Microsoft Quietly Ditches WMP for Mac

Despite pledging its support for Apple's platform, Microsoft has backed out of future releases of Windows Media Player for Mac, and the company's Web site now directs visitors to download a third-party application from developer Flip4Mac.

Flip4Mac develops Windows Media Components for QuickTime, an add-in for Apple's multimedia player. According to press release on its Web site, it appears as if the Windows Media division at Microsoft has given the company its full blessing to become the standard-bearer for Mac-based Windows Media playback.

"The Windows Media Components for QuickTime, powered by Telestream's Flip4MacTM technology provide this important capability and live up to Telestream’s reputation for outstanding media solutions," Windows Media Division director Kevin Unangst said.

Sources tell BetaNews that Microsoft has taken a different approach toward dealing with the Mac platform in recent months. Key developers in the Macintosh Business Unit at Microsoft have been reassigned elsewhere, such as the MSN unit, and the company has plans to slowly exit the consumer side of the business.

This may seem to fly in the face of Microsoft's recent announcement of support for the Macintosh platform for the next five years through Office, but the company's work is now focused solely on business applications.

"If there is a MacBU scaleback, it adds new perspective to yesterday's Microsoft Mac commitment. Soon, Office and Messenger may be the only Mac products offered by Microsoft, because of their appeal to bigger businesses," commented Jupiter Research senior analyst Joe Wilcox. "A consumer exit could mean the end of the low-cost Student & Teacher Edition, too, particularly with Apple offering iWork."

It is unclear if Telestream will attempt to bring Windows Media technologies on the Mac up to date and include support for WMP 10 codecs, or the "Janus" digital rights management framework.

Reports also surfaced Wednesday that Flip4Mac's application was unstable with the latest version of QuickTime, version 7.0.4. Crashes of QuickTime and Safari were reported on numerous Web sites. The company told users that it is working on a fix for the issue and hopes to have it released by Thursday.

Microsoft had not responded to a request for comment by press time.

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