Real Obnoxious Feb 29th 2004

The one application that I try to stay away from more than any other is Real Player. Or Real One, or whatever the hell they call it this week. If Real Player, Real One, whatever, just did what it’s supposed to do; which is to play video streams, then that’d be great.

Unfortunately, playing video streams is only a very small aspect of what Real Player does; Real Player, most prominently, is a small bastard with inferiority complex and delusions of grandeur, not too different from Napoleon…

Although Real Player’s task is simple and limited to a certain timeframe, Real Player defaults to running at all times, whether its limited functionality is needed or not, and claims a seat for itself in the throne commonly called the systray.

When you install Real Player, you can either choose an express install, or custom install. If you pick express install, Real Player simply installs itself with every option and feature turned on. If you choose the custom install, the process is a blend between an installer and a Pokemon-like game of gotta-uncheck-all-checkboxes.

Because, if you don’t catch em all, Real Player assumes you want shortcuts to it on the desktop, in the Quick Launch bar next to the start-menu, in the top of the start-menu, another desktop shortcut to “free offers” from real.com, a third desktop shortcut to “Free Aol & unlimited internet”, and last but not least, a special option in the windows search-menu called “Audio/video search”. Note that Real Player does not just create a folder in the start-menu programs-folder, like most apps do, but claims a seat in the top of the start-menu, for quick and easy access. Besides all these short-cuts, Real Player also installs a shortcut in the programs-folder of the start-menu, and another folder, called “Real”, in the programs-folder.

Real Player assumes you want to use the application as your primary player for basically every audio and video format and media available. After all, that’s what most people would want, right?

When installing Real Player, the default option is to also install the Real OneSearch Internet Explorer toolbar. Product registration is, of course, mandatory, and since the good folks at Real assumes you’ve got a special interest in news and updates from Real, it also assumes you’re interested in receiving “important news, upgrades and offers”. When installing the free Real Player, it is also assumed that you want to immediately purchase and install the non-free version.

At start-up, Real Player sometimes recreates shortcuts in the start-menu, just in case you’d forgotten about it since you last deleted it. Whether you selected Real Player as the default player for CD or not, Real Player will assume you’ll want to start playing a music CD’s content in Real Player, when inserted. That goes for DVDs too. Real Player also assumes that the most common usage, and thus the default start-up view, is the Media Browser, where you can browse for video and audio-clips.

When you installed Real Player, it assumed that you were interested in news, upgrades and offers, but even if you unchecked those options, Real Player still assumes you’re interested in receiving updates and other messages from Real. It also assumes you’ll want to add any newly downloaded media to Real Player’s media library, whether it’s the default player or not. Also, whether you were interested in updates or not, Real Player assumes you want it to periodically download and install important updates.

Real Player can be configured for low CPU usage, or high quality, Real Player, of course, assumes you’ve got a powerful computer and that you’ll want Real Player to use it.

Imagine for a while that you had manipulated the right people, somehow infiltrated Real Inc, and had gotten yourself an important and influential position as an executive there, how would you make the program more obnoxious, more invasive, and less likable to the average user, without making the other executives and directors suspicious?

If you liked this post, you might be interested in the posts that came after it:

  1. Real Reply I got several e-mail from people who used to work for Real Networks, they offer some reasons for Real Player’s invasiveness and hostility, and their own perspectives.
  2. Real Proof I got an e-mail from a consultant who used to work for Real, he/she offers some interesting information about the attitudes at Real, and why the product sucks so bad.

Written on February 29th, 2004. Topics: rant, realplayer, usability


March 01, 2004 David Pettersson said:

David Pettersson

I was thinking of the naming of that product yesterday. Obviously they have hidden the imaginary part of the program so that it’s users won’t think about complexity before installing.

March 01, 2004 adam.b said:


Boy – I couldn’t have said it better. I really loathe RealPlayer for all of those reasons. Well said.

March 01, 2004 Ryan said:


Stopped using RealPlayer years ago. Really. If something’s in .rm format then I just give it a miss. Simple. Fortunately nothing important requiring it has ever cropped, so I’ve never had to forego my stance on that one.

