Fixing Windows Media Player after a system upgrade

A while back I upgraded my motherboard. Windows Media Player seemed fine – in fact, it works quite a bit better with the faster CPU – until today, when it started crashing shortly after starting. The faulting module was Indiv01.key.

The solution is in this thread. On Vista, what you have to do is to delete the contents of the folder C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\DRM (not the folder itself). Note that this folder is invisible by default. In Explorer – Folder Options – View, you have to check Show hidden files and folders, and uncheck Hide protected operating system files.

Observe the caveat:

Note that anything recorded on the old system that is DRM protected will not be playable after this procedure.

I recall doing something similar to get BBC iPlayer (download version) working.

This is all to do with tying DRM to hardware. You are not meant to copy a protected file to another PC and still be able to play it. There used to be a method for backing up and restoring your licenses, but it seems to have gone in Vista. From online help:

This version of the Player does not permit you to back up your media usage rights. However, depending upon where your protected files came from, you might be able to restore your rights over the Internet. For more information, see the question in this topic about how to restore your media usage rights.

This leaves a few questions for Microsoft to consider:

  • Why does a DRM problem break Windows Media Player even when playing non-DRM content?
  • Why does a DRM problem cause Windows Media Player to crash, rather than reporting a DRM problem?
  • Why does the user have to uncheck a box in Explorer options that says “Recommended” and warns you that you may make your computer inoperable, in order to fix a common problem? I mean “Hide protected operating system files”?
  • Is it acceptable to say, “you might be able to restore your rights”, when a user could in theory have thousands of pounds invested in DRM-protected content?

Fortunately I don’t have any DRM-protected content that I am aware of.

Everything is fine now.

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2 comments to Fixing Windows Media Player after a system upgrade

  • Richard

    How do i repair a faulty windows media player.It just got freezed and refuse to play any CD.

  • Jason

    Does Vista have any known issues with Media Player? I upgraded and can’t seem to play them. My uncle said to try using a registry cleaner ( I have no idea why), so I found a site at [url removed] and bought something called RegCure. It figures this did not cure my problem with Media Player.

    Any ideas?
    -J