Over on the Desktop Notes 3 blog I noticed a post about Windows Media Player 11 and its network sharing features and more importantly that they're running by default.
Since I no longer run Windows XP I can't check to see what the deal is on that platform. But I can see a couple of differences right off the bat when compared with Windows Vista.
On Windows Vista the Media Sharing options have an extra option, Find media that others are sharing, for some reason this isn't present on Windows Media Player 11 Beta 2 on XP.
So I'm pretty sure that is what the processes mentioned were doing, listening on the network for other shared media libraries. Why this isn't present on the options panel I don't know and could be something simple like not be hooked up yet, lets remember it is still a beta.
On Windows XP the network service (which was restarting the processes) was set on automatic. I've just checked here and it is stopped, as one would expect.
If this is how WMP11 on XP is going to behave it really needs to be setup by the installer, do you want to share media and find media on the network? Then set up the service and processes around that on installation.
But it also shows the scare-mongering done on behalf of firewall vendors. It is a harmless application listening on a port to see if there are any shared media libraries about, I remember back a few years ago on the newsgroups people thinking they had a Trojan when they first installed a firewall and it flashed up a big red security alert which freaked the user out... and it was just a printer.
The really annoying thing is, a few months later when the user comes to use the service it is blocked by the firewall they simple blame Microsoft for shoddy coding because they can't get it to work, long forgetting they actually blocked it at the firewall.