As I suspect quite a few of you have found, upgrading to Windows Media Player 11 (WMP11) seems to break the hardware WMV decoding that we had working with Windows Media Player 10 and requires more CPU power on systems that don't have video cards with functional hardware WMV decoding (like AGP 6800s).
We have 6 computers in our household, 5 of them running Media Center. The 4 faster ones, with the appropriate Microsoft patches, were able to play high definition WMV content (titles like Amazon, Discoverers, Step into Liquid, etc.) perfectly - until I upgraded to WMP11. Hardware WMV decoding (DXVA) was working and even if the video card didn't support WMV decoding (AGP 6800) there was still enough CPU power to play WMV HD perfectly.
With WMP11 installed, only the dual core CPU laptop and the AMD 64 3500+ combined with the PCI-E 6800 still can.
With WMP11 there is a check box in Advanced Video Acceleration Settings called "Turn on DirectX Video Acceleration" (DXVA). I have discovered the CPU utilization on all systems doesn't change at all turning this on and off (even after exiting and restarting WMP11).
Clearly hardware WMV decoding is not working at all on any of our systems since upgrading to WMP11 (or at least the DXVA switch doesn't work at all).
Here's where that cool WMV tweak tool comes in. I did some searching and found there were others with this same problem and came upon the WMV9 Power Tool (note WMP11 uses WMV9 version 3 and the latest version of this tool is specifically designed for WMP11). It can be found here:http://www.citizeninsomniac.com/WMV/
In the tool you can enable and disable DXVA as well as enable logging of DXVA. This tool is able to turn DXVA on and off and this does change the CPU load when playing WMV HD video through WMP11. For some weird reason when DXVA is turned on on the systems that were already able to play WMV HD content the video plays back smoother and starts more quickly, but instead of a decrease in CPU load, there is a slight increase in CPU load. For the systems that couldn't play back WMV HD with WMP11 they still cant. With WMP10 the CPU load went down significantly when DXVA was turned on (via the Microsoft patch), but for some reason CPU load actually increases with WMP11.
Basically what this means to me is my main HTPC in the home theater room (with the AGP6800) is no longer able to play WMV HD content, and my daughters ATI9800Pro and 2.7 GHz Celeron is also no longer able to play WMV HD content. I've tried every setting and combination of settings in the advanced video configuration combined with enabling/disabling DXVA through the tool on both of these systems and I have been unable to get WMV HD to play back on them.
Has anyone gone through this and figured out how to get WMV HD working after installing WMP11 (on borderline systems that were able to play it perfectly with WMP10)?