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Managing Digital Media

Published: November 03, 2005

Microsoft Windows XP Professional provides applications and tools that corporate managers and network administrators can use to create, use, and manage digital media content. You can configure workstations to take advantage of digital media functionality. Audio, video, and other digital media content can be combined into live and streaming presentations that can be broadcast over your corporate intranet and on the Web.

For information on how to obtain the Windows XP Professional Resource Kit in its entirety, please see http://www.microsoft.com/mspress/books/6795.asp.

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Related Information
Overview
Optimizing Workstations for Digital Media
Using Digital Media
Troubleshooting Digital Media
Additional Resources

Related Information

  • For more information about digital video cameras, see Chapter 9, “Managing Devices.”

  • For more information about deploying custom configurations by using Group Policy and local policy, see Chapter 5, “Managing Desktops.”

Overview

Windows XP Professional includes components and applications designed to provide a rich digital-media experience, including DirectX, DVD technologies, and Windows Media Technologies. Each of these is described in detail in the following sections.

DirectX 9.0

The DirectX version 9.0 application programming interface (API) includes a group of technologies that make Microsoft Windows–based computers ideal for running applications that are rich in full-color video, three-dimensional (3-D) graphics, interactive music, and multichannel sound. DirectX gives software quick and transparent access to a broad range of peripherals such as graphics cards, audio devices, and input devices.

DirectX provides a hardware abstraction layer (HAL) between digital media software and computer hardware, which makes it easier to develop device-independent applications. Digital media applications created with DirectX can run on any Windows-based computer, regardless of hardware, enabling these applications to take full advantage of high-performance hardware capabilities.

DirectX tools simplify the creation and playback of digital media content, and they make it easier to integrate a wide range of digital media elements such as video and audio.

Tip The version of DirectX that was included in the original RTM version of Windows XP was DirectX 8.1. To take advantage of the new features and enhancements of DirectX 9.0 or later, download the latest version of DirectX from the Microsoft Download Center at
http://www.microsoft.com/downloads or visit the Windows Update Web site at http://windowsupdate.microsoft.com.

Table 10-1 describes the DirectX 9.0 technologies.

Table 10-1 DirectX 9.0 Technologies

DirectX 9.0 Technology

Description

DirectX Graphics

Combines DirectDraw and Direct3D APIs into one component. It manipulates display modes, displays directly from memory, provides hardware overlay support and flipping surface support, and enables a drawing interface for 3-D video display hardware.

DirectX Audio

Combines DirectSound and DirectMusic APIs into one component. It captures, mixes, and plays multiple audio signals; manages hardware voices; enables 3-D audio in applications; and creates interactive, variable music soundtracks. DirectSound is not a feature of Microsoft Windows XP Professional x64 Edition.

DirectPlay

A media-independent networking API that connects multiuser applications over the Internet, a modem link, or an intranet.

DirectShow

A media-streaming API that enables digital media streams to be captured and played back by Microsoft Windows Media™ Player. The streams can contain compressed video and audio data in a wide variety of formats.

As part of DirectShow, Microsoft TV Technologies includes support for the Broadcast Driver Architecture, which defines a framework that supports various devices for receiving digital and analog television. Microsoft TV Technologies is not a feature of Windows XP Professional x64 Edition.

Also a part of DirectShow, DirectX Video Acceleration is an API and a corresponding device driver interface that allows hardware acceleration of digital video decoding.

DirectShow in DirectX 9.0 also includes Video Mixing Renderer Filter 9
(VMR-9), Encoder API, DVD Graph Builder, and Profile Enumerator.

DirectInput

Enables support for input devices, such as joysticks, and for input/output devices, such as force-feedback controllers.

The following features and tools provide additional graphics capabilities, diagnostics, and information about using DirectX.

Open Graphics Library 1.1

Windows XP Professional supports the Open Graphics Library (OpenGL) 1.1 specification. OpenGL is an API that provides high-performance 3-D graphics capabilities for applications and allows them to be independent of any operating system. The Microsoft implementation of OpenGL in Windows XP Professional provides software with which programmers can create high-quality still and animated three-dimensional color images, and it supports applications running on Windows XP Professional that are developed using OpenGL, such as some computer-aided design/computer-aided manufacturing (CAD/CAM) graphics applications.

DirectX Diagnostic Tool

Windows XP Professional includes the DirectX Diagnostic Tool for diagnosing problems with DirectX drivers and digital media hardware. You can use this tool to obtain detailed information, such as the configuration of any device or driver using DirectX, as well as to test these devices specifically. For more information about using the DirectX Diagnostic Tool, see “Common Problems with Playing Digital Media” later in this chapter.

DirectX Software Development Kit

The Microsoft DirectX Software Development Kit (SDK) includes code samples, diagnostic tools, and sample applications. You can order the SDK on CD-ROM or download it. For more information, see the DirectX link on the Web Resources page at http://www.microsoft.com/windows/reskits/webresources.

DVD Formats and Devices

DVD (digital video disc) is an optical disc storage medium that can hold high quantities of video, high-quality audio, and application data in a single format. DVD devices can read multiple digital data streams concurrently for playback of digital media, including full-length motion pictures.

Full-motion video is stored on DVD in the Moving Pictures Experts Group (MPEG)-2 format. Most DVD implementations include a software decoder with MPEG hardware acceleration provided by the video adapter.

To be DVD-ready, a computer system must include a video card with a minimum of 4 megabytes (MB) video RAM (VRAM) (16 MB recommended) capable of displaying at least 800 x 600 pixels at 16 bits per pixel (BPP).

DVDs provide the following benefits:

  • DVD discs and devices provide cost-effective storage for large data files.

  • Devices that read and write DVDs provide a wide range of recording options.

  • DVD discs played on a computer running Windows XP Professional yield even better video quality than discs played on standard DVD video players connected to a television because computer monitors can achieve greater image quality.

DVD Formats

DVD uses both physical and application formats. Physical formats for DVD media are the following:

  • DVD-ROM DVD read-only-memory.

  • DVD-R and DVD+R DVD-recordable formats support one-time recording.

  • DVD-RAM Supports many-time recording.

  • DVD-RW and DVD+RW Rewritable disc formats that are not compatible with DVDRAM.

Application formats for DVD include DVD-Video, which defines how video programs are stored on disc and how they are played; and DVD-Audio, which provides a separate DVD-Audio zone for audio content on the disc.

DVD Architecture

DVD architecture includes hardware and software components. The components of each system vary depending on whether DVD decoding is accomplished with a hardware decoder or with a software decoder. Software decoders are often bundled with multimedia PCs and vendors often include software decoders with DVD drives and video cards. Windows XP Professional supports both software and hardware decoders.

In addition, DVD architecture includes hardware and software components that operate at three different levels. The application level provides components that interact with and are produced by applications and other software. The kernel level provides drivers and file system formats such as the Windows Driver Model (WDM) streaming-class driver and the Universal Disk Format (UDF) file system. The hardware level includes DVD drives, sound cards, and video cards.

Figure 10-1 illustrates Windows XP Professional software DVD decoding architecture.

Figure 10-1 Windows XP Professional software DVD decoding architecture

Figure 10-1 Windows XP Professional software DVD decoding architecture

Figure 10-2 illustrates the Windows XP Professional hardware DVD decoding architecture.

Figure 10-2 Windows XP Professional hardware DVD decoding architecture

Figure 10-2 Windows XP Professional hardware DVD decoding architecture
Application level

A DVD decoder is third-party software or a third-party device that is required for decoding DVD video, audio, and subpicture data. The other application-level components read the DVD data and pass it along to the decoder. The application level for DVD video display includes the components listed in Table 10-2 and discussed in detail in the following sections.