March 01, 2004 Henning said:


Ah, yes. Much as I would like to avoid Real Player, a couple of sites, most notably the Danish radio, insists on using .rm files.

However, as described by Anil Dash, there is an alternative, which works quite well (and it is free):


No fuss, just playing those pesky files.

March 01, 2004 Dolly said:


I’ve been using Real for playing MP3’s for some time and really like it. I did try iTunes but it ate my processor – a few days was all I could manage before removing it.

My favorite site, BBC, also uses Real – another reason for keeping it.

March 01, 2004 Michael said:


I avoid Real player like the plague because of the very reasons you mention. As an added bonus I’ve found it almost impossible to fully uninstall.

March 01, 2004 mark said:


. . . how would you make the program more obnoxious, more invasive, and less likable to the average user, without making the other executives and directors suspicious?

I’d have it install Gator or something similar at the same time ;)

March 01, 2004 Nick said:


I remember one version of RealPlayer that took the obnoxiousness to an entirely new plane. After I had unchecked the various media types Real was set to appropriate (all except .rm and .ram, basically), I clicked “Next…”, and it re-checked all the boxes right before my eyes! That feature didn’t last long.

March 01, 2004 brian w said:

brian w

One thing Dolly, BBC listener, didn’t mention is that the BBC has a (supposedly) adware free version of the RealPlayer on their website. I never really noticed all the Real problems as I use the OS X version and it’s fairly benign—It’s just a single application that you can trash pretty easily. I guess our teensy market share hasn’t made it worth Real’s while to add all the spyware.

March 01, 2004 Robert D. said:

Robert D.

Real Player is one of the most miserable pieces of software garbage I’ve ever had the extreme displeasure to have to deal with. You know you’re dealing with a truly egregious piece of software when it makes Windows Media Player seem unassuming and friendly.

March 01, 2004 Neil said:


I’m glad someone mentioned the OS X version of the real software. I still think it’s crap, but they haven’t over-engineered the heck out of the OS X version, nor added in all of the noxious spyware or extraneous icons.

It’s just a simple app. Drag and drop from the disk image to install, and drag to the trash to delete. It doesn’t try to take over any of the other formats on the computer, and just plays realmedia streams. That’s it.

March 01, 2004 pb said:


I think RealPlayer isn’t friendly to users because users aren’t the main audience anymore. RealPlayer makes money with advertising and other business to business deals. The audience is almost an afterthought at this point because so many content providers (like BBC) have already chosen their format for delivering content. They also want people to upgrade to their for-pay “pro” version-which has less annoyances, I’m guessing-so it’s in their interest to make the free version annoying.

March 01, 2004 Dan said:


You forgot to mention that Real isn’t even that good at streaming video, its intended function.

March 01, 2004 Michael Myett said:

Michael Myett

I used to enjoy listening to untelevised NFL radio broadcasts on nfl.com, free by the way, until they chose RealPlayer to handle their media streaming. The service is now 9.95 per month, which is not a problem in and of itself, but was a nightmare to configure and only works about half the time. Now,if someone chooses to deliver their content by RealMedia I just assume it is of no importance and move on. Simply, the worst piece of software ever written!

March 01, 2004 Chad Poirier said:

Chad Poirier

Ah, yes! Let the Realplayer hating continue. I’ve hated Realplayer since I can remember, and I’ve recently found a solution: Real Alternative. It installs a beefed up version of the classic Windows Media player, and the Real Codecs so you can watch stuff through whatever program you’d like.


March 01, 2004 Thomas Edwards said:

Thomas Edwards

The registration is the best part, trying to think of an e-mail address nobody else has used. All the best are taken. RealOne Setup 1 RealOne Setup 2 RealOne Setup 3 Unable to display this message


Don’t you just love it?

March 01, 2004 karsh said:


Now I don’t know if it’s just on my computer, but I can’t uninstall RealPlayer…how’s that for invasive? Even if I go through the control panel to uninstall AND delete the folder from the Application Data and Program Files folders, the program still pops up from time to time since it assigned itself to all my other files. Bastard app.

March 02, 2004 RB said:


If you click on the link here:


You get an ad-free, nag-free, spyware-free version of Real Player, thanks to the good old BBC and their unique deal with Real.

