After Sanity launched its Australian Loadit music subscription service last month, there were muffled complaints about the price, but the biggest complaints of all came from users who didn't want the Loadit button appearing in their Windows Media Player by default. The Loadit store is automatically added when you check for updates, and by the time you realise it has appeared, it's a bit late to do anything about it. If you don't want to have Loadit in your face every time you play a song or video clip, do you have any choice? Lifehacker explores your options.
Don't get any updates
OK, that's not a particularly serious suggestion -- patching Windows makes sense for a whole bunch of reasons that are more pressing than worrying about a button in one program -- but the only rock-solid way to make sure you don't get stuck with Loadit is not to allow Windows Media Player to update. That's not an easy task either, since WMP only allows you to schedule how frequently updates are sought, not whether you get them or not. And let's face it, staying off the Internet to keep Sanity away would be a severe over-reaction.
Switch back to the Windows Media Guide
Sanity might currently have the only WMP shop on the block in Australia, but Microsoft's (perhaps ambitious) vision is that multiple stores should be available -- so it needs to have a way to switch between them. If you click on the Loadit menu (the arrow just underneath the logo) and select 'Media Guide' (Microsoft's default storefront for promotional content), the Loadit logo reverts back to a less-in-your-face Media Guide menu. OK, you won't have got rid of Loadit as an option, and the Media Guide itself isn't much chop, but at least your menu bar will be a tad less cluttered.
Try disabling the feature
One commenter wrote in with this suggestion on how to completely block Loadit:
I hacked the registry entries removing "loadit" from HKCU\Software\Microsoft\MediaPlayer. Then added an outgoing block on the firewall stopping media player from downloading it at start up. Finally it died...
I tried a similar approach myself when Loadit first appeared, but couldn't find any registry entries that appeared to make a long-term difference (WMP overwrites any changes with its own default values, and it stores entries in several different trees). Messing with your firewall settings -- which can potentially block that overwrite process -- is not for the faint of heart and (again) will block Media Player from seeking out other updates. If someone's found a more predictable and/or secure way of getting this to work, share it in the comments.
Change your default media player
Quite aside from the Sanity nuisance, there's plenty not to love about Windows Media Player, such as its relative paucity of codecs and relative lack of speed for something built natively on top of the Windows platform. To my mind, neither of those compensate for the DRM-bloated content you can only view in WMP. Easily the best-regarded freeware alternative for video content is VLC, which has recently been updated, and which will set itself as the default player for most video media when you install it. On the music-only front, there's even more options, ranging from WinAmp to iTunes (though the latter brings its own issues for some Windows owners.) You might not be able to de-Loadit Windows Media Player, but it's pretty easy to ignore it altogether.