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Windows Media Player and Resulting Internet Communication in Windows Vista

In This Section

Benefits and Purposes of Windows Media Player

Overview: Using Windows Media Player in a Managed Environment

How Windows Media Player Communicates with Sites on the Internet

Controlling Windows Media Player to Limit the Flow of Information to and from the Internet

Procedures for Configuring Windows Media Player

This section describes Windows Media Player 11, the version of Windows Media Player that is included with Windows Vista. Other versions of Windows Media Player might differ from the version described in this section. For more information, see the Windows Media Web site at: http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkID=134094.

noteNote
Windows Vista Business N and Windows Vista Business KN do not include Windows Media Player (and related technologies) or Windows Movie Maker. If you install Windows Media Player 11 on these versions of Windows Vista, a software update will be automatically downloaded and installed from Windows Update. This update contains Windows Media Player (and related technologies) and Windows Movie Maker. Installing these features does not change the version name (Windows Vista Business N or Windows Vista Business KN).

Benefits and Purposes of Windows Media Player

Microsoft Windows Media Player (also called the Player) enables users to play and organize digital media files on their computers and on the Internet. Users can search for and organize digital media files, and (with the necessary hardware) play CDs and DVDs, create custom CDs, and copy files to a portable device.

With the Group Policy settings available in Windows Vista, you can configure Windows Media Player to limit access to certain consumer features. The management and deployment features enable you to bring customized media functionality to your organization’s employees.

It is beyond the scope of this white paper to describe all aspects of maintaining appropriate levels of security in an organization where users connect to sites on the Internet or download items from the Internet. This section, however, provides information about Windows Media Player that can help you balance your organization’s requirements for communication across the Internet with your organization’s requirements for protection of networked assets.

Additional Resources for Working with Windows Media Player

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

http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkID=134094

http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=74323

For Windows Media downloads, see the download center on the Windows Media Web site:

http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=73077

For the privacy statements for Windows Media Player and WindowsMedia.com, see the Microsoft Web site:

Overview: Using Windows Media Player in a Managed Environment

Windows Media Player is an integral feature of Windows Vista. Windows Media Player is not an optional Windows feature and cannot be uninstalled. You can, however, specify a different media player or hide entry points to the user interface for Windows Media Player. You can also customize the Player to make certain aspects of it either available for limited use or unavailable to the user in accordance with policies in your organization.

There are a variety of options available to you when considering how you want your users to interact with Windows Media Player. To help you assess what level of control to apply to your organization, the following table summarizes some of the configuration options.

Options for Controlling Communication with the Internet Through Windows Media Player

 

Options Degree of Control

Limit access to Windows Media Player: Choose a default media player other than Windows Media Player. For more information, see Procedures for Configuring Windows Media Player, later in this section.

Possible restricted access to media content (and no access to the Internet through Windows Media Player), but least flexible.

Allow access only to specific Internet sites: Allow users to use Windows Media Player, but with access to only those Internet sites that are approved for access by an organization’s policies. Use an inclusion list (through the firewall, proxy, or both).

Restricted access to Internet, but requires knowledge of which external sites are trustworthy.

Allow Internet access only to selected users: By restricting Internet access to selected users, restrict communication between Windows Media Player and Internet sites. For example, place most users on a network with a firewall that blocks Internet access.

Access to Internet only available to users who need it most. Implies that training is provided to selected users.

Limit the Windows Media Player features that can be used: Allow users to use Windows Media Player, but with access only to certain features.

Use Group Policy settings to configure Windows Media Player on clients. For more information, see Controlling Windows Media Player to Limit the Flow of Information to and from the Internet and Procedures for Configuration of Windows Media Player, later in this section.

Also see Appendix B: Resources for Learning About Group Policy for Windows Vista.

Moderate control and moderate flexibility. With this option, users have access to the Player, but you maintain control over which options they are able to use.

Free access: Allow free access for all.

Highest access to the Internet and media content.

The following subsections describe how Windows Media Player 11 communicates with the Internet and how to control the flow of information to and from the Internet.