Because the BBC is publicly funded, it couldn’t justify using a third-party app that pesters BBC licence fee payers for more money – so they threatened to pull out of the Real deal (pardon the pun) if real didn’t offer a nag-free version of the player.

Oh – the reason the BBC still use Real, is because:

1. It works. 2. It’s available on all platforms. 3. The basic player is free and is a relatively small download. 4. You can’t download streams (live, or on-demand) and play them later from your PC (without using illegal stream recording software) 5. It does both audio and video

Apparently, the BBC are moving towards Windows Media PLayer.

March 02, 2004 Steve Harrington said:

Steve Harrington

I’m not usually one to buck rant trends however: -on OSX real player works fine no ads easy simple -real player doesn’t try to hijack streams like WinMediaPlayer does sometimes -I prefer iTunes and QuickTime players -the BEST format is MP3 or which keeps propritary fingers OFF digital audio unlike real player and media player -it is the format [MP3] not the player: keep your damn player codes off my sound files: I want my sound to come from anywhere, file anywhere and go anywhere, my choice. MP3 files do this

IMHO re-recording streaming audio from my computer for my use is not illegal or immoral and it ought to be a hell of a lot easier than it is now. If I want to share not broadcast, not sell, sound files I have recorded that is fine too. There are a couple of programs out there that make sticky finger sound files into MY MP3 files.

As long as WinMediaPlayer tries to suck-up market share with monopolistic practices, I ain’t going there, period. Give it up Bill. I vote for an even playing field for players and sound files, that I manage not some jerk-water streaming lawyer.

March 02, 2004 Jason said:


I actually have to use RealPlayer to view a weekly press conference as part of my job. Launching the application, it’s just as likely to make use of my little office’s entire DSL pipe (blocking all efforts of my coworkers to access the Internet) as it is to buffer/crash every 1.5 minutes. I’ve noticed that almost all NPR programming is available on RA only, which means there are still enough Real Audio servers out there to make our lives miserable for years and years.

March 02, 2004 Ryan said:


The OS X version doesn’t seem to be quite as parasitic—what I find even more infuriating is the fact that Graphic Converter seems to like thinking that it can handle *.rm files, thinking that they are some sort of proprietary NASA vector graphic format.

March 03, 2004 Jeanne said:


Just my personal experience of the horror that is realplayer: after trying to upgrade (Why? Why did I do that?)to the latest version (probably the endless realupdate nagging finally got to me) realone at first stopped working completely, as starting the program just resulted in a few seconds of hard disk churning and then nothing. Then, after 3 or 4 uninstall and reinstalls (using different downloads, and I even tried the so-called bug free bbc version) I got the best result of all: realone plays all mpg files etc, but does not play realmedia files! At all! And yes, I did use the program which is supposed to wipe all realmedia files from one’s hard disk, several times, in fact (it doesn’t remove realplayer registry entries, though; funny, that). So you have my heartfelt thanks for pointing me to the real alternative download site: I have a program which lets me watch the handful of real media files I had saved, and I never need use real player again.

March 04, 2004 Dan said:


Its been over 4 years since I last had to touch Realplayer, and I’ve never felt better in my life.

March 05, 2004 Chris Vincent said:

Chris Vincent

I use OS X and only have Real One for .rm streams. It really is a piece of crap. Nobody’s even touched the interface yet. It’s horrid. The app itself is cumbersome with custom-drawn UI widgets and slow playback even on fast systems. It’s in pretty much the same boat as Windows Media Player for the Mac.

You know, Apple’s installers put a lot of code and images on my hard drive so other programs wouldn’t have to reinvent the wheel, and so that there’d be some manner of consistency. Why don’t programs use them? Drumbeat is also notoriously guilty of this crime.

Truthfully, QuickTime Player is the only video/stream app I can stand. It’s not perfect, but it’s light and does what I want it to do and no more.

March 05, 2004 Nate Silva said:

Nate Silva

You forgot to mention Real’s web site, a sort-of computer IQ test that tries to trick you into downloading the pay version and used to install a spyware “download manager”. (Does it still do that to the poor Windows users?)