Table 10-2 Application-Level DVD Decoder Components

Component

Software

Hardware

DVD Navigator

X

X

MPEG-2

X

X

AC-3 audio

X

X

Subpicture

X

X

Third-party software DVD decoder

X

 

Audio decoder

X

 

Video mixing renderer (VMR)

X

X

Audio renderer

X

 

KS proxy

 

X

Video Port Manager (VPM)

 

X

DVD Navigator

DVD Navigator reads the disc and produces audio and video streams that are sent to a decoder. The decoder output is then sent to audio and video renderers. DirectShow provides support for DVD Navigator, WDM proxy filters for hardware decoders, video mixer/renderers, and audio renderers.

The data streams necessary to play a full-length DVD movie include not only the MPEG video portion (possibly with closed captioning), but also digital audio, which can have Dolby surround sound. For the same video segment, a DVD can provide multiple languages, soundtracks, subtitle tracks, camera angles, and rating levels. DVD Navigator uses DirectShow to track these various data streams and pass them to the proper codec (coder/decoder hardware that can convert audio or video signals between analog and digital forms). For more information about DirectShow, see “DirectX 9.0” earlier in this chapter.

Note The term codec can stand for coder/decoder, which is hardware that converts audio or video signals between analog and digital forms, and it can stand for compressor/decompressor, which is hardware or software that compresses and uncompresses audio or video data. The specific definition of the term is provided when it is used in context throughout this chapter.

MPEG-2

Moving Pictures Experts Group (MPEG)-2 is a standard for video compression that saves space by removing redundant information (such as areas of the picture that do not change) and by removing information that is not readily perceptible to the human eye.

AC-3 audio

AC-3 is a type of audio stream developed by Dolby Labs. It allows up to six separate audio channels: left and right front, left and right rear, center, and a subwoofer channel.

Subpicture

DVDs contain a data stream called a subpicture. The subpicture stream delivers the subtitles and any other add-on data—such as system help, director’s comments, and menus—which can be displayed while playing digital media.

Third-party software DVD decoder

The software decoder processes the video and subpicture data, and passes it along to the video mixing renderer (VMR).

Audio decoder

The audio decoder processes audio data into a form usable by an audio renderer.

Video mixing renderer

A video mixing renderer (VMR) is the default renderer (display mechanism) for Windows XP Professional. It supports blending video input streams with transparency information. It allows third-party implementation of custom video effects.

Audio renderer

The audio renderer has a DirectShow component that sends audio data to an audio driver.

KS proxy

The Kernel Stream (KS) proxy is a DirectShow filter that sends data to the kernel mode drivers. It sends video data to a Video Port Manager (VPM), and it sends MPEG-2,
AC-3, and subpicture data to a WDM streaming-class driver.

Video Port Manager (VPM)

A Video Port Manager (VPM) is a DirectShow filter that enables the VMR to work seamlessly on systems where video data is transferred directly from a video capture device or hardware decoder to the graphics chip without going over the system bus. The direct hardware connection is called a video port.

Kernel level

The kernel level for DVD video display includes the components listed in Table 10-3 and discussed in detail in the following sections.

Table 10-3 Kernel-Level DVD Decoder Components

Component

Software

Hardware

DVD-ROM driver

X

X

UDF file system

X

X

Copyright protection

X

X

WDM audio

X

X

DirectDraw

X

X

WDM streaming-class driver

 

X

DirectX Graphics HAL with VPE

 

X

DVD-ROM driver

Windows XP Professional provides a DVD-ROM driver, which supports the DVD-ROM industry-defined command set known as the MMC-3 specification.

UDF file system

The file system on many DVDs is UDF, which is a standard defined by the Optical Storage Technology Association (OSTA). UDF is compliant with the International Standards Organization (ISO) 13346 specification and is intended to succeed the CD-ROM File System (CDFS).

Windows XP Professional supports writing to DVD-RAM discs by using the FAT32 and FAT16 file formats. Windows XP Professional does not support writing in UDF file format, but it does support reading UDF version 2.0 files, as well as all previous versions of UDF. For more information about UDF, see Chapter 13, “Working with File Systems.”

Copyright protection

DVDs are both copy protected and distribution protected. Encrypting the content on the disc provides copyright protection. Distribution protection is achieved by restricting playback of discs to specified geographical regions. The DVD publisher determines the region in which a disc can be played; Windows XP Professional responds to the region encoding.

The DVD Forum has set up eight worldwide regions and assigned them a region code, as shown in Table 10-4.

Table 10-4 DVD Region Codes

Code

Country/Region

1

Canada, USA, United States Territories

2

Japan, Europe, South Africa, Middle East (including Egypt)

3

Southeast Asia, East Asia (including Hong Kong SAR)

4

Australia, New Zealand, Pacific Islands, Central America, Mexico, South America, Caribbean

5

Former Soviet Union, Indian Subcontinent, North Korea, Mongolia, Africa

6

China

7

(Reserved, currently unused)

8

Special international venues (including in-flight airlines, cruise ships, and so on)

In Device Manager, on the DVD drive Properties page, the user can set the DVD region code a limited number of times. For more information, see Windows XP Professional Help and Support Center.

WDM audio

Windows Driver Model (WDM) audio receives audio data from the audio renderer. It also routes and mixes an unlimited number of audio streams, and handles software wavetable synthesis and software emulation of older hardware.

DirectDraw

DirectDraw is a DirectX Graphics component that provides a drawing interface for video display hardware.

WDM streaming-class driver

The WDM driver supports streaming data types, and it supports MPEG-2 and AC-3 hardware decoders. It optimizes interconnection of devices that encode data (such as video capture devices) and devices that decode data (such as DVD hardware decoders that decode MPEG-2 streams for playing DVD movies). It also handles common operating-system tasks such as direct memory access (DMA) and Plug and Play.

DirectX Graphics HAL with VPE

The DirectX Graphics hardware abstraction layer (HAL) with Video Port Extensions (VPE) helps with data transfer. Decoded video files can become large enough to cause problems with data transfer. An encoded MPEG-2 stream travels at a rate of 5 to 10 megabits per second (Mbps). After the stream is decoded, it can easily exceed 100 Mbps. Processing this amount of information in a continuous stream can overwhelm the PCI bus. To avoid this, most of the decoding can be handled at the hardware level by using dedicated MPEG-decoder cards.

Support for these decoder cards is built into DirectX, by means of DirectX Graphics support for VPEs. The VPEs allow the MPEG stream to be written directly to the memory of the video card from the MPEG decoder card by means of a dedicated cable. DirectX Graphics tracks the display and synchronization of the data while allowing the data stream to move directly through the hardware layer. For more information about DirectX Graphics, see “DirectX 9.0” earlier in this chapter.

Hardware level

The hardware level for DVD video display includes the components listed in Table 10-5 and discussed in detail in the following sections.

Table 10-5 Hardware-Level DVD Decoder Components

Component

Software

Hardware

DVD decoders

X

X

Sound card

X

X

Video card

 

X

Video card with DirectX VA

X

 

MPEG-2, subpicture, AC-3 audio decoding hardware

 

X

DVD decoders

DVD-Video requires a DVD drive and a decoder. A software decoder for DVD is third-party software that must be purchased and installed before the DVD player can play MPEG-2 encoded video. If your system does not come with a decoder already installed by the manufacturer, you must obtain a decoder to play a DVD movie.

Note If you have installed a DVD decoder and then you upgrade your computer from Microsoft Windows 98 or Microsoft Windows Millennium Edition to Windows XP Professional, your decoder will no longer function. You might be able to upgrade your current decoder; otherwise, you will need to install a new DVD decoder. If Windows XP Professional does not automatically guide you through upgrading your decoder, check with your decoder manufacturer for an updated decoder.