How Windows Media Player Communicates with Sites on the Internet

The Windows Media Player interface opens locally when the user navigates through Start\Windows Media Player or double-clicks a local file type associated with Windows Media Player. Windows Media Player communicates with sites on the Internet if the user plays content on a site from a content provider. Windows Media Player also communicates with sites on the Internet if the user downloads skins, visualizations, or plug-ins, or if certain Windows Media Player options are enabled, such as metadata retrieval, automatic download of usage rights, or compressor/decompressor (codec) download. (A codec is software that compresses or decompresses audio or video data.) The following subsections provide more detail about the sites that Windows Media Player communicates with.

noteNote
The first time that Windows Media Player is opened, it prompts the user to configure settings such as whether to allow Windows Media Player to download CD and DVD information from the Internet or whether to send Microsoft anonymous usage information for the Customer Experience Improvement Program. These settings can be changed later in Windows Media Player or by using Group Policy. (For information about using Group Policy to disable the Windows Customer Experience Improvement Program, see Windows Customer Experience Improvement Program and Resulting Internet Communication in Windows Vista in this white paper.)

Communication with the WindowsMedia.com Site

When a connection is available to the Internet, WindowsMedia.com supports the following key features in Windows Media Player 11:

  • Metadata retrieval

  • Metadata submission

  • Media Guide

WindowsMedia.com is a digital entertainment Web site operated by Microsoft that is integrated into Windows Media Player. All of the CD audio data, DVD data, and information displayed in the Now Playing feature come directly from WindowsMedia.com. Media Guide is a set of Web pages provided by WindowsMedia.com.

Note that WindowsMedia.com also provides the Media Guide and the WindowsMedia.com Radio Tuner separately through a Web browser.

Communication with the Windows Media Site on Microsoft.com

The Windows Media site on Microsoft.com is located at:

http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkID=134094

The Windows Media site on Microsoft.com supports the following key features in Windows Media Player 11 (when a connection to the Internet is available):

  • Downloadable skins.

  • Downloadable visualizations.

  • Downloadable plug-ins.

  • Web Help for errors that occur in the Player. Note that Web Help topics might include a link to the following Web site:

    http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkID=134095

The Windows Media site on Microsoft.com also provides information through links in Windows Media Player 11, including the links in the following list. (If the menus mentioned in this list are not visible, right-click the taskbar and select Show Classic Menus.)

  • In the Help menu:

    • Windows Media Player Online (information about using Windows Media Player)

    • Privacy Statement Online

    • Troubleshooting Online

  • In Tools\Options or through the More Options command (on several menus):

    • Devices tab: Look for devices on the Web

    • Security tab: Read the security statement online

    • Rip Music tab: Compare formats online

Communication with Other Sites

Windows Media Player communicates with a number of other Web sites:

  • Windows Media Player uses the Microsoft Web site (onlinestores.metaservices.microsoft.com) to find information about online stores, which are Web sites that offer digital media content by subscription or for purchase. If a user decides to use an online store, the Player then communicates with that online store directly.

  • Windows Media Player uses codecs.microsoft.com to support automatic downloads of codecs.

  • To support the playback of secure content using digital rights management (DRM) technology, Windows Media Player will contact:

    • Non-Microsoft media usage rights (license) servers

    • Microsoft DRM upgrade service

  • Software updates for Windows Media Player are made available through the Windows Update Web site, which is described in Windows Update and Resulting Internet Communication in Windows Vista in this white paper.

  • Windows Media Player is commonly used to play media on media servers that are run by content providers.

Data Exchanged During Communication with the Internet

The following subsections describe various aspects of the data that is sent to and from the Internet through Windows Media Player and how the exchange of information takes place:

  • Information Sent or Received When Specific Features Are Used

  • Default Settings, Triggers, and User Notifications

  • Logging, Encryption, and Privacy

  • Transmission Protocols and Ports

  • Enabling and Disabling Features

    ImportantImportant
    Group Policy settings such as Prevent CD and DVD Media Information Retrieval affect the way that Windows Media Player communicates with the Internet. For more information, see "Settings that Can Be Controlled Through Group Policy," later in this section.

