For the past several months, I've been having problems getting audio and video files to start playing, i.e. WMV, MP3, FLAC, MPEG, WAV, AVI, etc. The issue isn't isolated to Windows Media Player, although that is the player I use most often.
Here's what happens:
1) I Navigate to my media files via Windows Explorer.
2) Double click the file or select multiple files and right click "Play in Windows Media Player".
3) WMP will open but that is it. The blue circle will spin forever and the audio or video will never play.
My temporary solution:
1) Reboot the computer
1) Force close WMP by clicking the "X" to close the program.
2) Go into Task Manager and kill the app even though I just closed it via clicking "X".
3) Re-open WMP by clicking the WMP launch icon, go into Tools / Options / Privacy / and click 'Clear History' and 'Clear Caches'.
4) Close WMP and then go back to Windows explorer and re-click on the desired file I want to play.
WMP will work fine until I either press stop and then play again on the same file or if I click on a different file in Windows Explorer.
I've tried other media players and I get the same result. The media program will open but the file never plays. The problem occurs regardless if I select the file to be played from Windows Explorer or from the media player’s file / open command or if I try to stream a video or audio file from a website.
In late December 2011, I went back to an earlier image of my system from July 2011. Everything seemed to work fine even after installing all of the patches since July. Then after about a week, the problem started occurring again. I have not installed any Windows updates since 12/31/11.