The World’s Most Popular Media Player Turns 15

VLC, the world’s most popular (and lauded) media player, is now fifteen years old, its creator VideoLAN has announced. While the genesis of VLC predates its Birthday of 1st February, 2001 – the software began life as Network 2000 five years previously – the date marks the point at which VLC was granted its GPL license.

“If you’ve been to one of my talks, (if you haven’t, you should come to one), you know that the project that became VideoLAN and VLC, is almost 5 years older than that, and was called Network 2000,” Jean-Baptiste Kempf, President of VideoLAN, said in a blog post. “Moreover, the first commit on the VideoLAN Client project is from August 8th 1999, by Michel Kaempf had 21275 lines of code already, so the VLC software was started earlier in 1999. However, the most important date for the birth of VLC is when it was allowed to be used outside of the school, and therefore when the project was GPL-ized: February 1st, 2001.”

VLC is now available for Windows, Mac, GNU/Linux, iOS, Windows RT, Android, Android TV, Apple TV, Solaris, BSD, OS/2, Tizen, and Chrome OS, while the team is hard at work developing VLC 3.0, which will introduce improved GPU decoding, adaptive streaming, and Chromecast integration.

Image courtesy of VideoLAN.

Windows 10 DVD Player now Available for a Mere $14.99/£11.59

Microsoft decided to ship Windows 10 without an integrated DVD playback application. Why? Perhaps this was to avoid anti-competition regulations and make sure the operating system doesn’t discriminate against third-party alternatives. Whatever the reasoning, Microsoft’s bizarre pricing is astonishing and quite hard to believe. One could argue the pricing comes from licensing fees, but as a consumer, this isn’t something you should be worried about. To enable DVD playback through their fairly limited software suite, you have to pay $14.99/£11.59. Alternatively, you could download VLC for FREE which adopts an open-source model and comes packed full of features.

VLC is capable of playing videos as a Desktop background, stretching images to a host of aspect ratios and much more. In comparison, the Windows DVD Player is extremely basic and without any customizable controls. According to the App Store,

“Windows DVD Player for Windows 10 makes it easy to watch your favorite DVDs.”

 “Watch both commercial and homemade discs in the DVD-Video format.”

 “This app requires a DVD-capable optical drive.”

Not only that, the paid Windows version cannot play any kind of Blu-Ray discs and could have problems with unusual codecs. VLC is quite adaptable and able to play MKVs, MP4s, VOBs and other video types while adjusting the audio sync. It also supports .SRT and allows for multiple subtitle channels.

Honestly, I’m not sure if Microsoft themselves believes anyone will buy this. The ratings so far are rightfully abysmal and it’s quite insulting to ask so much money for such an inferior product. Additionally, if you don’t like VLC, there’s Media Player Classic, KMPlayer, BSPlayer, and lots more to choose from. If Microsoft want to be perceived as a consumer-friendly company, they need to drop arrogant PR-disasters like this.

Thank you Windows Central for providing us with this information.

VLC Developer: Sourceforge Has Been Pushing “Crapware” Since 2012

Fans of software repository Sourceforge were aghast to discover that the site was hijacking orphaned pages and turning legitimate software into Trojans by bundling them with malware, the biggest profile of which were GIMP and Nmap. But now a member of the development team responsible for popular media player VLC has revealed that Sourceforge has been engaging in such shady practices since as early as 2012.

On his personal blog, Ludovic Fauvet has recounted the story of VLC’s rocky relationship with Sourceforge. While Sourceforge didn’t modify the VLC installer in any way, as it did with GIMP and Nmap, it did host scam ads for fraudulent versions of the legitimate software it hosted, including VLC.

Fauvet says:

“[I]n 2012 Geeknet [parent company of Sourceforge] started to add more banners to their pages and did not bother filtering ads that were obvious scam, misleading users to click on these fake “downloads” buttons. Some if not all of these advertisers were distributing VLC bundled with crapware (as we like to call them).”

“We alerted SF.net quite a few time [sic] asking them to be more careful about these ads and they acted like they were willing to help us, telling they’ll look into it, month after month. But nothing really changed on this side, they removed few ads but they came back eventually. In consequence they also offered to share some revenues with us. They gave few thousands dollars every couple of month [sic] to the non-profit (which was welcome since we’re all volunteers) but we were still unhappy because a lot of VLC users were still impacted by these misleading ads.”

