Feeds

Is Microsoft's WMP8 merely viral marketing?

Writs add to reverse-bundle's allure

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

The next step in data security

We're beginning to wonder if Microsoft's strategy for its Windows Media Player 8 beta is a canny piece of viral marketing, and no more.

What's certain is that in making a standalone Media Player contraband, Microsoft has gained far more publicity for WMP8 than it would have if it had pursued its usual beta download strategy. WMP8 now has the thrilling allure of being 'illegal' software... Wind0ws M3di4 P14y0r is k3w1 w4r3z!

Our cynicism is prompted by a couple of facts. Despite overnight reports that Microsoft had issued writs on Monday against sites hosting the standalone beta, most of the download sites seem to be hosting the software as before. And secondly, a clutch of reports from Reg readers report no more than trivial problems getting the "XP-only" player to work with existing versions of Windows.

"Any version of Media Player above 6.4 can download and use t[WMP8] codecs, and hence can be used to view content designed for wmp7 or 8. This can prove useful, as when you want to quickly view media files, 6.4 loads much quicker than either 7 or 8." notes one correspondent.

"The main point is that the wmp8 technologies - the encoders and decoders, and such, *do* work under previous OSes, and even under previous versions of wmp," he concludes.

Reports that the standalone beta breaks file associations (particularly for wave files) are common, but this is not too surprising - the tug of war that WMP, and Real Player engage in for ownership of these is one of the more annoying features of using a PC. (Interestingly, WMP7 for the Mac is impeccably well behaved in this respect).

So let's recap the sequence of events. First Microsoft lets slip that "certain features" of WMP8 will only be available with XP. It doesn't actually say it's tying WMP8 to XP, but it gets construed as tying, and anti-Microsoft lobby group ProComp steams in, describing it as a replay of the browser wars. Canny developers then extract the beta player and it becomes the hot download of the week. There's a report of legal threats that have yet to materialise.

Result: a publicity windfall, and not many dead.

It's one of these shaggy stories that's we're beginning to think never actually happened at all. Pinch us, somebody. ®

Related Stories

Standalone Windows Media Player 8 hits the web
ProComp fires duds in MS Media Player broadside

Security for virtualized datacentres

More from The Register

next story
New 'Cosmos' browser surfs the net by TXT alone
No data plan? No WiFi? No worries ... except sluggish download speed
'Windows 9' LEAK: Microsoft's playing catchup with Linux
Multiple desktops and live tiles in restored Start button star in new vids
iOS 8 release: WebGL now runs everywhere. Hurrah for 3D graphics!
HTML 5's pretty neat ... when your browser supports it
Mathematica hits the Web
Wolfram embraces the cloud, promies private cloud cut of its number-cruncher
Mozilla shutters Labs, tells nobody it's been dead for five months
Staffer's blog reveals all as projects languish on GitHub
SUSE Linux owner Attachmate gobbled by Micro Focus for $2.3bn
Merger will lead to mainframe and COBOL powerhouse
iOS 8 Healthkit gets a bug SO Apple KILLS it. That's real healthcare!
Not fit for purpose on day of launch, says Cupertino
Not appy with your Chromebook? Well now it can run Android apps
Google offers beta of tricky OS-inside-OS tech
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.