Some of you may remember my writing about
a Windows Media Player bug
a few days ago. As you know, it all turned out for the best and I went along my merry way, playing the file my customer had sent me, understanding the look they were after and working on that next commercial of theirs.
There is however, as usual with things Windows Media, a seeming incompatibility between core Mac OS X technologies and the digital rights management system built into the application. This time, it was all about user switching: after switching accounts on my machines and trying to read the file on each of them, for testing purposes, the magic that allowed for the decryption of the content stopped working and I was presented with a very laconic error message, stating that the “Hardware license was inconsistent”.
Very much like last time, a quick look through the web revealed mostly PC-based solutions that were of little interest to me. Also, there seems to be an assumption in forums that anyone asking this question is trying to hack a file and, therefore, one seldom finds answers.
It turns out this is the DRM-version of a corrupted preference file. You see, Windows Media Player, when it connects to the servers using Internet Explorer (which, again, you’ll have to temporarily set as your default browser, a scary thought), downloads a little file containing some kind of key and stores it safely and warmly, ready to be used whenever you request that the file in question be played.
Unfortunately, when you switch between accounts, launch the application and generally attend to your business, that string can get damaged or inaccessible, which causes Windows Media to go bonkers.
Here, the roughness of the application works at our advantage. I spent hours looking for hidden files, software mechanisms, compared the working and the now seemingly faulty versions of the file to no avail. For some reason, nothing DRM-related was where I expected it. It turns out Windows Media Player simply creates a folder called “DRM” in your “/Library/Preferences/” folder and stores its keys there.
Moving this folder out of the Player’s way allowed for the operations to resume smoothly. Windows Media Player looked for the license, didn’t find it, went back to my client’s server, downloaded a fresh copy of the keys and started playing the content again.
Note that this method won’t allow you to really “hack” anything. All it does is convince Windows Media Player to request a fresh copy of the license from the servers. Provided you are allowed to do that, it should allow you to resume the playing of your files that are most likely in perfect working condition.
Amazing how an application that looks for hidden files in the recesses of the Classic folders creates a folder called “DRM” in the most obvious of locations… But hey, that may be the one thing in favor of Windows Media Player: at least it does its shady things in the sunlight!