Sound card

The sound card produces the sound that is played through the speakers or headphones.

MPEG-2, subpicture, and AC-3 Audio decoding hardware

You can purchase this hardware decoder from a third-party vendor.

Video card

The video card produces the video on the display.

Video card with DirectX VA

The video card produces the video on the display. DirectX Video Acceleration (VA) is an API and corresponding Device Driver Interface (DDI) for hardware acceleration of the processing of digital video decoding.

For more information about DVD drives and decoders supported by Windows XP Professional, see “If you do not have a DVD decoder” in the Windows XP Professional Help and Support Center.

Windows Media Technologies

The following are Windows Media technologies:

  • Windows Media Player A client for media playback

  • Windows Movie Maker A tool to create, edit, and share your movies using your computer

  • Microsoft Producer A tool to capture and synchronize audio, video, slides, and images to create rich-media presentations using Microsoft PowerPoint

  • Windows Media Services A server for distributing digital content

  • Windows Media DRM A platform to protect and securely deliver content for playback on a computer, portable device, or network device

  • Authoring Utilities A set of tools and utilities for content creators authoring Windows Media Audio and Video 9 Series content

  • SDKs For both the client and server, enabling third parties to create commercial products that are compatible with Windows Media

Media content is stored in Windows Media file formats, and it is compressed and decompressed by built-in Windows Media–based codecs. You can encrypt Windows Media files by using Windows Media Digital Rights Management (DRM) to secure them against unauthorized distribution.

Windows Media Player

Using Windows Media Player, you can play both downloaded and streaming digital media content in various file formats, including:

  • Advanced streaming format (.asf)

  • Windows Media audio file (.wma)

  • Windows Media video file (.wmv)

  • MP3

  • Audio-video interleaved (.avi)

  • Waveform-audio (.wav)

Windows Media Player includes a number of features in a single application: CD player, DVD player, audio and video player, media jukebox, media guide, Internet radio, portable-device music-file transfer, and an audio CD recorder.

Windows Media Player can run the streaming and nonstreaming file types shown in Table 10-6.

Table 10-6 File Formats Supported by Windows Media Player

File Type

File Name Extensions

Windows Media audio and video formats

.asf, .asx, .wma, .wmv, .wax, .wmd, .wmp, .wvx, .wmx, .wm

Windows Media Player skins

.wmz, .wms

MPEG

.mpg, .mpeg, .m1v, .mp2, .mpa, .mpe, mp2v, .mpv2*

CD Audio

.cda

Intel Indeo video technology

.ivf

MIDI

.mid, .midi, .rmi

Apple QuickTime 1 & 2, Macintosh AIFF Resource

.qt, .aif, .aifc, .aiff, .mov

UNIX formats

.au, .snd

MP3

.mp3, .m3u

DVD video

.vob

Windows audio and video files

.avi, .wav

Other formats

.avi, .wav

* To play mp2v files, you must have a software or hardware DVD decoder installed on your computer.

Windows Media Player works with the server to negotiate the most efficient allocation of bandwidth and deliver high-quality streaming media. The higher the bandwidth of your Internet connection, the better the quality of the streaming digital media. The best results are achieved by using a high-speed connection such as a T1 connection, a cable modem, or a digital subscriber line (DSL).

The version of Windows Media Player included with the original release-to-market (RTM) version of Windows XP was Windows Media Player 8. To download the current version Windows Media Player 10, visit the Microsoft Download Center at http://www.microsoft.com/downloads or use the Windows Update Web site at http://windowsupdate.microsoft.com. For more information about Windows Media Player 10 for Windows XP, see http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windowsmedia/player/10/default.aspx.

Note Windows XP Professional x64 Edition does not support Windows Media Player.

Windows Movie Maker

Windows Movie Maker is a standard feature of Windows XP Professional. Using Windows Movie Maker, you can transfer a video into Windows Media Format on your PC by using base-level video or audio capture features. You can also create simple arrangements, do simple editing of video and audio, and then distribute the results by using e-mail—or over the Internet for downloaded or streaming play.

A primary feature of Windows Movie Maker is automatic shot-boundary detection. When you record or import video into Windows Movie Maker, the application detects when a shot changes and produces a thumbnail image of the shot. This defines your video as a collection of clips, which provides a random-access visual index to the video and allows the video to be easily edited.

Windows Movie Maker is designed for the home user, but business users can use this technology to create videos for training and sales presentations. In addition, corporate customers can enhance their presentations by using the stand-alone application Microsoft Producer, which is described in the following section.

For more information about Windows Movie Maker and to download the latest version of this tool, see http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/using/moviemaker/default.mspx.

Note Windows XP Professional x64 Edition does not support Windows Movie Maker.

Microsoft Producer

Microsoft Producer is a stand-alone application that uses Windows Media technologies. It allows business professionals to create, lay out, edit, and publish rich-media presentations that synchronize audio and video with slides, and translate into HTML and other data types. You can record a new Windows Media file by using a DirectShow-supported capture device or by importing existing audio/video files. You can create and synchronize presentation elements by using different wizards or by working directly on the timeline, which allows you to see the order and timing of the various media used throughout the presentation. Once you have completed the presentation, you can use the Publishing Wizard to make the final presentation available from a corporate intranet site, the Web, a shared network location, or a CD.

For more information about Microsoft Producer, see http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windowsmedia/technologies/producer.mspx.

Other Windows Media Tools and Features

Microsoft also provides a number of additional Windows Media tools and features to help you create and publish content in Windows Media Format. These tools include the following:

  • Windows Media Software Development Kit (SDK) A family of components that enable product vendors, content developers, and systems administrators to make their applications and Internet sites secure and compatible with Windows Media. You can download the Windows Media SDK from http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windowsmedia/forpros/platform/sdk.aspx.

  • Windows Media Format A high-quality, secure format for film, television, computer, and CD-sourced digital media content. You can find out more about the Windows Media Format at http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windowsmedia/forpros/format/default.mspx.

  • Windows Media Digital Rights Management (DRM) An end-to-end digital rights management system that offers content providers and retailers a flexible platform for secure distribution of digital media content. Windows Media DRM can be installed and run on Microsoft Windows 2000 Server and Windows Server™ 2003. You can find out more about Windows Media DRM and download the latest version from http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windowsmedia/forpros/drm/default.mspx.

  • Windows Media Encoder A production tool for converting both live and prerecorded audio, video, and computer screen images to Windows Media Format. Windows Media Encoder can be used to encode a stored or live stream of data by converting the data to Windows Media Format, using a file or a capture card as the source. You can also add scripts manually to the converted data while encoding from a live source. You can download Windows Media Encoder from http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windowsmedia/forpros/encoder/default.mspx.

  • Windows Media™ Services A set of services that facilitates the distribution of audio, video, and other media to client computers by providing file-access permissions. Windows Media Services can be installed as an optional component in Windows 2000 Server and Windows Server 2003, and the latest version can be downloaded from
    http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windowsmedia/forpros/server/server.aspx.

  • Authoring Utilities These are tools and utilities for content creators authoring Windows Media Audio and Video 9 Series content. You can download these tools from http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windowsmedia/forpros/encoder/utilities.aspx.

    Note Windows XP Professional x64 Edition does not support Windows Media Services.

For more information about Windows Media technologies, services, and products, see Windows Media Home on Microsoft’s Web site at http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windowsmedia/default.aspx.

Accelerated Graphics Port

An Accelerated Graphics Port (AGP) is a dedicated high-speed port that delivers video and graphics data over PCI buses. AGP technology allows large blocks of 3-D graphic data to be moved between the computer’s graphics controller and its system memory by providing higher bandwidth, reduced device contention, and the ability to render graphics directly from system memory.

