Difference between AutoRun and AutoPlay
Q: What is the difference between AutoRun and AutoPlay?
A: The correct word to use in the context of CD-ROMs and DVDs where an application (e.g. MenuBox) or document (e.g. an HTML, PDF, Word, PowerPoint, Flash, AVI, MPEG or other file opened by MenuBox) is automatically launched when the medium is inserted in the drive is "AutoRun".
Microsoft introduced the "AutoRun" specification in Windows 95. Until the release of Windows XP the terms "AutoRun" and "AutoPlay" were sometimes used interchangeably, occasionally with a preference for the term "AutoRun" on the developer side, and "AutoPlay" on the user side. In Windows XP Microsoft introduced a specification officially named "AutoPlay", which also makes use, for a small part of its functionality, of AutoRun. Nevertheless, some software publishers still use the term "AutoPlay" when they actually mean "AutoRun".
On its website, Microsoft explains that "AutoPlay is a new feature introduced in Microsoft® Windows® XP that detects content such as pictures, music, or video files on removable media and removable devices. AutoPlay then automatically launches applications to play or display that content. This simplifies the use of specialized peripheral devices such as MPEG-Layer 3 (MP3) players and digital photo readers. It also makes it easier for users who are unfamiliar with the software needed to access various content types."
Microsoft also adds that "AutoPlay should not be confused with AutoRun. AutoRun, introduced in Windows 95, enables a compact disc to automatically launch a function, such as an installer or game play, when placed in the CD-ROM drive. This is accomplished through the use of an Autorun.inf file in the root directory of the compact disc."
In Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 10 and Windows 11, AutoPlay became the mechanism by which the user could associate an app to certain types of content, e.g. a media player to automatically play back music CDs, etc. A separate File Explorer menu option, named "Run enhanced content", was introduced to manually run the preset AutoRun action set by the application developer.
It is safe to link to this page.