Microsoft's Media Player leads the viewer pack Help Line

December 07, 1998|By James Coates | James Coates,CHICAGO TRIBUNE

Regarding plug-ins such as CineWeb and Real Time, what plug-in software do you recommmend for audio and video for personal use on our PC? Ours is a Gateway 2000 and we use the Netscape Web browser.

I consider the latest Media Player 6.0 from Microsoft Corp. to be, hands down, the slickest and easiest to use audio/video viewer for Internet movies and sound files.

You can download this new Media Player at www.microsoft.com, and I think you'll agree it shines when running up against everybody's underdog favorites, Real Media and Apple's QuickTime.

Touting Media Player is not very popular politically in the computer world because a pretty clear majority, myself included, admire the CEO at RealNetworks Inc., Rob Glaser, for having the courage to stand up and tell Congress how Microsoft strong-arms small competitors by incorporating the functions their products offer into the Windows product line.

But the reality is that Media Player 6.0 displays movie files faster and crisper than does any of the competition, and it also plays a wide variety of formats, more than any contender. Media Player also visibly outdoes QuickTime, although the difference is slight. I dislike QuickTime because it often nags a user to make a cash upgrade to a QuickTime Pro version.

The one area where RealNetworks shines is providing streaming audio broadcasts of radio stations with software that works very much like a high-end push button radio. The new RealPlayer G2 handles streaming audio wonderfully and is almost as good - but not quite as good - as Microsoft's offering in video files. The one thing that RealPlayer offers that Bill Gates can't is the good feeling that you're supporting a brave little underdog. But you asked about performance, not politics.

I am using Windows 95 Plus. For some reason, I have lost my active desktop theme. When I select a wallpaper theme, it does not load. The icons change, but the wallpaper is just a solid color. I have checked Microsoft's Web site. They list this exact problem, but with Windows 98 only. How do I get my themes back?

Dig back in the stuff that came with your PC and you'll find a CD-ROM for the Plus software for Windows 95. When you run it in your drive you'll get an opening screen with a choice to Add/Remove. Pick it and you'll get a box offering an option for each of the extras, including Internet software, system software to manage the hard drive and desktop themes.

Check just that one desktop themes box and you'll write a new version of the wallpaper treatments and other features over the ones that have been corrupted on your machine. Then reboot, and you'll be back in business.

I have experienced a strange problem after I have upgraded from Windows 95 to Windows 98. I was using RingCentral for faxing without any problem. However, I am not able to use it after the upgrade. I have completely deleted the RingCentral voice mail/faxing program from my disk and repeated the installation procedure for a couple of times but the result did not change.

I also tried to send my faxes from the fax program of Windows 95 but I could not succeed. I deleted it and tried to reinstall it, but I could not find the driver in the Windows 95 CD then.

You've hit a snag because Microsoft made big changes in the fax routines between Windows 95 and Windows 98, and when you upgraded the machine you lost the Windows 95 driver. Your efforts to fix things have caused a fixable but very annoying problem.

hTC IBM brand PCs like yours running Ring Central come with a recovery disk CD-ROM that will let you restore things, but you're not going to like the fact that you're going to have to back up all the data on your hard drive first and then reformat the hard drive and reinstall Windows 95 along with the bundled software, including RingCentral.

Once you do this, of course, you will be back to where you started and the machine will fax and otherwise handle all of the business tasks you need.

With the clean installation of Windows 95 you can now reinstall Windows 98 and let the new operating system's modem installation software find your fax modem and chose the proper driver software.

Send e-mail to jcoateribune.com.

Pub Date: 12/07/98

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