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Different ways to discount cash flows
Published January 29, 2023
Updated June 28, 2023FCFF vs FCFE vs Dividends
All three types of cash flow – FCFF vs FCFE vs Dividends – can be used to determine the intrinsic value of equity, and ultimately, a firm’s intrinsic stock price. The primary difference in the valuation methods lies in how the cash flows are discounted. All three methods account for the inclusion of debt in a firm’s capital structure, albeit in different ways. Utilizing the provided worksheet, we can illustrate how the different types of cash flows (FCFF vs FCFE vs Dividends) reconcile, how they are valued, and when each type is most appropriately used for valuation.
Free cash flow to the firm (FCFF) is the cash flow available to all the firm’s suppliers of capital once the firm pays all operating and investing expenditures needed to sustain its existence. Operating expenditures include both variable and fixed costs necessary to generate revenues. Investing activities include expenditures by a company on its property, plant, and equipment. They also include the cost of intangible assets, along with short-term working capital investments such as inventory. Also included are the deferred payments and receipts of revenue in its accounts payable and receivable. The remaining cash flows are those that are available to the firm’s suppliers of capital, namely its stockholders and bondholders.
Free cash flow to equity (FCFE) is the cash flow available to the firm’s stockholders only. These cash flows are inclusive of all of the expenses above, along with net cash outflows to bondholders. Using the dividend discount model is similar to the FCFE approach, as both forms of cash flows represent the cash flows available to stockholders. Between the FCFF vs FCFE vs Dividends models, the FCFE method is preferred when the dividend policy of the firm is not stable, or when an investor owns a controlling interest in the firm.Reconciling FCFF with FCFE
To reconcile FCFF with FCFE, we must make important assumptions about the firm’s financials and capital structure. First, we must assume that the capital structure of the firm will not change over time. This is an important assumption because if the firm’s capital structure changes, then the marginal cost of capital changes. Second, we must work with the same fundamental financial variables for both methods. Finally, we must apply the same tax rates and reinvestment requirements to both methods.Steps
Enter the base inputs of the calculation worksheet. These include the firm’s debt ratio (which is assumed to remain static), the pre-tax cost of debt, the tax rate, the cost of equity, and the terminal growth rate.
The free cash flow to the firm is determined each year by converting the company’s operating profit (EBIT) to NOPAT by multiplying by (1 – tax rate), adding back non-cash expenses and subtracting net firm reinvestment (working capital and capital expenditures).
The present value of the firm’s FCFF and terminal value are added together to find the intrinsic value of the firm as of today. Assuming the company has zero cash, subtracting the value of debt from the firm’s valuation will yield the value of equity.
The static capital structure assumption section calculates the value of the firm in each respective forward year, using each forward year as the present year to calculate different present values. Then, the end-of-year debt assumption is computed by taking the product of each forward year’s firm value and the static debt to capital ratio. From this point, we can begin computing the firm’s equity value standalone.
We begin with the firm’s operating profit (EBIT) and subtract the firm’s interest expense. The interest expense is calculated by taking the product of the firm’s cost of debt and its year-end debt in each forward year. The difference yields the firm’s earnings before tax (EBT).
The tax expense is calculated by taking the product of the tax rate used in the FCFF section and the earnings before tax in each forward year. The difference yields the firm’s net income.
The free cash flow to equity is computed by taking the firm’s net income in each forward year, adding back non-cash charges, and subtracting net firm reinvestment – just as in FCFF, with one key difference. We must also add back the net increase in debt, as this is new capital that is available for the firm.