Information Sent or Received When Specific Features Are Used

When a user uses one of the features of the Player listed in "Communication with the WindowsMedia.com Site," earlier in this section, information is sent to or from the Internet as described in the following list.

noteNote
The Tools menu is only visible if the user enables it. One way to do this is to right-click the taskbar and make sure that Show Classic Menus is selected.
  • Non-Microsoft DRM usage rights servers. When users try to play content protected with Microsoft DRM technology, the Player can be configured to automatically acquire media usage rights (previously known as licenses) for the content from a usage rights server. The process of acquiring usage rights might also cause an update to the user's DRM revocation and exclusion lists. These lists are used to block compromised applications from accessing secure content.

  • Microsoft DRM upgrade service. The upgrade service provides users with the option to upgrade their DRM components in case the secure content that they want to play requires an upgraded component that supports the higher level of security.

  • Media servers run by content providers. To provide streaming media, it is necessary for Windows Media Player to communicate directly with a media server. These servers are typically operated by non-Microsoft content providers, and they are not under Microsoft control.

  • Metadata retrieval. When the user triggers a metadata request (see the bulleted item, "Triggers and user notifications" in "Default Settings, Triggers, and User Notifications," later in this section), a CD table of contents or DVD identification is sent from the user's computer, and then metadata is retrieved. The metadata can include album art, track names, lyrics, and even artist's biographical information. The metadata is stored in the Media Library for offline use.

  • Metadata submission. This is a service that enables users to submit corrections to the WindowsMedia.com metadata database. A cookie on the client is accessed by WindowsMedia.com (unless the cookie is blocked). The CD table of contents or DVD identification and the user's corrected metadata are sent to WindowsMedia.com.

  • Media Guide. Media Guide is a set of Web pages, hosted within the Windows Media Player interface, that focuses on streaming media. A cookie on the client is accessed by WindowsMedia.com (unless the cookie is blocked) and WindowsMedia.com sends the Media Guide Web page.

  • Online Stores. When a user clicks the menu farthest to the right in the Player (labeled as Online Stores or with the name of a particular online store) and then clicks Browse all Online Stores, Windows Media Player uses the Microsoft Web site to find information about online stores. When a user clicks the name of an online store, the Player communicates with that online store directly.

    An online store is a Web site that offers digital media content by subscription or for purchase.

  • Codec download. This service enables users to acquire certain codecs during playback if they are not available on the user's system. A codec identifier is sent to codecs.microsoft.com. If the codec is available, it is downloaded and installed from codecs.microsoft.com or download.microsoft.com. If it is not available, a pop-up error message appears with a link to a Web Help topic.

  • Player update. This service is integrated with Windows Update and can enable a user to learn about and acquire Windows Media Player updates. The process is similar to downloading software updates for the rest of the operating system, but it is controlled separately through the Windows Media Player interface. To acquire updates, a person logged on as an administrator and running the Player can click the Help menu and then click Check for Updates. (If the Help menu is not visible, right-click the taskbar and select Show Classic Menus.) Alternatively, a person logged on as an administrator can configure the Player to automatically check for updates through the More Options command (on several menus) and the Player tab. The person logged on as an administrator can accept or decline the updates.

    For more information about Windows Update, see Windows Update and Resulting Internet Communication in Windows Vista in this white paper. The privacy statement for Windows Update is on the Microsoft Web site at:

    http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=72162

  • Downloadable skins. Tools/Download/Skins links to a Web page that contains extra downloadable skins. A cookie on the client is accessed by the Microsoft Web site (unless the cookie is blocked) and the Skins Web page is sent back in Internet Explorer.

    Note   The Tools menu is only visible if the user enables it. One way to do this is to right-click the taskbar and make sure that Show Classic Menus is selected.

  • Downloadable visualizations. Tools/Download/Visualizations links to a Web page that contains extra downloadable visualizations. A cookie on the client is accessed by the Microsoft Web site (unless the cookie is blocked) and the Downloadable Visualizations Web page is sent back in Internet Explorer.

  • Downloadable plug-ins. Tools/Download/Plug-ins links to a Web page that contains new features that can be added to Windows Media Player. A cookie on the client is accessed by the Microsoft Web site (unless the cookie is blocked) and the Plug-ins Web page is sent back in Internet Explorer.

  • Media Library. Media Library lists the user’s collection of audio and video files and offers links to sources for audio and video. This information can be accessed by other software on the user’s computer and on the Internet.

