There are several excellent freeware video playback programs out there, and VLC media player is one of the best. Made by "those VLC folks," or VideoLAN as they prefer to be called, the wildly popular open-source player now offers a slightly better experience than before for both Windows and Mac.
VLC will now cooperate with Last.fm, there's direct playback of video URLs, and, unexpectedly, a lot of attention has been given to how VLC interacts with the Internet. Users will find VLC to be more secure, with options for strictly regulating Internet usage through the player including album art lookup.
The interface overall has undergone an overhaul. It's similar enough in layout so that nothing major should be hard to find, but the UI basically looks like Mom came in and swept it clean. There's much less clutter than before. However, I also noticed a bit of sluggishness in response time when pressing the pause button.
The full list of changes is available on the VLC "What is cool in 0.9" page.
Note: Last.fm is owned by CNET's parent company, CBS Interactive.