Microsoft Confirms: WMP for Mac Dead

UPDATED Microsoft has confirmed to BetaNews that it will no longer develop Windows Media Player for Apple's Mac OS X operating system. Support will also no longer be offered to Mac users. The decision means Apple customers will have no chance to play DRM protected Windows Media content.

The death knell sounded for WMP for Mac yesterday, following the release of Windows Media Components for QuickTime by developer Flip4Mac. Microsoft began directing Web site visitors to download the third party software. Flip4Mac's components integrate into Apple's QuickTime and enable support for Windows Media Video and Audio.

Windows Media Player 9 for Mac was the last release to be made over two years ago. Since that time, WMP has received a number of updates -- including digital rights management support -- on Windows, while the Mac version remained stagnant.

"Microsoft will continue to offer the Windows Media Player version 9 for Macintosh users, but has no plans to provide future updates or product support for Windows Media Player for Macintosh systems," a spokesperson acknowledged to BetaNews.

Such a change has already brought trouble for some customers, however. The initial version of Windows Media Components for QuickTime was incompatible with the newly released QuickTime 7.0.4, which led to browser crashes and lockups when using Apple's built-in media player.

Flip4Mac released an updated version of the software, 2.0.1, on its Web site Thursday, but users have complained about video quality and display issues on major Web sites such as CNN.

Explaining the decision to drop WMP on Mac, sources told BetaNews earlier this week that Microsoft's focus had shifted away from consumer applications to business customers. BetaNews will hold a follow up interview with the company's Macintosh Business Unit in the coming days to clarify its plans.

"Microsoft's reasons for ending Windows Media Player for Mac development are twofold, or so I was told," commented Jupiter Research senior analyst Joe Wilcox on Microsoft Monitor.

"Reason one: Resources allotment. The division's focus has been Windows Vista and Windows Media Player 11. Reason two: Lacking information -- meaning Microsoft doesn't control Mac OS X -- to do the job right. Of course, when there's incentive, Microsoft developers can move mountains. Clearly, the will wasn't there, and I can't fault Microsoft for that."

Still, Wilcox notes he, "really would have liked to see Microsoft bring the digital music foray to Apple's home court. Macs may not have the marketshare over Windows PCs, but there is mindshare."

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