Flip4Mac WMV Player Review

There are times when Mac users might feel a little left out of the online video revolution. It’s a crime how many high-profile sites fail to provide Mac-friendly media, catering exclusively to Windows instead with the Microsoft WMV format.

Microsoft stopped developing Media Player for the Mac at version 9. More recently, they’ve struck a deal to distribute a free version of Flip4Mac WMV from microsoft.com. It adds codecs and components to QuickTime Player so you can play Windows Media on your Mac. The free package also has a web browser plug-in for playing back Windows video online.

Playback should be seamless in QuickTime, though we had some difficulty on some sites. The BBC’s media chooser had problems recognising Flip4Mac as the default Windows Media Player in Safari and Firefox, although other sites correctly identified it and started playback. Our guess is this is because the Beeb’s site looks for and targets the Windows Media Player ActiveX control. This is a disappointment, as it cuts out a significant number of sites that should be able to use the plug-in, but can’t.

Like QuickTime, the free WMV components can be upgraded so that you can import or export in different formats. The pricing – at $49 (£24.13) for the Studio upgrade is similar to QuickTime Pro at £20. Still, with YouTube and other sites enabling cross-platform conversion from QuickTime and storage for free, we’re not sure who the tools are for.

OUR VERDICT

In all, the free version is worth downloading if you occasionally encounter Windows Media or AVI files you can’t open. Don’t be shocked if you still can’t view those Doctor Who clips on the BBC site though.

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