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It's a Codec World
You've just managed to download an AVI file to the desktop and you don't know how to play it. This would be a problem if you weren't here reading this article. Lucky for you, we've got it down to a science.
Playing an AVI file is pretty much the easiest thing in the world assuming you know what a codec is. Now, for beginner users, a codec is a sort of interface between the computer and the file that allows the computer to understand exactly what it is that you want to do with the file. Without that interpreter in between the two, the AVI file goes unplayed because the computer doesn't understand what to do with it.
Codecs are available for free, and Microsoft is making a huge push to get at least the basic AVI codecs into the next Windows Operating System (currently Windows 7). But, since you're probably stuck with either Vista or XP (and I'm guessing Vista because it is 2008 and Microsoft is trying to push XP out the window), you'll have to go about this the long way.
I've laid it out for you here in a series of steps. Follow these to the letter and you should be able to play an AVI file in no time:
1. Navigate over to this website (the CCCP Codec Website)
2. Click on the first link where you can download the codec pack, it should read "Vista/XP", etc.
3. Download the codec pack and double click on it to install
4. Run the setup and click on the "next" buttons until you reach the end of the setup process
5. Reboot your computer and try playing the AVI file
Once you open the AVI file, Windows Media Player should successfully play the video file and you should be able to enjoy the video you downloaded. The CCCP codec is a definite evolution over the ancient method of downloading individual codecs and running them one at a time, slugging down your PC as a result.
Of course, with the CCCP installed, you'll be able to play virtually anything you can dream of. Movies that are in MPG format, or MP4 - the video world is at your command. For those pesky MKV files, there's always VLC media player. As a rule of thumb, if VLC can't play it, it's probably not a good idea to try watching. Another important point to remember is that if you get a video from a friend which is a .exe file or even an image file of some sort - DO NOT OPEN IT. It's undoubtedly a virus. Contact your friend, make sure that the download is legitimate, run a couple of virus scans and then delete it. If your friend is certain the video is a real video, have them send it through a different means - like a web address.
Codecs are your friends, and as long as you have all the proper ones installed, there is no reason that a video file shouldn't play correctly on your PC.