March 05, 2004 Steve said:


Mac OSX version naturally has different “features” but I’d certainly hate to het into an argument as to which platform has the most and/or most obnoxious. Wouldn’t that be a platform battle royal?” Since am familiar with current (free) Windows version as well I might comment that Mac version seems to have more opportunities to override/eliminate obnoxious features, but suspect that’s only because OSX version is likely younger, still ””in development,” and Mac users can have some hope of having more of the same obnoxious features, or at least the opportunity to be annoyed as Windows users.

One note: while your idea about someone infiltrating their executive ranks is an interesting idea, be advised that all resumes have to indicate that the applicant was formerly employed by Disne, terminated prior to April 1, 1993, and has been unemployed since that time. Interesting means of keeping a tight hand on the rudder misdirecting the ship, no?

March 05, 2004 Alfredo Octavio said:

Alfredo Octavio

He, he. Another Real Hater here. Your last paragraph sounds straight out of Eastern Standard Tribe the novel by Cory Doctorow, where tribes from different time zones battle each other through the technique of bogus consultant advice. One of the things they try to care of is not to make the “client” suspicious. I guess Real Networks falled completely into their hands…:-)

March 05, 2004 dce said:


Unfortunately, we’ll be stuck with RealPlayer so long as content providers employ their format. While we can debate the merits of Real with eloquence, this website (and forums like it) aren’t at all representative of most computer users.

To slay this beast, then, we need to convince the providers that Real is a terrible evil, not the users. Though not an easy task, this can be done. See the fellows at NPR’s Car Talk:

“Car Talk will now be available via the Windows Media Player, rather than RealMedia. That’s right, we’re unceremoniously dumping RealMedia.

Why? Because, for a long time, we’ve had tons of complaints about RealNetworks. And the one that ticks us off the most is the perceived trickery they use to sell their premium products. This is just our opinion, mind you, but it’s shared by enough of our listeners, that we finally decided to take action.

Here’s the problem. In order to hear our audio, you have to go to Real.com and download their “free” RealPlayer. But when you get to the web site, the free player is harder to find than Osama Bin Laden at night. And the site seems to do everything it possibly can to get you to “buy” a player instead. You have to work very hard to get the free player. And we think that stinks. And get this. It stinks so much that it even makes Microsoft look good by comparison. That’s something, huh?”

March 05, 2004 dzd said:


The one thing that infuriates me about the OS X RealOne Player is that if you close the window, expecting it to behave like all other Mac apps that allow a program to run with no windows open…you quit the application. And it takes a long time to re-launch.

March 05, 2004 Randy said:


The “Real” problem with Real Player is on the server end of things. Dan’s comment hit it on the nose – it cannot stream worth a damn. The proprietary and expensive server-side streaming software from Real uses some of the worst video codecs and most of the great codecs are simply not available when you convert a video file to a Real stream file. Personally I’ve been absolutely blown away at the power and quality of the free Apple Quicktime Broadcaster used to serve live or static streams. It is easy to use and configure. Best of all the quality is incredible and you can use just about any video codec such as the great Sorenson codec. Anyway check it out and you’ll wonder why we ever see any company choosing to pay big bucks for “Real pain-in-the-ass” software!

March 05, 2004 Brad Rhine said:

Brad Rhine

Heh. You haven’t lived until you’ve had to install RealWhateverItIsToday in a 24 station lab. It was like a carpal tunnel factory.

March 05, 2004 -b- said:


I gave up on Real when Real One came out. Whatever content there is out there, I don’t miss it.

March 05, 2004 Al said:


Thanks to a combination of wanting to stream BBC stuff and the firewall in place in university accomodation, I do use real player. I recently dowloaded what I though was the BBC version, but that doesn’t seem to have changed everything, I still get adverts. However, I’ve not registered it. If you hit “cancel” when it asks you to register, it still loads up. After about a week or so of doing this, it seems to give in. Added to a combination of personal and university firewall blocking out most of the other “sevices” and careful set up (I associated it with Real Media files only), it works happily for me for what I wanted it for, and nothing else. If you know how to control it, it isn’t too much of a problem. Of course, if the BBC could just get round to reviving its project with Ogg Vorbis streaming, then we’d all surely be laughing

March 05, 2004 AkiZ said:


The only thing I use Real for is watching pron .rm files. It feels appropriate, somehow….