The present value of the firm’s FCFE and the terminal value of its equity are added together to find the current intrinsic value of the firm.Insights on FCFF vs FCFE vs Dividends
The first thing we notice is that we arrive at the same equity valuation with both methods. The first difference in the two methods is the discount rate applied. The FCFF method utilizes the weighted average cost of capital (WACC), whereas the FCFE method utilizes the cost of equity only. The second difference is the treatment of debt. The FCFF method subtracts debt at the very end to arrive at the intrinsic value of equity. The FCFE method integrates interest payments and net additions to debt to arrive at FCFE.Other Resources
We hope you’ve enjoyed CFI’s analysis of FCFF vs FCFE vs Dividends. CFI offers the Financial Modeling and Valuation Analyst (FMVA) certification program, designed to transform anyone into a world-class financial analyst. To keep learning and developing your knowledge of financial analysis, we highly recommend the additional CFI resources below:
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Also see: VMware vs Microsoft vs Xen: 2009
Here’s the updated 2008 version of this article: Virtual Servers Update: VMware vs. Microsoft vs. Xen
Server virtualization has become a great tool for the data center, helped by the leading virtual server software vendors literally giving away their product. And as more IT shops consolidate their servers using virtual machines (VMs), they find an active marketplace and plenty of choices for how to implement the concept.
Adoption of server virtualization is accelerating. According to a Forrester Research, survey 51 percent of enterprises are now using or piloting the technology.
It’s a powerful notion: take a single computer (a dual core or multi-processor CPU is best), and divvy it up into separate “virtual” machines with their own memory, virtual hardware and drive images, and other resources. It isn’t new: IBM has been doing this on its mainframes for more than 30 years, and we’ve had blade servers for the past five years too. But what is new is that the power of VM can be delivered to the PC platform, and there is a more compelling argument now that Microsoft’s Virtual PC and EMC’s VMware have free versions, along with pre-configured VMs to make setup even easier. EMC offers this page with dozens of different “virtual appliances” that have already been configured for popular Web, database, and other applications servers. Just copy them and you’re ready to run something that could have taken hours or days to setup.
Microsoft even offers a virtual disk image that contains XP with Service Pack 2 and IE 6 for those shops that need to run IE 6 and 7 side-by-side. They also offer pre-built images of Exchange, SQL Server, and Windows Server 2003.
The idea is to run multiple operating systems and applications on the same box, making it easier to provision a new server and make more productive use of this hardware, just like our mainframe antecedents used to do in the 1980s. But unlike the mainframe era, having multiple VMs means IT shops can cut the cost of software development and simplify configuration as they deploy new servers. By eliminating the need for particular peripherals or supporting a particular graphics or network card, a VM set-up cuts the time to configure a new server. And now that there is more power available on the PC platform, it makes a case for more consolidation.
“Two years ago, it wouldn’t have been possible to handle so much workload in a datacenter. Now we can, thanks to this new virtualization software,” says Rene Wienholtz, the CTO of a Germany Web hosting provider called Strato that has deployed these technologies.
The key to successfully using VMs is to make them as cookie-cutter as possible, so that they can be quickly setup and cloned as new virtual servers are needed for the datacenter.
Comparing the alternatives
There are three major VM vendors currently, with others such as chúng tôi coming on strong too. EMC’s VMware has been around the longest and has the most complex product line, with both free and paid versions. Microsoft purchased its line of virtual servers from Connectix and now offers the product for free, and chúng tôi has an open-source alternative that has both free and paid versions.
Next page: Five tips for choosing virtual servers. Plus: a comparison chart for Xen, Microsoft, and VMware.
In these circumstances, using a command-line interface will help you get the job done much faster than with a GUI-based operating system. There are several different options available when it comes to using a command-line interface on Windows 11/10 computers. In this article, we cover three of them – PowerShell, Command Prompt, and Windows Terminal — explaining how they differ from each other and when they should be used.Differences between Terminal, PowerShell, and Command Prompt
When you’re working with a computer, you’ll often find yourself in situations where you will have to access the command line. Many Windows users are accustomed to launching programs by typing their names into the Start menu search box, but using this method won’t help you use the command line. Instead, you’ll need a different method to access the command line when you need it. This article will give you an overview of three command-line interfaces and explain what makes them different and which one you should use. However, before we begin, let’s first take a look at what a command-line interface is.What is a Command Line Interface?
