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Microsoft to Phase Out Windows Media Player for Mac

By Erika Morphy MacNewsWorld ECT News Network
Jan 13, 2006 2:35 PM PT

Microsoft will no longer update or develop new versions of Windows Media Player for Mac, according to statements made by company executives, who cite other priorities for the Windows Media Player group.

Microsoft to Phase Out Windows Media Player for Mac

However, Microsoft will continue to offer the current version.

Also, as of this week, Mac OS X users have the option of playing Windows Media video and audio on Apple's QuickTime player using the Flip4Mac plug-in from Telestream, which they can download for free.

Steady Tide

Microsoft's abandonment of future development of Windows Media Player for Mac is hardly a surprise, according to Charles King, principal analyst with Pund-IT Research.

Despite a new agreement announced at Macworld -- a five-year deal under which Microsoft will develop new versions of Microsoft Office for PowerPC as well as for the new Intel-based iMacs -- the software giant has been withdrawing development support for many Mac products, King told CRM Buyer, such as Internet Explorer for Mac and MSN for Mac.

"The argument Microsoft typically makes is that these decisions are revenue-based," he said, meaning Mac has provided Microsoft with less and less revenue over time.

Microsoft vs. iTunes

The decision to pull back from Windows Media could be a reflection of this reality, he said. "It is conceivable that Mac users simply aren't interested in it and they prefer Mac's own media software."

Another possibility, though, is that Microsoft has its eye on Apple's music and video market share and decided to stop -- or at least stop aiding -- a major competitor.

"It is clear that what Apple is doing in music and video is what other vendors would love to do -- redefine the space based on their own products," King commented.

"So, if you are a competitor, you have to ask yourself what you need to do to try to get ahead, given Apple's formidable lead. Microsoft probably decided they would rather do as little as possible to encourage Mac users," he suggested.

It is difficult to conceive how any company -- even one with Microsoft's cash reserves -- will be able to make a dent in the iPod market share and its related media products. But it's not "game over" yet, King said.

"The space is still fairly wide open. I do think Apple has done a great job of defining it, but never count out Microsoft."

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