Apple’s QuickTime had a presence, yes, and Adobe’s proprietary Flash was everywhere, too, but Mac users had to suffer the trials and tribulations of the Windows Media Video and Flash formats through free add-on plugins just to view a video file. What’s changed the game?
What’s Free Is Not
Without getting into the politics of the situation, Apple had a big hand in creating the new de facto video and audio standards for mobile devices, which had the effect of destroying the Microsoft and Flash duopoly.
Flash and Microsoft have little-to-no presence on the mobile device scene. Flash aside, Mac users who wanted to view a Microsoft Windows WMV needed the free Flip4Mac Player.
For the most part, Flip4Mac installed on a Mac did the job of bringing Windows Media Video to Mac users.
But that was then and this is now and WMV is in a fretful of rapid decline, so Flip4Mac doesn’t get used much anymore, thanks to Apple and H.264 video and MP4 (AAC) audio standards.
Today’s Flip4Mac is much like Flip4Mac of yesteryear. It plays .wmv and .wma files directly in QuickTime Player, and you can view and hear the same files in Safari. The only real difference is that you’ll pay $5.95 for the privilege of viewing and listening through a utility that once was free.
Think of Flip4Mac as a QuickTime plugin so you can view and listen to Windows video and audio files the same way you view and listen to other files. Painlessly. Except for the pain of having to pay for that which was free not all that long ago.
Flip4Mac works well in Safari, but also has support for Firefox and Chrome. And, it works in Microsoft’s PowerPoint and Apple’s Keynote presentation apps. I’m sure there are Windows Media files still out there, somewhere, it’s just that I haven’t run into one in a couple of years. So, it’s unlikely that I’ll shell out $5.95 for a utility that does what I so seldom need to do that I forgot it even existed.