There is a high likelihood that you have a version of Windows Media Player installed on your Windows computer. Not by choice though, because Microsoft have bundled it into the operating system. Finding a Windows Media Player alternative will not only allow you to play a wider variety of video formats, but in many cases, also give you a better viewing experience.
Microsoft Windows Media Player, which is a video and audio player, suits some of us just fine.
Others who prefer to branch out into non-Microsoft applications, expect more features from their player. Often, video and audio can actually be played back at higher quality because the Windows Media Player alternative software uses less CPU and memory, giving the video itself more juice to run.
There are plenty of alternative Windows media players to choose from and it just comes down to finding the perfect one that meets your criteria.
Here are five free downloadable software alternatives to Windows Media Player.
VLC Media Player
VLC Media Player will suit those of us who are wanting an open source cross-platform multimedia alternative to Windows Media Player. Simply put, VLC Media Player will play pretty much all multimedia files, DVD, Audio, VCD and CD.
It also has a wide range of add-ons to choose from, including skins, extensions, internet channels and plugins. VLC media player can run on all platforms and it plays most codecs, such as MP3, MPEG-2, MKV, WebM and WMV.
VLC can also stream across computer networks, has a modular design so it is easy to include plugins and as the interfaces are each on their own modules. You can use more than one GUI (Graphical User Interface) at a time.
Like many Windows Media Player alternative applications, VLC Media Player also has its own Easter Eggs, which are hidden features or bonus you are not likely to expect. Around Christmas time, the VLC traffic cone symbol wears a Santa hat, which automatically disappears in January. 🙂
Winamp is a well-known Microsoft Windows Media Player alternative due to its significant ability to be customised by the user.
You can choose your own skins to change the way the interface looks, install plugins to play with, visualizations to use when your music plays and a wide range of online services to help you in many ways.
Winamp Standard is a free MP3, video and music player which runs on the Windows operating system. It will show you whats ‘Playing Now’ on songs, artists, video and radio as well as allowing you to organize and play your iPod tunes.
The Shoutcast plugin can also help you turn DJ and stream your collection to your listeners, or alternatively, listen to other radio streams.
If you don’t have Windows, never fear. Winamp is also available for use on Andriod and Apple.
Audacity is another popular free, open source alternative to Windows Media Player. It is a high quality digital editor and music player. It can run on Linux/GNU, Windows and Mac OS X.
The low number of plugins is counterbalanced by the large number of built in features. Audacity will allow you to record through a microphone or mixer, edit or mix up tracks, import and export sound files, alter, add or remove effects and use screen readers.
If that wasn’t enough and you have the know-how, you can write your own plugin for this Windows Media Player alternative.
As an alternative to Windows Media Player, Foobar2000 offers the Windows operating system user an audio player which is highly customizable.
Foobar2000 is also modular based allowing the GUI to be customized and third-party developers to replace the entire interface if they want. As it is solely focused on things audio related, it has plenty of features which allow us to organize our files and folders and metadata.
It supports a wide range of audio file formats including MP3, MP4, WAV, CD Audio and WMA. Audio CDs can be ripped using its Converter component, one of the optional features you can also download.
SM Player is a media player which will play almost all audio and video formats on Windows or Linux OS. It does not require you to install any codecs, as they are already built in ready for use.
However, this is one smart Windows Media Player alternative! SM Player will search, download and play YouTube videos, as well as downloading subtitles from www.opensubtitles.org for people needing visual aids.
It also comes with a selection of skins to choose from, is available in over 30 languages and uses MPlayer, an award winning powerful but hard to use media player, as its playback engine.
As a final big plus for SM Player, it has an easy to understand and use website for those of us with not so much technical knowledge!
So if you are not completely satisfied with your Microsoft Windows Media Player, try downloading one of these free alternatives.