Windows 10 Version 1809 Breaks Windows Media Player

Posted on November 26, 2018 by Paul Thurrott in Windows 10 with 56 Comments

As if there weren’t already enough problems with this release, Windows 10 version 1809 breaks Windows Media Player too.

“After installing this update, users may not be able to use the Seek Bar in Windows Media Player when playing specific files,” a Microsoft support document notes. “Microsoft is working on a resolution and will provide an update in an upcoming release.”

Whether that upcoming release refers to a coming Feature Update—the next one is due in the first half of 2019—or a monthly quality update is unclear.

What is clear is that Windows 10 version 1809—which is obtained by installing the October 2018 Update—is the buggiest and most unreliable Windows 10 Feature Update yet. And that’s saying something, given the history of Microsoft’s “Windows as a Service” debacle.

I tested this bug and sure enough the Seek Bar doesn’t work. This is true whether you’re using Windows Media Player in its normal window or in the Now Playing window.

Also, this Windows Media Player bug isn’t the only known issue with Windows 10 version 1809.

“After installing this update, some users cannot set Win32 program defaults for certain app and file type combinations,” the same support document explains. “Microsoft is working on a resolution and estimates a solution will be available in late November 2018.”

At least that one has a more specific time frame for the fix.


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Comments (56)

56 responses to “Windows 10 Version 1809 Breaks Windows Media Player”

  1. Daekar

    What the actual f#$k? This is getting stupid, having moved beyond exasperating.

    What bothers me is that I don't understand why it would be necessary to mess with the bits that control this kind of thing.

    Maybe Microsoft needs to take a look at what Google is doing with Android by decoupling the OS and apps so they can be updated in chunks and individually.

    Maybe somebody who is actually a programmer can explain why this hasn't been done...

    • gregsedwards

      In reply to Daekar:

      Your question about why an OS update would break media player functionality aside, decoupling apps from the OS is exactly what they're doing with Windows 10. Windows Media Player, however, is a Win32 app that was never designed to be separated from the underlying OS. Who knows what kinds of dependencies are going on under there, it's quite literally legacy software from a different era of Windows.

  2. Patrick3D

    Microsoft's worst enemy is themselves. Bad management, bad marketing, bad developers, laid off QA, the only upside is they keep me employed fixing their crap for end-users.

  3. IanYates82

    IMHO, it's not the seek control that's broken. It's the underlying codec. That's why it's only certain types of files affected. Seeking through media requires the codec to do some effort to find the actual place in the file to start playing from. Throw in variable bit rate encoding and you've actually got an interesting problem to solve.

    If you've ever tried to play an AVI or MP4 in VLC that didn't quite finish copying across the network you'll find that it'll probably play, but you can't seek because that information is, by default, at the end - often choosing "encode for the web" is what puts that information at the start so that a web browser can get the seek information it needs to allow for scrubbing through a file you haven't even fully downloaded.

    So, in my opinion, it's a codec issue, and that is something that's likely to have been changed in the OS. It'd be interesting to see if other players relying on the built-in codecs, like Media Player Classic, also suffer from this issue in 1809.

  4. Darekmeridian

    I thought Windows Media Player was out of Windows already

  5. rbwatson0

    Someone still uses Windows Media Player? Huh, who knew?

  6. simont

    I thought Media Player was depreciated in favor of the Films and TV app. Oh well, there is always the mostly reliable VLC

  7. hrlngrv

    Well, good thing I use VLC then.

  8. Byron Adams

    I just tried it and no problem with mp4 or 3gp. I got 1809 when first released and haven't had the problems others have had... but have had other small problems like Remote Desktop freezing, TimeLine crashing when I want to move apps between virtual desktops are my biggest problems.

  9. kjb434

    Surprised they just didn't say WMP is being deprecated. The same database engine in WMP is used in Groove and the Music library. WMP is just the old interface.

    The people holding on to WMP are just like the Windows Media Center devotees.

    P.S. I was a WMC devotee for years...just moved on when I cut the cord.

    • 1speed

      The problem may be support for higher resolutions on today's high dpi screens. WMP caps put at 1080p, any file encoded at higher resolution wont play properly.

  10. wright_is

    What is the seek bar? Is that the blue bar across the bottom of the window, above the play controls? If so, it was there when I tested MP3 and Audible files.

    What file formats don't work?

  11. dontbe evil

    As I cannot comment on Paul premium article about his beloved apple and apple haters, I'm commenting here: I'd love to see an article about ms haters … we'll ever see it? or Paul is not objective?

  12. justme

    While I know you have discussed the....quality....of 1809 in various podcasts and posts, this new twist begs a couple of questions:

    1) What, exactly, would Microsoft change in an OS update that would break Media Player, which has been around just shy of forever? Is it simply the age of WMP that is causing it to get trampled as the OS "moves on?"

    2) How many of us still use WMP with VLC, SMPLayer, Plex, Kodi, and other options available? I am surprised WMP is installed in Windows 10 without you expressly having to do it yourself.

  13. gwslade

    I've started having problems with my usb mouse. Checked all the things one would normally do... new battery, actually tried more than one just to make sure, changed usb ports, got a new usb mouse, and tried a bluetooth mouse. Both the usb and bluetooth would work periodically. Sometimes for a few minutes, sometimes for hours.

    I went into the settings and there wasn't a toggle to turn bluetooth on or off.

    I called Microsoft and after 5 hours I thought it was fixed only to realize two days later the problem still existed. During that 5 hour ordeal they updated my computer from 1803 to 1809.

    I called Microsoft again this morning and the drivers were once again updated. Other than that I can't tell you what she did. Again, the mouse worked for about an hour and a half then stopped. I restarted my computer and it worked only to stop about 15 minutes later.