  • Enhanced Content Provider Services (unique Player ID). This option, which is available through the More Options command (on several menus) on the Privacy tab, specifies whether Windows Media Player sends a content provider a unique Player ID or an anonymous Player ID. The anonymous Player ID contains a well known static value and a randomly generated number which changes each time a user requests content from a streaming media server.

    This option is available because some content providers may require the Player to send a unique Player ID in order to access their content or services.

  • Customer Experience Improvement Program. This option, which is available through the More Options command (on several menus) on the Privacy tab, specifies whether to send anonymous Windows Media Player usage information to Microsoft. The anonymous information obtained from the user is used to improve the Player and related services.

  • Cookies. Windows Media Player uses the Internet as a networking and information source. When accessing the Internet, cookies may be downloaded to the user’s computer or uploaded to a media service.

  • Site logs. Servers that provide media content create two types of logs:

    • Raw IIS log. On servers that provide media content, a standard Internet Information Services (IIS) log records all requests to the server. This log includes the IP address of the client and a cookie.

    • Tracking log. Servers that provide media content also have a tracking log that records all requests. It includes the IP address of the client and a cookie.

    The Player also generates a streaming media log and sends it to any media servers that exist on your network. For more information, see "Logging, Encryption, and Privacy," later in this section.

Default Settings, Triggers, and User Notifications

The following list describes how settings are initially configured in Windows Media Player and describes the triggers that might initiate communication between Windows Media Player and the Internet.

ImportantImportant
Group Policy settings such as Prevent CD and DVD Media Information Retrieval affect the way that Windows Media Player communicates with the Internet. For more information, see "Settings that Can Be Controlled Through Group Policy," later in this section.
  • Default settings: Instead of using default settings, the first time that Windows Media Player is opened, it displays dialog boxes for configuring settings such as whether to allow Windows Media Player to download CD and DVD information from the Internet, or whether to send Microsoft anonymous usage information for the Customer Experience Improvement Program. You can prevent the first-use dialog boxes from appearing, and instead control such settings through Group Policy. For more information, see "Settings that Can Be Controlled Through Group Policy," later in this section.

  • Triggers and user notifications: The features that initiate communication with the Internet are triggered individually by various user interactions as listed below. With some features, the user is presented with a Web page that is both a notification and a trigger, providing items for the user to select to complete a download. With other features, the user may or may not be notified at the time of the trigger, as described in this list.

    • Metadata retrieval

      Trigger. When the user first inserts a CD or DVD or when the user requests detailed information (for example, by right-clicking a file and then clicking an option for finding information about it), information is retrieved automatically from WindowsMedia.com.

      Notification. The user is not notified.

    • Metadata submission

      Trigger. When the user submits corrected metadata for files, CDs, and DVDs, information is sent to WindowsMedia.com.

      Notification. The user is notified.

    • Media Guide

      Trigger. The Media Guide is displayed if the user right-clicks the taskbar, enables Show Classic menus, then clicks View\Online Stores\Media Guide. After that, the user can click Media Guide in the taskbar.

      Notification. The user is not notified.

    • Browse all Online Stores

      Trigger and notification. When a user clicks the menu farthest to the right in the Player (labeled as Online Stores or with the name of a particular online store) and then clicks Browse all Online Stores, Windows Media Player uses the Microsoft Web site to find information about online stores. When a user clicks the name of an online store, the Player communicates with that online store directly.

      An online store is a Web site that offers digital media content by subscription or for purchase.

    • Codec download

      Trigger. The trigger occurs when a user tries to play media content requiring a codec that is not on the user's computer.

      Notification. There is no Windows Media Player pop-up message. If the site from which a codec is being downloaded is not a trusted site, a security dialog box will pop up. The Windows Media Player status bar will indicate that a codec is being downloaded.

    • Player update

      Trigger. At a set frequency (for example, weekly), if the user is online and is logged on as an administrator, a check is made for updated Windows Media Player features. This can be disabled through Group Policy.

      Notification. The user is notified. The user is prompted to download, but can decline to do so.