AGP has the following advantages over PCI video adapters:

  • AGP peak bandwidth is up to four times higher than PCI bandwidth.

  • AGP has higher sustained rates because of sideband addressing and split transactions.

  • AGP is a dedicated bus, which reduces conflicts with other devices.

  • AGP allows the CPU to write directly to shared system memory, which is much faster than writing to local video memory.

  • AGP can read 3-D graphic data from shared system memory while reading and writing other data from local video memory, thereby enabling faster rendering of high-resolution 3-D scenes.

To use an AGP video adapter, a computer must have an AGP graphics controller and a Pentium II LX–compatible or higher processor.

Optimizing Workstations for Digital Media

In Windows XP Professional, both users and network administrators can configure workstations to optimize for digital media and customize personal preferences such as audio playback levels. Network administrators can use Group Policy and local policies to configure custom desktop settings and profiles across the network. For example, your company or group can configure individualized custom sound configurations for employees and customers with special needs or alternate language requirements.

For information about setting custom desktop settings and profiles by using Group Policy, see Chapter 5, “Managing Desktops.”

You can assign sounds to system and program events, such as Windows XP Professional startup or when a user logs off. You can save different combinations of event and sound pairings as custom sound schemes. You can also specify default devices to use for playing and recording sound.

Configuring Sound Events and Sound Schemes

To assign a particular sound to a specific system or program event, you must configure the event and sound pairing and save it as a custom sound scheme. You can configure sound events and sound schemes in Control Panel. Click Sounds, Speech, and Audio Devices, and then click Sounds and Audio Devices.

For information about recording sounds to use for sound events or in your custom sound schemes, see “Using Digital Media” later in this chapter. For more information about configuring digital-media hardware devices and options, see “Configuring Digital Media Devices” later in this chapter.

Configuring Preferred Playback and Recording Devices

If a workstation has multiple audio playback and recording devices, you can specify the preferred devices to use when playing or recording sound. You can also specify the default playback or recording volume for that device. Preferred playback and recording devices are specified using Sounds and Audio Devices in Control Panel or from the Tools menu in Windows Media Player.

To configure analog or digital audio CD playback
  1. In Windows Media Player, click Tools, and then click Options.

  2. On the Devices tab, double-click the CD device you want to use for audio CD playback and recording.

  3. Under Playback and Copy, select Digital or Analog.

You can specify a default playback or recording level by setting volume controls for a device that you want to use for playing MIDI music.

To configure a preferred MIDI music playback device
  1. In Control Panel, click Sounds, Speech, and Audio Devices, and then click Sounds and Audio Devices.

  2. On the Audio tab, under MIDI Music Playback, click the preferred device for playing MIDI music.

  3. To specify the default playback or recording level for the selected device, click Volume, and then set the volume controls.

  4. To display information about the selected device, click About.

For more information about using MIDI devices, see “Playing Digital Media” later in this chapter.

Configuring Audio Performance Options

Windows XP Professional lets you optimize audio playback and recording performance by specifying the default hardware acceleration and sample-rate conversion quality. The default hardware acceleration setting for Windows XP Professional is “Full,” which enables all acceleration features. The default sampling-rate conversion quality is “Good,” which provides reasonable quality with fast performance.

You can configure audio performance options in Control Panel. Click Sounds, Speech, and Audio Devices, and then click Sounds and Audio Devices.

Configuring CD and DVD Playback Options

In Windows XP Professional, you can select a default application for playing CDs and DVDs. You can use a third-party DVD player application provided with your DVD device, or you can select Windows Media Player as your default CD or DVD player application.

To select Windows Media Player as your default CD or DVD player application
  1. In Windows Media Player, click Tools, and then click Options.

  2. On the File Types tab, select the file types for which Windows Media Player should be the default player.

    Note If you install a third-party CD or DVD player after you set Windows Media Player as your default application, the third-party player might register itself as the default. If this happens, you must set the default player to Windows Media Player again if you want it to be your default CD or DVD player.

You can also select actions for Windows to perform when you insert a CD or DVD that contains different media file types. These actions include automatically playing a file or opening the folder to view the available music files or, for pictures, viewing a slideshow of the images or printing the pictures. You can also choose to have Windows XP Professional automatically perform the action, display a prompt to choose an action, or take no action at all when that file type is encountered. The action is taken whenever the specific file type is encountered in the data from the CD or DVD drive. These AutoPlay settings are available for pictures, music files, video, and mixed content.

To select AutoPlay actions for different content types
  1. In Windows Explorer, right-click the CD or DVD drive, and then click Properties.

  2. On the AutoPlay tab, in the drop-down list box, select the content type you want to configure.

  3. In the Actions area, select the Select an action to perform button, and then select an action from the list.

  4. Click Apply.

  5. Repeat steps 2 through 4 for each content type, and click OK to close the dialog box.

Configuring Animations, Sounds, and Videos in Internet Explorer

By default, Microsoft Internet Explorer plays animations, sounds, and videos from intranet and Internet sites. However, you can disable any of these to ensure that pages load faster or to create a quiet work environment.

To configure animations, sounds, and videos in Internet Explorer
  1. On the Start menu, right-click the Internet Explorer icon, and then click Internet Properties.

  2. On the Advanced tab, in the Settings dialog box, under Multimedia, select or clear the Play animations in web pages, Play sounds in web pages, or Play videos in web pages check boxes.

Configuring Digital Media Devices

In Windows XP Professional, you can configure digital media devices—such as the Accelerated Graphics Port (AGP), DVD devices, and digital video cameras—like any other supported device. Windows XP Professional also supports a wide range of Human Interface Devices (HIDs) and other peripherals connected through the Universal Serial Bus (USB) or an IEEE 1394 port. For more information about installing and configuring such devices, see Chapter 9, “Managing Devices.”

Configuring a drive to record CDs

When you are writing files to CD, it is recommended that you optimize your computer’s disk space for optimal recording speed. To do this, configure your workstation to use another local drive or partition for the temporary storage area that Windows uses to preprocess files before they are written to a CD. You need to have another local drive available, or you need to have created a partition on your hard drive. For more information about creating partitions on your hard drive, see Chapter 12, “Organizing Disks.”

To select a different drive or partition on which to store temporary files for CD recording
  1. In My Computer, right-click the CD recording drive, and then click Properties.

  2. On the Recording tab, in the drop-down box, select a drive with at least 700 MB of free disk space to store temporary files.

  3. Click Apply, and then click OK.

Managing digital media devices

You can view a list of installed digital media devices, determine driver versions, perform diagnostics, see what codecs are installed, and more in Control Panel, under Sounds and Audio Devices, on the Hardware tab. The Devices list shows the audio, video, and digital media devices installed on the workstation. When you click a device in the Devices list, information about that device (such as the manufacturer and operational status) is displayed under Device Properties. You can also use the System Information component of Windows XP Professional Help and Support Center to view information about the digital media devices and codecs installed on your system.

To view information about installed digital media devices in Help and Support Center
  1. In Help and Support Center, click Use Tools to view your computer information and diagnose problems, and then click Advanced System Information.

  2. Click View detailed system information.

    A System Summary list of hardware resources, components, software, and applications displays.

Using Digital Media

Windows XP Professional offers many possibilities for playing, creating, and distributing digital media content and for using it more effectively.

For more information about configuring audio, video, and digital media devices, and workstation defaults (such as audio playback level), see “Optimizing Workstations for Digital Media” earlier in this chapter.

Playing Digital Media

Windows XP Professional supports a wide range of playback devices and digital media sources, technologies, and file types. For example, you can play audio from a CD, a MIDI device, or a radio station that is broadcasting over the Web. You can play video or other digital media on DVD, or watch a streaming broadcast over the Web by using Windows Media Player.

