As with all things I stick my nose into, this Media Player issue has taken on a life of its own. While I've received a few emails from people who have indeed noticed some of the problems with Windows Media Player 6.0, I've also received dozens of mail from others who have never experienced any of the problems I mentioned in yesterday's WinInfo. Just for the heck of it (hey, I've got the time), I downloaded the latest version and tested it against an MP3 file. Sure enough, it worked fine (and, oddly enough, it even seemed to sound better under the Media Player than it did with WinAMP. Weird).
I guess we'll never know what the truth is here. Based on the feedback I've gotten, I was ready to attribute the problems to DirectX 6.0 (or more accurately, the lack of DirectX 6.0), but someone wrote this morning to tell me that WMP 6.0 worked fine on their NT 4.0 setup, so that can't be it either. I think we're seeing yet another example of the weird things that can (but don't always) happen when you use Windows: the myriad ways your system can be configured with all kinds of different versions of DLLs and whatnot just sometimes causes these sorts of things to happen.
OK, I don't ever want to think about this again. Please. :)