Microsoft Axes Windows Media Player For Mac, Provides Alternative

Citing "business priorities," Microsoft will no longer develop Windows Media Player (WMP) for the Mac. This comes days after Microsoft announced continued Mac support for Office at the Macworld Keynote. That agreement only dealt with Office, giving them free reign to axe anything else. Microsoft already dropped Internet Explorer for Mac.

That leaves MSN Messenger, Virtual PC, and of course Office for the Mac Business Unit (MBU) to develop. Losing WMP for Mac may sound bad, but this is really good news. Having Internet Explorer and Windows Media for Mac out of the way, they have more time to devote to the remaining three products.

Roz Ho, MBU General Manager, stated at Macworld that MSN Messenger will be updated in the coming months. Microsoft has also stated that they still plan to develop Virtual PC for the Mac. I just hope the next version of Virtual PC is not as dog slow as version 7. Seeing as the next iteration of Virtual PC will allegedly be a Universal Binary, it remains to be seen how well it performs on both PowerPC and Intel based Macs.

Those who remember "FAT" Mac applications when Apple switched from Motorola to PowerPC chips cringe at the thought of this new Universal Binary format. But compilers have come a long way since Apple used Motorola 680X0 series chips, and from the sounds of it, Universal Binaries are not as bad to work with. But back to the point...

What is a Mac user to do with no Windows Media Player for Mac OS X? Use a superior product, of course! Microsoft itself is now distributing Flip4Mac Windows Media Components for QuickTime free of charge. Grab version 2.0 from the Microsoft site, then download 2.01 from VersionTracker.

There are only two problems with this solution: Windows Media 10 content, and rights managed (DRM) Windows Media files are not supported with this QuickTime component. Hopefully these Windows Media Components for QuickTime will be upgraded in the future to support both of these features. Microsoft will have to make the call on DRM Windows Media on the Mac; they control their own rights management.

Windows Media 9 is the current "standard" that Windows Media is distributed in - audio or video. The only problem I can see for Mac users is when Windows Media 10 becomes the "standard," probably around the time that Windows Media 11 is released. As usual, only time will tell.

For now, we can thank Microsoft for giving us Windows Media Components for QuickTime for free, previously a $10 piece of software. It also happens to perform better then the new defunct WMP 9 for Mac. Not a bad deal.

Comments (3)

LKM:
Those who remember "FAT" Mac applications when Apple switched from Motorola to PowerPC chips cringe at the thought of this new Universal Binary format.

Why? I can't remember any problem with fat apps, other than that they were larger than normal applications. Basically, they to applications, and depending on the Mac you started it, the correct code would run.

Besides, VPC should run a whole lot faster on Intel Macs, since the whole CPU-Emulation/Endian-translation won't be needed anymore. In fact, VPC on Intel Macs should perform comparable to the Windows version of VPC.

FAT apps were bigger and ran slower. Not too bad but it was noticable.

I sure as hell hope VPC on Intel Macs runs close to or equal to o VPC on Windows! That is a great Windows application.

I hope it is easier since the Mac OS and Windows are both now on the same chip. But something tells me it is not going to be.

LKM:
FAT apps were bigger and ran slower.

They certainly were bigger, yeah. But they most definitely didn't run slower. Maybe they started a tad slower since Mac OS had to figure out which binary to run, but I doubt even that actually made a difference. Fat binaries contained the same code as normale applications, just twice, once for each processor, so speed-wise, it didn't matter at all.


I sure as hell hope VPC on Intel Macs runs close to or equal to o VPC on Windows! That is a great Windows application.
I hope it is easier since the Mac OS and Windows are both now on the same chip. But something tells me it is not going to be.

And what would that something be? :-)

Actually, VPC on Intel Macs will work exactly like VMWare or VPC on PCs. The thing that made VPC on Macs slow was the processor emulation. VPC has to translate all Intel calls to PPC calls, and it has to reverse addressing, since the two chips have different endian-ness. Both of these things won't have to be done anymore, so the parts which made VPC slow aren't necessary anymore.

You can trust me when I tell you that VPC on Intel chips is going to be a hell of a lot faster than VPC on PowerPC Macs and run Windows as fast as VMWare runs Windows on a PC right now.

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