Microsoftis decision to discontinue Windows Media Player for Mac OS X should have no impact on Windows Media support for the platform.
The decision by the Windows Digital Media team to axe the player was purely business, spokesperson Jason Wellcome told The Mac Observer. "This should not have any bearing on Microsoftis commitment to the Mac platform," Mr. Wellcome said. The move happened to be announced on the same day as Microsofis Macintosh Business Unit renewed a five-year commitment to the Mac. The MacBU has never been involved with the development of Windows Media Player for Mac.
When Microsoft released Windows Media Player 9 for Mac OS X in November 2003, it did so in order to provide basic playback support for Windows Media files on the Mac, Mr. Wellcome said. Since then, superior solutions for doing so have emerged, including Telestreamis Flip4Mac WMV QuickTime plug-in, which Microsoft endorsed Tuesday.
"[Telestream and Microsoft] have signed a distribution agreement," Janet Swift, Marketing and Communications Manager for Telestream, told The Mac Observer. "No money changed hands. The contract is ongoing and will be reviewed annually."
Ms. Swift also added that the Flip4Mac solution will continue to improve over time, and the company is working to address video quality issues that some users have reported with Flip4Mac and QuickTime 7.0.4.
Unlike QuickTime, which requires a version 7 player to use version 7 codecs such as h.264, the actual Windows Media Player application runs independently from the codecs. As such, Flip4Mac, actually offers support for more Windows Media formats than Windows Media Player 9 for Mac OS X ever did, including codecs that were only introduced alongside Windows Media Player 10 for Windows. The streaming of Windows Media content can also be handled by Flip4Mac.
The one exception is support for protected Windows Media files, which Flip4Mac does not support and will seemingly never support, at least for the foreseeable future. The Windows Media DRM scheme, Mr. Wellcome said, is partially tied to the Windows operating system as well.