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Windows Media Player and Internet Communication (Windows Server 2003)

Updated: July 31, 2004

Applies To: Windows Server 2003 with SP1

This section provides information about:

  • The benefits of Windows Media Player

  • How Windows Media Player communicates with sites on the Internet

  • Procedures for configuration of Windows Media Player

Resources describing Windows Media Player configuration options

This section of the white paper describes Microsoft Windows Media Player (also called the Player) in the context of use on a server. The Player is not commonly used in a server environment, unless it is being used to test a Windows Media server, so this section of the white paper does not provide extensive information about implementing a specific configuration for the Player. For example, this section does not provide information about allowing or preventing downloads of codecs or other software for the Player. (A codec, short for compressor/decompressor, is software that compresses or decompresses audio or video data.) This section of the white paper also does not describe Windows Media Services, which is described in a separate section of the white paper.

For information about implementing a specific desktop configuration for Windows Media Player 9 Series in your organization, see the white paper titled “Using Windows XP Professional with Service Pack 2 in a Managed Environment: Controlling Communication with the Internet.” The white paper includes information about allowing or preventing downloads for the Windows Media Player 9 Series (for example, downloads of codecs or other software for the Player). This white paper can be found on the TechNet Web site at:

http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=29133

Benefits and Purposes of Windows Media Player

Windows Media Player 9 Series is the media player included with products in the Microsoft Windows Server 2003 family. The Player enables playing and organizing digital media files on computers and on the Internet. If you choose to use the Player on a server, you can listen to radio stations, search for and organize digital media files, and (with the right hardware) play CDs and DVDs, create custom CDs, and copy files to a portable device.

Windows Media Player 9 Series is described in this white paper because it can access media files on the Internet. In a highly managed network environment, you might want to control access to the Internet, including access gained through Windows Media Player. The rest of this section describes how the Player communicates with the Internet, and how to control this communication.

Overview: Using Windows Media Player in a Managed Environment

Windows Media Player 9 Series in the Windows Server 2003 family is an integral component of the operating system and is installed by default. The Windows Media Player interface is accessed by navigating to Programs\Accessories\Entertainment or All Programs\Accessories\Entertainment from the Start menu. The Player is not commonly used in a server environment, unless it is being used to test a Windows Media server. If you do not want the Player accessible you can use Group Policy to block access to the Player. The procedure for this configuration method is described later in this section.

How Windows Media Player Communicates with Sites on the Internet

The Windows Media Player has a number of features that connect to sites on the Internet. When the user selects a feature such as Media Guide, Radio Tuner, Premium Services, or Skin Chooser\More Skins from the Player taskbar, Windows Media Player connects to www.WindowsMedia.com through either a local area network (LAN) or a modem connection.

WindowsMedia.com is a Web site operated by Microsoft and is tightly integrated into Windows Media Player. Media Guide and Radio Tuner are Web pages provided by WindowsMedia.com. All the CD audio data, DVD data, radio presets, and the information in the Info Center View area of the Now Playing feature also come directly from WindowsMedia.com. Other services provided by WindowsMedia.com include the Player updates and download support for codecs, skins, and visualizations. (A codec, short for compressor/decompressor, is software that compresses or decompresses audio or video data.)

To support the playback of secure content, Windows Media Player will also contact:

  • Non-Microsoft digital rights management (DRM) license servers

  • Microsoft DRM upgrade service

The other common Internet connections that Windows Media Player makes are to Windows Media servers run by content providers.

If you want more information about how Windows Media Player 9 Series communicates with the Internet (from the client or the server) and how to configure the Player for use, see "Related Links," later in this section.

Procedure for Controlling Windows Media Player

Windows Media Player can be configured as described previously. This subsection provides a procedure for using Group Policy to prevent users or administrators from starting Windows Media Player.

noteNote
For information about implementing a specific configuration for Windows Media Player in your organization, see the sources listed in "Related Links," later in this section.

To use Group Policy to prevent users and administrators from starting Windows Media Player

  1. Use the resources described in Appendix B: Resources for Learning About Group Policy (Windows Server 2003) to learn about Group Policy and the Group Policy Management Console. Apply Group Policy objects (GPOs) to an organizational unit, a domain, or a site, as appropriate for your situation.

  2. Click User Configuration, click Administrative Templates, and then click System.

  3. In the details pane, double-click Don't run specified Windows applications.

  4. Select Enabled, click Show, click Add, and then enter the application executable name, Wmplayer.exe.

Related Links

  • For more information about deploying and managing Windows Media Player in an enterprise environment, see the following pages on the Windows Media Web site at:

    http://www.microsoft.com/Windows/WindowsMedia/

    http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=46006

  • For information about implementing a specific desktop configuration for Windows Media Player 9 Series in your organization, see the white paper titled “Using Windows XP Professional with Service Pack 2 in a Managed Environment: Controlling Communication with the Internet.” This white paper can be found on the TechNet Web site at:

    http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=29133

  • For information about Windows Media Services, see the corresponding section of this white paper.

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