The command Line Interface is a system of text-based instructions that is used for running applications, managing files, and interacting with the computer. These things may seem tedious to some, but they’re actually very important for your computer to operate efficiently. Each interface has its own special functions, and they allow you to interact with your computer. To provide you with a better understanding of these user interfaces, this guide will provide you with the details of each so you can decide which one is right for you. Read on to learn more about the terminal vs PowerShell vs Command Prompt difference explained.What is Command Prompt?
Read: Difference between Command Prompt and Windows PowerShellWhat is PowerShell?
Windows PowerShell is another great Windows application that is capable of performing all the tasks that Command Prompt can. It incorporates the functionality of the old CMD program with a new scripting language, as well as system administration features. The PowerShell cmdlets offer administrators and users the ability to perform complex tasks with the help of reusable scripts. It is a powerful tool for system administrators and IT professionals that includes every cmdlet you could possibly need for administration, so there is no reason for you to use CMD anymore.
Read: Windows PowerShell ISE vs Windows PowerShell: What is the difference?What is Windows Terminal?
Windows Terminal is a powerful application that supports most command-line shells and was introduced with Windows 10. One of the most interesting aspects of the application is that it brings to Windows the command-line tool BASH (Bourne Again Shell), which was previously only available on Linux operating systems. Furthermore, Windows Terminal boasts a new tabbed interface capable of running multiple commands at the same time. The Unicode and UTF support in Windows Terminal allows you to use special characters and emojis from other languages. It supports GIFs and offers a variety of color schemes and background images as options for customizing the interface. Furthermore, the program includes the Cascadia-code font, allowing programmers to expand their horizons.
Read: How to use Windows Terminal in Windows.Terminal vs PowerShell vs Command Prompt difference explained
Windows PowerShell, Command Prompt, and Terminal offer similar functionality as the dedicated tools. The way a command is executed in Windows PowerShell and within the Windows Terminal’s PowerShell window is the same. Similarly, executing a command in a dedicated CMD window works equally with running it at the Windows Terminal command prompt.
Among task-based command-line tools, PowerShell and Command Prompt are both useful for automating system administration tasks, but their functionalities and capabilities differ quite a bit. The Command Prompt shell is based on the same principles as DOS and was introduced along with Windows NT. PowerShell, on the other hand, is a task-based command-line shell and scripting language based on the .Net framework that is mainly used for batch processing and system management.
Here are a few reasons why PowerShell has an edge over Command Prompt. So while Microsoft has developed PowerShell as a way to improve CommandPrompt, why do we need Windows Terminal? Does Windows Terminal actually need to exist?
Windows Terminal is an open-source project that offers an intuitive tabbed user interface. The application supports multiple command-line processes in parallel. Thus, you can open multiple tabs at the same time, and execute PowerShell and Command Prompt commands simultaneously. The program also supports Unicode and UTF, which lets you insert emojis and other special characters. Furthermore, the app includes GIFs and configuration options, so you can play with different color schemes and backgrounds to customize it.
In its open-source nature, Windows Terminal is expected to continue developing indefinitely. A couple of years ago, Microsoft announced its support for BASH inside Windows, which allowed users to run Ubuntu and Terminal finally making that possible.
Read: What is Windows PowerShell, PowerShell, Azure Cloud Shell, Command Prompt in Windows TerminalTerminal, PowerShell, and Command Prompt Interface
Terminal, PowerShell, and Command Prompt all have command-line interfaces, which let users use them easily and intuitively. If you look at the interface of these programs, you will find Command Prompt has the simplest interface. This will take you back to the early days of web pages when you could type commands into fields on black backgrounds with white fonts.
Related Post: Windows Terminal Tips and Tricks.
Chatbots are taking the world by storm.
SEO pros, writers, agencies, developers, and even teachers are discussing the changes that this technology will cause in society and how we work in our day-to-day lives.
ChatGPT’s release on November 30, 2023 led to a cascade of competition, including Bard and Bing, although the latter runs on OpenAI’s technology.
If you want to search for information, need help fixing bugs in your CSS, or want to create something as simple as a chúng tôi file, chatbots may be able to help.
