If one has ever experienced a problem with playing an audio or video file on a Windows based computer with Windows Media Player or any other player then a codec might need to be installed. A codec allows encoding or decoding of digital data (video, audio, etc). Currently, the K-Lite Codec Pack is in version 4.8.2 available at http://www.codecguide.com/ It provides all the different codecs available in six different configuration packages from Basic, Standard, Full, Mega, Corporate to 64-bit.
The basic package contains all of the general codecs and will not install a seperate player onto your system. It will use Windows Media Player to play most of the standard types of files. This might be a useful package to install on a business oriented computer that contains only the essential programs to perform the task.
The standard package includes a copy of Media Player Classic – Homecinema, MPEG-2 for DVD playback, FLAC and Wavpack audio files. It is an extremely useful media player with many different options for playback, but is very minimilistic in design and most importantly on system resources. It is modeled after Windows Media Player v6.4. This version is fairly complete and useful for users wanting most of the features in a relatively small package.
The full package contains more codecs for audio and video decoding and encoding including the lossless audio formats for any audiophiles out there. However, the only real advantage to installing the Full Package over the Mega package is if Real Alternative is not needed. Real Alternative allows the playback of all RealMedia formats without having to install RealPlayer and tying up even more system resources with another media player.
Mega includes even more codecs to play or encode any sort of audio or video formats and includes RealPlayer. This is the package that most PC power users, like myself, would want to install. On top of this, it is also useful to install Quicktime Alternative to avoid having to install iTunes and any other Appleware to be able to play the Quicktime format.
The corporate package is similar in contents to the full package, but has a strong focus on open source software.
The 64-bit package provides the codecs that have been optimized to run on 64-bit versions of Windows. However, since a good majority of programs are still 32-bit versions running on 64-bit versions of Windows it is recommended to also install one of the 32-bit packages from above.
Cannot install anything? Do not have administrative privleges? Then VLC Player is the correct player to use. It includes its own plugins for playing most movie and audio formats so it does not need any codecs to be installed. It is even packaged in a Portable App for easy download and “installation” to a portable USB drive.