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Playing DVDs in Media Player

Posted By : of Data Doctors on April 21, 2006

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I'm having a problem with my Windows Media Player playing DVDs. I am able to play other video clips perfectly in the program but whenever I try to run a DVD it comes up with either an error message or the DVD will play without any video.

- Ryan

This question was answered on April 21, 2006. Much of the information contained herein may have changed since posting.

With a name like “Media Player” one would assume that common “media” would just play but unfortunately, that is not the case.

Windows Media Player does not have anything built-in to play DVDs so it requires something called a ‘codec’ (decoder software) in order to play your DVD movies.

Computers that are equipped with DVD players generally come with a special third-party program (not part of Windows) that lets you watch DVD movies and would be listed in the Programs section of the Start menu if it is installed (look for entries like PowerDVD or WinDVD).

In most cases, Windows Media Player would grab the codec installed by this third-party program whenever you insert a DVD, but clearly this is not happening in your case

You either don’t have a decoder installed or it is incompatible with Media Player.

You can check to see if you have any compatible DVD decoders installed with Microsoft’s ‘Windows XP Video Decoder Checkup Utility’ available as a free download at Microsoft's website.

If you find that you do have a decoder installed but it is not compatible with Windows Media Player, you may want to visit the website for the company that created the stand-alone DVD player program to see if an updated version that is compatible with Media Player has been released.

If none of that helps, you can download all kinds of decoders for audio and video (also referred to as ‘plug-ins) from .

When it comes to playing any kind of video (not just DVDs) on personal computers, technology has gotten so advanced that it’s very common to run into a video format while surfing the net that won’t play properly without some additional software

Current popular Internet video formats include MPEG, AVI, Quicktime, Divx, Real and Flash and most require a special program not installed with Windows.

MPEG and AVI should play in Media Player with no problem, but most of the other formats are going to require a download.

Quicktime movies (very common at movie trailer sites) requires Apple’s Quicktime player (

Divx video files require another codec for Media Player and are also available at

Real media files require the RealPlayer (one of my least favorite media players and would do without unless you really need it) which is available at

Flash movies have become very common on websites and requires either the Flash Player or a plug-in for your web browser (Internet Explorer, Firefox, etc.) to be installed in order to play

You can get everything you need for Flash playback from Macromedia’s website (now owned by Adobe) by going to Just watch for the default attempt to install the Yahoo Toolbar with the Flash player Remove the checkmark in front of the offer if you don’t want to end up with another toolbar stacked up on your browser!

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Posted by of Data Doctors on April 21, 2006

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