As one of the most popular media players in the world, Windows Media Player gains a great reputation for its excellent service in movie playback. However, with the rise of Blu-ray and copyright protection policies, Windows Media Player currently couldn’t remain to be the first choice for home movie enjoyment. Many people are trying to find a Windows Media Player alternative as some ask what is better than Windows Media Player. This post would share with you different Windows Media Player alternatives free. It should be noted that some of these WMP alternatives may require you to install 3rd-party add-ons.

Part 1: Introduction of Windows Media Player

Windows Media Player is a media player and media library application developed by Microsoft. A lot of Microsoft users would love to use it as the first media player choice for playing audio, video and viewing images on personal computers.

In addition to being a media player, Windows Media Player has also been equipped with the capability of ripping music from and copying music to compact discs, burning recordable discs in Audio CD format or as data discs with playlists such as an MP3 CD, synchronizing content with a digital audio player (MP3 player) or other mobile devices, and enabling users to purchase or rent music from a number of online music stores.

Windows Media Player 12 is the most recent version of Windows Media Player. It was released on July 22, 2009 along with Windows 7 and has not been made available for previous versions of Windows nor has it been updated since for Windows 8, Windows 8.1 and Windows 10. Unlike Windows 8, Windows RT does not run Windows Media Player.

best windows media player alternatives

Part 2: Features and Limitations of Windows Media Player

Windows Media Player supports playback of audio, video and pictures, along with features including fast forward, reverse, file markers (if present) and variable playback speed. It supports local playback, streaming playback with multicast streams and progressive downloads. Items in a playlist can be skipped over temporarily during the playback time and users don't have to remove them from the playlist. Full keyboard-based operation is possible in the player.

It also supports full media management via the integrated media library which offers cataloging and searching of media and viewing media metadata. Media can be arranged according to album, artist, genre, date et al. What’s more, it has and Quick Access Panel (later replaced with an Explorer-style navigation pane) to browse and navigate the entire library through a menu and introduced ratings and Auto Ratings which automatically assigns ratings based on the number of times a song is played. Since WMP 9 Series, the player features dynamically updated Auto Playlists based on criteria. Auto Playlists are updated every time users open them.

Windows Media Player is a common household player. This is somehow because of how well it performs. But a more important truth is that a lot of people choose it just because it was sold with the Microsoft operating system. Apart from its main features, there are also some limitations to it should be mentioned. First, Windows Media Player cannot stream the video properly over the slow DSL connections. Next, it can’t sync media data to users’ portable devices. It won’t sync to an iPod or even Microsoft’s own Zune, which is a bugging issue for many users who focus on the convenient user experience. Third, Windows Media Player has a small album cover art and has no volume normalizing. MP3 format offers 18 levels of quality. Windows Media Player offers exactly four levels. On top of that, it is limited to Windows and MP3 formats. Combine all these limitations with the growing needs of modernized people, alternative players are necessary.

best windows media player alternatives

Part 3: Alternatives to Windows Media Player

Most Windows users would adopt Windows Media Player to play movies. While Windows Media Player is not opening videos of certain formats, getting a Windows Media Player alternatives free for Windows computers could be a very simple work since there are a lot of options online. The below media player options are 10 best Windows Media Player alternatives for Windows. By telling you what is better than Windows Media Player, you may want to check each system requirement and features you prefer.

1. Leawo Free Blu-ray Player

Leawo Blu-ray Player is an all-inclusive media player freeware that is capable of playing all kinds of videos from Blu-rays, DVDs, and other physical-digital copies. You will be impressed by the ability to play movies up to 4K Ultra high definition, 1080P full HD videos, ISO image files, and even movie audio including 4K MKV, 4K MP4, HD MP4, HD AVI, etc. As a region free Blu-ray player software program, it can help you easily playback the latest released Blu-ray and DVD discs without regardless of disc protection and region restriction.

At the same time, this program ensures the source output in lossless quality for any media format files. Able to deliver cinema-like movie experience with the support of various advanced audio decoding technologies like Dolby, DTS, AAC, TrueHD, DTS-HD, etc. Users are given an immense range of playback control which allows everyone to select subtitles, audio tracks, add extra subtitles, and so on. More than you can imagine, several practical features are packed such as settable themes and skins, the remote support, the power manager, screen snapper. A bonus function that transfers Blu-ray/DVD to MKV can be activated by upgrading to the premium version. Being a universal alternative media player Windows 10 compatible software, it is also the best free alternative to Quicktime player on Mac OS systems.

2. RealPlayer

RealPlayer is a popular media player over the Internet while so many users regard it as a powerful alternative media player for Windows 7. Working properly on Windows computers, it supports a number of popular video formats, including WMV, WMA FLV, AVI, MP3, MP4, 3GP and more. In addition to this, it can convert your video files into different formats. Another point is the accessibility to download streaming content online. What’s more, you can share your clips with friends on Facebook. But if you want to get more features, you should pay $49.99 to get the RealPlayer Plus 16.

3. KMPlayer

KMPlayer would be decent Windows Media Player alternatives free software when you are looking for a bit more enhanced software for your PC. One of the major reasons that make KM Player favorable is the availability for a wide range of formats, such as MKV, OGG, 3GP, FLV, etc. And in general, those who have tried KMPlayer have somewhat been forced to stick onto the player, as KM Player offers a lot of parameter settings for both common and advanced movie freaks. This alternative media player Windows 10 program also supports 3D movies. It does not consume that much system resources and you can even turn non-3D movies into 3D ones if you have 3D glasses with you.

