With Windows Essentials Codec Pack you should be able to play 99% of all the movies and music files that you download off the internet, and stay up to date with the latest Codecs through W.E.C.P's Audio / Video Codec Update Service.
So, what is so cool about it ?
For starters, it's free (yey!) and it's user-friendly (i.e., click-click all done!) it keeps your computer up to date with the latest codecs (don't get left behind) and it's 1000% spamware / adware / spyware / scumware free (yey!)
But more importantly, unlike other codec packs which include several filters / decoders that are capable of decoding the same media format (which usually cause many conflicts / errors) W.E.C.P was especially designed to assign each file type to the most appropriate filter / decoder, which not only reduces the installer size but also eliminates many of the conflicts / errors caused by multiple codecs being used to decode the same file type(s).
Which formats does W.E.C.P supports ?
W.E.C.P. is designed as a near complete solution for all your video and audio needs, with it you can play Audio CDs, DVDs, (S)VCDs and XCDs on the fly, and it adds support for 3GP, AAC, AC3, APE, AVI, DivX, 3ivx, DAT, h.264, x264, AVC, Nero Digital, DTS, FLV, FLAC, HD-MOV, MPEG-1, MPEG-2, M4A, MPC, MP3, MP4, MO3, MOD, MKV/MKA, MTM, OFR, TTA, OGG/OGM, S3M, Vorbis, VOB, WavPack, ATRAC3, XviD, XM, WV, UMX and many more formats so you could play any video / audio file with your favorite media player or with the free and wonderful Media Player Classic player that comes included with W.E.C.P.
So which Codecs / DirectShow / VfW Filters / Tools does W.E.C.P. includes ?
- APE Source Filter: DirectShow audio decoder filter used to decode Monkey's Audio files (APE files)
- AC3 Filter: DirectShow audio decoder and processor filter used to decode audio tracks in movies (DVD, MPEG4 and others)
- AVI Splitter: Replacement for DirectShow's default Audio Video Interleave (AVI) Splitter (It can open many broken files and can reindex when needed)
- CDDA Reader Filter: DirectShow audio decoder capable of reading Audio CDs
- CDXA Reader Filter: DirectShow video decoder capable of reading (S)VCDs and XCDs
- CoreAAC Filter: Advanced Audio Coding (AAC) DirectShow audio decoder capable of reading AAC files
- CoreFlac Decoder: DirectShow audio decoder for the Flac audio codec
- FFDShow: DirectShow decoding filter for decompressing DivX, XviD, H.264, FLV1, WMV, MPEG-1 and MPEG-2, MPEG-4 and various other audio and video formats. It uses libavcodec from ffmpeg project for video decompression, postprocessing code from mplayer to enhance visual quality of low bitrate movies, and is based on original DirectShow filter from XviD, which is GPL'ed educational implementation of MPEG4 encoder
- FLV Splitter: Capable of splitting Flash Video files (FLV) and decoding On2 VP62 Video streams (notable users of the FLV format include YouTube, Google Video, Reuters.com, Yahoo! Video and MySpace.)
- OGG Splitter: DirectShow OGG Splitter capable of splitting OGG and OGM file(s) and enables to play / create .ogm wrapped video
- GPL MPEG-1/2 Decoder: DirectShow MPEG decoder filter can be used to play MPEG-1 and MPEG-2 streams
- MOD Source Filter: DirectShow filter decoder capable of decoding Tracker files (MO3, IT, XM, S3M, MTM, MOD and UMX)
- MPEG Splitter: DirectShow splitter capable of splitting MPEG1/MPEG2 files (MP(E)G, VOB, DAT, TS, TP, etc.)
- MPV Decoder: DirectShow decoder capable of decoding MPEG1/MPEG2 Video streams, and DVDs
- MPA Splitter: DirectShow Splitter capable of splitting MPEG Audio files (MP3) and MPEG4 Audio files (AAC)
- MPC Source Filter: DirectShow decoder filter capable of decoding MusePack Audio files (MPC).
- MP4 Splitter: DirectShow Splitter capable of splitting MP4, M4A, 3GP and HD-MOV files
- Matroska Splitter: DirectShow splitter capable of splitting Matroska files (MKV and MKA)
- Media Player Classic: an open source media player that looks just like Windows Media Player, but has many additional features. It has a built in DVD player with real-time zoom, support for AVI subtitles, QuickTime and RealVideo support
- OFR Source Filter: DirectShow filter decoder capable of decoding OptimFROG Audio files (OFR)
- RealMedia Splitter: DirectShow splitter that allows you to play RealNetworks audio/video files.