“Then came Dice Holdings who bought most of the online media business of Geeknet (including Sourceforge) in September 2012. Soon after, our previous contact at SF.net left the boat, leaving us without any way to reach the new team for quite some time.”

“The situation worsened again, we received literally dozens of emails each week from angry users complaining about some bundled software and toolbars that were added to the installer. Sourceforge did not (yet) modify our installer in any way, instead our users were clicking on some of these misleading ads. I remember counting more than seven “download” button on our SF.net page!”

The fraudulent ads for VLC forced the developers to move away from Sourceforge:

“We couldn’t continue to operate this way so in April 2013 I started working on a new way to distribute VLC. We rented few servers, contacted some mirrors and everything was ready a couple of weeks later. We were finally able to pull the plug from the Sourceforge website.”

“The situation improved drastically for us past this change, no more complaints about misleading ads or user being tricked into downloading bundled crapware. But this was also the starting point of Sourceforge being SNAFU. One possible explanation could be that they lost their biggest project which was making a significant portion of their revenues since VLC was the most downloaded software on Sourceforge at the time. Interestingly enough, the Gimp project took the same decision few months later, aggravating the Sourceforge situation.”

It’s official: Sourceforge is for losers. Let the mass exodus begin!

VLC to Get Chromecast Support

It seems VLC, the acclaimed open-source portable media player, is getting Chromecast support. VideoLAN, VLCs creator, recently posted a changelog for their media platform to GitHub, with “Chromecast output module” listed as one of the entries.

If that entry means what it appears to mean, VLC will soon be able to stream directly to a Google’s HDMI dongle. The move would be a boost for Chromecast users since the device is not the best at playing local video, and VLC is considered the most versatile media player available.

Couple this new with the recent VLC Player releases for iOS and Android, and the popular software could soon become an essential part of the Chromecast streaming experience.

Source: Gizmodo

Stable Android VLC Player Launched on Google Play

VLC, the popular open-source media player and streaming media server from VideoLAN, has been in beta for Android for over four years, but now a stable version (v1.0.1) has been made available on Google Play. The beta version still exists for VideoLAN to test new features.

According to the Google Play listing, VLC for Android offers the following features:

  • VLC for Android plays most local video and audio files, as well as network streams (including adaptive streaming), DVD ISOs, like the desktop version of VLC;
  • All formats are supported, including MKV, MP4, AVI, MOV, Ogg, FLAC, TS, M2TS and AAC. All codecs are included with no separate downloads;
  • VLC for Android has a media library for audio and video files, and allows to browse folders directly;
  • VLC has support for multi-track audio and subtitles. It supports auto-rotation, aspect-ratio adjustments and gestures to control volume, brightness and seeking;
  • It also includes a widget for audio control, supports audio headsets control, cover art and a complete audio media library.

VLC is compatible with current smartphones, with ARMv6 support planned for a future update.

Source: Android Central

Windows 8.1 Battery Life Benchmark

When it comes to mobility and Windows 8.1, it’s all about the battery life. Nobody would want to see their laptops or tablets shut down in the middle of a movie or while browsing the internet for an important information.

The guys at Anandtech performed some tests on a Sony VAIO Pro 13 to determine the battery life in Windows 8.1. For the test, they used a 1080p MP4 video (having 2.03 Mbps MP4 with an AVC High L4.1 profile video stream and a 93.8 Kbps 2-channel AAC audio stream to be more precise) and played it on MPCHC, VLC, Windows Media Player and the Modern UI Video app.

The results are as following:

As show above, MPCHC is the least optimized for MKV playback, sucking up the most battery out of your system. Moving upwards, we see VLC doing a bit better, having 7% more ground than the MPCHC but not so good when switching to lower bitrate, in which case MPCHC takes the lead.

Windows Media Player surprisingly managed to score 418 minutes, 32% more than MPCHC and 36% better than VLC. The Video app takes the lead in the end by 13% compared to the classical Windows Media Player and a staggering 50% to 54% lead when looking back at the MPCHC and VLC.

In terms of Metro UI and Desktop modes, the Video app does not show a considerable difference, it is measured at 2%, but if you want to squeeze that 15 minutes out of a movie, Metro UI mode is the solution.

Thank you Anandtech for providing us with this information
Images courtesy of Sony and Anandtech