January 21, 2006

Mac WMP, RIP. Meet Flip4Mac

Following Microsoft's EOL for the Mac version of Internet Explorer, a further withdrawal from the Mac market with the quiet ending of Windows Media development for that platform. Unlike Mac IE, which will become unavailable for download at the end of this month, Microsoft will continue to offer the player through its website.

In an interesting move, Microsoft teamed up with Telestream to provide a free Windows Media component for Apple's QuickTime technology. Telestream's Flip4Mac WMV allows Windows Media 9 and earlier content to be played using the QuickTime Player and plug-in.

According to an AP news item published in the Boston Herald, Microsoft states that playback performance for some Windows Media content within QuickTime will be better than when played through Mac Windows Media Player, which had not been updated since its release in Nov. 2003.

I've recently used the Import version of the Flip4Mac component to perform WMV conversion to QuickTime and it's worked well for that purpose. I did notice some odd behavior after installation which I hadn't explored until now...

NOTE: If you've already installed the Flip4Mac component and then updated QuickTime, you'll want to download the latest version of Flip4Mac that addresses problems with the most recent QuickTime release.

Browser behavior: Safari users will always view Windows Media content via the QuickTime plug-in, however, Firefox users will view the same content through the Windows Media plug-in, if present. If you are currently using plug-in detection to present Windows Media content, keep this in mind as Safari and Mac Firefox users may actually be able to view this content without having the Windows Media Player installed and therefore may be locked out of your content.

DRM: Flip4Mac doesn't support Digital Rights Management for Windows Media content. While Telestream hopes to work something out with Microsoft, If you subscribe to protected content from the likes of Napster or Yahoo!, you'll want to keep the Microsoft player handy and use Firefox for your viewing.

For more info: Check out Telestream's Flip4Mac FAQ, system requirements and supported codecs.

Posted by Lewis Francis at January 21, 2006 8:45 PM

NOTE: For MacIntel users, there is no variance in the way Firefox and Mac handle Windows Media as the old Windows Media Player is PPC-only, and would be unrecognized by MacIntel native browsers.

Posted by: Lewis Francis at May 30, 2007 10:27 PM
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