Q: I recently began using Mozilla Firefox 3 to browse the Web on my Windows XP machine at work. Unfortunately, now I’m unable to watch videos that are embedded in Web pages using Windows Media Player. What’s causing this, and how can I fix it?
A: The most likely reason Mozilla Firefox 3 does not play your embedded videos using Windows Media Player is because Firefox requires an additional plug-in for non-Microsoft browsers, known as the “Security Update for Windows Media Player Plug-in.”
Microsoft issued the plug-in to protect against security vulnerability with Windows Media Player when used in non-Microsoft browsers. Windows Media Player works seamlessly with the Internet Explorer, but has compatibility issues with other browsers without the additional plug-in. It is possible that the plug-in is missing or not working properly with your Firefox 3 installation.
First, check to make sure you have an updated version of Windows Media Player installed on your machine. You should at least have version 10 or 11 installed. To check your current version, open Windows Media Player, right-click on the title bar, click “Help” then go to “About Windows Media Player.” Having a current version is important because newer browsers may have compatibility problems with older versions of Windows Media Player, and you will not be able to install the additional plug-in. If you are not running a current version, you can get the latest update by using Windows Update. For help with Windows Update, visit windowsupdate.microsoft.com.
Once you have confirmed that you have the latest update installed for Windows Media Player, check to see if you can view videos through Windows Media Player from your Firefox browser. If you are still unable to view the videos, check to see if you already have the plug-in installed and that your Firefox installation can detect the plug-in.
To view the installed plug-ins that Mozilla Firefox can detect, open a Firefox browser window and type “about:plugins” in the address bar. Firefox should display a page called “Installed plug-ins.” Scroll down the page until you reach a section called “Windows Media Player Plug-In Dynamic Link Library.” Under this section, you should see a File Name called “npdsplay.dll” and a list of components. If you do not see this section or the components, chances are you do not have the plug-in installed or Firefox is having trouble detecting it.
If you do not have the Windows Media Player plug-in installed, you have multiple options. One option is to search Mozilla’s Web site (www.mozilla.org) to find the download. Of course, an alternative option is to install the plug-in from Windows Update. Once you have completed your installation, go back and refresh the “Installed plug-ins” page from your Firefox browser to verify that Firefox is able to detect the plug-in.
After installing the Windows Media Player plug-in and once Firefox is able to detect it, visit a Web page with an embedded video to make sure the plug-in fixed your problem. Make sure you try to view multiple videos from multiple sites, as it is possible that some sites are functioning improperly.
If all else fails, this could be an issue unrelated to your browser or Windows Media Player. Post your specific problem to the forums on Mozilla’s Web site, and you will more than likely find many others with the same issue.
Andrew Bonslater, MCTS, MCSD, MCAD, is a senior staff member with Crowe Horwath LLP in the Chicago office. He can be reached at editor (at) certmag (dot) com.