Archive for March, 2010|Monthly archive page

Windows 7 N and Multi-media

You’ve probably seen all the ‘broo haa haa’ about Microsoft offering European customers a choice of web browser. All of this came about because of an agreement between the EU and Microsoft reached in December 2009.

While ‘browser choice’ is the highest profile, it isn’t the first time EU have forced Microsoft to change Windows. Way back in 1993, Novell complained to the EU about Microsoft’s licensing and anti-competitive practices. In 2004, the EU ruled against Microsoft:

  • forcing Microsoft to pay a £381 million fine (and eventually more fines for arguing with the EU)
  • forcing Microsoft to reduce licensing fees and divulge technical information about their server technologies to allow interop with other vendors
  • forcing Microsoft to produce a version of Windows that doesn’t have Windows Media Player installed

The third requirement is met by Microsoft producing an “N” version of Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7. I installed Windows 7 N on my new rig over the weekend – Windows 7 N is a painful experience, so much so I wonder what the freaking point is? By stripping out media player, it is impossible to calculate the “Windows Experience Index” – your left with a cryptic message about the computer not having any “multi-media” capability and Windows is unable to decide if you should be able to use aero or not.

After I stopped blaming my motherboard and drivers, you’re left with two choices to get Aero switched on:

  1. Run winstat -dwm from the command prompt (as administrator)
  2. Install the Windows Media Feature pack (KB968211)

If you want a Windows Experience score you have to install the Windows Media feature pack mentioned in step 2. And yes, the Windows Media Feature pack contains Windows Media Player…