One of the few third-party add-ons to OS X that is considered by many as essential as the operating system itself, Telestream's
free Flip4Mac WMV Player
(also distributed by Microsoft as Windows Media Components for QuickTime
) has for years given Mac users the ability to play WMV format video and audio in QuickTime and on the web without having to think about codecs. The company has now officially inaugurated version 3.0 of the utility, which still offers free translation of Windows media formats, but now also includes a free player
and new abilities.
As before, the Flip4Mac components allow integrated system playback of Windows Media files in QuickTime and other apps that rely on QuickTime, with two paid options to either convert Windows Media documents into standard formats (the "Pro" edition, which costs $29) or add the ability to encode other media files into WMV or WMA format (the $49 "Studio" version). The new update, in addition to providing improvements and keeping up with more recent Windows Media codecs, also includes a separate, free standalone video player called Flip Player that supports WMV and WMA playback, along with MOV, MP4, H.264 and AAC formats (additional formats will be added in future releases).
The basic Flip Player
offers navigation controls that, unlike QuickTime, do not fade in over the video area itself; a Dim Lights mode that shades background elements without going full-screen, and full pixel-to-pixel fidelity. The player allows users to export videos to iMovie, Mail and iPhoto (though it will place a watermark on the videos unless users upgrade to Flip Player Pro). It is, the company points out, the only free video player for Mac that officially supports Microsoft's codecs. The new version adds more 64-bit component support and utilizes Mountain Lion's Gatekeeper feature.
A $29 upgrade option gives buyers Flip Player Pro, which adds editing abilities including scaling, cropping, trimming using in and out points and rotation. The upgrade also adds slow-motion playback, JKL control, and the ability to export to Final Cut Pro. Files can be converted from Windows Media formats to all the other supported file types.