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Media Player Classic (MPC) is a 'light' or 'compact' media player for Microsoft Windows, which uses an interface inspired by the simple and clean look of Windows Media Player 6.4. It combines the simplicity of this interface and the low-resource demand of this early build, with the high performance and features of more modern media players.
MPC is a totally free program, originally designed by Gabest but now maintained by a community of developers; who also issue regular updates. This open source approach allows users to take advantage of a collective of experienced developers, without paying a premium for the privilege.
With the community-led development and maintenance of MPC, it is commonly thought-of as safer than the bigger players in the market; as it can react more quickly and efficiently to bugs, viruses and malware. Many users choose MPC over Quicktime or Windows Media Player, for example.
MPC supports almost all mainstream video and audio formats, along with VCD, SVCD and DVD playback. Additional codecs are available for download, and the developers support new file formats as and when they emerge.
MPC can play flawless 4K video, and non-protected Blu Ray disks. For commercial Blu Ray discs, there are free decryption softwares that allow MPC to read the file.
MPC is currently only available for Windows. There are a number of similar lightweight alternatives for Mac users, mimicking the lightweight style and performance of Media Player Classic.
Home Cinema is one of two fork of the main program, which brings new features and fixes some outstanding bugs. Additional video formats are supported, along with the ability to remove tearing and manage colours. As the name suggests, Home Cinema is optimised for movies.
Another fork is the Black Edition, which runs on a different interface and looks less like the traditional Windows Media Player experience. It also added seeker previews and slight variations to player controls; resulting in a more sleek appearance and operation.
Both MPC and VLC Media Player are popular free video and audio players, with a number of similar features. Whilst VLC may be more commonly-used, many users cite MPC's ability to play flawless 4K videos as the reason that they use it more frequently than VLC.
Most modern computers and laptops will run MPC, as it is designed to be lightweight and widely usable. If your computer runs Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8, 8.1 or 10 - and has an SSE2-capable CPU; then you won't have any troubles in successfully running MPC. Indeed, MPC is a favourite amongst users with older systems or with notebooks, tablets and other low-resource solutions.