DivX and Vista: Quirky

Note: This post is outdated.

In this broadband-enabled era, more and more people turn to the full digitalization of their beloved DVD-based movie-collections. This enables centralization and streaming it to media boxes like Windows Media Center (also: XBOX360 as a Media Extender and in the future other Media Extenders), Apple TV and other platforms.

Throughout the years Internet media has dramatically gained popularity and so has DivX; the leading codec for decently compressed video. To date, DivX remains partially incompatible with Vista. Upon initialization, the installer gently warns you that some parts of the program/codec won’t work well.

After setup, you might notice your system being pulled into Windows Vista Basic-mode after firing up the DivX-player — the same scenario unfolds when you attempt to run an embedded DivX-movie on a webpage. Playing a movie from within Windows Media Player presents you with a black screen. Windows Media Center could experience the same. I’ve heard these problems are very system-specific (lucky me) and vary from system to system.

I’ve heard of a few alternatives, which could temporarily soothe your and my soars:

One solution would be to uninstall DivX and grab the previous stable version, which oddly enough doesn’t suffer from the instability issues (version 5.2.1). I’ve tried this, but to no avail. Vista’s window manager doesn’t crash, but the video doesn’t playback either. Again, this is very system-specific, so if you’re lucky, you could get it working on your configuration.
Alternative I: DivX 5.2.1 for XP SP2 (installs fine on Vista too)

Others just get rid of DivX for the time being and use the open-source solution XVid. This codec claims it will play your files, regardless of the operating system you’re on. In my case, installing it resulted into a “No codec found”-error. I was unable to resolve this.
Alternative II: XVid for Windows

There are many open-source apps out there, but the one I’m most impressed with must be VLC Media Player. Its platform-independency lets you run it on any recent version of Windows (including Vista), Mac OS, Linux and other platforms.It’ll use your current D3D-driver to visualize virtually any type of video — without codec-hell. Pretty impressive stuff.
Also, VLC also comes as a PortableApp.
Alternative III: VLC Media Player


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