    • Downloadable skins

      Trigger and notification. The user clicks Tools\Download\Skins, which launches the Skins Web page. When a user selects a skin from this page, the user is prompted to accept or reject the download. If the user accepts, the skin is downloaded.

      noteNote
      The Tools menu is only visible if the user enables it. One way to do this is to right-click the taskbar and make sure that Show Classic Menus is selected.
    • Downloadable visualizations

      Trigger and notification. The user clicks Tools\Download\Visualizations, or clicks Tools\Options\Plug-ins and then Look for visualizations on the Web.This launches the Visualizations Web page. When the user selects a visualization from this page, the user is prompted to accept or reject the download. If the user accepts, the visualization is downloaded.

    • Downloadable plug-ins

      Trigger and notification. The user clicks Tools\Download\Plug-ins or View\Plug-ins\Find on the Web, or clicks Tools\Options\Plug-ins and then Look for plug-ins on the Web. This launches the Plug-ins Web page. When the user selects a plug-in from this page, the user is prompted to accept or reject the download. If the user accepts, the plug-in is downloaded.

    • Enhanced Content Provider Services (unique Player ID)

      Trigger and notification. The sending of a Player ID is triggered during initial communication with a media server. At this time, the user is not notified of whether a unique Player ID or an anonymous Player ID is being used, unless the content provider requires a unique Player ID and notifies the user of this requirement.

    • Customer Experience Improvement Program

      Trigger and notification. After clicking More Options (available on several menus), the user clicks the Privacy tab and then selects I want to help make Microsoft software and services even better by sending Player usage data to Microsoft. If the user accepts, Microsoft will collect anonymous information about the hardware configuration and how the user uses the software and services, so that Microsoft can identify trends and usage patterns. If the user accepts, there is no notification at the time information is transferred.

    • Media Library

      Trigger and notification. The trigger occurs when the user adds purchased media to the Media Library from WindowsMedia.com or another media vendor. The retrieval of additional information about media files from the Internet can be controlled by clicking More Options (available on several menus), and clearing check boxes on the Privacy tab.

    • Cookies

      Trigger. The trigger occurs automatically when a Web site is accessed.

      Notification. The way that Windows Media Player handles cookies sent from a Web site depends on privacy settings that affect Internet Explorer, Windows Media Player, and any other programs that rely on these settings. These settings control whether cookies are allowed, cookies are blocked, or the user is prompted before a cookie is allowed. The settings are controlled through Internet Explorer, although you can also configure these settings through the Player. To configure the settings in the Player, click More Options (available on several menus), click the Privacy tab, and then click the Cookies button.

Logging, Encryption, and Privacy

The following list describes the way the Player sends logging information to a streaming media server, the encryption options available for the Player, and the privacy statements related to the Player.

  • Logging: Logging occurs when information is sent from the Player to a streaming media server. Logging can also occur when information is sent from the Player to a program on a Web server if the program is designed to create log entries. For more information about logging, refer to the white paper, "Logging Model for Windows Media Services 9 Series," on the Microsoft Web site at:

    http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=29867

    Logging informs the server of various pieces of information so that services can be improved. The information includes such details as connection time and the Internet protocol (IP) address of the computer that is connected to the server—typically a Network Address Translation (NAT) or proxy server. This information also includes the version, identification number (ID), date, and protocol of Windows Media Player. For more details, see the privacy statements under "Privacy" later in this list.

  • Encryption: Protected Media Path is a platform that enhances support for digital rights management (DRM) in Windows Vista. Protected Media Path helps maintain the security and protection of digital audio and video files that have been encrypted using DRM technology.

    The client can also progressively download content from a Web server using HTTPS. A client and server may also use Internet Protocol security (IPSec) to encrypt packets that traverse the network.

    For more information about Protected Media Path, see the MSDN Web site at:

    http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=74003

  • Privacy: The privacy statements for Windows Media Player and WindowsMedia.com are on the Microsoft Web site:

Transmission Protocols and Ports

The following list briefly describes the transmission protocols and ports used by the Player.

  • Transmission protocol: Windows Media Player 11 can communicate through Real-Time Streaming Protocol (RTSP) with either User Datagram Protocol (UDP) or TCP. It can also use HTTP. It cannot use Microsoft Media Server (MMS) protocol.

