Home windows Media Participant Turns 30


30 years in the past, Microsoft launched the primary model of Home windows Media Participant—then simply referred to as “Media Participant”—as a part of “Home windows 3.0 with Multimedia Extensions.” Since then, it’s morphed and adjusted dramatically over time. Right here’s a take a look at its historical past.

Bringing Audio and Video to Home windows

Early variations of Home windows didn’t assist audio and video playback. Computer systems on the time usually weren’t highly effective sufficient: Audio and video knowledge took up numerous cupboard space, comparatively talking, and superior codecs that compressed high-quality audio and video had not been invented but. Additionally, in lots of instances, the early PC {hardware} itself didn’t assist high-quality audio or video playback.

Across the flip of the Nineteen Nineties, multimedia PCs with enhanced graphics playing cards and sound playing cards that might play digitized sound samples and wavetable audio grew to become extra frequent. In that ambiance, Microsoft determined to replace its Home windows 3.0 working atmosphere to assist multimedia recording and playback. The corporate launched Home windows 3.0 with Multimedia Extensions on October 20, 1991.

Windows Media Player 3.0 for Windows 3.0 with MME
ToastyTech

For the primary time, Home windows included sound and video capabilities. Home windows 3.0 with Multimedia Extnesions may play MIDI recordsdata, file and play again digitized audio, play music from CDs, play sounds on startup and error occasions, and extra. A few of these capabilities got here due to a brand new app referred to as Media Participant. At first, Media Participant may solely play .MMM animation recordsdata—generally referred to as MultiMedia Film Format (RIFF RMMP)—out of the field. Nevertheless, it might be prolonged to play different codecs, and in future variations of Home windows, Media Participant’s skills grew.

The story of Home windows Media Participant is lengthy, circuitous, and arduous to understand in its entirety. Over time, Media Participant absorbed (and branched off into) different media applied sciences at Microsoft. For instance, in 1992, Microsoft launched Video for Home windows, which allowed digital video playback within the type of AVI recordsdata on Home windows for the primary time. In 1996, Microsoft launched ActivePlayer (later referred to as “DirectShow”) for taking part in media recordsdata and NetShow Participant for streaming video. Ultimately, all these applied sciences—and plenty of extra—would get rolled into the Home windows Media Participant model.

Windows Media Player in Windows XP
Microsoft

As Home windows Media Participant grew in complexity, it added assist for visualizations, skinning, CD playback and ripping, DRM-protected audio and video (that might be offered via the Web), and media library administration assist. Through the years, Home windows Media Participant has appeared on many variations of Home windows, the Mac, Home windows CE and PocketPC gadgets, and even on Solar’s Solaris working system.

RELATED: Home windows 3.0 Is 30 Years Previous: This is What Made It Particular

A Few Notable Moments in Home windows Media Participant Historical past

Decoding the whole historical past of Home windows Media Participant is like navigating a maze filled with conflicting and complicated model numbers, deserted Microsoft applied sciences, and the gradual aggregation of software program bloat over time. It’s even arduous to precisely pinpoint when “Media Participant” grew to become “Home windows Media Participant” — maybe round model 5.0. Listed here are only a handful of notable occasions within the Media Participant timeline.

  • 1990 (October 20): Media Participant debuts as a part of Home windows 3.0 with Multimedia Extensions. It’s initially restricted to taking part in animation recordsdata.
  • 1992 (November): Because of Video for Home windows (an Apple QuickTime competitor), Media Participant can play AVI video recordsdata for the primary time. It could additionally play MIDI recordsdata.
  • 1996: Microsoft Releases NetShow Participant, which steams video from the Web. It competes with RealPlayer and can later change into a part of Home windows Media Participant.
  • 1996 (Could): Microsoft releases ActiveMovie, which permits viewing or listening to media streams and new audio/video codecs. The know-how would finally be folded into Home windows Media Participant.
  • 1998 (October): Microsoft releases Home windows Media Participant 6.0, which removes MP3 assist (launched in model 5) and proves unpopular at first.
  • 2000 (July 17): Microsoft releases Home windows Media Participant 7, which helps skins, visualizations, burning songs to CD, and extra.
  • 2004 (September 16): Microsoft launches the MSN Music retailer, which sells DRM-protected music in WMA format, playable in Home windows Media Participant.
  • 2006: Microsoft releases Zune desktop software program, which is a modified model of Home windows Media Participant. It’s used to sync songs with Microsoft’s Zune music gamers.
  • 2021 (October 5): Home windows Media Participant v12 (a legacy model) ships with Home windows 11.

The Loopy Skins

Launched in 2000, Home windows Media Participant 7 supported altering the participant’s interface for the primary time—just like WinAmp, which preceded it. To take action, you could possibly obtain recordsdata generally known as “skins” that might dramatically alter the look and structure of Home windows Media Participant’s controls.

A variety of Windows Media Player skins.

Skins quickly grew to become a method for individuals to additional personalize their Home windows expertise, and folks steadily used skins that featured their favourite media properties, actors, fashions, and musical teams. There have been additionally wild futuristic or alien-like skins that appeared extra trendy than sensible, however individuals liked them anyway.

RELATED: What Occurred to Winamp, and Can You Use It Now?

Home windows Media Participant Lives On

The multimedia playback panorama is considerably complicated in Home windows 11 right this moment. The OS ships with Groove Music, an audio participant and library just like iTunes that traces its origins again to Zune Music in 2006. Home windows 11 additionally consists of the Motion pictures & TV app, which permits leases and purchases of streaming video content material, itself descended from the Xbox Video service.

Windows Media Player in Windows 11

Home windows Media Participant hasn’t been considerably up to date since 2012, nevertheless it lives on in Home windows 11. There are rumors that Microsoft is making ready a significant replace or substitute for the applying primarily based on an unintended leak of a brand new app referred to as merely “Media Participant.” Till we all know extra particulars, the standard Home windows Media Participant remains to be with us. Joyful Birthday, Home windows Media Participant!

RELATED: Microsoft Simply Leaked Home windows 11’s New Media Participant



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