Microsoft fixes can cause Windows Media Player trouble

A trio of updates for Windows Media Player, including a recent security patch, can cause the software to malfunction.

If you've noticed your Windows Media Player acting strange, Microsoft has an explanation.

A trio of updates for the media player software, including a recent security patch, can cause the software to malfunction, the software maker said in a technical support article published on its Web site earlier this week. Microsoft late Wednesday e-mailed notices alerting customers to the support page.

The updates can cause issues when trying to seek, fast rewind or fast forward in Windows Media Player 10, Microsoft said. Playback might freeze, even though the status bar shows it is still playing. Also, the playback position slider could jump back to the start of the media file for no apparent reason, the company said.

These situations can occur after installing one of three updates, Microsoft said. One is the latest security fix for Windows Media Player, a "critical" patch released last month. The flaw could allow an attacker to gain control over a vulnerable PC by tricking a user into opening a malicious file. Examples of code that exploits the flaw was available only days after Microsoft released the patch.

The other two updates that could cause Media Player trouble are: "Update Rollup 2" for Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 and a fix intended to enable DirectX Video Acceleration of Windows Media Video content. Both were released last year.

Microsoft did not say how many users have reported media player trouble. To fix the player issues, Microsoft suggests changes on the system that's streaming the content.

The issues only arise when playing content from servers that are configured to use a feature called Advanced Fast Start, a Microsoft representative said Thursday. This feature is designed to deliver instant-on playback, eliminating buffering time.

Nine Systems was affected by the problem, said Christopher Knox, the company's chief technology officer. Nine Systems, based in San Diego, streams media for customers including Universal Music Group, the NBA, The Golf Channel, CBS Sportsline and EMI Music.

"We immediately began to get complaints that end users were unable to seek within content after the patch was rolled out by Microsoft," he said.

Nine Systems was forced to disable the "Advanced Fast Start" on all of its Windows Media streaming servers. "Users are able to seek within content, but the experience has been reduced," Knox said. Microsoft may be providing an updated patch for the problem, he said.

In addition to the possible trouble with Windows Media Player, Microsoft on Wednesday said a patch it released February last year might cause trouble with a specific Web program known as an ActiveX control. A fix for that problem is available from Microsoft, the company said.