Windows Media Player 9 (WMP 9 for short) is the default version of WMP bundled with all editions of Windows XP. But there are also two earlier versions of Windows Media Player. That can be used the same way you would use the latest version of Windows Media Player. These are Windows Media Player 6.4 and Windows Media Player 5.1. But they are hidden and so do not appear in the start menu with most other installed programs,but here is how to enable and use them.
To find Windows Media Player 6.4 open programs file on C/drive and look for the file Windows Media Player. Inside that file you should see a file called mplayer2. And it is this that is Windows Media Player 6.4. Then right click with your mouse and select send to desktop to create a quick launch shortcut. You should now have a shortcut icon on your desktop,(mplayer2)and you can rename this shortcut if you want to. If you cannot find the program file you can use Search Companion in My Computer. And this will find the program file and you can then create a desktop shortcut from there.
You now have WMP 6.4 on your desktop and you can now pin the program to the start menu. Windows Media Player 6.4 will run alongside your existing WMP 9 and will play most video and audio files just like WMP 9 does. You can also set WMP 6.4 as your default media player in advanced settings. And then every time you want to play a video or audio file,it will open and play in WMP 6.4 not WMP 9. But you can also play videos in WMP 9 as well as in 6.4.
To enable Windows Media Player 5.1,the easiest way to do this is to again go to My Computer and use Search Companion. You need to type mplay32 in the search box. You should then see the file for WMP 5.1, and then create a desktop shortcut,like you did with WMP 6.4.
You should now see Windows Media Player 5.1 on your desktop(mplay32) and you can rename this shortcut also.Windows Media Player 5.1 works, but has limited functions. That is it will play all audio files, but not all video formats. When I tried to play my web cam videos in Windows Media Player 5.1,I found that it would only play wmv files not avi files. Although it will play any videos that it cannot play as audio files. And also unlike WMP 6.4,Windows Media Player 5.1 cannot be set as the default media player. But it will play any file that you open without any problems.
Both Windows Media Player 6.4 and 5.1 can be used alongside the latest version of Windows Media Player 9. And you can use all three media players together without any problems.
You can also find WMP 6.4 and 5.1 by using the Run command,but this does not create a desktop shortcut.And if you plan on using WMP 6.4 and 5.1 a lot it is best to put a shortcut on your desktop, and in the start menu. So you can just run them, and do not have to keep searching in files every time you want to use the media players.
Windows Media Player 6.4 is an earlier version of Windows Media Player that was on Windows 98 but is also installed on Windows 2000 and Windows XP. And Windows Media Player 5.1 was never the default media player on any of the earlier versions of Windows. Because on Windows 95 they had WMP 6.1,which suggests that WMP 5.1 was always the second version of WMP on all earlier versions of Windows, and so was not made to play all video files.
As I said earlier, Windows Media Player will play most files but not all. And it cannot play my MPG4 Videos because it cannot find the codecs. But this has nothing to do with the version of Windows Media Player. As I have the same problem on Windows 7 with Windows Media Player 12. Windows Media Player 12 also, does not play MPG4 files, but you can use VLC Player or Gom Player for this.
Windows Media Player is not perfect, but it is a very user friendly and easy to use media player. And if you have got Windows XP, you have the choice of using the old version of Windows Media player. Which some people like better, as they say it is easier to use than the new versions.
If you have Windows Vista or Windows 7 and want to use an older version of Windows Media Player. You are out of luck,as when they made Windows Vista. Microsoft got rid of what they thought was a lot of not needed software. Windows Media Player 6.4 and 5.1 being one of them.
So Windows Vista users are stuck with Windows Media Player 11 only. And Windows 7 users are stuck with Windows Media Player 12 only. With no choice to use an earlier version.
Images-Top left-Windows Media Player 6.4 can also be set as the default player in default program list. Top right-Windows Media Player 9,the current version on Windows XP.
Bottom left-Windows Media Player 6.4. Bottom right-Windows Media Player 5.1.