For more information about specifying preferred devices for playing audio and video, see “Configuring Sounds and Video” earlier in this chapter.

Playing CDs

You can play audio CDs on a CD drive or a DVD drive, but a standard CD drive cannot read DVD discs. When you insert an audio CD into a CD drive, Windows XP Professional starts Windows Media Player.

For more information about using Windows Media Player and playing audio CDs, see “Windows Media Player” earlier in this chapter or Windows Media Player Help.

To provide the best possible performance from CD drives, Windows XP Professional includes the 32-bit CD File System (CDFS), which quickly and efficiently reads files on CD. Windows XP Professional supports the UDF file system on DVD. It also reads and writes FAT32 files on DVD, but the UDF file system is more widely used. For more information about file systems on DVD, see “DVD Formats and Devices” earlier in this chapter.

When you are playing audio CDs in Microsoft Windows XP, it is important to be aware of the two options for CD playback—digital and analog. With digital playback enabled, the CD drive transmits audio data digitally over the bus and requires a compatible drive. Analog playback uses a cable connected between the CD drive and a sound card in the computer. Digital playback often provides better sound quality than analog, but it results in additional performance overhead.

For more information about configuring analog or digital audio CD playback, see “Configuring Sounds and Video” earlier in this chapter.

Playing Audio from MIDI Devices

Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI) is a serial interface standard that allows for the interconnection of music synthesizers, musical instruments, and computers. Windows XP Professional follows the General MIDI Specification to determine which instruments and sounds to use. This specification is an industry standard that defines a common orchestra or set of instruments that musicians and developers can use and expect consistent results from.

Musicians use MIDI as a music development tool. Virtually all sophisticated electronic music equipment supports MIDI, and MIDI offers a convenient way to precisely control the sounds produced by the equipment. You can also use MIDI for listening to music files created using the MIDI standard. You can download standard MIDI files from the Web and play them using Windows Media Player.

Unlike CDs and digital audio files, MIDI files do not capture and store actual sounds. Instead, a MIDI file is a list of events that describe the specific steps that a sound card or other playback device must take to generate certain sounds. Events are described in terms of the value, volume, and duration of a note, the instrument used to play the note, and so on. This allows MIDI files to be much smaller than digital audio files. You can also edit the events, edit and rearrange the music, and compose interactively.

When you play a MIDI file, three different locations create and produce the sound in different ways. When you select your preferred MIDI music playback device, you are also selecting the location of the sound production. Following is a short description of each option.

MIDI devices supported by Windows XP Professional include those discussed in the following sections.

Software synthesizer

Microsoft GS Wavetable SW Synth, a MIDI software synthesizer, is provided as a feature of Windows XP Professional but can be replaced by a third-party software synthesizer. The software synthesizer displays in the list of MIDI music playback devices as “SW Synth” or “Software Synth.” The software synthesizer reproduces instrument sounds by using your computer’s memory, instead of the sound card’s synthesizer. MIDI software synthesis might produce a higher-quality sound with a wider range of instruments than a sound card can process. It also provides a larger variety of sets of sounds, such as downloadable sounds. The MIDI data is converted to audio, which is played on speakers or headphones plugged into the sound card. Because your computer’s memory is doing all the processing and sending music, rather than MIDI instructions, to the sound card, your computer’s performance might be slower than when you are using a MIDI device.

Internal sound card

If you select the computer’s sound card as your default MIDI playback device, the sound card’s hardware synthesizer creates and plays the music. The device listing is usually “FM Synth,” “FM Synthesizer,” or “Wave Table Synth.” The quality of the audio depends on the quality of the sound card and the library of sounds provided with it. The sound quality might not be as good as with a software synthesizer, but the computer’s performance is not significantly affected by using the hardware synthesizer because the sound card is re-creating the instrument sounds. The music is then played on speakers or headphones plugged into the sound card.

External MIDI devices

If you want to play a MIDI file on an external MIDI device such as a keyboard, you must select the correct external device from the list of MIDI music playback devices. The device listing is either MPU-401, External MIDI, or MIDI OUT, which are types of MIDI ports on the computer to which the external MIDI device is attached. The MIDI data is sent to the external device, which processes it and plays the audio through speakers or headphones connected to that device. For more information about configuring a MIDI playback device, see “Configuring Sounds and Video” earlier in this chapter.

For more information about MIDI devices and the MIDI standard, see the MIDI Manufacturers Association link on the Web Resources page at http://www.microsoft.com/windows/reskits/webresources.

For more information about playing digital media files using Windows Media Player, see Windows Media Player Help.

Creating Digital Media

You can use a wide range of input devices—such as digital video cameras—for creating audio, video, and digital media, and you can design content for a wide range of output formats (CD, DVD, and Web).

Different authoring and editing tools make it much easier to design and create digital media content. Some of the options for common authoring and editing tasks are discussed in the following sections.

Recording, Mixing, and Editing Audio

By using Windows Sound Recorder in Windows XP Professional, you can record audio from a variety of input devices, and then save audio files in a variety of formats. To use Sound Recorder, you must have an audio input device, such as a microphone or a CD-ROM player, attached to the computer.

Once you have recorded an audio file, in Sound Recorder on the Effects menu you can add effects (such as echo), increase or decrease the speed and volume, and insert or mix other audio files. You can save audio files in standard CD quality, radio quality, or telephone quality formats. You can also choose a custom format to maximize file compression and use a specific audio format that uses available audio codecs to change the sound quality. For more information about using Sound Recorder to record, mix, and edit audio, see Windows Sound Recorder Help.

To select an audio format
  1. On the Accessories menu, point to Entertainment, and then click Sound Recorder.

  2. On the File menu, click Properties.

  3. In the Choose from box, click Recording formats, and then click the Convert Now button.

  4. In the Format box, select a format, and then in the Attributes box, select an attribute (such as the sampling frequency or number of channels) that is available for the selected format.

Recording CDs

If you have a CD recording drive installed in your computer, you can record, or write, to a CD by using Windows Explorer in Windows XP Professional. You can write both data and audio files to a CD-R or CD-RW disc.

To create a data CD, use Windows Explorer to copy files and folders to the CD recording drive. Windows XP Professional writes the files to a temporary staging area, where they are held before they are copied to the CD. After you have copied all the files you want to put on the CD, you can record the files to the CD. In Windows Explorer, highlight the CD recording drive. On the File menu, click Write these files to CD. The CD Writing Wizard appears and takes you through the steps to finalize writing your files to the CD.

Note When you write to a CD, you need 1.3 gigabytes (GB) of disk space for writing a full 650 MB of data, less if you are not recording a full CD. This amount of space is necessary for the temporary staging area.

You can also write to an audio CD by using Windows Media Player. When you use Windows Media Player to write an audio CD, the file type is changed to .cda, and the audio CD can be played in any CD player. For more information about creating your own CDs in Windows Media Player, see Windows Media Player Help.

If you are using a CD-RW disc, you can delete files on the disc and append new files to a disc that already contains files.

You cannot duplicate a CD in Windows XP Professional without additional software.

Note Windows XP Professional x64 Edition does not support writing to CDs.

For more information about writing to CDs, see Windows XP Professional Help and Support Center.

Creating Streaming Content for the Internet

Windows Media Technologies in Windows XP Professional provides a straightforward way to combine audio, video, graphics, animation, and other elements into multimedia presentations that you can broadcast live or on demand over a network.