4. SMPlayer

This Windows Media Player alternative is free and versatile enough to handle almost all of your videos regardless of formats. It comes with the most prevalent codecs it needs to be bundled in. Featuring the built-in ability to remember where you left off in a movie and what settings you were using. In this way, you can pick right up and keep going in no time. Although SMPlayer is built on MPlayer, the clean and neat interface still catches eyes. So if you’ve used it before, you’ll be familiar with SMPlayer. You can download subtitles for your film as well as search for YouTube videos on SMPlayer.

5. Media Player Classic

Media Player Classic is devised to be a compact, no-frills sort of program, yet it does pretty much everything you’d expect from a media player. It works straight from installation without requiring any additional codec packs. However, maybe some of the most obscure formats are incompatible. It has an extremely lightweight size and uses very few resources while playing. This alternative media player for Windows 7 supports VCD, SVCD and DVD playback. With the supply of DirectShow, it also plays media files in a vast array of video format families including AVI, MPEG, MKV, MP4, MOV, FLV, RM, WMV, MP3, AAC, FLAC, and a whole lot more.

6. VLC Media Player

Having the VLC Media Player installed will well explain what is better than Windows Media Player in all most every aspect. Needless to describe its popularity as a VLC player wins the majority usage in terms of opening media content. While covering an additional converter process, it is possible to get transcoded files without other apps. It can assist in fixing broken data for AVI files. The open-source advantage keeps very vigorous among all Windows Media Player alternatives free programs. As one of the best open source media players, VLC can be simply added with external plug-ins and codecs when required.

7. 5KPlayer

Designed with a modern and stylish user interface, it is easy to recall this Windows Media Player alternative from a variety of Windows Media Player alternatives free on Windows. The primary stunning feature is the Airplay support which provides convenience for Mac OS users in the meantime. Multi-tasking the download online, users can socialize and watch YouTube content directly. You can change the playback speed in case you’re out of time but you want to finish the movie. On top of that, there are some cool filters you can test out.

8. FreeSmith Video Player

FreeSmith Video Player is another awesome alternative media player Windows 10 acceptable. Even though it is quite similar to VLC as it can play a wide range of video and audio files without asking for any additional codecs or software. Not only does it hold a few other hidden features, such as multi-touch and remote support but it also hosts massively adjustable performances. The interface may look more modern but with a minimal approach. And one feature I love about this Windows Media Player alternative is the bookmark tool which remembers where you played up to last time – something which I think every video player should have.

9. GOM Player

GOM Player is a free, simple yet multi-functioning player that squeezes in this top 10 Windows Media Player alternatives free list. You could use this Windows Media Player alternative to play any media in any format for totally free while it lays out the operations of dealing with QuickTime formats, FFmpeg files as well as diverse subtitles. This player is easy to use and available to modify playback aspect ratios and configure keyboard shortcuts. It could even encode Quicktime and FFmpeg on the fly. For Korean drama fans, don’t miss the special Korean subtitles service.

10. Miro

As a torrent player program, Miro is an open-source media player with a specialized built-in torrent client. The interface of the alternative media player for Windows 7 has taken a few leaves out of the trending mainstream. Although it won’t play media files different from any other media player, it has a built-in video converter with tons of presets. You can also share your media files over your local network with anyone who also has Miro installed. Surprisingly, there’s an iPad version in the works, which promises the ability to stream and transfer videos and music to it.

Part 4: Guide on How to Use Leawo Blu-ray Player

What is better than Windows Media Player should be considered from comparing multiple Windows Media Player alternative products. Personally, I would strongly put forward the Leawo Blu-ray Player because it is the best 4K Blu-ray player in the market. Next, the novice-friendly graphic design together with rich features will be introduced for the welcome guide.

Step 1. Download and install the Windows Media Player alternative on Windows systems.

Step 2. Launch Leawo Blu-ray Player and import original files.

There are many options according to the source media type. It is reachable to click on the “Open File” box to load videos and audio. The quick way is to drag files on the interface and leave the program to pick it up and stream immediately.

If you play discs, inserting the disc into the drive and this software can detect all playable media data. In a second, the movie cover with its name will pop up in an extra icon box. Click on it to start playing automatically.

Step 3. Switch on the movie subtitles.

One way to open the subtitle setting panel is by the right-click menu where an option of “Subtitle” will be listed. Another one is to move the mouse to the banner area until a long bar drops down with a couple of shortcuts. Tap the first one which represents the subtitle to enable or disable subtitles, adjust subtitle offset, browse and select the subtitles.

Step 4. Zoom in or zoom out the videos.

Right-click within the streaming field, choose the “Video” button to draw out video parameters. Users are provided with the zooming feature that can tweak the “Zoom amount” in this video menu. Moreover, video upscaling is incredibly the finest skill for watching movies. Other customizable settings are all contained.

Step 5. Amplify the sound volume.

Similarly, approach the “Audio-settings” window through the drop-down audio icon or select “Audios” from the right-click bar. Here, users are able to boost soundtracks and even exceed the maximum volume of your raw files.

Part 5: Conclusion

Compare all these famous media players, Leawo Blu-ray Player stands out with its all-inclusive features and user-friendly settings. It has an easy-to-use interface and was dubbed as home theatre for its HD experience. With Leawo Blu-ray Player, you don't have to do much additional work such as downloading and installing codecs. You can enjoy this free media player with cinema-like watching experience at home.