The Windows Media Player, in my opinion, “is a bloated, hard to understand, does not play well with others, likes to tell on you, hooks into your operating system, mediocre” media player. Sorry Microsoft, but myself and legions of others like “simplicity, easy to follow, will play anything, respects our privacy, can be deleted if we don’t like it, above average” media player. I didn’t mean to start this post out so blatant, but I want you to know there are other media player options available.
If you are looking for an alternative “FREE” media player with simplicity in mind, that works across many platforms (i.e. Windows, Mac, Linux, BeOS, Syllable, & others) and will play just about anything that you throw at it; then give VideoLan –VLC media player a try. I have been using this player for approximately 2 years and it has not let me down. I initially started using it when I tried to play a movie with Windows Media player and it basically told me it did not support the format and that additional codecs was needed. Once I found, downloaded and installed what I thought was the correct codec, I soon discovered that I had thrown trash at my system that caused Windows Media Player to not function properly. Of course I was questioning; What is a “codec”? To be honest with you, I love tech stuff, but I really don’t care about “codecs”. If you get into the various digital media formats, the term “codec” will cross your path often. Per WikiPedia, “A codec is a device or program capable of encoding and/or decoding a digital data stream or signal”. What is so nice about VideoLan (VLC) media player is that it supports a large number of multimedia formats, without the need of additional codecs. It is not the prettiest media player out there, but it gets the job done and does it very well. If you are into appearance, VideoLan (VLC) is skinnable. Oh, and if you don’t know what a skin is; a skin is an add-on that you can use with VLC to change the look and feel of the player to make it more aesthetically pleasing to the user’s eye.
Description of VLC (from the web site):
VLC media player is a highly portable multimedia player for various audio and video formats (MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, DivX, mp3, ogg, …) as well as DVDs, VCDs, and various streaming protocols. It can also be used as a server to stream in unicast or multicast in IPv4 or IPv6 on a high-bandwidth network. It doesn’t need any external codec or program to work.
NOTE: There is also a portable version of VideoLan (VLC) available at Portableapps.com