    If a media server tries to stream content using MMS and receives failure messages, it might use automatic protocol rollover, that is, it might attempt different protocols until a particular protocol succeeds. It might also use automatic protocol rollover to try to optimize the streaming experience and to work correctly with firewall settings in your environment. With protocol rollover from MMS, you can configure Windows Media Player so that it accepts only the protocols you choose.

    For additional information about protocols used for streaming media, see a white paper describing firewall settings for Windows Media Services. The white paper is on the Windows Media Web site at:

    http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=74004

  • Ports: For RTSP/TCP, you can specify the ports that will be used by Windows Media Player to receive data. For additional information about ports used for streaming media, see a white paper describing firewall settings for Windows Media Services. The white paper is on the Windows Media Web site at:

    http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=74004

  • Unicast and multicast streams: By default, Windows Media Player can accept either unicast or multicast streams. You can configure it to accept only unicast streams.

Enabling and Disabling Features

Many features in Windows Media Player can be enabled or disabled through the prompts that are displayed the first time that Windows Media Player is opened. Features can be also disabled through the user interface in Windows Media Player or through the use of Group Policy. For more information, see the remainder of this section.

Controlling Windows Media Player to Limit the Flow of Information to and from the Internet

You can specify the media player to be used on a computer running Windows Vista by using the Windows interface or through unattended installation. If you choose to use Windows Media Player, you can control individual features of the Player through the user interface of the Player or through Group Policy. The following subsections provide more information.

Controlling Windows Media Player Through the User Interface

When users interact with Windows Media Player, they can limit the flow of information to and from the Internet by following this list of practices.

noteNote
The File menu and the View menu, mentioned in the table below, are only visible if enabled. One way to enable these menus is to right-click the taskbar and make sure that Show Classic Menus is selected.

 

Feature Practices that users can follow to limit Internet communication

Metadata retrieval

  • From the File menu, make sure that Work Offline is selected.

  • Avoid inserting a CD or DVD.

  • From More Options (on several menus), on the Privacy tab, clear the check boxes labeled Display media information from the Internet and Update music files by retrieving media info from the Internet. On the Library tab, clear the check box labeled Retrieve additional information from the Internet. Also on the Player tab, make sure that Connect to the Internet (overrides other commands) is cleared.

Metadata submission

  • From the File menu, make sure that Work Offline is selected.

  • Avoid submitting metadata.

Media Guide

  • From the File menu, make sure that Work Offline is selected.

  • Avoid clicking View\Online Stores\Media Guide. If Media Guide is displayed in the taskbar, do not click it.

Codec download

  • From More Options (on several menus), on the Player tab, clear the Download codecs automatically check box.

Downloadable skins

  • Use a custom skin that does not display downloadable skins.

Downloadable

visualizations

  • Use a custom skin that does not display downloadable visualizations.

Download plug-ins

  • Avoid selecting the Download Plug-ins options from any of the trigger locations mentioned previously.

Online Stores

  • From the File menu, make sure that Work Offline is selected.

  • Avoid clicking any command on the far right menu, which can be labeled as Online Stores or with the name of a particular online store.

Unique Player ID

  • Avoid selecting this option. (Also see the next line of this table for information about using Group Policy settings to hide the Privacy tab and keep first use dialog boxes from being shown.)

Customer Experience

Improvement Program

  • Avoid selecting this option.

    As an administrator, you can use Group Policy settings to prevent users from selecting this option. Enable Hide Privacy Tab to keep users from selecting the option in that tab. Enable the Do Not Show First Use Dialog Boxes policy setting to keep users from selecting the option in first use dialog boxes. For more information, see "Settings that Can Be Controlled Through Group Policy," later in this section.

Connect to the Internet

  • From More Options (on several menus), on the Player tab, clear the check box labeled Connect to the Internet (overrides other commands).

Media usage rights

  • From More Options (on several menus), on the Privacy tab, clear two check boxes: Download usage rights automatically when I play or sync a file and Automatically check if protected files need to be refreshed.

    Note that there is also an option through which Windows Media Player sets the clock on media devices automatically (for best results when usage rights are based on a date or time). Setting the time involves communication between the computer and a time server on the Internet, and can be turned off through More Options\Privacy\Set clock on devices automatically.

