Vista SP1, WMP11 and Netflix – a solution

I recently upgraded to Windows Vista Business (SP1) from WinXP Pro.  It went relatively well but I was annoyed today when any attempt to use Netflix’s “Watch Instantly” feature from IE 7 caused it to crash! (the “Indiv01.key” error).

I did some searching… turns out there are lots of complaints out there about this sort of issue, but almost nobody posted the correct way to fix it when Vista SP1 and WMP11 are involved.  Most solutions revolved around WMP10 or earlier.  The problem is, for some bizarre reason you can’t manage your licenses in WMP11 (there is no menu item for it and apparently all backup/restore functionality is gone!)  Why?  I have no idea.  Glad I don’t depend on it for anything else!

I uninstalled and reinstalled Netflix… didn’t help.  Lots of suggestions out there to downgrade WMP11 to 10 or such, but those are fraught with caveats.  Reinstall Vista?  Right!  When my furnace won’t work I don’t repaint the living room and redecorate the bedrooms… why should one rebuild the whole system for an isolated failure?  Besides, apparently that doesn’t help either.

Finally, I stumbled across a useful answer! Close IE and run the following command.  CAVEAT: supposedly it resets ALL your DRM license info… beware!  That wasn’t a concern for me (I’m wary of buying any DRM-wrapped media that could evaporate on a whim) but it could be an issue for you.  The command is:

C:\Program Files\Netflix\Netflix Movie Viewer\ResetDRM.exe

After a couple of warning windows (read them carefully!) it completed.  I reopened IE, clicked play on a Netflix movie and instead of crashing it notified me it needed to update something in WMP (as it had done long ago in XP).  I let it, and after that it works like a charm!

Well, almost… looks like it’ll complain about getting a license every time you use it (because of IE’s “protected mode”?  I dunno but I don’t feel safe to disable it).  It seems to work after a prompt, but it makes me think it’ll eventually fail again.

Was all this work worth it though? We’ll see… I don’t trust that it’ll be reliable and if it wasn’t free as part of my Netflix membership I would be very hesitant to use this at all – especially when such DRM “rights” could suddenly disappear tomorrow or, as we see here, every time you use it.  DRM is nothing but a nightmare and apparently it’s only getting worse.  I’d go to Blu-Ray but I don’t want any “Surprise!  DRM doesn’t like your big new monitor!” problems (also reported, which HDCP compatibility supposedly helps but it’s a “gotcha!” I don’t care to risk right now).

References:

http://www.annoyances.org/exec/forum/winvista/t1201447823

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