk drive/s show close to 100% most of the time than you will benefit from a SSD upgrade.

Disable any Unneeded Processes on Startup

It seems like every piece of software wants to run a process on startup to you know “update”. How often do you think updates come out? All the other time the process is checking for updates, checking for updates, and who knows what else. You don’t need it running all the time especially if you are low on system resources already.

To disable processes from running on startup open the task manager by holding the keys Ctrl+Alt+Delete (without the + signs). Then select Task Manager. Click on the Startup tab. Now review the list of software and disable as needed. Hopefully this will buy you back some system resources and cause your system to become more responsive.

Disable Unneeded Services

This is a big one. Enabled services means processes running all the time and taking system resources away from the user. Not only are they running on startup, but they keep the process going even if it gets stopped from Task Manager or crashes. A lot of services are necessary for the operating system, but third party applications can setup services when they are installed. If you are not running a server of some sort than you most likely don’t need that software running all the time.

To disable services from running automatically click on the windows button and then type msconfig and hit enter. Click on the Services tab. Then I recommend checking the box to “Hide all Microsoft Services” to ensure you don’t stop a critical service that the Operating System depends on. After hiding the Microsoft services, you will get a list of services to go through. Most of these can be safely disabled. If you are in doubt leave it enabled, or disable it and see what happens. You can always re-enable the service using the same process. Once you are done click on the OK button. Windows will prompt you for a reboot. This is necessary for the changes to take effect, so go ahead and reboot. After a reboot you will get a pop up indicating that system settings were changed. Since you caused the changes you can safely ignore that message. If you were able to disable a decent amount of services, you should notice a bump in system performance.

Use a Different Browser for Internet Surfing

So far my experience with Microsoft Edge (the new built in Web browser in Windows 10) is that it’s buggy and slow. So much so that I have begun using Google Chrome for all my web browsing. It doesn’t have to be chrome, but if you are frustrated with a slow buggy internet browsing experience you might try installing a third party browser.

Upgrade versus a Fresh Install

So you took Microsoft up on the offer for a free upgrade and now your system is slow? If you have ever had any experience with Windows upgrade installations, you might have experienced a slow system or errors that popped up for seemingly no reason. I have never had great luck with Windows upgrades and if you ask any IT guy they will probably tell you to avoid them and opt for a full fresh install. Windows 10 appears to be no different to its predecessors. Using a fresh install versus an upgraded install can improve your system performance, and if you have exhausted all other options you might want to give it a try.

Is Windows 10 Spying on Me for Microsoft? Yes, Microsoft Wants your Info…

Whether you are just starting to look at Windows 10, or you have been upgraded since pre-release you might have wondered about just how much information Microsoft is stealing exploiting selling “using to make your experience better”. The truth is that Windows 10 sends a lot of your information to Microsoft. Now whether that’s a good thing or not depends on what features you find critical and how much you value privacy.

So what type of information is Microsoft obtaining? By default, Microsoft will collect your Contacts, Calendar details, keyboard use, location history and browsing history among other things. To make things worse you could disable these collections only to find out that they have been re-enabled automatically by Microsoft through an update or reboot.

So what’s the beef? Why does Microsoft care about how many times I have searched for funny cat photos on the internet? Well, Microsoft is trying to create a customized experience that is unique to you. In order to do this, they need information about you like what you your interests are and where you go on the web. This enables them to do things like post funny pictures of cats to your homepage. Also this information feeds into the new AI Virtual Assistant in Windows 10 called Cortana. Per Microsoft Cortana can give you reminders based on time, places, or people, Track packages, teams, interests, and flights, send emails and texts, manage your calendar and keep you up to date, create and manage lists, chit chat and play games, find facts, files, places, and info, and open any app on your system.

So there is a lot of value for you the user by allowing Microsoft to have this information. However, you are not only allowing Microsoft to have this information you are also paying for the bandwidth to deliver it to them. In the end each person will need to decide for themselves if the benefits are worth the non-existent reduced privacy.

“So how do I turn off these features”? you might ask… I’m glad you asked. Spybot the makers of “Spybot search and destroy” have created a new product called “Spybot Anti-Beacon” (Link below). This software will not only provide you an indicator for what settings are enabled, but it will let you disable them and keep them disabled during system reboots. Simply install the software and click on the “Immunize” button to disable the most obvious settings. Additionally, you can look at the optional tab to disable further information collection. Warning! Disabling items on the optional tab will prevent you from using the features such as Cortana as you will be preventing collection of the information they use

 

To download Spybot Anti-Beacon click on the below link.

Spybot Anti-Beacon