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WMP plays audio only

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My son has encountered a problem with Windows Media Player (and Windows Movie Maker) on his computer. He uses these two programmes to view and edit short videos that he makes, but 'a few' weeks ago the programmes started to play audio only. I checked some video files that have been on the computer for a long time, and used to play, and now they only register audio.
I looked online to see if there were any ready solutions, but most were highly derogatory toward the two programmes and suggested downloading something else. He's reluctant to do that because he's used to them, and happy with them. Other suggestions included downloading third party codecs, but this seemed risky judging by other posts. Microsoft's own website was pretty useless as far as I could see.
I was unable to load a new version of the media player, being told I was already using a more recent version.

If anyone has any other ideas I'd be very glad to give them a try!

His machine is loaded with Vista 32 bit. The media player is version 11.
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