Remoting the Windows Media Player Control

When you embed the Windows Media Player control in a C++ program, you can use it as a remote extension of the full mode of the Player. This is called "remoting" the Windows Media Player control, and it lets you provide all the features of the full mode Player without implementing them yourself.

When you remote the control, it shares the same playback engine as the full mode of the Player and your users can switch back and forth between embedded mode (the "docked" state) and full mode (the "undocked" state) while digital media playback continues uninterrupted.

Enabling Remote Embedding

To enable remote embedding of the Windows Media Player control, your program must implement the IServiceProvider and IWMPRemoteMediaServices interfaces. IServiceProvider is a standard Component Object Model (COM) interface with a single method called QueryService. Windows Media Player calls this method to retrieve a pointer to an IWMPRemoteMediaServices interface.

IWMPRemoteMediaServices has several methods, but only two of them are directly relevant to remoting. In GetApplicationName, you return the name of your program, which Windows Media Player adds to the Switch to Other Program list on the View menu. In GetServiceType, you indicate the embedding mode of the control by returning a value of either "Remote" or "Local". If a remote connection is successfully established, the get_isRemote method of the IWMPPlayer4 interface returns true.

Specifying an Exclusive Online Store

With Windows Media Player 11, an application that embeds the Player control remotely can specify an exclusive online store. In that case, the service selector in Windows Media Player is disabled and only the specified online store is available to the user. For detailed information about how to specify an exclusive online store, see Exclusive Online Stores.

Docking and Undocking

The IWMPPlayer4 interface also provides access to the IWMPPlayerApplication interface through the get_playerApplication method. Use IWMPPlayerApplication to switch between the docked and undocked states and to determine the current docked state and the location of the video or visualization display.

The IWMPPlayerApplication::switchToPlayerApplication method undocks the control by opening the full mode of Windows Media Player and transferring the video or visualization display to the Now Playing pane. The IWMPPlayerApplication::switchToControl method docks the control by transferring the video or visualization display to your program and closing the full mode of the Player, if it is open. The control can also be docked by selecting a program from the Switch to Other Program list or by closing the full mode of the Player. In both cases, any digital media that is playing continues uninterrupted.

Transferring the Video or Visualization Display

When several programs with embedded, remoted Windows Media Player controls run simultaneously, all of the controls share the same playback engine. They also share the same instance of the full mode of the Player in the undocked state. In the docked state, however, only one control can display the video or visualization. In the undocked state, only the full mode of the Player displays the video or visualization. The switchToControl method works in both the docked and undocked states and will transfer the video or visualization display to whichever program calls it.

The only difference between the docked and undocked states is the presence of the full mode of Windows Media Player and its ownership of the video or visualization display. In the undocked state, all embedded, remoted controls currently running are still visible and their user interfaces are still fully functional. If a video or visualization window is present, however, it is empty. In the docked state, only one of the embedded, remoted controls owns the display, but all user interfaces continue to function.

Hiding or Changing the Control in the Undocked State

You must provide your own implementation if you want to hide or alter the user interface of an embedded control in the undocked state or when your program does not own the display. You can make these alterations when you dock and undock the control, or you can make them in response to Windows Media Player events. Because the Player can be docked through the Switch to Other Program menu option, however, it is usually better to provide this functionality in response to events.

You can implement event handlers for the SwitchedToPlayerApplication and SwitchedToControl events, or you can implement a single event handler for the PlayerDockedStateChange event. In the latter case, you can determine the docked state by calling IWMPPlayerApplication::get_playerDocked. In both cases, use IWMPPlayerApplication::get_hasDisplay to determine whether your program owns the video or visualization display.

Re-establishing a Remote Connection

In certain circumstances, the connection between a remoted, embedded control and the standalone Player will fail, invalidating your pointers to the Windows Media Player interfaces. Windows Media Player will automatically attempt to reconnect, and will fire the PlayerReconnect event to signal this attempt. Although the reconnection is automatic, you must provide an event handler for this event if you want to release your invalid pointers and retrieve new ones so that you can access the standalone Player through the new connection.

Controlling the Undocked Player

All remoted instances of the Windows Media Player control can manipulate the full mode of the Player regardless of the docked state. Features that have no relevance to the full mode of the Player, however, are ignored until the Windows Media Player control is docked. This includes properties of the IWMPPlayer and derived interfaces, such as enabled, enableContextMenu, uiMode, and windowlessVideo.

Error Dialog Boxes

From a remoted Windows Media Player control instance, the Settings.enableErrorDialogs property behaves in a specific manner. The following rules apply:

  • When Windows Media Player is undocked (the Windows Media Player UI is visible), the enableErrorDialogs property is ignored and error dialog boxes are handled by the Player.
  • When Windows Media Player is docked, the value specified by each remoted instance of the control for enableErrorDialogs applies only to the individual control instance. That is, if a particular control instance specifies a value of "true" for enableErrorDialogs, only that instance will display a dialog box when an error occurs if all other instances of the control have specified a value of "false".

Remoting in the Background

You should avoid keeping a remoted instance of the Player running in the background during times when the control is not in use. Because the remoted Player control instance shares its playback engine with the full mode Player, keeping a background instance running can cause unexpected behavior. For example, the user might close the full mode Player while a file is playing. The user would expect that file playback would completely stop when the Player closes, but audio might continue to play because the playback engine is still active.


The Windows Media Player SDK setup package installs samples that demonstrate remoting. See the RemoteSkin and WMPML samples for more information.


Using the Windows Media Player Control in a C++ Program