They’re also wonderful for topic ideation, allowing you to draft more interesting emails, newsletters, blog posts, and more.
But which chatbot should you use and learn to master? Which platform provides accurate, concise information?
Let’s find out.What Is The Difference Between ChatGPT, Google Bard, And Bing Chat?
ChatGPT Bard Bing Pricing ChatGPT’s original version remains free to users. ChatGPT Plus is available for $20/month. Free for users who joined the waitlist and are accepted. Free for users who are accepted after joining the waitlist. API Yes, but on a waitlist. N/A N/A Developer OpenAI Alphabet/Google OpenAI Technology GPT-4 LaMDA GPT-4 Information Access Training data with a cutoff date of 2023. The chatbot does state that it has been trained beyond this year, although it won’t include that information. Real-time access to the data Google collects from search. Real-time access to Bing’s search data.Wait! What Is GPT? What Is LaMDA?
ChatGPT uses GPT technology, and Bard uses LaMDA, meaning they’re different “under the hood.” This is why there’s some backlash against Bard. People expect Bard to be GPT, but that’s not the intent of the product.
Also, although Bing has chosen to collaborate with OpenAI, it uses fine-tuning, which allows it to tune responses for the end user.
Since Bing and Bard are both available on such a wide scale, they have to tune the responses to maintain their brand image and adhere to internal policies that aren’t as restrictive in ChatGPT – at the moment.GPT: Chat Generative Pre-trained Transformer
GPTs are trained on tons of data using a two-phase concept called “unsupervised pre-training and then fine-tuning.” Imagine consuming billions of data points, and then someone comes along after you gain all of this knowledge to fine-tune it. That’s what is happening behind the scenes when you prompt ChatGPT.
ChatGPT had 175 billion parameters that it has used and learned from, including:
While ChatGPT is limited in its datasets, OpenAI has announced a browser plugin that can use real-time data from websites when responding back to you. There are also other neat plugins that amplify the power of the bot.LaMDA Stands For Language Model For Dialogue Applications
Google’s team decided to follow a LaMDA model for its neural network because it is a more natural way to respond to questions. The goal of the team was to provide conversational responses to queries.
The platform is trained on conversations and human dialog, but it is also apparent that Google uses search data to provide real-time data.
Google uses an Infiniset of data, which are datasets that we really don’t know much about at this point, as Google has kept this information private.
Since these bots are learning from sources worldwide, they also have a tendency to provide false information.Hallucinations Can Happen
Chatbots can hallucinate, but they’re also very convincing in their responses. It’s important to heed the warning of the developers.
Google tells us:
Bing also tells us:
If you’re using chatbots for anything that requires facts and studies, be sure to crosscheck your work and verify that the facts and events actually happened.
There have been times when these hallucinations are apparent and other times when non-experts would easily be fooled by the response they receive.
Since chatbots learn from information, such as websites, they’re only as accurate as the information they receive – for now.
With all of these cautions in mind, let’s start prompting each bot to see which provides the best answers.ChatGPT Vs. Bard Vs. Bing: Prompt Testing And Examples
Since technical SEO is an area I am passionate about, I wanted to see what the chatbots have to say when I put the following prompt in each:What Are The Top 3 Technical SEO Factors I Can Use To Optimize My Site? ChatGPT’s Response
ChatGPT provides a coherent, well-structured response to this query. The response does touch on three important areas of optimization:
When prompted to provide more information on site speed, we receive a lot of great information that you can use to begin optimizing your site.
If you’ve ever tried to optimize your site’s speed before, you know just how important all of these factors are for improving your site speed.
ChatGPT mentions browser caching, but what about server-side caching?
When site speed is impacted by slow responses for database queries, server-side caching can store these queries and make the site much faster – beyond a browser cache.Bard’s Response
Bard’s responses are faster than ChatGPT, and I do like that you can view other “drafts” from Bard if you like. I went with the first draft, which you can see below.
The information is solid, and I do appreciate that Google uses more formatting and bolds parts of the responses to make them easier to read.
