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Although there are many other media players that can be used, Microsoft Windows users have one already bundled with their operating system: Windows Media Player (WMP). The current version – and it has been for a while – is version 12 or as it’s better known, Windows Media Player 12. This version was released in 2009 and hasn’t been updated yet.

Just like any other media player, WMP can play music and video. It also allows users to organize their digital media collection, sync their digital media files to a portable device and even buy digital media content online.

WMP has its own file formats, including Windows Media Video (WMV), Windows Media Audio (WMA) and Advanced Systems Format (ASF). The player also has its own playlist format, which is based on XML, called Windows Playlist (WPL). Despite having its own formats, WMP has built-in support for popular formats for video and audio.

Apart from listening to music and watching videos, WMP also allows users to rip audio CDs as WMA, WAV or MP3 files. CD information such as artist name, album name and track listings can be included when the CD is inserted – all the information will be taken from the Windows Media online database.

Windows Media Player Files on Mac OS

While WMP looks like a strictly Windows-only media player, users of other operating systems like Mac can play file formats from WMP by getting Windows Media Components for QuickTime. How can this be done? Through Flip4Mac which allows Windows Media Files to be played in QuickTime applications. Not only that, it also allows the viewing of Windows Media Content on the web using a browser.

Windows Media Player on Firefox

Users of the Firefox browser can download and install a WMP Firefox plugin so they can play Windows Media files. Supported platforms include Windows XP SP2, Windows Vista and Windows 7.

Windows Media Player and OS Versions

WMP 12 is compatible with Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 8.1 and Windows 10. Here are the details:

  • WMP is included with Windows 7 Starter, Home Premium, Professional, Ultimate and Enterprise Editions.
  • WMP is bundled with Windows 8.1 and Windows 8.1 Pro but it doesn’t feature DVD Playback – you have to buy the Windows DVD Player app from the Microsoft Store. If you’re a Windows 8.1 N and KN user, you will have to get the Media Feature Pack to activate the DVD Playback feature.
  • WMP is included in a clean install of Windows 10. Those who have upgraded to Windows 10 from Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 will also get WMP. Just like before, DVD Playback isn’t included and you would have to add this feature yourself.

Users of Windows RT 8.1 and Windows RT don’t have WMP installed. Users of Windows Phone have their own version of the player called Windows Media Player Mobile and it comes with the phone.

WMP was designed with media lovers in mind and although it hasn’t been updated since 2009, it’s a good enough media player for those who don’t want to download and install anything else.