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Windows Media Player

You can configure several features in Windows Media Player (WMP) to stop it from phoning home. These settings are configured on the Player tab of WMP, as shown in Figure 6. Notice that WMP will check for updates whether you like it or not. According to Microsoft, they don't offer you the option to turn off certain key features of DRM technology due to the nature of DRM technology. They suggest your best bet is to learn how the technology works instead of disabling some of its features.

Figure 6Figure 6 Configuring automatic updates in Windows Media Player.

The automatic update feature has three options for checking for updates:

  • Once a day
  • Once a week
  • Once a month (default setting)

I mentioned in the DRM section earlier in this article that you can configure WMP to acquire licenses in nonsilent mode. Simply uncheck the box Acquire Licenses Automatically, under Internet Settings, as shown in Figure 6.

Some vendors tend to think that everyone has a T1 connection to the Internet, so it's okay for them to link to a live page on the Internet as the default setting. Do yourself a favor and turn off the feature in which WMP starts by connecting to WindowsMedia.com. This can be done by unchecking the box Start Player in Media Guide, under Player settings. Changing this default setting can improve your performance and overall eXPerience.

Unfortunately, there's no Group Policy setting to disable the feature to check for updates to WMP in Windows XP. However, you can use the following registry hack to disable WMP updates in Windows XP:

  1. Start the registry editor (regedit.exe).

  2. Go to HKLM\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft.

  3. On the Edit menu, click New, Key.

  4. Type WindowsMediaPlayer as the name for the key.

  5. Highlight the WindowsMediaPlayer key in the left pane. Then on the Edit menu, click New, DWORD Value.

  6. Type DisableAutoUpdate for the value and press Enter.

  7. Double-click this new value in the right pane, and enter a decimal value 1 for Value data.

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