Sometimes Windows Media Player (“WMP”) refuses to start. I’ve had this problem since I first installed Vista in January 2007.
Through most of this period I had thought there was a conflict of some sort with iTunes. Why? Because iTunes is almost always running and, well, it just seemed to make sense since iTunes and Vista were not very friendly for most of Vista’s first year. I had hoped/thought various Vista and/or iTunes updates had solved the problem. But, no, this problem has persisted to this day. Sometimes Windows Media player starts, other times it won’t and I never understood why.
I have Googled this problem probably a dozen times with no resolution until today. My heart-felt thanks go out to Rob for this post in the Vista x64 forums. Since his answer to the problem was exactly correct and succinct, I reproduce it here:
When this happens, press Ctrl+Shift+Esc to start Task Manager, select the
Processes tab and you’ll find the wmplayer.exe process is already running
(although it doesn’t appear on the Applications tab). Select it and choose
I’ve no idea why, but some bug in Vista causes wmplayer to start whenever
the PC is restarted or brought out of sleep, but without its window showing.
You can’t run two instances of wmplayer, and as Vista assumes you’re trying
to run a second instance when you click Windows Media Player, it silently
I cannot isolate any specific cause (though I have tried). For whatever reason, sometimes, unbeknownst to me, WMP had already started. Perhaps its iTunes related, perhaps it’s caused by playing media within Firefox. I don’t know. But I can now say categorically that, whenever WMP won’t start, it is exactly for the reason Rob stated, it is already running behind the scenes. Stopping it on the Process tab resolves the problem.
The solution step-by-step
If WMP is not starting (whether by clicking on its icon or attempting to open a media file associated with it), do the following to resolve the situation:
- Press Ctrl-Shift-Esc to open Windows Task Manager
- Click on the Process Tab
- Find ‘wmplayer.exe’ in the process list (Tip: click on the “Image Name” Column head twice (see picture below) to sort the processes in reverse alphabetical order)
- Right click on the ‘wmplayer.exe’ (‘wmplayer.exe *32’ in the picture below)
- left click “End Process”
- Click the ‘End process’ button on the subsequent warning screen
- Close the Windows Task Manager screen
That should be it. From then Windows Media Player will start up as normally.