    When the usb mouse stops working and I look at the bluetooth settings it shows the usb device not working and bluetooth is turned off.

    This is driving me nuts. Can anyone make any suggestions other than throwing this laptop out the window?

  14. veermaharaj

    Reinstall 1803 pro and block feature updates for 365 days.

  15. MikeCerm

    Haven't seen many people talking about it, but 1809 broke OneDrive for me. I literally have to restart my computer every time I want my files to sync. I would say the problem is anecdotal, but it happened on every computer that I upgraded, about half a dozen, most of which I was able to fix only by reverting back to 1803. The one I have left on 1809 still doesn't sync properly even after the cumulative update.

  16. FalseAgent

    This is terrible, but I almost forgot that WMP remains a part of Windows 10. Why is it still around? What is its use case? If it causes complications then it's time for Microsoft to trim the fat and start removing these things.

    • warren

      In reply to FalseAgent:

      They'll get there eventually. Microsoft has already removed WMP from the default install of Windows 10. It's still available as an optional component for backwards compatibility purposes, as there are a number of older applications that took a dependency on the WMP SDK.

      Maybe you don't come across those applications in your everyday life, but using WMP technology was pretty common in education, kiosks and digital displays. "Just rewrite it" is an expensive proposition.

      • Winner

        In reply to warren:

        "eventually" could mean many years. Possibly decades at their pace.

        They still have a Control Panel and then separate Settings.....3 years after OS introduction.

        • warren

          In reply to Winner:

          Correct, but Microsoft doesn't control how long their customers remain intent on using deprecated APIs for production purposes. As soon as they release a version of Windows without that backwards compatibility, they lose a whole whack of customers. It's especially bad when you remove an API as part of a Feature Update, because then apps will just stop working altogether.

          As for Control Panel, it's the same story.... there are tons and -tons- of applications, drivers, and such that hook into various places in the Control Panel. For 20+ years it was common for drivers to add tabs to the Mouse, Sound, Keyboard, etc. property panels. Microsoft is trying to wean all these people off these methods.

          Then there's all the control panels like Java Control Panel, Lenovo System Update, Flash Player, System Center Configuration Manager, NVidia Control Panel, Realtek HD Audio Manager, etc.etc.... where are these supposed to go if Control Panel were to be ripped out of Windows?

          (The more you understand about which parts of Control Panel have been co-opted by third parties, the more it makes sense why some things are taking years to get moved.)

    • MutualCore

      In reply to FalseAgent:

      Yeah I wonder why MS hasn't just acquired VLC already and incorporated it as the default media player.

  17. gregsedwards

    Airline: "Once in a while, some passengers' seats may not fully recline. Also, some bags of complimentary peanuts may occasionally contain pretzels instead."

    Tech Media: "This whole air travel thing is clearly a complete and utter failure!"

    • wbhite

      In reply to gregsedwards:

      I get the point you're making, but you can't ignore the fact that an OS update shouldn't break functionality in a perfectly solid Win32 application that's been around since forever. This and all of the other issues point towards (yes, I know we're all very aware of this and are beating it to death) lack of quality control.

      • Freezal

        In reply to wbhite:

        This is the problem. It is a win 32 application that has not been touched in like 10 years except to tape additional spit and Baling Wire to keep it running. At some point they cannot test everything ever written for windows to make sure it works.

        But at the same time they cannot say this OS will only work with applications coded within this many months using this particular technology. Damned if they do, damned if they don't.

      • gregsedwards

        In reply to wbhite:

        Any sufficiently complex system is held together by spit and duct tape.

  18. ErichK

    Yeah this blows my mind somewhat. There are hooks that deep into the OS that would affect the seek functionality in Media Player?

    • benisaacs

      In reply to ErichK:

      Something that I’ve begun to wonder about. If “basic” stuff like this starts failing, what on earth are they changing behind the scenes and not telling anyone!

      • ErichK

        In reply to BenIsaacs:

        Right. Unless the scrub tool is inherited from a widget built into the UI subsystem or something like that, which maybe they've tinkered with lately.

        Life goes on ... there are other media players. But it does make you wonder about all the interrelationships underneath.

  19. dnationsr

    thats why i run 18282 most of the time

  20. Pbike908

    It's hard to understand why this update is so problematic. Did Microsoft modify a substantial amount of code in the core OS?

    • MutualCore

      In reply to Pbike908:

      What do you think the Core OS thing is about? They're rewriting massive amounts and breaking everything! Personally I couldn't care less about WMP, I replaced it with VLC years ago.

      • bluvg

        In reply to MutualCore:

        I had switched to VLC also, but VLC has been really buggy since v3+. If you do frame-by-frame for more than a few frames, it just stops playing, and pause/start does nothing. You must stop and restart the video. The screenshot often produces just a green rectangle. It's also not nearly as efficient as WMP for some media types.

    • F4IL

      In reply to Pbike908:

      I think it is mostly attributed to the fact that Windows is a rather old, complex and monolithic system. As a result, the smallest change may (or not) result in deeply rooted issues that take a lot of time and effort to trace and debug.

  21. Winner

    The shitshow continues.

    I wonder what the former software QA staff let go from Microsoft think about all of this?

  22. Saxwulf

    Oh no, a real show stopper! How will I get my work done?

  23. pachi

    Ironically in many ways once I got the updated update a week or so ago this is the most smooth and stable win10 version to date!!

  24. burog25c

    I don't even know when I last used WMP. Once Groove came out I switched to that, and I may have even ditched WMP further back than that. Shrug.

  25. sandeepm

    Haven't seen anyone mention it but seems like Windows Media Player streaming option (media server / DLNA / UPnP) has also been blocked after 1809. Microsoft is slowly removing all Windows local networking features, release by release, so that you are eventually left with just a web browser.

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