Settings that Can Be Controlled Through Group Policy

A wide variety of configuration settings for Windows Media Player can be controlled through Group Policy. This subsection lists a few examples of these settings.

noteNote
For information about individual settings, navigate to a setting as described in "To Locate Group Policy Settings for Configuring Windows Media Player," later in this section, then double-click the setting and read the explanatory text.

Some of the Group Policy settings that affect the way Windows Media Player communicates through the Internet are located at User Configuration\Administrative Templates\Windows Components\Windows Media Player or in Group Policy categories under this location. Examples of these policy settings are:

  • Prevent CD and DVD Media Information Retrieval

  • Prevent Music File Media Information Retrieval

  • Prevent Codec Download (under Playback)

  • Hide Privacy Tab (under User Interface)

    You can use this option to prevent users from selecting options on the Privacy tab (such as the Windows Media Player Customer Experience Improvement Program).

    For information about using Group Policy to disable the Windows Customer Experience Improvement Program, see Windows Customer Experience Improvement Program and Resulting Internet Communication in Windows Vista in this white paper.

  • Set and Lock Skin (under User Interface)

    You can use this option to specify a custom skin that displays only selected features.

Other Group Policy settings that affect the way Windows Media Player communicates through the Internet are located at Computer Configuration\Administrative Templates\Windows Components\Windows Media Player or in Group Policy categories under this location. Examples of these policy settings are:

  • Prevent Automatic Updates

  • Do Not Show First Use Dialog Boxes

For more information about using Group Policy, see the links in Appendix B: Resources for Learning About Group Policy for Windows Vista.

Other Ways to Control Windows Media Player

You can control several aspects of Windows Media Player by using methods other than the user interface or the individual Group Policy settings for Windows Media Player. Methods for controlling the Player include:

  • Use Set program access and computer defaults (available from Start\Default Programs) to remove access to Windows Media Player. With this dialog box, the administrator of a computer running Windows Vista can specify which media player is shown on the Start menu, desktop, and other locations.

  • Use the firewall or proxy or both to block access to Web sites such as the WindowsMedia.com Web site.

  • Create custom player skins that contain only those features that you want users to use. For information about creating custom skins, see the MSDN Web site at:

    http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=74007

Procedures for Configuring Windows Media Player

Windows Media Player can be configured in several ways, as described previously. This subsection provides procedures for:

  • Locating Group Policy settings for configuring Windows Media Player.

  • Accessing the Privacy tab in the user interface of Windows Media Player (to specify settings related to privacy)

  • Accessing the Network tab in the user interface of Windows Media Player (to specify information about streaming media protocols).

  • Specifying the media player on a computer running Windows Vista.

  • Removing visible entry points to Windows Media Player during unattended installation of Windows Vista by using an answer file.

  • Specifying the media player during unattended installation of Windows Vista by using an answer file.

    ImportantImportant
    To prevent users from manually updating Windows Media Player, we recommend that users are not set up with administrative credentials on their computers.

To Locate Group Policy Settings for Configuring Windows Media Player

  1. See Appendix B: Resources for Learning About Group Policy for Windows Vista for information about using Group Policy. Using an account with domain administrative credentials, log on to a computer running Windows Vista, open Group Policy Management Console (GPMC) by running gpmc.msc, and then edit an appropriate Group Policy object (GPO).

    noteNote
    You must perform this procedure by using GPMC on a computer running Windows Vista (GPMC is included in Windows Vista).
  2. In Group Policy, expand User Configuration, expand Administrative Templates, expand Windows Components, and then click Windows Media Player.

  3. View the Group Policy settings that are available.

  4. Expand Computer Configuration, expand Administrative Templates, expand Windows Components, and then click Windows Media Player.

  5. View the Group Policy settings that are available.

To Access the Privacy Tab in the User Interface of Windows Media Player

  1. On the Library menu, click More Options, and then click Privacy.

  2. Review the available options, including the following:

    • Display media information from the Internet

    • Update music files by retrieving media info from the Internet

    • Download usage rights automatically when I play or sync a file

    • Automatically check if protected files need to be refreshed

    • Set clock on devices automatically

    • Send unique Player ID to content providers

    Other options are also available, including an option for the Customer Experience Improvement Program.

