A Strange URL

I noticed this a while ago. I was using Windows Media Player 10 and clicked “Shop for Music” button, I would end up at Wal Mart’s music store.

The home page appeared in Windows Media Player just like any other regular webpages. I also noticed that the webpage’s URL is http://music.walmart.com/. Out of curiosity, I tried to open this site using Internet Explorer. To my surprise, every time I put this URL in Media Player would automatically launch and display a dialog box with the following message:

“Windows Media Player cannot play the file. If the file is on another computer, verify that you are connected to the network. If you typed a path, verify that it is correct. If the problem persists, the server might not be available.”

I then tried opening the same URL using FireFox and got the same result. When I tried this under Linux, the browser would report that Windows Media Player is not available on the system… Perplexed, I decided to find out why this abnormal browser behavior occurred.

Using the code below, I obtained what was sent from the URL.

HttpWebRequest r= (HttpWebRequest)

WebRequest.Create(“http://music.walmart.com/”);

WebResponse wResponse = r.GetResponse();

Stream rStream = wResponse.GetResponseStream();

StreamReader reader = new

StreamReader(rStream, Encoding.ASCII);

string respHTML = reader.ReadToEnd();

Console.WriteLine(respHTML);

And when I ran the code I got the following output:

[Reference]

Ref1=http://music.walmart.com/?MSWMExt=.asf

Ref2=http://68.22.73.60:80/?MSWMExt=.asf

It is now clear that Windows Media Player uses that URL to obtain some kind of information but when ran directly it would launch the Player because of the “ASF” file extension.

It is strange how this site is tied so tightly into Windows Media Player, I guess that you will have to have Windows and Windows Media Player to see what is in that online music store. Well, after all, normal users probably would never have found that strange URL to begin with…

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