Microsoft Updates Windows Media Player for Macs

Microsoft updates Media Player to match Panther's look-and-feel and to playback from within multiple browsers.

Microsoft Corp., about two weeks after Apple Computer Inc. released the Panther release of its Mac OS X, quietly unveiled a new version of its Windows Media Player for Mac users.

Windows Media Player 9 for Mac OS X, made available for download in English on Friday, includes an updated user interface to match the brushed-steel look of the Mac OS X 10.3 release, Microsoft confirmed on Monday.

The latest Windows Media version also provides new Web browser plug-in support. Not only does it support Microsofts Internet Explorer but it also has plug-ins for Apples Safari browser and the Netscape browser so that Windows Media files can be played back from within the browser, the company said.

Microsofts continued Mac support for Windows Media contrasts sharply with its approach to development of a Web browser for the platform. After Apple launched its own Safari browser in January 2003 and then included it with Mac OS X, Microsoft in June said it plans to end development of new Mac versions of its market leading Internet Explorer browser.

Microsoft last released a Windows Media version for the Mac in January 2002 to support Apples first release of Mac OS X.

Other new features in the latest Windows Media release include support for the Windows Media 9 Series codec and support for playing content secured with Microsoft Windows Media Rights Manager version 1.3.

The new Mac release of Windows Media 9 runs on Mac OS X version 10.1.5 or later. Microsoft said it also will continue to offer it Windows Media 7.1 for Mac to support users of older Mac operating systems.

Along with the English version, Microsoft later this week plans to make versions of the release available for French, German, Japanese and Swedish.