Microsoft's upcoming operating system Windows 7 uses Direct Show filters to decode several audio and video formats. Direct Show is being used by several multimedia applications like Windows Media Player or Media Center out of the box.
It can also be used by third-party tools like MPlayer and other media players. Users who prefer to use alternative codecs for decoding these audio and video formats can either edit the Windows Registry to do so or use the Preferred Filter Tweaker for Windows 7.
The advantage of using the program is that you can make the changes in its interface instead of having to edit the Windows Registry directly.
The portable software program has been designed to offer Windows 7 users a quick and uncomplicated way of changing Direct Show filters in Windows 7. The tool supports a variety of popular formats including H.264, MPEG-4 (Xvid/DivX/MP4V) or MP3. Supported third party filters are (among others) ffdshow, divx, gabest, xvid, arcsoft or cyberlink filters.
Each supported multimedia format is displayed in the program's interface upon startup with a selection of available filters next to it.
The Microsoft filters are selected by default. All it takes to switch to another filter is to select it from the list. A click on the apply button afterwards will make the changes to the system. Please note that these changes only affect media players that use Direct Show to decode the video and audio codecs.
It should also be noted that it may cause problems in some applications when switching to third party filters. Some users have for instance reported that live TV would not function properly in Windows Media Center after switching to alternative filters.
This is something that you need to find out for yourself and your needs and requirements in this regard as there is no way of providing an answer for all use cases.
The Preferred Filter Tweaker is compatible with Windows 7 and can be downloaded from the developer's website.
Update: The most recent version of the application is also compatible with the Windows 8 operating system. The most recent version of the program displays three options on start.
You can manage the preferred codecs which is the program's original functionality, apply several Microsoft Codec tweaks such as disabling Mpeg4 Decoder DMO or the Microsoft DTV-DVD Audio and Video Decoder, or disable Media Foundation for select formats or all of them.