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VLC, The World’s Most Popular Media Player, Turns 15 Years Old: Here’s Why You Should Download It Now

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VLC is now 15, and it's still the world's most popular media player. There's a good reason for that: it can load up content that other players simply can't.

First things first, let's go over a little history of the player. The celebration is not exactly because of its birthday. It's about the 15th anniversary of when all of the VideoLAN software was relicensed to the GPL license back on Feb. 1, 2001.

Students of École Centrale Paris initially developed VLC, and now contributors from all over the globe are at the helm under the non-profit organization VideoLAN.

According to VideoLAN President and Lead Developer Jean-Baptiste Kempf, the project was originally called "Network 2000," where Michel Kaempf implemented the very first commit on the "VideoLAN Client" on Aug. 8, 1999, which already had 21,275 lines of code at the time.

Since the GPL relicensing is deemed as the more important date, it was considered as the real birthday of VLC.

"[T]he most important date for the birth of VLC is when it was allowed to be used outside of the school, and therefore when the project was GPL-ized: February 1st, 2001," Kempf says.

Moving on to VLC's characteristic features, it can play virtually any file format on a wide range of platforms. These shouldn't come as much of a surprise, though, as the company did say that "VLC plays everything and runs everywhere."

As of right now, VLC is compatible with 14 platforms, including Windows, GNU/Linux, BSD, OS X, iPhone and iPad, Android, Solaris, Windows Phones, BeOS, OS/2, Android TV, Apple TV, Tizen and ChromeOS.

On that note, a "major" update is about to roll out, and considering that the last one to go official was way back in April 2015, this is quite long overdue by now.

The emphasis on "major" is because it sports the version number 2.2.2, which indicates that it's supposedly a maintenance patch of some sort, but with the changes that it's coming with, it's arguably a big update.

The changelog says that the SetupFormat for continuous framesize in v4l2, the aspect ratio for screen recording and the MXF crashes on stop have been fixed. Support for ms-dvr files and GoToMeeting 2 and GoToMeeting 3 codecs have been added in.

Improvements for PNG encoding time and add-ons manager dialog and playlist have been applied. Lastly, time detection in AVI files over HTTP can now be used.

VLC has had 700 contributors, 70,000 commits and 2 billion downloads with hundreds of millions of users, which are remarkable stats for an organization that didn't turn into a business.

So what's next for VLC? Well, VLC 3.0, of course. VideoLAN intends to unify most of its mobile ports, add more GPU decoding, improve adaptive streaming and add Chromecast integration with this huge project.

At any rate, the upcoming features plus the anniversary make for one big news for VLC and its legion of fans, and at this point, there's nothing left to say but thank you and happy birthday, VLC!

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