March 05, 2004 xarph said:


Real themselves make an adware-free version of their product, designed for corporate users to deploy on their hard-disk images. It is called Realone Enterprise Desktop, will not be advertised anywhere, and can be obtained after a filling in a form here http://forms.real.com/rnforms/products/tools/red/ with fake information.

March 05, 2004 Chris Bunch said:

Chris Bunch

As an OS X user and avid BBC listener I find myself in total agreement with Steve Harrington (Comment 19) above.

RealPlayer on OS X is inocuous enough, but the fact that somehow Real persuaded me to subscribe – and now dock my credit card an small but regular monthly fee (which is proving very hard to extricate from), is pernicious in the extreme.

I find it extraordinary that the public-funded BBC have plumped for a proprietary commercial product. To learn (comment 18 above) that the BBC is moving towards Windows MediaPlayer beggars belief, and suggests that if anything Lord Hutton may have been too lenient.

March 05, 2004 tallglassofmilk said:


No single software program has caused me more headaches than real player and real One player. As mentioned, they constantly run in the background interferring with memory and jazzing up my other programs.

But I have yet to find a suitable alternative and I have tried many.

March 05, 2004 Aaron said:


Steve Harrington (#19) said:

the BEST format is MP3 or which keeps propritary fingers OFF digital audio unlike real player and media player

Sorry to burst your bubble, but MP3 is proprietary (in a sense) too—it’s patented by a German corporation, and any encoder developers or broadcasters have to pay a licensing fee.

If you want a truly non-proprietary digital audio format, you should go with Ogg Vorbis.

March 05, 2004 Sniffy McNickles said:

Sniffy McNickles

how would you make the program more obnoxious, more invasive, and less likable to the average user, without making the other executives and directors suspicious?

That’s easy. A big, flashy background “live desktop” or whatever it it called, so that links to real.com are a misclick away. Install myself as a screensaver that sucked all available bandwidth on idle playing ads. Reskin IE to be Real branded.

OK, that last one is probably a step too far.

March 05, 2004 Jason said:


RealPlayer 10 shows significant improvement in behavior. Give it a chance some time. I think they’re feeling some shame.

March 06, 2004 Scott said:


We need a new term for software that’s as obnoxious, clingy, and in-your-face as RealPlayer. “Facehuggerware,” perhaps.

March 06, 2004 J. Tarbell said:

J. Tarbell

I haven’t had a machine with the Real Player installed on it since last decade. Reasons for my boycott include deceptive marketing tatics, poor quality, and heaping amounts of arragance no doubt acquired at the same time as the company’s wealth.

March 06, 2004 Eric said:


I join in with remarks here about Real Player being a big-assed bastard. Why must users be the play thing of CEOs with over-stuffed egos bent on dominating the video market.

A side note. Like it or not, Bill Gates recently secured Windows Media 9 as the default codec for HD DVDs.

March 06, 2004 Charles said:


Eric, you are incorrect. WM9 is only one of 3 formats given PROVISIONAL approval for the HD DVD spec.


But it just isn’t going to happen. I have a friend who worked at a TV station doing experiments in sending WM format video data between their studios and the transmitter, in a demonstration project for Microsoft. They had virtually unlimited bandwidth and unlimited budget, MS wanted to prove they were capable of perfect quality transmissions so broadcasters could use WM over Internet instead of conventional analog lines. But despite everything MS engineers could do, the project was a disaster. People started calling up the station asking why the picture was so fuzzy, it looked like crap, even though it was supposed to be lossless compression. MS admitted defeat and walked away from the project after spending millions of bucks on it.

Suffice to say that nobody will be producing HD DVDs in WM format.

March 06, 2004 Zach said:


I run a media lab, and sadly I have to keep RealOne on my disk image because certain content providers (even good ones) are married to the format.

A note on MPEG4 playback. RealOne will not play .mp4 without the Envivio (3rd party) plugin. Even after the envivio install, it pukes up an error dialog box claiming invalid media type, which if you are smart enough to ignore, the file will finally play. It will do this every time.

