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Health warning for Windows Media Player upgraders

Don't install dodgy software originating from... er, us, says MS

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Microsoft has warned that traces of the 'illegal' copy of Windows Media Player 8 could botch the authorised upgrade from Media Player 7 to 7.1. The contraband, beta Version 8 is deemed 'illegal' - it's the one that's only supposed to be bundled with Windows XP/2002, and that isn't out yet.

Enterprising users disentangled the beta from the rest of the XP distribution, however, and the result was widely circulated until hardware sites received legal notices like this one from Redmond.

In a posting to a MSDN developer list, Microsoft's Sean Alexander warns that "installing this illegal collection of files on their PCs puts their PC at risk - in terms of stability, viruses, and other potential dangers. Microsoft recommends that customers never install software that they don't know the origin of."

So don't play with matches, children, and don't talk to (or download software from) strangers. It's an odd choice of phrase, as the 'origin' of this software is stamped all over the binaries. It's the same software thousands of XP beta testers are using.

Curiously, many WMP8 outlaws have reported no problems at all. In fact, they tell us that WMP8 cures problems that Media Player fans have been suffering with the much criticised version 7.0 introduced with Windows Me:

"We have found though that installing WMP8 has fixed a lot of broken installs of WMP7 (caused by various things, such as delivering too many licenses or accidentally deleting the wrong files in the DRM folder). Installing WMP7.1 over the top of these didn't fix it," writes one correspondent.

He then points out that he'd have been happy to wait for a standalone WMP8, if such an option was likely. "If MS had made it available instead of making it XP-exclusive then everything would have been OK - people would have waited for the official version," he notes.

"There isn't really anything special new in WMP8. What customers would have preferred would have been proper digital CD playback and proper digital CD ripping, instead of the busted solution we've had to put up with since the release of WMP7." ®

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