Microsoft’s Windows Media Player 7 for Mac is now available. The app offers Mac users access to movies and music available in Windows Media Format.
Media Player, not loved by many Mac users, trails in popularity behind Apple’s own QuickTime and Real Networks’ Real Player. Media Player 7 supports playback of streamed or downloaded Windows Media audio and video files; Windows Media digital rights management; and playback of MP3 files. The player offers a new interface for audio and video playback, including built-in selectable “skins” that change the look of the player. In addition to the default skin, Mac users can select from a small, mini-player for audio playback or a “classic” skin for those who prefer a “classic Macintosh” feel.
Features include: local and streamed playback of Windows Media and MP3 files (including .asf, .wma, .wmv, .asx, .wmx, .wax, .wm, .wvx, and .mp3 extensions); ASX version 1.0, 2.0, and 3.0 parsing; UDP, TCP/IP, HTTP and multicast streaming; protocol automatic ordering and rollover; multiple bit rates; intelligent streaming; logging; closed captioning; and HTTP basic authentication.
With the new player, Microsoft is responding to consumer demand for Windows Media-formatted content on the Mac platform, according to Dave Fester, general manager of marketing for the Windows Digital Media Division at Microsoft. Version 7 for Mac supports digital rights management and the newest Windows Media codecs — Windows Media Audio and Video 8 — which were also released today.
Online film content providers have announced plans to offer thousands of hours of movie content using the new Windows Media Video 8 codec technology, Fester said. You can check out Windows Media Video 8 online.
“Windows Media Player 7 for Mac unlocks more great content for a broader community of users, and it gives studios, labels and artists the technology to deliver it in the highest-quality format available: Windows Media 8,” Fester said in a statement.
Microsoft claims the new codecs provide “near-DVD-quality” video at rates as low as 500 Kbps, “near-VHS-quality” video at rates as low as 250 Kbps, “CD-quality” audio at 64 Kbps and “near-CD-quality” sound at 48 Kbps, about one-third the file size of MP3. The new player includes a new plug-in that’s compatible with Netscape Navigator/Communicator and Microsoft Internet Explorer browsers.
The new player is available for immediate download. It’s a 5611 k download.
System requirements for Mac OS 8.1 and later (OS 8.6 or later is recommended) are: a Power Mac 603e 180 MHz or higher processor; 32MB of RAM; Virtual Memory turned on; 10MB of free hard disk space; a monitor color depth of 256 colors (millions of colors recommended); Microsoft Internet Explorer 4.0.1 or later (Internet Explorer 5 or later recommended), Netscape Navigator 4.x (PowerPC version), Netscape Communicator 4.0 or later (Power PC version), or America Online for Macintosh 4.0 or 5.0.
System requirements for Mac OS 8 and earlier are: System 7.6.1 or later; a Power Mac 601 processor or faster; Open Transport 1.1.2 or later; QuickTime 3.0.2 or later; 32MB or more of RAM with 10MB free for Windows Media Player; 15MB of free hard disk space; and a 256-color display card or better.
Please note: the minimum requirements are for playing audio and video with a low frame rate — less than four frames per second. To play video files with a higher frame rate, please use the recommended system requirements. By the way, Microsoft “strongly recommends” upgrading to Mac OS 8 or later due to improvements in Open Transport. The Big M also “strongly recommends” upgrading to Internet Explorer 5.