For reliable .mp4 playback you have to disable Real as the default player for rtsp, which of course it asserts automatically over more robust players, like quicktime, that have no problem whatsoever with MPEG4.

Due to the RealOne glitch, getting reliable client-side delivery of MPEG4 outside of a controlled lab environment (on students’ machines in their dorms, e.g.) requires copious instruction.

Yeah, I can’t wait for Real to go down in flames.

March 06, 2004 Steve Klingsporn said:

Steve Klingsporn

The only thing I use RealOne for on my PowerBook is listening to Coast To Coast AM. I consider it a better alternative to Windows Media Player (for Mac)!

To Real’s credit, RealOne is certainly much better than the “virus-like” nightmare for Mac OS 9 and earlier that they were offering. Let’s hope that it continues to get better.

QuickTime Player certainly sucks, with its poor buffering of incoming data, irrespective of connection settings…


March 07, 2004 Brian said:


I’m running OS X as well. I had a similiar problem with Real where I thought I was paying a one time fee to get a full version, but instead I was subscribing to some sort of service that docked my credit card every month. I was hardpressed to comprehend what Real was offering that was worth $29.00 a month! I was also hardpressed to get Real to stop charging me. Bastards. Bastards all.

March 08, 2004 Krellan said:


I too wrote a rant about RealPlayer, back in 2001 or so.


The version of RealPlayer I reviewed, RealPlayer 8, was probably a low water mark for them. Horrible indeed.

I installed RP 10 and it is actually a bit better and friendlier. Not 100% ethical yet, but getting closer. I look forward to trying the Open Source versions of the player (Helix, etc.)....

March 08, 2004 ace said:


I use a Mac running OS X and I’m still not impressed by Real Player. As much money as they dumped into it, you’d think they could keep it from totally futzing up my iBook.

Personally, I prefer Quicktime for everything. It’s fast, it works, there’s only one ad, but unfortunately the rest of the world doesn’t see it that way. Even the Windows Media Player for Mac doesn’t kill my machine half as effectively as Real Player (it still runs like an overweight tree sloth, though).

But mostly, it doesn’t lock up my iBook.

“It was a really good paper …”

March 08, 2004 sideshowjon said:


What I want to know is why virus scanners do not stop you installing the RealVirus? Like most of you I am once bittern forever shy, I would only install it on my worst enemy’s machine now. I do wish I could view more of the BBC’s content, but the price is too high.

March 08, 2004 Endsley said:


mplayer is a good alternative for realmedia files on linux and I think Mac OS X also (unix based systems)..even has a GUI There’s also a somewhat beta plugin for netscape/mozilla. http://www.mplayerhq.hu/homepage/design6/info.html

March 08, 2004 Roel Schroeven said:

Roel Schroeven

I hate Real Player too, and I have ignored content in Real-format for years. Recently however, I found out about Real Alternative from http://www.k-litecodecpack.com/. It plays everything I tried to play with it, while you don’t even notice it’s there. Really good.

March 08, 2004 dust breeding said:

dust breeding

I use RealOne at work and fucking loathe it. Its got it’s grimey fingers all over my PC, constantly pops up windows, crashes, and uses way to much CPU. The way Real try to trick you into paying for it is scandalous.

At home on OSX, its bearable, it keeps to itself and is reasonably stable, but because of MPlayer there is no need for it. Im sure there is a Windows version too.

March 08, 2004 anonymouse said:


If you have a collection of .rm and .ram files that you can’t live without, you can use an old version of RealPlayer downloaded from http://www.oldversion.com that does not mess around with your PC.

Realplayer 8 is the last version of RealPlayer released before RealPlayer One which is the first version to use devious tricks to hide the checked no-spam/adware/malware checkboxes. Although RealPlayer 8 also has some opt-out ad thingies, at least in RealPlayer 8, they are easy to find and disabling them is straightforward. The only annoying thing about my version of Reallayer 8 is that occasionally, it asks me to upgrade to RealPlayer One, but this is easy to ignore.

As you can see from the front-page of oldversion.com, RealPlayer 8 is one of the most popular downloads on that site.

