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Media Players

To view video on the web, you must have a media player. Regardless of whether you are allowing your users to download, progressively downloading, or streaming media files, users must have a media player that supports the media type you're offering on your web pages. Many sites offer media content in three formats—Windows Media Player, Real Media, and QuickTime—and a fourth, Flash video, is slowly gaining steam and making its mark on the web.

The world of media players is constantly changing. As of this writing, Apple has announced QuickTime 7, Microsoft is shipping Media Player 10, Real is allowing free downloads of its RealPlayer 10.5, and Macromedia has introduced Flash Player 8. Today's media players play much more than video. Microsoft's Media Player and Real's RealPlayer allow direct purchases and subsequent downloads of music and movies directly from their players. Even better, these players are now directly integrating mobile devices such as Apple's iPod, Creative's Nomad series, and even Windows Media Player for Pocket PC. Beyond that, most media players are interoperable, meaning that they'll all play each others media types with few to no problems and little quality degradation.


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