Which Media Player should I use?

Dennis Faas's picture

Infopackets Reader Charles M. writes:

" Dear Dennis,

I have Windows Media Player installed on my system, which is okay for the majority of media files I play. A few of my friends have tried Rhapsody, Real Player, Dell MusicMatch, and such, and have urged me to use these players on my own system.

If I decided to use one player versus another, don't I have to uninstall the others? If I don't, and put the others on hold in the recycle bin, will it impede my listening on my Windows Media Player? How do I uninstall these players, if that is what I need to do? I purchased this system (a Dell Dimension 3000 with XP) about 6 months ago, and am still in the dark on a lot of things. "

My response:

There are a few things to clear up with respect to your question.

First and foremost: it's important to understand that many of the media players on the market today compete with each other. They do this by silently re-associating your media file types once the player has been installed on your system (unless otherwise specified, but it's not always up-front and as simple as that).

So, for example: if you use Windows Media Player to play .AVI video files and then decided to install Real Player so that you could play .RM [Real Media] video files, Real Player will attempt to re-associate the majority of *all* your media files, including .RM, .AVI, and many others. Real Player is notorious for associating itself with darn near everything once its installed on your system, and past versions have proven to be extremely difficult to customize so that it *only* opens .RM files and nothing more.

Secondly: you can't just throw program icons [shortcuts] into the Recycle Bin in hopes of temporarily removing it from your system. It doesn't work that way. Either a program is uninstalled, or it isn't. And that brings me to my next point: uninstalling a media player arbitrarily will also cause your system to re-assign media type file associations that were once occupied, and you may even lose certain associations. Using the above example: Uninstalling Real Player may revert your .AVI files [which once opened up with Real Player] back to Windows Media, and you may no longer be able to play .RM media files since Real Player no longer exists.

Your best bet, in my opinion, is to stick with 1 media player for the majority of your media files. Windows Media Player plays just about everything, but for certain file types, such as .RM (Real Media) or .MOV (Apple Quicktime), you won't be able to use Windows Media Player and you will need to -- very carefully -- install Real Player and Quick Time and have them *only* play their respective file types. Again, this isn't always easy and you will have to pay close attention to each installation and choose "custom install" if applicable so that your media types aren't re-assigned.

I hope that clears things up for you.

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