Microsoft on Friday quietly released a new Macintosh version of its Windows Media Player software.

The company, which said in September that Windows Media Player 9 for Mac OS X was "coming soon," posted the software to its Web site on Friday. The new software follows the release of Apple's iTunes for Windows, which competes with the Windows version of Microsoft's media player.

The new Mac version sports a "brushed steel" look designed to match the appearance of Apple's OS X operating system, and it has plug-in support to allow media files to be played from within Internet Explorer, Netscape and Apple's Safari browser.

"This new version of our player opens the world of Windows Media 9 content to Macintosh users, enabling them to access the best audio and video on the Web," Microsoft said on its Web site.

In June, Microsoft said it would stop developing new versions of Internet Explorer for the Mac, because Apple had come out with its Safari browser. Although a five-year pact that required Microsoft to develop Mac software has ended, the software giant has continued to develop other software for the Mac and is currently working on a new version of Office for the Mac.

Microsoft's previous Media Player was Version 7.1, which debuted in January 2002, with options for both Mac OS X and older systems, the company said. The company will continue to offer version 7.1 for older Macs.

The new player is available in English now. Microsoft said it plans to offer it in French, German, Japanese, Spanish and Swedish during the week of Nov 10.

Source: CNet

Good artists copy, great artists