Saturday, March 25, 2006

Windows Media Player cannot play any items in the playlist.

Windows Media Player cannot play any items in the playlist. For additional information, right-click an item that cannot be played, and then click Error Details.

Windows Media Player cannot play the file. If the file is located on the Internet, connect to the Internet. If the file is located a removable storage card, insert the storage card.

These are the 2 errors I received when trying to listen to streaming radio while cleaning my home this morning.

I had a fun discussion over lunch the other day with my buddy Mike on his experiences calling Microsoft Product Support Services. So, I figured this would be a great opportunity to put myself in the customer's shoes and see what dealing with PSS is like for myself. Unfortunately, after calling 800-MICROSOFT, I quickly found out that PSS is only open till 3pm on Saturday. Pretty frustrating experience. ;-)

So there went that idea. Instead, as most users must do, I resided to spend my own free time figuring out why Media Player wasn't working.

Strangely, I was encountering 2 different error messages. I got the first one when trying to play a stream from C89.5:

Unfortunately, the error details didn't exist, let alone prove useful:

One the other hand, when I tried to listen to KEXP or Energy, I got a different error message:

After quite a bit of searching through message forum threads (mostly unanswered), I came across a post suggesting I run 'mplayer2.exe'. That's Windows Media Player 6.4 which still lives on XP side-by-side with WMP 10. Surprisingly, I was able to stream the radio stations. But, I wasn't about to stop there. What a strange issue!

More searching... and I finally came across this post, which identified the error as C00D10B5 (I didn't have an error code, because it seems we no longer display them in our produts). Following the link in the post brought me to a blog post, which brought me to a PSS knowledge base article and an unofficial FAQ site.

It turns out that Windows Media Player didn't think I was online, hence the "connect to the Internet" bit in the 2nd error message. Seeing as I was surfing the web to get to the stream in the first place, I was connected to the Internet. But WMP relies on whether or not Windows thinks I'm connected to the Internet, and despite all of my web surfing, apparently Windows did not think I was connected.

Interestingly, WMP provides a means of overriding what Windows thinks. As the KB article states:

To force the player to always assume that the player is connected to a network, follow these steps:
1. On the Tools menu, click Options.
2. On the Player tab, under Player settings, check the Connect to the Internet (overrides other commands) check box.

This worked. But it wasn't enough for me. I wanted to solve the underlying problem, since it could feasibly cause other issues in the future. At this point, I referred to unofficial FAQ, which suggests running the Windows Internet Connection Wizard. I then proceeded to run through the wizard, telling Windows that I wanted to connect to the internet, despite the fact that I was already connected to the Internet. But alas, now that Windows "knows", WMP "knows" too, and will play my Internet radio streams.

Anyhow, I'm not just posting this here to rant. On the contrary, I hope this post becomes searchable quickly, and provides other users experiencing this issue with better answers than Microsoft Product Support Services did for me.

As a sidenote, here's what I think is wrong about the entire end-to-end experience:

1. What appears to be the same issue is generating two different error messages that don't provide the same information. There's also apparently a third error message which probably has the same cause (at least has the same resolution) - see #6 below.

2. Instead of just telling the user the error message, the first error message tells the user to change context and perform an additional task to get access to the error message.

3. Changing context and performing that additional task doesn't work (items in the "Now Player" playlist don't have that option, and the item isn't in any other playlists if it was opened from File->Open URL).

4. The second WMP error message has a typo: "If the file is located a removable storage card"

5. Windows doesn't know whether or not it's connected to the Internet. Instead of fixing the problem in Windows, WMP had to add an option that essentially amounts to "Don't trust the information Windows gives me".

6. The PSS KB article with instructions to resolve the issue doesn't contain the text of either of the error messages I received. It contains the text of a 3rd error message, which apparently is the result of the same issue. Hence, searching for this KB article was pretty difficult. If we're going to remove error codes from our products, we had better get the right text in our knowledge base!

7. The PSS KB article with instructions to resolve the issue only contains the workaround telling WMP not to trust Windows. It doesn't suggest telling Windows that an Internet connection is present. The unofficial FAQ does.

8. Microsoft Product Support Services has really limited hours (this is for PAID support, no less).

I'll drop an email Monday morning to the WMP team about #s 1, 2, 3, and 4, an email to the Vista team about #5, and an email to PSS about #s 6 and 7. Since Vista and WMP 11 are due very soon, I'm hoping that on the offchance these issues haven't been identified, they can be fixed. *Crosses Fingers*


Dr Who said...

After being able to stream Radio for a few months on WMP 10, I too now have encountered this problem - C00D10B5, and it won't play.

I have forced it to think it is Online in the "Player" tab, Checked that I have not got "Work Offline" selected, run icwconn1.exe - none of this works. It resolutely refuses to play streaming broadcasts.

I am also only running XP2 firewall, so there SHOULDN'T be a firewall issue..... but I am now very confued.

In desperation I tunred to the MS Support page. Well. Wasn't THAT fun? I ended up with a page telling me to do what I had already done... and as for online support or email support - buggered if I could find that !!

adamjh said...

dr who emailed me offline, and we chatted a bit about resolving his WMP issue. here's some info he's asked me to share, in case anyone else encounters the same problem:

Last night, whilst taking the steps you advised, I.e. trying mplayer2.exe, I noticed that I wasn't getting ANY sound at all through my speakers.... only system "beeps" through the onboard speaker. I suddenly realised that I hadn't heard any of the sound events, and queried my wife who said "come to think of it, my new mail sound hasn't played in a while...."

Quick check of "Sounds" in control panel showed that according to the computer, I had no sound card !! Checked System -> Devices and my Soundcard was showing with a big exclamation mark next to it. when clicked and queried it said "Device cannot start".

I recalled that I had done some updates from the Microsoft site about the time this all stopped working, and so I clicked to roll back the driver on the sound card. Bingo. Everything started working, including streaming audio!!

I have a Realtek AC97 Sound card onboard the machine, and when I went to the Update site, for some reason it identified me as having a C-Media AC97 sound Card. My bad - I didn't read the description properly - all I saw was "Sound Card - updated driver" and though "goodo, I'll have that !!" So I updated and downloaded the wrong driver.......

SO.... if anyone else asks you the same question, you can say "I know this is a silly question... but are you SURE your sound card is enabled and working correctly?" as I now know that a disabled sound card gives the same WMP error as WMP not being able to connect to the network - C00D10B5

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the help!
I was wondering the same thing,
I checked on the microsoft website which didn't work
But I finally found this