(The following was tested with Windows Vista. Details may be different for other versions)
I installed Windows Vista on my work computer a couple of months ago (see bb20070802_01.asp)
and things have largely gone well so far.
There have been a few rough edges, however, which brings us to the topic for today.
I have a wireless webcam at home, a Linksys model WVC54GC (Ref. 1), connected to the home network,
and pointing out the front window.
It has a motion-detection feature, so if anything moves (a delivery truck, or the neighbor's dog, e.g.), it captures a brief 5-second video
clip and sends it as an email attachment to my email address (Fig. 1 below).
This is a convenient way to keep track of the house while on vacation, or just at work.
Figure 1 - Motion Detected - Video clip attached
Viewing the video-clip is a simple matter of double-clicking on the attachment, which launches
Windows Media Player v11 (WMP) and displays the video.
This used to work as planned on Windows XP, but in Vista the Media Player shows just a black window, no video content is displayed
(see Fig. 2 below).
Figure 2 - Oops, No video!
The mouse cursor blinks every so often, as if WMP is trying, but the display window remains blank.
I tried solving the problem by saving the attachment to a folder on disk, then opening that saved file with WMP, but it made no difference.
So I gave up for a few weeks, until I found a solution today.
This is not so much a solution as a work-around.
Some web searching led me to a discussion thread on the Linksys forums (Ref. 2) which contains not one,
but two workarounds.
The first workaround, posted by Icebreaker, is to simply rename the file extension from .asf to .asx.
I tried this (Fig. 3) on the file I had saved earlier, and, somewhat surprisingly, this works (Fig. 4 below).
Figure 3 - Original .asf filename extension
Figure 4 - File extension renamed from .asf to .asx
Figure 5 - Video plays correctly in Windows Media Player after renaming
The second workaround, posted by JonChambres in the same discussion thread, is to use the VLC Media Player to play the .asf files.
VLC is a free open-source media player for a number of platforms, including Windows Vista (Ref. 3).
I downloaded and installed it from their web site, and indeed it correctly plays the .asf files (Fig. 6 below).
Figure 6 - The .asf file plays OK in VLC player
This has a major advantage over the first workaround, since the file does not need to be renamed, I can now view the video
by simply double-clicking on the attachment in the mail client.
While installing the VLC player I had taken care to un-check the default setting of associating various media formats to open with VLC,
so I now needed to associate .asf files with VLC player.
I did this in Windows Explorer by right-clicking on the .asf file, then selecting "Open With" and "Choose Program" (see Fig. 7).
Figure 7 - Choosing default program for .asf files
This brought up the next dialog (Fig. 8) where I chose VLC Player from the suggested programs.
I took care to "check" the box labeled "Always use the selected program to open this kind of file", then clicked OK.
Figure 8 - Choosing VLC Player as the default program
While not a true solution to the original problem (see Discussion below), this is an adequate workaround, and I can now view the
.asf videos by just double-clicking on the files or attachments, and it launches VLC Player to display them (as in Fig. 6 above).
The above is a workaround that does the job, but does not explain why Vista has problems playing .ASF format files
in Windows Media Player.
The ASF format (Ref. 4) is Microsoft's own format, and very widely used, so this
is even more puzzling.
All indications suggest this is a bug in Vista or Windows Media Player, yet it has gone un-patched for the last 11 months
that Vista has been released.
I have applied all required and recommended Vista and WMP patches.
The version of Windows Media Player is the latest available (v11.0.6000.6336).
We cannot explain this entirely from the evidence available, but perhaps we can narrow it down a bit.
The first possibility is that there may be something wrong or non-standard with the these particular .asf files
created by the Linksys camera.
[...to be continued...]
- Linksys WVC54GC camera -
- Cannot playback recorded .asf video...
- VLC Media Player
- Advanced Systems Format (ASF) Specification
(in order from older to newest)