Oct 18 2010

Windows Live Movie Maker 2011 – Support Woes

image_thumb9 Windows Live Movie Maker 2011 - Support WoesAs you know Windows Live Movie Maker and the essentials package was recently officially released.

My initial review of Windows Live Movie Maker was that I thought that the Windows live team had done a good job at developing the application from its previous version. I thought the overall flow and presentation of the application was good; I have no major complaints.

Over the past couple of weeks, spending some time in the support forums for Windows Live Movie Maker, I find that a lot of users are not very happy with the application, and the overall support philosophy for Windows Live Movie Maker is to blame everything on system resources and or whether or not the customer, or the user, as the correct codec installed.

The problem with Windows Live Movie Maker, as I see it, is its overall absence of truly being able to work with the different types of video and media.

In my efforts to work with [review] Windows Live Movie Maker 2011, I used video straight from my cell phone, but I had not tested the h.264/movie format.

Simply by looking at the inquiries in the support forum, you’ll notice that the users all have a similar problem, and that’s dealing with all the different types of media. This includes audio files, video files and being able to manipulate this information to create a cohesive compilation.

The Achilles’ heel of Windows Live Movie Maker is that it relies on installed codecs in the operating system to be able to understand all the different types of media, and to be able to work with it.

Microsoft’s support forum response to these types of situations is to simply blame the user for not having the proper codecs installed and to contact the manufacturer of the device and request the proper codec for the device/operating system.

One of the more disgusting responses I see in the support forum is when the support technician backs up 10 yards and punts the user to a frequently asked questions page.


This page has no useful information on it whatsoever. It deals with general statements and no specifics at all.

One of the things you expect from a video editing software is that it would be able to import multiple types of video, and audio media, and not throw errors every time there’s an unknown media format. You expect the application to at least make an attempt to figure out what type of audio, or video, file is trying to be imported and then intelligently tried to locate the proper codec; Windows live movie maker doesn’t do this.

In fact, in the Windows Live Movie Maker support forum, it relies heavily on Windows media player, a separate program altogether, to attempt to help locate the proper codec to play a video file- nine times out of 10 [and it’s never worked for me personally] Windows media player never locates the proper codec to play the media file.

What should be occurring with Windows Live Movie Maker, and something that just doesn’t appear to be there natively, is to be able to download and install the codec, for the video file, without having to exit the application. It seems like that’d be a logical step – for ease of use.

I’m finding that Windows Live Movie Maker’s weakest point is its compatibility. It’s inability to work with all the different types of media, and it’s obvious secondary weakness is its dependence on the operating system to have all the proper codec’s installed.

You would think that if anyone should have the widest array of video codecs and audio codecs, it should be Microsoft.

Microsoft should be collecting and storing all the different codecs to be the most compatible with just about anything that Windows users can throw at it, but this point seems to be completely overlooked.

In situations where the operating system doesn’t have the proper codec installed, the customers are referred to the frequently asked questions page, and one of the options is:


How do I find a codec?

If you know the name of the codec or its ID (known as a FourCC identifier for video codecs or a WaveFormat identifier for audio codecs), try searching the Internet. You can often go to a codec manufacturer’s website to download the most recent version of a codec.


Use caution when installing codecs that you find on the Internet, particularly some of the free codec packs that claim to include codecs from a wide variety of companies or organizations. Incompatibilities are known to exist with some of the components in these codec packs that can cause serious playback issues in the Player and other players, lead to system corruption, and make it difficult for Microsoft Support to diagnose and troubleshoot playback issues. For these reasons, we strongly discourage you from installing these codec packs, and recommend that you remove them if you have installed them and you are having problems with the Player. Install only codecs, filters, or plug-ins from trusted, authorized sources, such as the website of the official supplier. Even then, use caution: some codec suppliers offer minimal customer support. Before installing any digital media components, set a system restore point. The restore point enables you to return to your original system configuration, if necessary.


This section is a complete disappointment. This is where the automation of locating the codecs automatically should be done for the users.

This is where Microsoft is literally telling people that have no expertise/understanding of what codec is, how to use it, or how to locate their manufacturer, to get the most recent codec.

This is seriously embarrassing for such an application that should be well versed in dealing with media like this. Windows Live Movie Maker, or their support system, should be trying avoid situations like this altogether.

What makes this issue even worse is that Microsoft actually warned customers NOT to install codec packs; saying that third-party codec packages can make operating system unstable.

Here’s two links to some respectable packages that have a wide gambit of codecs, handling all types of audio and video files.


And while Windows Live Movie Maker does doe come with some codecs installed. They’re rigidly standard, and like before, doesn’t support h.264 high definition video.

If nothing else, and you can’t find what your searching for, I would install the codec pack; it’s worth a try.


And even this suggestion doesn’t work…

So people are back to converting videos/media to get it in to the Windows Live Movie Maker 2011; it’s silly.

If you’re having issues with Windows Live Movie Maker and you can’t find the codec you need, or one that’ll work, you may need to convert the video to AVI and then import it in to Windows Live Movie Maker.

I suggest a free one, that handles lost of different video types and audio, and it’s super simple to use.

Ultimately, if you can find the codec that works, great; if not, or if your pressed for time, here’s a FREE option to convert the data.


Ultimately, if you can find the codec that works, great; if not, or if your pressed for time, here’s a FREE option to convert the data.


