William Stanek: Fun with Windows Media Player 12 and Windows 7

William here. Have you tried Windows Media Player 12 yet? If you haven’t, I think you should!

WMP 12 is the version that ships with Windows 7. Besides a cool new look, shown in the figure below, what I love most about this player is that is plays all of my favorite media formats. Finally—and I do mean all of my favorites.


That means not only does it play WMV, WMA, MP3, AVI, and MOV, but it also plays 3GP, AAC, AVCHD, MPEG-4, DivX, and Xvid files. IMHO, support for Advanced Audio Coding (AAC) and MPEG-4 (MP4) is a HUGE improvement. Why?

Although MP3 is the audio format most everyone recognizes, AAC actually is nearly as widely used because AAC is/was the default format for the Apple iPod. AAC is one of several audio coding formats defined by the International Standards Organization (ISO) for MPEG. AAC was first specified as MPEG-2 AAC, and then enhanced and extended within MPEG-4. Apple’s popular iTunes music service uses the AAC format.

AAC uses a perceptual coding technique to compress digital audio files. AAC is similar to MP3, but offers a number of advantages designed to improve audio quality, including higher-efficiency compression, better handling of audio frequencies above 16 kHz, and support for higher resolution audio at up to 96 kHz. The improved efficiency of AAC files makes it a better choice than MP3.

Note: Essentially, AAC is MPEG-4, but to be fully and technically accurate I must state that AAC is at the core of MPEG-4 and is the codec of choice for Internet and digital audio encoded to comply with MPEG-4. (AAC is also at the core of 3GPP and 3GPP2.)

In addition to the enhanced media support, I also like the new look for Now Playing, shown in the figure below. This new less-is-more approach allows you to quickly see what’s playing, navigate and control the current album or playlist and return to the library if you want to. You also can keep Now Playing on top of other windows if you want to.


If you’re using Windows Media Player 12, I hope you’ll post a comment or send me an email telling me about your favorite feature.

Thanks for reading! Tune in next time, when I talk about importing music and other media.

William R. Stanek

williamstanek at aol dot com


Comments (8)
  1. Sean Kearney says:

    Playing DVD movies out of the box was a nice bonus in Windows 7 Ultimate.  Found that out in the airport trying to watch "Star Trek The Animated Series" and finding out it just "worked" without downloading additional software!



  2. IL says:

    William, thank you. It would be fun to hear from you about DLNA features of WMP12 in-depth.

  3. Pascal De Wilde says:

    Hi William

    When I play a 3gpp file , I see the video, but wihtout the audio.

    What should I do?

    Best regards

  4. Ridwan Salim says:

    Hi William, what is the replacement for "advanced tag editor" found in previous version of WMA? Thanks.

  5. Sean,

    Yes, great and it works perfectly!


    Generally, the reason Windows Media Player can’t play a file or can’t play either the audio or video within the file, is because the required codec isn’t installed on your computer. You’ll need to ensure the codec used to compress the file is installed on your computer, keeping in mind that some codecs aren’t supported.


    I’m going to talk about this exactly in an upcoming post. Basically, you need to edit the media information and that’s what I’m going to talk about.

  6. Hi IL,

    Thanks! I definitely will talk about DLNA in depth.

  7. what is the best book to purchase for wmp12?  i’m about to go out of my mind trying to use wmp and the win media cent.   thanks, charlie

  8. Dirk says:

    WMP 12 is pretty nice.  Except for where it totally sucks at playing m4a files containing ALAC (lossless) music.  The added AAC is ok for people that care about file size but some people do not care in an age of 2TB+ hard drives.

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