Specifying Information for Streaming Media Protocols

There are two methods for specifying information for streaming media protocols:

  • One method (described in the following procedure) is to use the Network tab to configure the protocols and proxy settings that you want Windows Media Player to use when receiving streaming media files, and then hide the Network tab through the use of Group Policy in Windows Media Player.

  • The second method is to use Group Policy directly to specify information for streaming media protocols.

For more information about using Group Policy, see "To Locate Group Policy Settings for Configuring Windows Media Player," earlier in this section.

To Access the Network Tab in the User Interface of Windows Media Player

  1. On the Library menu, click More Options, and then click Network.

  2. The following options are included on the Network tab:

    • Protocols for MMS URLs. Specifies the protocols that Windows Media Player 11 can try to use when receiving an MMS URL (Windows Media Player 11 cannot use MMS). Select one or more of the following:

      RTSP/UDP

      RTSP/TCP

      RTSP/HTTP

      By default, all protocols are selected, which means that the Player tries to use each protocol in turn until it finds one that succeeds. Because the Player can receive files using a variety of protocols, we recommend that you select all protocols.

    • Use ports to receive data. Specifies a port range through which to receive streaming content. This option is useful if your network or firewall administrator has established a specific port that enables streaming content to pass through.

      For additional information about protocols used for streaming media, see a white paper describing firewall settings for Windows Media Services. The white paper is on the Windows Media Web site at:

      http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=74004

    • Multicast streams. Determines whether the Player can receive multicast streams.

    • Streaming proxy settings. Select a protocol, and then click Configure. You can configure proxy settings for the following protocols:

      HTTP

      RTSP

      When you click the Configure button, you can choose among the following proxy settings:

      Autodetect proxy settings

      Use proxy settings of the Web browser

      Do not use a proxy server

      Use the following proxy server (and Port)

      With Use the following proxy server, you can also select Bypass proxy server for local addresses, and you can choose not to use the proxy server for addresses that begin with strings you specify.

To Specify the Media Player by Using the Default Programs Interface

  1. Click Start, click Default Programs, and then click Set program access and computer defaults.

  2. Click the Custom button.

    noteNote
    Alternatively, you can click the Non-Microsoft button, which will not only remove access to Windows Media Player, but also to Internet Explorer and Windows Mail. If you do this, skip the remaining steps of this procedure.
  3. To disable access to Windows Media Player on this computer, to the right of Windows Media Player, clear the Enable access to this program check box.

  4. If you want a different default media player to be available to users of this computer, select the media player from the options available.

    noteNote
    For the last step, if the program does not appear by name, contact the vendor of that program for information about how to configure it as the default. Also, for related information about registry entries that are used to designate that a program is a browser, e-mail, media playback, or instant messaging program, see "Registering Programs with Client Types" on the MSDN Web site at:
    http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=29306

To Remove Visible Entry Points to Windows Media Player During Unattended Installation by Using an Answer File

  1. Using the methods you prefer for unattended installation or remote installation, create an answer file. For more information about unattended and remote installation, see Appendix A: Resources for Learning About Automated Installation and Deployment for Windows Vista.

  2. Confirm that your answer file includes the following lines. If you already have a <WindowsFeatures> section in your answer file, the "ShowWindowsMediaPlayer" line should be included in the <WindowsFeatures> section rather than repeating the section.

       <WindowsFeatures>

            <ShowWindowsMediaPlayer>false</ShowWindowsMediaPlayer>

       </WindowsFeatures>

noteNote
This procedure removes visible entry points to Windows Media Player, but it does not prevent Windows Media Player from running.

To Specify a Media Player During Unattended Installation by Using an Answer File

  1. Using the methods you prefer for unattended installation or remote installation, create an answer file. For more information about unattended and remote installation, see Appendix A: Resources for Learning About Automated Installation and Deployment for Windows Vista.

  2. Confirm that your answer file includes the following lines. If you already have a <ClientApplications> section in your answer file, the "Media" line—the line containing the path to your media player—should be included in the <ClientApplications> section rather than repeating the section.

        <ClientApplications>

            <Media>path_to_media_player</Media>

        </ClientApplications>

    For path_to_media_player, specify the path to your media player.

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