What Windows Live Movie Maker lacks is the simple ability natively to be able to recognize all of the available media formats and work with them directly.

Relying on the customer, or the operating system, to have the codecs installed is nuts– and it’s showing it self to be quite a friction point for customers who are trying to use Windows Live Movie Maker.

The higher echelon packages, doing video editing, this is why you pay the big bucks, to not have to buy all the Advil to cover the headaches.

I can only hope Microsoft can do something about this in the next round of updates on Windows Live Movie Maker 2011 [or 2014].


I hope this helps…


Thank you,
Larry Henry Jr.

…via Dragon NaturallySpeaking 10 Pro.


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  • Mike

    Sounds like you are running on Windows Vista (if h.264 is not working for you). h.264 is not an inbox decoder on Vista. There are more video formats supported inbox with Windows 7 than Vista. Also, keep in mind this product is a free download, so it can't just bundle codecs since there would be a substancial licensing and royalties involved.

    • lehenryjr

      Oh, I'm fine.
      I'm just peachy… I do have Vista, but I've fixed my problems… I'm reporting on all the other poor souls in the support forum that have this issue of codecs.

      I'm standing on my soap box – Spreading the gospel, if you will…

      I don't know how you [someone from Microsoft] can make the statement about codecs [I'm just ignorant on that I'd speculate] but other free programs like VLC, DVD Flick and many other can read video formats right out of the gate; so no, I don't understand that one.

      The codec packs that everyone is downloading are free. Again, how that free codec and the licensing codec thing works– I don't know. If they work, use them… And that's what they're doing.

      And all the video converters, to convert video to AVI, to work with Windows Live Movie Maker, are free. So again, I miss the point of the licensing.

      Windows Live Movie Makers fault, it's major problem is the codecs. Even if I understood completely about why Microsoft can't include the codecs— WHY can't they point the user in the right direction?
      Why don't they identify the media, tell them the codec required – it's very puzzling.

      Windows Live Movie Maker 2011 is a good release [if you have the codecs], but it's major fault is that it doesn't TRY to help the users… Simply pointing users to a FAQ page about codecs, and basically saying, figure it out — that's sad… I mean, Microsoft; they're good about dumbing things down; so what happened?

      Check out the support forums.— take a gander.


      It's no too hard to find… Just look for the exclamation marks [mostly].

      With many thanks…
      I hope you have a nice day

      Until next time,
      Larry Henry Jr.

  • grapeman

    Hi Larry,

    I've seen your stuff on the forum, and I appreciate the help you've given people.

    Aside from the codec issue – which I agree is silly – my biggest beef w/ WLMM is the lack of a timeline. Compared to WMM6, trying to place photos and music in precise locations is basically impossible. Everything on the storyboard is "one after the other". It renders WLMM unusable to me.


    • lehenryjr

      Yeah, I make an attempt help when I can, but the confound Windows Live forums; they don't remind me or eMail when people reply to issues, where I'm trying to help people, it's really hard to keep track— it's the holiday season and I'm backing off for a while.

      Happy Holidays!

      Until next time,
      Larry Henry Jr.

  • Will

    Thanks for posting this. I was getting very frustrated myself with trying to import mov files. Will give your suggestions a try.

    • lehenryjr

      yeah – I hope this helps…
      My overall opinion of Windows Live Movie Maker has dropped; mostly because of the support for it.
      I've realized that you really need to pay for a movie package if you're truly serious about it. Windows Live Movie Maker is good if you want super easy and very limited options.
      The biggest issue with Windows Live Movie Maker is the codec support; it has none. And the audio/video issues users are having with it is about codecs.

      Have a nice day…
      Until next time,
      Larry Henry Jr.

  • Eric

    I find movie maker very easy to operate, being one that knows pretty much nothing about computers, the only problem I have is when I try to save or share the video the program stops responding. Any ideas?

    • That's another issues with Windows Live Movie Maker. Something I notated in another post…

      Basically, what it boils down to is the horrible management of resources from Windows Live Movie Maker 2011. Microsoft devs say they're working on it, but reports and evidence show that this has been an issue in the previous versions as well; and BECAUSE Microsoft doesn't list out the things that are NEW and CHANGED in the releases of the Windows Live product line— it's hard to clarify with ANY definitive answer, that they have tried to fix it.

      I hope this helps…

      Thank you,
      Larry Henry Jr. http://www.LEHSYS.com

  • Wanda Guillaume

    *sigh* I think I get the overall gist of the problem. I have WLMM and I have used the old WMM before. However, I have Windows 7 and when I save the pictures and music I have created (as wmv) to be played back I hear the music and get a black screen. I know NOTHING of Codecs and don't wanna know. If I wanted to know this, I'd go to school to be a technical support person. Although, apparently, that is not necessary to actually have knowledge to get a job in this position with Microsoft. (deep breaths) So, I suppose I will try to uninstall the live version and go with an older version. Thanks Microsoft for releasing your crappy product BEFORE working the majority of bugs out. I appreciate your ethical standards – NOT! lol I needed this program for college but glad someone had a program that would COOPERATE on an iMac that was easily converted to the correct format to work on a PC.

    • On the surface the program is okay, in reality, it needs open heart surgery.
      Thanks for your comments…

      Until next time,
      Larry Henry Jr.

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