Free video players for the PC

When you want to play video on your PC you often end up being chased by error messages about missing codecs or similar tough configuration issues. Initially, we saw some people bundling as many Codecs as possible in freely downloadable packs that where then distributed to the Internet. However, most of them where essentially a bunch of codecs in a ZIP file and were terribly prone to machine crashes.

Now come some very nice video players that include all the needed codecs (and some more) in a nicely presented package. This is the right form, so I wanted to give you the names of the best contenders and my impression about them:

VLC for Win32

  • VLC (or VideoLan): Very famous around here in France, handles nearly anything, has a near perfect management of sub-titles and adds a fun little gem: playing the video as the Windows desktop background.
  • GOM Player: Can handle partial video (watch while you download) and will direct you to possible sources when it does not have the needed codec.
  • KMPlayer: Can also play damaged or partial video, but you need to have RealPlayer and QuickTime installed to allow it to do it all.
  • rulesPlayer: Built as front-end for open source MPLayer, it has tons of codecs and handles plenty of international languages for the interface and many subtitles formats.
  • SMPlayer: Also a front-end for open source MPLayer, it has tons of codecs and a slick little interface.

All of them are recommended, even if VLC is the player of choice at

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