With so many desktop media players out there, picking the one that works for both your computer and your portable music needs can be a real challenge. The following is a list of the most popular desktop media players in the market-each with a link to a free download:
- Windows Media Player (WMP) - Perhaps one of the most widely used media players in the industry, Windows Media Player is now at version 11. It is compatible on Windows XP SP2 and Vista platforms. Earlier versions of WMP are supported on earlier Windows platforms. It supports both audio and video playback. WMP is compatible with most portable MP3 players except iPod and Zune. Click here for a free download of Windows Media Player 11.
- QuickTime- Now in its seventh incarnation, Apple's popular media player originally designed for Mac has become one of the most popular media players around. It supports a wide range of audio and video formats. However, it does not manage your audio or video library. QuickTime ships pre-installed with all Mac computers; however, it is also compatible with Windows and Linux operating systems. Click here for a free download of Apple QuickTime.
- iTunes - Apple's highly successful media player designed to work with iPod and manage your music library. It supports audio and video content. iTunes is available for both Mac and Windows platforms and is connected to the iTunes online music store that offers more than 8 million separate titles. However, most of the songs in the iTunes store are only compatible with iPod. Click here for a free download of iTunes.
- RealPlayer -Now, in version 11, RealPlayer is one of the most versatile media players available. It supports several audio and video formats that transcend operating systems. It's versatility makes it a very popular player. RealPlayer Plus includes the ability to transfer media to iPod. Click here for a free download of RealPlayer.
- Rhapsody- Owned by RealNetworks, the same company that produces RealPlayer, Rhapsody is a desktop media player, media manager and music download store. Rhapsody's media player has many of the same features as RealPlayer but is geared more toward music management and includes streaming radio station, however, it does not support video formats. Click here for a free download of the Rhapsody media player.
- Napster- One of the most popular names in the music download industry has its very own media player. The Napster media player was originally designed to help users organize songs downloaded from their services. Now, many use it just to manage their song library even if they don't purchase music from the service. However, Napster media player only supports audio files and is only compatible with Windows XP and Vista. Click here to download Napster for free.
- Winamp - A less known but extremely capable media player, Winamp is a free media player that plays both video and music files, integrates Internet radio and TV and offers a full-featured media library. Click here for a free version of Winamp.
- VLC- A free media player that takes a minimalist approach to design and supports a wide variety of audio and video file formats including DVDs. VLC is very versatile supporting all major platforms including Windows, Mac and Linux as well as several smaller, lesser known operating systems. Click here for a free download of VLC.
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