Microsoft has announced Windows Media Player for the Macintosh.

The software will play audio and video on Apple’s machines, and is an attempt to seize more of the Internet-technology market, according to analysts.

Beta Windows Media Player 7 for Mac was announced the same day as Microsoft’s Mac:Office 2001 went on sale in the US. A beta of the application will be available from October 20, and will give users access to files encoded using Windows Media algorithms.

Dave Fester, general manager of marketing for Microsoft’s digital media division, said: “Windows Media Player 7 for Mac beta is a milestone in our efforts to provide the best possible digital-media experience across platforms.”

Competition Reuters says that alongside Real Network’s alternatives, Windows Media Player competes with Apple’s QuickTime technology to handle video and graphics on computers. Media-rich Web sites, particularly in the news and entertainment fields are making increasing use of a wide variety of media – streaming video and audio, for example.

Apple meanwhile announced QuckTime 5 last Wednesday at its QuickTime Live! Conference, and announced that the user base for its previous version, QuickTime 4, has reached 100 million.

RealPlayer 8 has been available for months, but Real has not yet released a Mac version of its application. MusicMatch released its alternative for the Mac in May.