Structured data was a nice addition to the list, and Bard even mentions chúng tôi in its response.
To try and keep things similar, I asked Bard, “Can you elaborate on site speed?”
You can certainly find similarities between ChatGPT’s and Bard’s responses about optimization, but some information is a bit off. For example:
“A caching plugin stores static files on the user’s computer, which can improve load time.”
Caching plugins, often installed on your content management system (CMS), will store files on your server, a content delivery network (CDN), in memory, and so on.
However, the response from Bard indicates that the plugin will store static files on the user’s computer, which isn’t entirely wrong, but it’s odd.
Browsers will cache files automatically on their own, and you can certainly manipulate the cache with a Cache-Control or Expires header.
However, caching plugins can do so much more to improve site speed. I think Bard misses the mark a bit, as well as ChatGPT.Bing’s Response
Bing is so hard to like because, for years, it has missed the mark in search. Is Chat any better? As an SEO and content creator, I love the fact that Bing provides sources in its responses.
I think for content creators that have relied on traffic from search for so long, citing sources is important. Also, when I want to verify a claim, these citations provide clarity that ChatGPT and Google Bard cannot.
The answers are similar to Bard and GPT, but let’s see what it produces when we ask for it to elaborate a little more:
Bing elaborated less than ChatGPT and Bard, providing just three points in its response. But can you spot the overlap between this response and the one from ChatGPT?
Bing: You should compress your images and use the correct file format (JPEG for photographs, PNG for graphics).
ChatGPT: You can compress them, reduce their file sizes, and use the correct file format (e.g., JPEG for photos, PNG for graphics).
The responses are going to be very similar for this type of answer, but neither mentioned using a format like WebP. They both seem to be lacking in this regard. Perhaps there’s just more data for optimizing JPEG and PNG files, but will this change?
Let’s move on to website caching. Bing’s response is a little more in-depth, explaining what caching can help you achieve, such as a lower time to first byte (TTFB).
Winner: Bing. I thought ChatGPT would win this query, but it turns out Bing provides a little more information on caching and wins out in the “technical” arena. Bard and ChatGPT did provide more solutions for improving your site speed.Who Is Ludwig Makhyan?
All chatbots knew a little something about technical SEO, but how about me? Let’s see what happens when I ask them about myself:ChatGPT’s Response
ChatGPT couldn’t find any information about me, which is understandable. I’m not Elon Musk or a famous person, but I did publish a few articles on this very blog you’re reading now before the data cutoff date of ChatGPT.
I have a feeling that Bing and Bard will do a little better for this query.Bard’s Response
Hmm. The first sentence seems a bit familiar. It came directly from my Search Engine Journal bio, word-for-word. The last sentence in the first paragraph also comes word-for-word from another publication that I write for: “He is the co-founder at MAZELESS, an enterprise SEO agency.”
I’m also not the author of either of these books, although I’ve talked about these topics in great detail before.
Unfortunately, pulling full sentences from sources and providing false information means Bard failed this test. You could argue that there are a few ways to rephrase those sentences, but the response could certainly be better.Bing’s Response
Bing also took my profile information directly, and most of the other information is the same, too. Bing does provide a much shorter response and links to the sources.Advanced Prompt: I Want To Become An Authority In SEO. What Steps Should I Take To Reach This Goal? ChatGPT’s Response Bard’s Response Bing’s Response
ChatGPT provides me with more “light bulb” moments, explaining that I should learn things like keyword research, on-page optimization, and link building.
Knowledge seemed to be the core of the recommendations from ChatGPT, but it would have been nice if it mentioned anything about getting published.
