Windows Media Player: how to modify download/view action?

On my XP/SP2 PC system, when the default Windows Media Player springs into action to play a sound or audio file, it downloads in the background, but plays the same file during the download as long as the download speed is sufficient.

But at a friend’s PC, with basically the same XP setup, the Player insisted on downloading the entire file before playing at all. This can take 20 minutes for some files.

I can’t find a setting in the Player that controls this action. The buffer setting only has default, or 1…60 seconds and doesn’t seem to have much effect in my machine when I change it.

And if you are tempted to suggest another viewer, that’s fine, but the Win viewer is the most common one out there and I need to tell people how to control this function if they want to see my videos. Downloading & installing another viewer takes too long and isn’t an option in many cases. (Hey, I work with an ignorant crowd, what can I say?)

Anyone know where the control is?

I’d also like to know the answer to this problem. I’ve had this happen to me as well, and my cursing was ineffective – WMP would not stream any file, and never did again on that computer.