Microsoft has never offered a truly great media player for Windows users. If the file format is unusual, or worse, the file has DRM, then the preinstalled Movies & TV app will not play it. And don’t even think about trying the old Windows Media Player.
With this in mind, you need to install a high quality media player capable of playing any type of file that you add to it. You also don’t need to pay for this privilege, because here are the 7 best free Windows media players you can install today.
VLC Media player
When the Movies & TV app isn’t playing your content, the first free media player that most Windows users will download will be VLC Media Player It remains one of the most famous and arguably the best media players available for any platform, including Windows.
It is rare that VLC is unable to play a media file, except for encrypted or corrupted files. It can play local media as well as handle internet live broadcasts and stream content from other local sources like a digital TV receiver.
VLC can also help you convert video files from one format to another, save YouTube videos for offline playback, and record your own videos with your webcam. If you are a music lover, you can use VLC to play music with your own VLC music playlists
Kodi has a bad reputation in some places for an active third-party add-on, but it is one of the most feature-rich and best free media players for Windows 10 users.
From its humble beginnings on the original Xbox, Kodi has evolved into a large-screen entertainment platform capable of playing music, videos, live TV and more from a single interface. The user interface is designed for TVs, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be used on a PC either.
Just like VLC, Kodi can play just about any media you add to it. It handles network-attached storage devices with ease, allowing you to play a catalog of movies and TV programs over a local area network.
Third-party add-ons, as we mentioned, help further extend the functionality of Kodi by allowing content from other sources on the Internet to be played. Not all of them are related to piracy, and add-ons are available for playing Netflix and YouTube.
MPC-HC a >
With a name like Media Player Classic, you can assume this media player has been around for a while. In fact, MPC-HC (HC – Home Cinema) is a fork of the original with added features and bug fixes.
Simple, fast and easy to use MPC-HC is a lightweight alternative to other free media players, especially on Windows PCs with limited resources.
Don’t be intimidated by an outdated interface, because MPC-HC is one of the most powerful media players available today. Just like VLC, it handles common and non-standard media, including DVD playback and streaming.
It is also customizable: interface skins and plugins can extend functionality.
The only downside to the MPC-HC is that development has stalled, which means there haven’t been any new features or fixes since 2017. However, it still works great on Windows 10 and is still one of the best media players out there, especially for older PCs.
We are pleased to announce that thanks to MPV, VLC is not the only active open source media player in development. MPV is another fork project that takes the best of the old MPlayer and mplayer2 projects, along with new features and interface.
In fact, MPV doesn’t have a big interface at all. The media controls are hidden during playback, but will appear when you hover over them. You also cannot access the settings. To play files, simply drag and drop them into the open window.
This may not please all users, but it is definitely a different approach. MPV has other outstanding features, including a number of third-party scripts that add additional functionality to the software, allowing you to customize the way your MPV content plays.
When it comes to playing your favorite media, MPV just works – it can play almost all types of video formats, including online and local streaming.
Free, although not open source, PotPlayer is a good alternative to other well-known Windows media players. This game from South Korean company Kakao is a fully customizable player with a couple of unusual features.
PotPlayer is lightweight, uses hardware acceleration to improve playback performance, with the ability to play almost all common video formats. It also supports local TV receivers including DVB-T and DVB-S.
Unlike the basic MPV interface, PotPlayer is highly customizable, with different interface skins and a huge number of settings that allow you to customize the way PotPlayer files are played. PotPlayer has also been used to play some corrupted media files, although your own experience may differ depending on the file.
With so many settings, PotPlayer can be a little confusing for the average user, but can be a good option for advanced Windows users.
Plex is more than just a simple and free media player, so don’t expect it to be a similar replacement for VLC. It is a media player and server together, allowing you to host your media and transfer it to other Plex playback devices.
It is one of the most advanced multimedia systems available for Windows 10. Plex features include discounted Tidal music playback, promotional movies, and various add-on applications to play media from online sources such as YouTube.
If you want to organize your movies and TV shows in one place, Plex allows you to do so by adding helpful thumbnails and descriptions to your content for better organization.
AllPlayer may not be as well known as some of the other top media players, but it shouldn’t be discounted. It calls itself the best media player for subtitling, and that’s not far from the truth.
AllPlayer not only has good subtitle support, but the program will search and automatically download subtitles for recognizable multimedia content. It also supports common media formats, including high-definition 4K files.
If you are hearing impaired, AllPlayer makes it easy to watch video content. Visually impaired users can use the AllPlayer speech synthesizer to read subtitles, allowing you to watch movies in a foreign language.
AllPlayer is under development and includes applications for remote control of mobile devices.
Playing media on Windows made easy
Installing a good free media player should be one of your first tasks when setting up your new Windows PC. Players like VLC and MPV will handle most file formats, but you can use an entertainment package like Plex or Kodi instead.
VLC users can also use VLC with Chromecast to watch their videos on the big screen.