Using Windows Media technologies you can create, deliver, and play streaming media files in the advanced streaming format, which includes files with .asf, .wma, and .wmv file extensions. This format solves the problem of long download times by starting playback while the data is still being sent. Windows Media files send the first part of the audio or video data first and collect it in a buffer. While that data is being played, the rest of the data continues to flow in time to be played. This ensures that playback is not interrupted by network congestion. The buffer can be manually increased for best performance by clicking the Tools menu in Windows Media Player, clicking Options, selecting the Performance tab, and changing the buffer size under Network buffering.

You can stream both live and on-demand (stored) content. You can stream on-demand content from a Windows 2000–based or Windows Server 2003–based server with Windows Media Services installed, which provides both standard unicast streaming (delivering individual streams of live or on-demand content to multiple clients) and bandwidth-conserving multicast streaming (sending a single stream of real-time content to an unlimited number of users).

Creating digital media content using Intelligent Streaming and Windows Media Encoder

Intelligent Streaming is a set of features in Windows Media technologies. It automatically detects network conditions and adjusts the properties of a video stream to maximize quality. This is important for low-bandwidth modem connections where the connection speed can vary widely depending on network congestion. Intelligent Streaming allows users to receive digital media content tailored to their connection speed to maintain a continuous presentation. To accomplish this, the Windows Media stream is encoded at multiple bit rates. In other words, up to 10 discrete video streams are encoded, from the same content, into a single Windows Media stream, each at a different transmission bit rate. The server and the client then automatically determine the current available bandwidth, and the server selects and serves the video stream at the appropriate bit rate.

Windows Media Encoder can encode stored content for on-demand playback. In addition, it lets you encode live audio and video feeds and then add them to dynamic mixtures of other media. Media Encoder synchronizes and compresses these media components into a single file, augments the file with error-correction information, and delivers it to the server running Windows Media Services, which then transmits it over the network.

Windows Media technologies codecs

Windows Media technologies codecs play an important role in transferring data over limited-bandwidth connections. Because codecs compress large volumes of raw data, data is transmitted using less bandwidth and is then decompressed when it reaches its destination.

Content providers who want to send audio or video face a problem with file size. Uncompressed broadcast-quality video requires 160 Mbps of network bandwidth. Uncompressed CD-quality audio requires approximately 2.8 Mbps. Many Internet users connect at speeds of only 28.8 kilobits per second (Kbps), a speed that is at least 1000 times slower than audio and video require.

A codec (compressor/decompressor) is a software module that compresses and decompresses audio and video files so that smaller files can be transmitted. Codecs are typically optimized for compressing either audio or video, and there are many compression algorithms available for each type of media. When an audio or video file is compressed, it loses some of the original data that is not apparent to the viewer or listener, and the smaller file can be transmitted more quickly. Content providers struggle to balance the trade-off between delivering high-quality content without data compression, which results in slower data transmission; and achieving high data-compression rates, which lowers the content quality.

Unlike many other codecs, Windows Media technologies codecs are optimized to deliver both high-quality content and high data-compression rates. This means that the user hears crisp, CD-quality sound and sees clear, smooth video—even over slow Internet connections.

Content developers use codecs to compress or encode audio and video for real-time or local playback over the Internet and corporate intranets. Users do not need to know anything about codecs to play digital media content using Windows Media Player; they just click a link to the content, and it plays. Windows Media Player has an Automatic Updates feature that checks for updates to licensed codecs on a schedule determined by the user. The Automatic Updates feature can be customized in Windows Media Player on the Tools menu, by clicking Options, selecting the Player tab, and changing the options under Automatic Updates.

Creating Dynamic Web Pages

You do not need special digital-media authoring software to create digital media presentations for broadcast over a network. You can use Dynamic HTML (DHTML) and HTML+TIME to add interactive digital media to your Web pages. For example, you can create slide-show-style or digital media presentations with synchronized text, images, audio, video, and streaming media. These presentations can be timed, interactive, or both. HTML+TIME version 2.0 provides features such as animation and enhanced timing and synchronization functionality over the previous versions, and it is available with Microsoft Internet Explorer version 5.5 and later.

Using HTML+TIME

You can incrementally enhance your Web pages by adding HTML+TIME elements or by adding HTML+TIME attributes to existing HTML elements. Using HTML+TIME elements, you can add media playback, animation, visual transitions and effects, and conditional rendering of content based on characteristics such as language, captioning, and connection speed to your Web page. Among other things, HTML+TIME attributes let you specify when an element appears on a page, how long it remains displayed, how many times it repeats, whether or not it is synchronized with other media or HTML elements on the page, and how the surrounding elements are affected.

The implementation of HTML+TIME builds on DirectX and Windows Media technologies features. HTML+TIME changes properties of HTML elements or media over time. For every HTML element associated with a timeline, HTML+TIME provides scriptable properties and Document Object Model (DOM) methods.

For more information about using HTML+TIME to create dynamic Web pages that incorporate digital media, see http://msdn.microsoft.com/library/default.asp?url=/library/en-us/dntime/html/htmltime.asp.

Note Although some HTML+TIME features are available with Microsoft Internet Explorer version 5.0, because of the new and significantly enhanced features in HTML+TIME 2.0, use of Internet Explorer 5.5 or later is strongly encouraged.

Broadcasting Digital Media Presentations over Your Intranet

With Windows Media Tools, you can create digital media presentations and place them on your server running Windows Media Services for broadcast over a network. You can also broadcast live events or digital media in the same way. Windows Media Tools also allow you to configure and allocate resources on your server to optimize the use of bandwidth.

You can use Windows Media Encoder to encode digitized audio and video data in Windows Media Format. After the encoded data is created, you can either save it as a file or stream it. The Windows Media file is then either hosted on a server running Windows Media Services (for streaming over your network) or hosted on a Web server (for downloading). In either case, the user plays the broadcast on a computer running Windows Media Player.

To host a Windows Media stream file for streamed delivery, place the file on a server running Windows Media Services and create a link to the file.

Optimizing digital media broadcasts

Intelligent Streaming detects available bandwidth and makes full use of it to optimize multimedia playback, ensuring that users will receive the highest-quality multimedia possible by adjusting for connection speed or network problems. Windows Media Services, running on the server, and Windows Media Player, running on the client, communicate with each other before and during file transmission to establish the optimum network throughput and automatically adjust the stream to changes in bandwidth while maximizing quality.

For more information about Intelligent Streaming, see “Creating Streaming Content for the Internet” earlier in this chapter.

Windows Media Player and Windows Media Services work together to maintain the quality of data transmissions through multi-datarate encoding, intelligent transmission processing, and a video playback enhancement filter.

Multi-datarate encoding

Multi-datarate encoding ensures that, when a user clicks a link, Windows Media Player and Windows Media Services automatically determine the optimum data rate and quality based on the speed of the connection.

Intelligent transmission

Windows Media Player and Windows Media Services respond to network congestion by intelligently degrading quality to preserve continuous playback. First, the server decreases the video frame rate to maintain audio quality and keep buffering to a minimum. If conditions worsen, the server stops sending video frames completely but maintains audio quality.

Video playback enhancement filter

Windows Media Player improves overall video quality, especially at low bandwidths, by using intelligent filtering to smooth pixelation and remove ghosting, the dim secondary images that appear as a result of signal problems in transmission.

Managing digital media data transmission

Windows Media Services provides a set of services that work together to optimize digital media data transmission from the server to the client computer. The server is configured using Windows Media Administrator, and network bandwidth can be controlled using Internet Information Services (IIS).

Configuring servers for broadcasting digital media presentations

Windows Media Services components, which run on Windows 2000 Server or Windows Server 2003, are a set of services that can unicast and multicast audio, video, and other media to client computers. Windows Media Encoder compresses the audio and video feed in real time and passes it to the server running Windows Media Services for delivery to client computers, where it is played as live content. On-demand digital media files must be stored on a server and passed to the network by the server running Windows Media Services.

