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30 November 2012, 12:30

Crowdfunding sought for a Windows 8 VLC media player

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VideoLAN VLC logo Some of the core developers of the VideoLAN project have started a Kickstarter campaign to port the VLC media player as a Windows 8 User Experience (Metro) application. Currently VLC only runs on the desktop mode of Windows 8, but the developers want to first create and release a version which runs on the newer touch-oriented mode and then port that to ARM-based tablets and Windows RT in a subsequent release.

The player would have the advantage over the standard media player in Windows 8 of being able to play DVD and Blu-ray content and many other media formats. The developers' target is to raise £40,000; after the first day over 400 people have already pledged more than £7,000 to the effort.

The VLC media player will need many changes to fit into the "Windows 8 User Experience"; many parts will have to be reprogrammed and the player will need a custom touch interface. The experience of the creating the Android port has demonstrated to the developers that such work could take a long time if they only work in their spare time.

Therefore, the Kickstarter campaign is designed to raise money to allow them to work full time on the development work. The developers have already created working prototypes with video and audio playback to ensure that it is feasible. They hope, once successfully funded, to release a first version for Windows 8 within three months, with the Windows RT ARM port following at some point after that.

Jean-Baptiste Kempf and his associates outline the challenges facing the project too. This includes minor issues with the WinRT sandbox that might hinder the use of VLC's Lua script integration and whether that sandbox will be permissive enough for VLC to use its existing optical media playback code. Since Windows RT applications are distributed through the Windows Store, the overall aim will be to produce an application that is suitable for distribution through the Windows Store; this may therefore involve some functionality being omitted.

The developers also note that they currently lack a stable toolchain for Windows RT on ARM development which would let them cross compile the libVLC library. They hope to work on creating a working MinGW (Minimalist GNU for Windows) environment to address that, work which they expect will be useful for other Unix/Linux based projects wanting to port to Windows 8.

As for licensing, the developers plan is that new code created will be under the GPLv2 or later, but with an exception that would allow the code to go into the Windows Store. The core VLC code would remain under the recently completed LGPL 2.1 re-licensing with any changes being committed upstream to the main project.


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