- SHOUTcast Source Filter: DirectShow decoder filter capable of handling internet radio stations streams (http://www.shoutcast.com)
- WV Splitter / Decoder: DirectShow WV Splitter and decoder capable of splitting and decoding WavPack Audio files (WV)
- VobSub Filter: DirectShow Vob Subtitles filter capable of displaying (embedded) Subtitle files (SRT, SUB, IDX, etc)
- Removed OpenCandy
- Fixed 64-Bit installer issues
- Fixed a lot of issues with mp4 muxer
- Better support for VC-1 in MPEG Transport streams
- Various H.264 and MPEG-2 seeking issues fixed
- Several memory leak fixes
- Subtitle fixes:
- Don't show closed caption if "Subtitles" is not checked
- Non-DVD subtitles: check if "Subtitles" is checked before showing subtitles
- Setting "Maintain outside text inside screen" was not always applied correctly
- Subtitle file could not be disabled during DVD playback
- Duration of SSA move tags was randomly applied
- Various fixes to alignment, line spacing, movement and positioning of ASS, SSA and SRT subtitles
- Several crash fixes
- Fixes in the Audio mixer and LFE crossover filter:
- Center and LFE were too loud when downmixing 5.1 -> 2ch
- If the original sound had LFE channel, it was overwritten
- If the center channel existed, left and right channels were ignored
- Several MLP/TrueHD/LPCM decoding fixes
- Playing a CSS-protected DVD using MPC or MPC-HC caused a crash in certain scenarios
- Fixed DVD menu positioning and freeze issue
- Fixed several crashes in WMP11 and Media Center
- ffdshow.ax failed to register when a registry key was missing
- Removed black lines in Perspective Correction filter
- dshow would crash when using the Grab filter and the Resize filter with aspect ratio correction
- Many fixes across multiple ffdshow components including OSD, deinterlacing, remote API, DVD and MPEG-2 playback
New and improved features
- Added support for WebM files
- Added AC-3 in MP4 support
- Added a 64-bit version(s)
- New multi-threaded H.264 decoder: ffmpeg-mt
- DTS-HD and Dolby TrueHD bitstreaming support for the ATI Radeon HD5000 series, ASUS Xonar sound cards and Intel Clarkdale CPUs
- New color space converters:
- Supported input color spaces: progressive YV12, progressive NV12, YV16, YUY2
- Supported output color spaces: RGB24, RGB32
- High quality chroma upscaling
- Added dithering to reduce "banding"
- Support for color primary parameters such as ITU-R BT.601/709, input and output levels
- RGB conversion done in 11-bit or higher
- Significant improvements in YV12 -> YUY2, YUY2 -> RGB, and YV12 -> RGB conversion performance
- Requires SSE2-capable CPU; for better performance multi-core CPU recommended
- New RGB conversion options:
- Output levels ("Computer monitor" or "TV/Projector")
- YCbCr specification "Auto" (uses H.264's VUI or width > 1024: BT.709, width <= 1024: BT.601)
- Various improvements in the Subtitle filter:
- Improved rendering quality, memory usage and performance
- General code cleanup
- SSA/ASS subtitles: better compatibility (support for position & move tags), better calculation of line wrapping, new dialog to configure ASS specific options. Also support added for ASS tags within SRT subtitles (SubViewer)
- FFDShowAPI: .NET wrapper around FFDShowRemoteAPI allows integration of ffdshow with third-party applications
- Improved subtitle/audio streams detection; now compatible with most filters handling the IAMStreamSelect interface
- New command to disable FF/RW OSD
- When using absolute positioning, x and y coordinates are now representing pixels instead of percentages
- Added new parameter to determine the duration in which a message will be displayed
- OSD settings are now based on the current ffdshow preset; this allows turning OSD on/off using the "Automatic preset loading" mechanism
- Buffered video RAM access improves video memory access in certain scenarios
- AviSynth filter now uses AviSynth's frames for buffering which improves performance and reduces the filter's memory usage
- "Max. amplification" in the Normalization filter will only be applied after pressing "Apply"
- Better handling of DVD menus
- Improved autocrop algorithm
- Added RealVideo 8 (RV30) support
- Added soft telecine detection
- Added several new preset autoload conditions
- libavcodec is now used by default to decode Theora videos
- libavcodec is now used as Dolby TrueHD decoder instead of MLP
- Various updates to libavcodec
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