March 08, 2004 roy said:


NEWS FLASH: Real Player is a virus! lol Really, that’s what I think of it…it has the same properties as quicktime that always has to install itself at startup in the background as well for no usefull reason IMHO.

March 08, 2004 kris247 said:


Here’s a link to download old versions of RealPlayer: http://proforma.real.com/real/player/blackjack.html

Slightly differently than the link posted above since this is “official” from Real (whether or not that’s a good thing is obviously up for debate).

RealPlayer 8 ain’t so bad once you get all of the crap and notifications turned off.

March 09, 2004 Myke said:

March 09, 2004 Myke said:


Real Alternative will allow you to play RealMedia file without having to install RealPlayer or RealOne Player. Supported are: RealAudio (.ra .rpm), RealMedia (.rm .ram .rmvb .rpx .smi .smil), RealText (.rt), ReadPix (.rp). It also supports RealMedia content that is embedded in webpages.

RealMedia .smi and .smil files are not fully supported, only the first part will usually be played. This is a limitation of the current Media Player Classic. The RealMedia Browser plugin supports Internet Explorer, Opera, Mozilla and Netscape.

March 09, 2004 Murli said:


I wish I could identify with all the problems people are having with Real hijacking their CPU, defaulting to use all file extensions, installing badly etc etc.

Unfortunately I can’t.

That’s because the freaking thing always makes my computer hang! I tried installing it a few times on my Windows 2000 system. Each time I double-clicked on a Real media file, the computer would hang. How’s that for bastard app!

I’ve only read about 28 of the comments so I suppose someone else has already said all this

March 09, 2004 Michael Heilemann said:

Michael Heilemann

There is only one good thing about RP as far as I’m concerned: It gives us a standard by which we can judge other garbageheap apps.

March 09, 2004 stu said:


Real Player really is the plague, sadly I listen to recorded radio streams from the bbc so I googled my way to real alternative which does the trick and doesnt seem to do anything other than let me play the file I want. Real should allow a codec only install…but we all know they wont, so thats why everyone should go and look for the real alternative codec pack!

March 10, 2004 custard cream said:

custard cream

does anyone know why the BBC refuses to provide an MPEG4 stream or an Ogg feed. Real is awful, and WMP is worse. Why on eart are the BBC helping Microsoft monopolise yet another market?

March 10, 2004 James Ison said:

James Ison

This is the precise reason that i will NEVER install real. For instance CNN has a subscription service that i would pay for if it was not based on Real products. After my first experience with Real One I will NEVER install it again ever.

March 11, 2004 Rob said:


Whats the law on streaming a BBC service yourself? I’ve had enough of Realplay trashing my PC at work – I’ve used the free Windows Media Server to stream a BBC radio station from my always-on broadband connection at home from my radio hi-fi to listen to at work, exactly the same connection speed as the BBC’s official stream but with full FM quality, no connection drops or pestering me to buy stuff. This even works for re-broadcasting TV using a �20 TV capture card. Not sure I should be doing this though…

March 11, 2004 Rob said:


One more point to mention is that it sounds like there is going to be a lot of work from the BBC generating even more Real Content. It looks like thousands of archived BBC shows will be converted into online clips. The full article can be found here.

It doesn’t mention which format this archive will be in, but no prizes for guessing which one it is going to be. Unfortunatly the sheer volume of these clips appearing on the BBC site will probably mean that users will be stuck with this choice for a very long time and shape the chosen format in the future. This could will be the online version of the TV format war with Marconi-EMI VS Baird that happened in 1937 . As I understand it the main reason that the Marconi-EMI format won was due to the amount of broadcast content for BBC audiences, the basics behind the Marconi-EMI system are still being used to this day. Who knows if Real continue to be the BBC’s choice of streaming technology, in 50 years time we’ll all be watching stuttering ad-driven online clips on our home media centers…

March 12, 2004 Caz said:


One of my friends has been having problems with iTunes on her PC. Looks like Real Player moved all the music she had added to it so she thought she’d lost it all. I use a mac on OS X so I’ve not had that problem. Has anyone else?

March 12, 2004 Matt said:


I have not used real in about 2 years. Back when I did use it, it couldn’t even stream video at a deacent quality on a T1 line. QuickTime could stream video better on a dial-up than real on the T1.