Server-side software includes the Windows Media Administrator—which is a set of administrative tools for managing, configuring, and monitoring Windows Media Services—and Windows Media Rights Manager, an optional component that is a digital-rights tool for reducing content piracy.

Windows Media Services can deliver live broadcasts or streaming stored multimedia content at rates as low as 3 Kbps (audio only) or as high as 6 Mbps (audio and video), and it can scale to meet the heaviest demands. A single server can scale to support thousands of simultaneous user connections, letting you host large Internet broadcasts.

Windows Media Services provides high bandwidth availability, which allows delivery of full-motion, full-screen MPEG video with guaranteed performance across high-bandwidth networks.

Controlling bandwidth use and enabling process throttling

You can control the network bandwidth used by Internet Information Services (IIS) on a particular server either at the computer level or at the Web-site level. With IIS, you can enable process throttling, which is a method for limiting the processing time used by out-of-process applications so that no one application can dominate processing time on a server. Process throttling is useful if you host multiple sites on one server and you are concerned that out-of-process applications on one site will use all the CPU capacity, thereby preventing other sites from using the CPU. To enable process throttling, use IIS to set the percentage of CPU time that a site or application is limited to, and to enforce the action that is taken when a limit is exceeded. Actions include logging the error, idling the application, or halting the application. For more information about using IIS, see the Microsoft Internet Information Services 5.0 Resource Guide of the Microsoft Windows 2000 Server Resource Kit.

Note Before you decide to use process throttling, use System Monitor to examine the %Processor Time counter in the Processor object and the specific instance counters for Maximum CGI Requests and Total CGI Requests in the Web Service object. It is also recommended that you enable process accounting and examine the DLLHOST object counters to determine the number of out-of-process Web Application Manager (WAM) and Internet Server Application Programming Interface (ISAPI) requests.

Troubleshooting Digital Media

Windows XP Professional Help and Support Center includes intuitive, step-by-step troubleshooters to help you diagnose problems with audio, video, or digital media. To find these troubleshooting tools, open Windows XP Professional Help and Support Center, click Fixing a problem, and then click Games, sound and video problems. The troubleshooters include:

  • Games and Multimedia Troubleshooter

  • Troubleshooting DirectX

  • Microsoft Display Troubleshooter

  • DVD Troubleshooter

  • Sound Troubleshooter

A Hardware Troubleshooter is available in Windows XP Professional Help and Support Center under Hardware and system device problems.

In Windows XP Professional, you can troubleshoot digital media devices by using the following procedure.

To troubleshoot specific digital media devices

  1. In Control Panel, click Sounds, Speech, and Audio Devices, and then click Sounds and Audio Devices.

  2. On the Hardware tab, under Devices, select the device that you want to troubleshoot.

  3. Click Properties to determine the properties of the device, such as the driver version in use.

    – or –

    Click Troubleshoot to troubleshoot the device.

Common Problems with Playing Digital Media

Several common problems can occur in playing media files. One common symptom is a low volume (or no sound at all) when you play media files. An improperly installed sound card or improperly connected speakers can be the cause of this problem.

You can check to see whether the volume in Volume Control is muted or set too low.

To check volume
  1. In the Windows XP Professional notification area, right-click the Volume Control icon.

  2. Click Open Volume Controls to verify whether the Mute all check box is clear.

    – or –

    Use the slider for Volume Control to adjust the volume.

    Note If the Volume Control icon is not in the notification area, in Programs, point to Accessories, point to Entertainment, and then click Volume Control.

You can check to see whether your sound card is properly configured and whether the sound card settings conflict with settings for other hardware.

To check sound card configuration
  1. On the Start menu, right-click My Computer, and select Manage.

  2. Under System Tools, select Device Manager.

  3. In the list of devices, locate your sound card. Right-click the device name, select Properties, and then click the General tab.

    The Device status dialog box shows whether there is a problem with the device. If there is a problem with the device, the icon for the device displays with either a yellow exclamation mark or a red “X” over it.

    Note If you can play WAV files, the sound card is probably properly installed.

If headphones connect directly to a sound card, verify that the headphones are plugged into the “line out” or “audio out” jacks and not to the “line in” or “mic in” jacks.

If the headphones are connected correctly and you still cannot hear audio, verify that the sound card is correctly installed by reviewing its properties.

Note If you have Digital CD Playback enabled for a CD-drive, audio output from the headphone jack on the CD drive is disabled.

To check speaker connection
  1. On the computer’s sound card, look at the jacks that connect the speakers or headphones. Make sure the speakers or headphones are plugged into the “line out” or “speaker out” jacks.

  2. Check to see that the speakers are properly connected to a power source and turned on, and that the speaker volume knob is turned up, if there is one.

Windows Media Player Help also contains a number of troubleshooting scenarios that can assist you in diagnosing and solving problems with playing digital media.

Windows XP Professional includes the DirectX Diagnostic Tool to diagnose problems with DirectX drivers and digital media hardware. You can use the tool to obtain detailed system and driver information, such as the system configuration of anything using DirectX, as well as to test specific devices. The More Help tab provides access to troubleshooters for DirectX and Sound, and to the Microsoft System Information Tool. You can report results to Microsoft Product Support Services to speed up diagnosing and resolving problems. You can also use the DirectX Diagnostic Tool to change system configuration. To open the DirectX Diagnostic Tool, in the Run dialog box, type dxdiag.

For more information about using the DirectX Diagnostic Tool, see the DirectX Diagnostic Tool Help.

Troubleshooting Playback of WAV Files

If a digital media application is unable to play waveform-audio (.wav) files, start by reviewing the troubleshooting guidelines in “Common Problems with Playing Digital Media” earlier in this chapter.

If you are running Sound Recorder but waveform-audio files do not play, make sure that the waveform-audio driver or audio codec is installed.

To see if a waveform-audio driver or audio codec is installed
  1. In Control Panel, click Sounds, Speech, and Audio Devices, and then click Sounds and Audio Devices.

  2. Click on the Hardware tab, and then examine the Devices list to make sure an audio driver or audio codec is in the list of devices and drivers.

  3. If you have a driver installed that is not working or you want to upgrade your driver, go to the Windows Update site to find out if there are newer drivers available. For more information about Windows Update, see Chapter 9, “Managing Devices.”

  4. Check with the manufacturer of the sound card to ensure you have the proper drivers.

  5. If you cannot find the correct audio codec or driver for the sound card in the list or on Windows Update, download an updated driver from the manufacturer’s Web site.

Troubleshooting MIDI Files

If a digital media application cannot play MIDI files, start by reviewing the troubleshooting guidelines in “Common Problems with Playing Digital Media” earlier in this chapter.

If MIDI files do not play, the cause of the problem might be that a MIDI driver is not installed.

To see if a MIDI driver is installed
  1. In Control Panel, click Sounds, Speech, and Audio Devices, and then click Sounds and Audio Devices.

  2. On the Hardware tab, in the list of devices, select your MIDI device, and then click Properties.

  3. Click the Driver tab to view details about the driver or to update, roll back, or uninstall the driver.

  4. If no driver is installed, read the manufacturer’s instructions to install a driver for the device.

A MIDI file plays on the default MIDI output device unless you select a different one. For information about configuring and selecting a preferred MIDI output device, see “Configuring Sounds and Video” earlier in this chapter.

If the MIDI file is still inaudible, MIDI music playback might be configured to use the wrong device. You can check whether the correct MIDI output device is selected and correctly connected.

To see if the MIDI output device is correctly connected
  1. Check to see that the correct MIDI output device is selected, by checking the Default Device in the MIDI Music Playback dialog box, as described in “Configuring Sounds and Video.”

