VLC Media Player 1.0
Windows 2003, Windows Vista, Windows XP, Windows 2000
No additional requirements
Publisher's description of VLC Media Player
VLC (initially VideoLAN Client) is a highly portable multimedia player for various audio and video formats, including MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, DivX, MP3, and OGG, as well as for DVDs, VCDs, and various streaming protocols. It also can be used as a server for unicast or multicast streams in IPv4 or IPv6 on a high-bandwidth network.
Version 1.0 introduces more responsive controls, frame-by-frame playback, on-the-fly recording for all media, and support for a wider range of codecs, decoders, encoders, and demuxers.
VLC Media Player is a long-time open-source favorite, and the latest version is also the first to be out of beta development. It's not the only option for free video playback, but it's one of the best, and the feature updates in version 1 make it well worth the upgrade.
Users can now get frame-by-frame advancement, granular speed controls allowing for on-the-fly slower or faster playback, and live recording of streaming video. The toolbars are fully customizable, so you can have only the buttons you need in the interface, there's AirTunes streaming, and there's better integration in Gtk environments. Along with the improvements, VLC continues to offer robust support for a wide range of video and audio formats, including OGG, MP2, MP3, MP4, DivX, HD codecs like AES3, Raw Dirac, and even support for playing back zipped files.
The default interface is still a stripped down player that belies VLC's functionality and features. Skinning can fix that quickly, but behavior can still be a bit unpredictable depending on the quality of the skin. VLC's open-source foundation and community ensures that it evolves quickly and often, with new features and fixes released frequently. Overall, VLC Media Player is a must-have application for its ability to open just about any type of video file you throw at it.