March 13, 2004 pete said:


I’ve always hated realplayer but a few days ago I was on a site that had an old music video that I really wanted to see. The video was in realplayer format. Foolishly I went against the bad experiences I’d had with realplayer and my instincts blinded by the video I would have liked to have seen, installed. “Ooohh you idiot!” I cried, as realplayer refused to play the file, bringig back painful memories of old. “How could you be so stupid!” I barked as i looked at my realplayer infested system. Then I sobbed as everytime I tried to uninstall the message “uninstaller componant missing” flashed up again and again and again, AAARRGH. I stumbled upon this site whilst looking for some way of getting rid of it. Good to see I’m not alone.

March 15, 2004 David Silva said:

David Silva

Well, I installed the enterprise version of Real Player and it will not start under any circumstances.

Also, Real Alternative refuses to play a few Real Media files I’ve downloaded, and if I install it along with another version of Real Player, it renders Real Player unusable. It deletes DLLs that Real Player needs.

The alternative isn’t any better than the official solution.

March 18, 2004 Charles Roper said:

Charles Roper

Speaking of obnoxiouness, I had to download Quicktime for Windows today and so went to the normal place on the Apple site: Quicktime > Download and clicked the big ‘Download Quicktime’ icon. Doing this would indicate that I wanted to download Quicktime, no? So would you believe, it proceeded to download the whole iTunes package for me! Excuse me, but I wanted just Quicktime – not iTunes.

It turns out there’s a tiny little link on the page that says ‘QuickTime Standalone Installer’, and clicking this takes you to the right place to download the standlone player. The big ‘Download Quicktime’ button is a rude little con to get you to download iTunes. Bah.

So, it seem Apple is being a bit obnoxious itself on this one. Not quite as bad as Real, but still, annoying nonetheless.

March 19, 2004 Andy in the UK said:

Andy in the UK

I concur! A well articulated critique.

As an IT professional Real%noun%player is on my list of daily hassles to sort out for people. Removal of this uses up a lot of my time after the people i serve have installed it. They don’t know any better so it’s not their fault. Even if you advise them that their system will never be the same again they will still do it! They just want to be able to utilise some of the functionality available on the web e.g viewing news sites video reports…like www.bbc.co.uk

We live in a society of choices. Real player subverts this in a small way. I’m all for the functionality it provides but not the invasive nature of it’s installation.

It takes advantage of people’s ignorance with all it’s ‘bells and whistles’. Let’s hope that some more developers produce better alternatives that give people a choice about what they want to get out of the Internet.

I live for the day when real player gets targeted by angry DDOS attackers. Possibly by all the people they have upset…only joking!

I do concede that new software development has to be paid for by some means….porn is the cash cow for the Internet usually….BUT i also object to the real ethos of cannelling THEIR rubbish to you….

There ….that’s my spleen vented for this week

March 19, 2004 Nick TIms said:

Nick TIms

Couldn’t agree more with all of the above.

Question: installed real alternative Tried Real alternative but having no joy in getting it to stream archived material on Opera (works ok on Explorer).

Any tips?

March 23, 2004 Max said:


The “Real alternative” (and the corresponding QuickTime alternative” mentioned in post 4 work great. I’ve been using them for a few months on my XP system, and I’ve been able to view a number of .ram and .qt files without installing the bloatware from Real or Apple.

March 25, 2004 Andy said:



everyone who considers removing the Real trash but still owns some RealVideo files is encouraged to try out the “RM Converter” from www.boilsoft.com. This cute little utility can convert RM files to AVI and even vice versa (but who might ever want to do that??). I’m not sure if that is 100% legal, but it worked well for me.

Another nice thingy is “Streambox VCR Suite 2” (try to find it using Google), which can rip Real streams straight to your HD.

Oh, yes, and if anyone at Real is reading this: F* you all. Calling your software a piece of crap would be ways to nice to describe its terrifying annoyance. One can make money without dirty tricks. There are millions of people out there who do honest work, why just can’t you?

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Welcome to my website. I’m Tomas Jogin—27 years old, Swedish, programmer, designer, pundit on all subjects and
devil’s advocate extraordinaire.
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