  2. If you have selected the sound card or the software synthesizer as your output device, make sure the headphones or speakers are connected to the sound card.

  3. If you have selected an external MIDI device as your output device, check the following:

    • Make sure that the external MIDI device is connected to your computer using the port labeled External MIDI, MIDI OUT, or MPU-401.

    • Make sure there are speakers or headphones connected to the external MIDI device.

    • Check to see that those speakers or headphones are turned on and that the volume is turned up.

Troubleshooting DVD

Because DVD technology uses several hardware components, the first step in troubleshooting DVD is to determine which component is not functioning correctly.

  • Make sure that Device Manager shows the DVD drive as functioning correctly.

  • Make sure that Windows XP Professional can read the data on the DVD by using Windows Explorer to see the contents of the DVD. For a video DVD, there should be at least the following two folders: Video_TS and Audio_TS.

  • If you are using a hardware decoder with your DVD drive, use Device Manager to verify that the decoder is working properly. To verify that Windows XP Professional supports your hardware decoder, check the Windows Catalog at http://www.microsoft.com/windows/catalog.

  • If you are using a software decoder with your DVD drive, try reinstalling the software.

For additional help with troubleshooting problems playing DVDs, in Windows XP Professional Help and Support Center, click Fixing a problem, click Games, sound and video problems, and then click the DVD troubleshooter.

Troubleshooting an Audio CD

If you cannot play an audio CD, start by reviewing the troubleshooting guidelines in “Common Problems with Playing Digital Media” earlier in this chapter.

If an audio CD does not play, the cause of the problem might be that the CD drive is not properly installed.

To verify whether a CD drive is properly installed
  1. Place a data CD in the CD drive.

  2. Make sure that you can view the files in Windows Explorer or list the files at the command prompt. If you can view the files, the CD drive is properly installed.

  3. If you cannot view the files, use Device Manager to verify that your disk drivers are properly installed.

  4. Check to see whether the disk is dirty.

  5. Check whether any new software has been installed that might be causing a conflict.

Windows XP Professional can use digital playback of a CD audio for digital devices such as USB speakers. This feature works with CD devices that support Digital Audio Extraction (DAE), but compatibility problems might exist with older drives. When this option is enabled, you do not need to connect your CD drive to your sound card by using the analog audio cable. If you enable digital CD audio and encounter playback problems, such as audio skipping or cutting in or out, your CD drive might not be compatible with DAE.

To verify whether digital CD audio is enabled
  1. In Control Panel, click Sounds, Speech, and Audio Devices, and then click Sounds and Audio Devices.

  2. On the Hardware tab, under Devices, select the CD device, and then click Properties.

  3. On the Properties tab, under Digital CD Playback, verify whether the Enable digital CD audio for this CD-ROM device check box is selected.

    Note Selecting the Enable digital CD audio for this CD-ROM device check box disables audio output from the headphone jack on the CD drive.

If the CD is playing and there is no sound coming from the speakers, check to see whether the CD drive is connected to the sound card. If the Enable digital CD audio for this CD-ROM device check box is not selected, you must connect the CD drive to the sound card, and you can hear sound from speakers or headphones plugged into the headphone jack on the face of the CD drive.

To see if the CD drive is connected to the sound card
  1. Plug the speakers or headphones into the audio jack on the face of the CD drive.

  2. If you can hear sound, check the internal or external audio connection between the CD drive and the sound card.

Troubleshooting CD Recording

One of the first things to do in troubleshooting a problem with CD recording is to check how your CD-R or CD-RW drive is configured. The Properties page for the CD drive contains information about troubleshooting and fixing problems. To view the Properties page for your CD drive, right-click the CD drive in Windows Explorer and select Properties. The settings on the Recording tab show you how your CD writer is configured. On this tab, you can change settings to fix problems and optimize CD writing. If the Recording tab is not present, the drive is not capable of recording CDs. You can use the following settings on the Recording tab to help you troubleshoot problems with CD recording:

  • You can see the drive where temporary files are stored when you record a CD, and you can change the location of the temporary image file used to write the CD if you have additional drives available. The location of the temporary image file defaults to the root of the drive, but you can change it by using the drive Properties. This can be helpful when there is not enough room on the default drive to hold both the temporary files (which cannot be moved) and the temporary image file.

  • You can see the recording speed and change it, if necessary, for troubleshooting or for higher-quality recordings, in some instances. The default setting is Fastest.

  • You can select the option to automatically eject media after recording, which is the default. If you don’t want the CD to be automatically ejected after the CD writing process, clear the Automatically eject the CD after writing check box.

If you have trouble recording a CD, you might be able to pinpoint the problem by checking whether any of the following suggestions apply to your situation. These are some general things to look at that might affect the CD-write process:

  • Make sure that your CD drive is a recording CD drive (CD-R or CD-RW).

  • Check whether the drive that will be used for the temporary staging area (typically your hard drive) has sufficient free space. It is recommended that you have 1.3 GB of free space to successfully write to CD.

If you are trying to write to CD but the Write these files to CD option does not appear on the CD Writing Tasks list in Windows Explorer, try one of the following methods to verify that the correct media is placed in the CD drive.

  • Make sure that the CD is a CD-R or CD-RW disc.

  • Make sure that the CD recording speed is equal to or less than the drive recording speed. Many CD drives are designed to copy files to CD at 4X speed, but some are designed to copy files at up to 10X speed. Higher-speed CD drives can write at lower speeds to lower-speed discs. The higher-speed CD discs cannot be used in a lower-speed CD drive. For more information about setting the recording speed, see the information previously mentioned about setting recording speeds on the Recording tab.

In Windows Explorer, on the CD Writing Tasks list, if the only option is Erase files on CD-RW, you cannot write to the CD-RW you are using. This is typically either because the disc has been preformatted or previously written to in UDF file format. Windows XP Professional does not support writing to UDF file format on CD. These are your options:

  • If there are files currently on the CD and you want to keep these files, remove the CD-RW from the drive and use a different CD-RW for writing your files.

  • If the CD does not contain any files, it was preformatted in a format not supported by Windows XP Professional. Select Erase files on CD-RW to erase and format the CD so that you can write your files.

If you close all other programs before beginning the CD-writing process, you can maintain a constant flow of data to the CD recorder. This includes disabling any screen savers that might appear during the recording process.

If you are able to copy files to the temporary staging area and begin the write process but the CD Writing Wizard stops before you get to the Write CD process, the following suggestions might help:

  • Check that there is enough free space on the drive where the temporary staging resides.

  • Consult the vendor of the CD drive to see if an upgrade is available for the firmware of the drive.

If the CD Writing Wizard stops sooner than expected and the CD is not readable, try the following suggestions:

  • Find the drive that holds the temporary staging area by looking on the Recording tab on the CD recorder’s properties page. Run Disk Defragmenter on this drive.

  • Lower the recording speed on the Recording tab. The recording speed should not exceed the highest speed possible for your CD drive.

Additional Resources

These resources contain additional information and tools related to this chapter.

Related Information

  • Chapter 26. “Configuring Telephony and Conferencing,” for more information about telephony, videophones, and digital media conferences

  • Chapter 9, “Managing Devices,” for more information about digital video cameras

  • Chapter 5, “Managing Desktops,” for more information about deploying custom configurations by using Group Policy and local policy

  • The MIDI Manufacturers Association link on the Web Resources page at http://www.microsoft.com/windows/reskits/webresources, for more information about MIDI devices and the MIDI standard

  • Windows Media Home at http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windowsmedia/default.aspx, for more information about Windows Media technologies, products, and services

  • The DirectX link on the Web Resources page at http://www.microsoft.com/windows/reskits/webresources, for more information about DirectX, or to download or order the DirectX SDK

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