Overall, these tips are very similar, but ChatGPT was my favorite. Let’s try putting these chatbots to work on some tasks that I’m sure they can perform.Advanced Prompt: Create A chúng tôi File Where I Block Google Search Bot, Hide My “Private” Folder, And Block The Following IP Address “184.108.40.206” ChatGPT’s Response
ChatGPT listened to my directions, reiterated them to me, showed me a makefile for the chúng tôi and then explained the parameters to use. I’m impressed.Bard’s Response
Google! Are you assuming that you’re the only search bot in the world because you’re blocking everyone? Unfortunately, Bard uses the “*” as an agent, meaning every search engine is blocked from going to my site – not just Google.Bing’s Response
Bing tries hard, and I appreciate the explanation that it provides. However, it’s a bit strange. We’re disallowing all bots using “/” and then allowing using “/$,” which allows them to crawl the homepage and nothing else and then denying a certain IP address.
ChatGPT wins this test because it provides a clean and easy way to make your chúng tôi file. The other two examples need some fine-tuning and will have undesired consequences if you simply copy and paste them into your chúng tôi file.Advanced Prompt: What Are The Top 3 Destinations In Italy To Visit, And What Should I Know Before Visiting Them? ChatGPT’s Response
ChatGPT does a nice job with its recommended places and provides useful tips for each that are on the same point. I also like how “St. Mark’s Square” was used, showing the bot being able to discern that “Piazza San Marco” is called “St. Mark’s Square” in English.
As a follow-up question, I asked what sunglasses to wear in Italy during my trip, and the response was:
This was a long shot, as the AI doesn’t know my facial shape, likes and dislikes, or interests in fashion. But it did recommend some of the popular eyewear, like the world-famous Ray-Ban Aviators.Bard’s Response
Bard did really well here, and I actually like the recommendations that it provides.
Reading this, I know that Rome is crowded and expensive, and if I want to learn about Italian art, I can go to the Uffizi Gallery when I’m in Florence.
Just out of curiosity, I looked at the second draft from Bard, and it was even better than the first.
This is the “things to know” section, which is certainly more insightful than the first response. I learned that the cities are walkable, public transport is available, and pickpocketing is a problem (I was waiting for this to be mentioned).
The third draft was much like the first, but I’m learning something about Bard throughout all of this.
Bard seems to have answers with great insights, but it’s not always the first draft or response that the bot gives. If Google corrects this issue, it might provide even better answers than Bing and ChatGPT.
When I asked about sunglasses to wear, it came up with similar answers as ChatGPT, but even more specific models. Again Bard doesn’t know much about me personally:Bing’s Response
Bing did very well with its response, but it’s curious that it says, “According to 1,” because it would be much nicer to put the site or publication’s name in the place of the number one. The responses are all accurate, albeit very short.
Bard wins this query because it provides more in-depth, meaningful answers. The bot even recommended some very good places to visit in each area, which Bing failed to do. ChatGPT did do well here, too, but the win goes to Bard.
And for the sunglasses query, you be the judge. Some of the recommendations in the list may be out of range for many travelers:
But I did notice the same Aviator sunglasses in the summary.Which Chatbot Is Better At This Stage?
Each tool has its own strengths and weaknesses.
It’s clear that Bard lacks in its initial response, although it’s quick and provides decent answers. Bard has a nice UI, and I believe it has the answers. But I also think it has some “brain fog,” or should we call it “bit fog?”
Bing’s sources are a nice touch and something I hope all of these chatbots eventually incorporate.
Gain priority in what information is displayed?
Cause misinformation? For example, would the top pizza place be paid ad from a place with horrible reviews instead of the top-rated pizzeria?
ChatGPT, Bard, and Bing are all interesting tools, but what does the future hold for publishers and users? That’s something I cannot answer. No one can yet.And There’s Also The Major Question: Is AI “Out Of Control?”
Elon Musk, Steve Wozniak, and over a thousand other leaders in tech, AI, ethics, and more are calling for a six-month pause on AI beyond GPT-4.
The pause is not to hinder progress but to allow time to understand the “profound risks to society and humanity.”
These leaders are asking for time to develop and implement measures to ensure that AI tools are safe and are asking governments to create a moratorium to address the issues.
What are your thoughts on these AI tools? Should we pause anything beyond GPT-4 until new measures are in place?
