Microsoft Endorsement Raises Questions on Windows Media Player for Mac Future

It has been more than two years since Microsoft released Windows Player 9 for Mac OS X. Since then, Microsoft has shipped version 10 for Windows?complete with digital rights management, HD, and 5.1 support, among other features?and has been developing version 11, which will ship as part of Windows Vista.

Against this backdrop of a lack of updates, reminiscent of the companyis stagnant approach to Internet Explorer for Mac, Microsoft this week began offering customers Telestreamis Flip4Mac QuickTime component as a download from Microsoftis site.

The Flip4Mac endorsement and free download casts doubt on the future of Windows Media Player for Mac. While QuickTime Player is a more natural fit for Mac users, there remains a demand for features found in Windows Media Player 10, including support for the DRM many music stores use and HD content, especially since many sites and services rely exclusively on the technology. Flip4Mac only supports versions of Windows Media up to 9.

Microsoft Tuesday announced a renewed five-year commitment to the Mac, but the pledge only spans Office:mac and Messenger, which the Mac Business Unit develop. Windows Media Player development is handled by Microsoftis Windows Media Team.

Windows Media Player 9 remains available as a download for Mac OS X but it is uncertain how long this will continue. Microsoft discontinued Internet Explorer for Mac last year and will stop providing the software as a download later this year.

At press time, Microsoft had yet to respond to requests for comment.

Update: CNET has received word from Microsoft that development of Windows Media Player for Mac has officially ended.

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