Disappointing Media Key

Ever wonder how that little “media” key on your “multimedia keyboard” works? It’s not as fancy or great as you thought. First of all it requires Windows Explorer (the main shell) to be running, so if you’ve crashed it out or are running an alternate shell, it won’t work. You may have noticed that it seems to be smart too, it will run whatever media player you choose, for example it may launch WIMP but then you switch to XMPlay and all of a sudden, it starts launching that instead. How clever. Not quite. Here’s the truth:

Whenever EXPLORER.EXE detects that key has been pressed, it goes to the registry and finds the entry for .CDA (the file extension associated with audio CD tracks). It then looks up what media player is associated with it and launches that.

You may say that’s not too bad, but what if you don’t use your computer to play audio CDs? What if MP3s, MODs, WAVs, or some other is your main format and you’ve never associated CD tracks with your favorite media player? What if you want to use different media players for different audio types?

Most importantly of all, it just disappointing to see how basic the way it works is. I thought there was a clever formula behind the scenes that determined what media player to launch. I guess drawing the curtains back all the time has it’s disadvantages, sometimes it’s just a wrinkly old man.