Featured Image: Legendary4/Shutterstock
Mozilla’s second alpha of Firefox 3.1 is upping the ante in the next-generation browser battle. So how do the main contenders stack up so far now? One thing’s for sure, the Firefox team has taken note of Google’s recent Chrome release and worked hard to make sure its offering can hold its own.
Here’s a breakdown of the high and lowlights of each offering and where it stands as far as a full release.
Contender #1: Google Chrome
The status: Windows beta released September 2. Mac OS X and Linux versions still under development and said to be coming soon. No indication of targeted full release date.
Reliability. Chrome’s multiprocess architecture makes a bad Web page less likely to take down the whole browser.
Simplicity. Its clean design wastes no screen space.
Searching. The Omnibox lets you type search terms or URLs into a single spot and figures out what you want.
Privacy. Chrome offers an “Incognito” mode that lets you easily leave no footprints from where you’ve been.
Privacy. Chrome’s taken a lot of heat for its monitoring and collection of user data, some of which happens before you even hit enter.
Security. It didn’t take long for users to discover vulnerabilities in the beta browser. Several of these have already been patched.
Reliability. Some sites and online services still don’t work with Chrome.
Consistency. Because Chrome is build on the WebKit system, it differs from the dominant platforms that most designers focus on.
Support. Chrome doesn’t yet have any add-ons or customization options available. It’s yet to be seen how these, once developed, will compare to the rich options available for Firefox.
The status: Second alpha build released September 5. Beta expected in the next month. Full release targeted for end of 2008.
Strong foundation. Mozilla’s already built a loyal following with Firefox, and it doesn’t intend on letting that go. With Firefox 3.1, you know you’ll have a powerful library of add-ons and support already at your fingertips, not to mention the slew of other assets unveiled in Firefox 3.0.
Competitive edge. Mozilla’s developers have good reason to watch what Chrome is doing — and work to match it, if not one-up it.
Security questions. Some studies — albeit, Microsoft-funded ones — have suggested Firefox, with its frequent new versions, is more susceptible to threats than the other options.
Crash potential. Unlike Chrome, Firefox does not have separate environments for each tab — so one rogue page can still take the whole program down.
Support. Firefox has worked hard to snag a small portion of the browser market share, and most early predictions show Chrome taking away more of its userbase than IE’s.
Google’s focus on Chrome will also take away some of its previous focus on Mozilla’s development efforts. Will Firefox be able to remain a key player in the browser war?
The status:: Second beta released August 27. Full release expected before the end of 2008.
Support. Love it or hate it, Internet Explorer is hanging on to about three-quarters of the browsing market with its default status in all Windows machines. You know developers and designers are going to cater to it.
Security. With Microsoft at its helm, IE hangs on to a reputation of safe and reliable browsing.
Privacy. IE 8 was the first to offer a no-record browsing mode, branded here as InPrivate Browsing.
Searching. IE 8’s Smart Address Bar offers similar functionality to Chrome’s Omnibox, letting you type in URLs or search terms and taking you to the right place.
Added add-ons. IE 8 finally catches up to Firefox with a new “Gallery” full of third-party add-on options..
Speed. Independent tests have found IE 8 to be significantly slower than the alternative choices. Resources. IE 8 uses a lot of memory compared to its competitors — a factor that could considerably slow down the rest of your system.
Crash potential. While IE 8 does use separate processes for tabs, similar to Chrome’s approach, it does not do so to the same degree
— still leaving room for a total meltdown.
Competition questions. Can IE’s add-ons reach the level of Firefox’s? Already, some users are complaining of problems even getting them to work.
That’s the lowdown on the battle’s current status. Remember, all three of these programs are still early in their development, so many of the pluses and minuses could change as things move forward. One thing’s for sure, though: This battle is on, it’s growing fierce, and each of its contenders will do anything it can to win.
The right media player can make a huge difference in how you view your favorite movies and television shows. There are dozens to choose from, but it can be hard to narrow down exactly which media player is the right choice.
While most players have basically the same features, there are subtle differences between the various options that heavily influence your experience.
