Possibly one of the most annoying and confusing issues on windows is dealing with and understanding which codecs you need to do what.

There are a number of solutions to ensure all of your music, videos and other media will play on your version of windows.

I’ve recently experienced a problem where Windows Media Center returns a decoder error.

This was stopping me from setting up the audio within the wizard, so the plan of action was to locate an all in one codec pack which then meant I didn’t have to worry about which codecs I need to do what, it just includes them all, or so I thought.

Okay, so the codec pack got the sound working, great. However when I come to play DVD’s there’s a decoder error yet again, which means I require DVD decoder software.

There are a few options with this…

  • Purchase the software [<p class="lead"> Possibly one of the most annoying and confusing issues on windows is dealing with and understanding which codecs you need to do what.

</p>

There are a number of solutions to ensure all of your music, videos and other media will play on your version of windows.

I’ve recently experienced a problem where Windows Media Center returns a decoder error.

This was stopping me from setting up the audio within the wizard, so the plan of action was to locate an all in one codec pack which then meant I didn’t have to worry about which codecs I need to do what, it just includes them all, or so I thought.

Okay, so the codec pack got the sound working, great. However when I come to play DVD’s there’s a decoder error yet again, which means I require DVD decoder software.

There are a few options with this…

  • Purchase the software](http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windowsmedia/mp10/getmore/plugins.aspx#DVDDecoder)
  • Purchase or download and try for 30 days the nVidia PureVideo Decoder – it would match the chipset
  • Purchase InterVideo DVD XPack for $14.95
  • Purchase or download and try for 30 days CyberLink PowerDVD SE or v7.0 – i’ve used this in the past
  • Purchase the Roxio solution which is CinePlayer for $14.95 – never used it, don’t like roxio
  • Download a free or open source DVD decoder – near impossible or does not exist

Not to worry though I can use the Microsoft Windows XP Video Decoder Checkup Utility to make sure any I do choose is compatible.

To be fair although it should be a crime to have to pay to watch DVDs on your computer considering you have purchased a piece of hardware that is essentially a DVD reader, you do still need a DVD player, and $14.95 (just over £8) is not a bad price for a legit piece of DVD playing software, and its a damn sight cheaper than purchasing a separate DVD player unit to do the same job.

However, more often than not, if you purchase your PC from a large retailer, or you purchase a retail optical drive, you will receive a copy of one of the Microsoft approved DVD decoders listed above, so it might be worth considering that before you make your next purchase.

Yet with all that in mind, I’m still looking for that free or open source DVD decoder that will work with Windows Media Center or approved by Microsoft. We can all dream can’t we?

You may ALSO require DivX, QuickTime and Real Player (or their alternatives) to name a few to play certain types of videos, and I would also suggest taking a look at Winamp if you haven’t got it already as its a brilliant piece of software for playing music and video clips.

Additional Notes: Recently I have been looking at both VideoLan’s VLC and Media Player Classic which are either free or open source alternatives. I’ve yet to test their ability to play DVDs, how compatible they are with different video types or how other software (such as browsers and other media players) utilise their codecs.