Is Windows Media Player 11 Watching You?

I thought Microsoft stuck to monitoring Vista systems but XP could be under surveillance too. If you have read my previous articles this should come as no surprise.

I was working on one of my customer’s computers when I saw this

on their screen in their msconfig menu. I disabled it as it does not need to run at start up for normal operation.

If you want to disable this you can click start, run, type msconfig, press enter and choose selective startup. Do the same as shown here.

Further Clarification

Ok so what harm can this cause to my PC? Well others have documented this phenomenon on their computers here and here. Even though I’m not quite sure what all this Windows Media Player Network Sharing Service actually does, I do know some basic things about Windows Media Player.

1. You rip your CDs or Music to your PC.

2. WMP decides to encrypt your music with DRM so it can’t be played on any other device.

3. It reports back to Microsoft all the names of the songs you have on your PC and if they are legal or not.

All of this has been done in many versions of Windows Media Player. I like to ask people some times can your Windows Media Player play DVDs, MP4s, or .MOV video files? No it can only play Windows Media not that other junk that you would surly never use. Everyone should only play Windows Media. This is why Microsoft got sued about 300 billion dollars this last month for monopolizing the market with Windows Media Player.

What I don’t know is what else Microsoft is using Windows Media Player Network Sharing Service to monitor. All I know is if it’s anything like Vista it’s bad news. According to this review this process eats up 2 MB of your RAM and 3% of your processor speed. The stated use is so that it can exchange your media with other devices on the network and other players. Disabling this process disables others from being able to gain access to your music from outside your computer. Here we have another article about a Microsoft victim who has a Zune, Xbox360, and Windows Media Player 11. He noticed a speed decrease after he sinked his Zune with Windows Media Player. This process that shares media was at the heart of it all. Yet this Microsoft Partner has a site devoted to identifying the processes that run on your PC and letting you know what to do about them. He seems to recommend getting rid of it. According to Microsoft this process monitors your devices and network 24/7 to make sure everything is in sync. This must surly eat up some processing power. Others claimed it only did this when your system was dormant. Not so. People here notice long loading times when this zombie process is in use.

So is this a zombie process? Well you decide for yourself. Ask yourself these questions:

1. Do I want to share media with all my devices in the world automatically or manually? By automatically I mean that every time you plug in a jump drive it will be scanned and all the media will be added, same with a CD, DVD, or whatever.

2. Do you want to devote 2 MB of RAM and 3% CPU to this process?

3. Do you trust Microsoft?

2 Responses to “Is Windows Media Player 11 Watching You?”

  1. You might want to specify to those who are not familiar with the spying….. how does this spying work? What data is mined from the user, etc…?

  2. Ya well I don’t know exactly what Microsoft is looking at in XP / WMP11. I only know what happens in Vista. The question is what does accepting WMP11 extend this spying to? What applications, music, video, etc does Microsoft monitor threw WMP11? We already know they monitor our Music and Video. Thats the same in WMP10. The question is what is different here. What does “Windows Media Player Network Sharing Service” do?

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