Table of Contents
We’ve taken a look at three of the most popular options—VLC, Quicktime, and Plex—to help you pick the right media player to give you the best overall experience. Let’s start with Quicktime.QuickTime
QuickTime Player becomes the default option for a lot of users simply because it is bundled into the macOS, but even if you don’t have the program by default there are a lot of reasons to consider it.
For starters, QuickTime Player can play iTunes files. VLC Media Player cannot play iTunes files due to their DRM encryption. If you’re a Mac user immersed into their ecosystem, then you may lean toward an option that allows you to play iTunes purchases with ease. The downside, of course, is that QuickTime Player is only available on Mac systems. Apple officially ceased Windows support of the program in 2024.
QuickTime Player is the go-to option for videos you recorded with your iPhone, but may not fare so well with downloaded videos or more obscure file formats. Another downside is that QuickTime cannot play .srt files, the most common subtitle format. If you like to have subtitles on while you watch, QuickTime might not be the best option.
QuickTime has an intuitive, easy-to-use interface that makes it easy to navigate and find the media you’re looking for. You can also record and edit video with QuickTime, but it requires a QuickTime Pro subscription—a fee of $29.99.
Automatically included with macOS
Works with iTunes files
Easy to use interface
Not compatible with Windows
Doesn’t work with common subtitle files
Less breadth of compatibility than competitorsVLC
While QuickTime is the default media player, VLC is often the best option for a host of reasons. The main one is that it supports a massive number of both audio and video file formats. The media player is also open-source and available on Windows, Mac, and Linux.
While no external codecs are necessary, VLC is compatible with an almost-silly number of plugins that allow you to expand functionality far beyond the basics. You can stream audio across your home network with ease through the use of sftp/ssh protocols.
VLC has keyboard shortcuts for nearly every function you can imagine. While not the most vital part of media player for most people, those that value convenience will enjoy the added flexibility this adds to the program.
The downside is that VLC doesn’t have the most attractive interface in the world. The color choices are bland with a late-90s style. All function, no grace. Of course, aesthetics aren’t the most important thing in the world, but VLC also doesn’t have the widest range of function as a music player.
The program lacks functionality when it comes to sorting your music. VLC is intended as a video player. While it can play audio, that isn’t its primary purpose, and that shows in the interface.
Works with Mac, Windows, and Linux
Huge number of plug-ins
Huge range of file compatibility
No music sorting capabilities
Bland user interfacePlex
Buckle up—Plex is a lot to talk about. While it is a media player, it’s more of a server than anything else. When you get Plex up and running, you can stream your media from your devices to almost any other device in your home with the right equipment. If you have a lot of music and movies saved on your computer that you want to watch on the big screen, Plex is the place to go.
There are two versions of Plex: one free, one paid. The great thing about Plex is that the free version is already fully featured. The paid version just adds in a few more benefits that may appeal to smaller numbers of users, like virtual reality support and Sonos integration. For the vast majority of users, the free tier will be more than enough.
If Plex sounds too good to be true, it’s pretty close to it. That said, there are a few areas where it is more of a hassle than a benefit. You can set up your Plex server with ease, but trouble arises when you add media to it.
Actually adding content requires a naming folders and subfolders with specific titles, a task that quickly becomes tedious. If you make it through this process, you’ll be rewarded with a media library you can access from nearly anywhere.
Plex is available for both Mac and PC, but can be streamed to almost any device including mobile phones. It also has Alexa integration, so once a file is added to the Plex directory you can ask Alexa to play it and it will appear.
The free tier is fully functional
Paid version is inexpensive
One of the best options for a home media system
Complicated to add media
More features than are necessary for the average userThe Verdict
It’s a tough choice, but our vote goes with VLC. It provides the most features and widest range of compatibility with audio and video formats. Plex is a close runner-up, but is just too complex and featured for the average user.
If you are a power user that wants to turn your computer into a multimedia mega-center, then Plex is a great choice. On the other hand, if you only need the bare minimum of functionality and you have a Mac, then the built-in QuickTime Player is a solid choice.
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