Sure there’s nothing wrong with codec packs, Shark007′s codec pack is a wonderful product, but there is something to be said for keeping it simple as well. This guide will take you through the minimum steps to install a nice clean setup with the minimum software required to play MKVs and many other less popular codecs as well. For this setup we are going to install only FFDShow and Gabest’s MKV splitters for x86 and x64 if that’s what your running.
Step One: Download a copy of FFDShow Tryouts from here. Those running an x64 version will also need the x64 SVN here. Install the right ones for your system, the latest versions will work.
Step Two: Download Gabest’s Matroska Splitters. There is a version of Gabest’s with an installer for x86 here and x64 here. To install simply extract to your C:\ root drive and right-click to run “gabest_splitter_enable.cmd” as administrator. You should receive one confirmation on x86 and two for x64 versions. To uninstall simply run “gabest_splitter_remove.cmd” as administrator.
Step Three: Enable viewing of MKV files in Windows Media Player and Windows Media Center by downloading either the x86 registry file or x64 registry file and double-click to add it to your registry. Allow it to be added when prompted. Restart your machine.
That’s all there is to it, this will take you from a clean install to playing MKVs and more in no time at all. For details on using FFDShow Audio settings for your live TV and DVDs in Media Center check this article.
If you have trouble viewing your MKVs in Windows Media Center or Windows Media Player, try deleting your “C:\Users\YOUR-USERNAME\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Media Player\CurrentDatabase_371.wmdb” file. To enable this file to be deleted you will need to stop the WMPNetworkSvc service from the task manager (ctrl-alt-delete).