It might have happened to you already ”surfing around the Internet, you come across a link that looks particularly promising . You click it, and a screen pops up telling you that in order to run this or see or hear or use it, you must have a program that is not currently installed on your computer.
"Would you like to download it now?"
You might, and you might not. That's up to you. But the fact of the matter is, as the Web develops and becomes more interactive and more multimedia-oriented, you're going to need more of these programs.
These additional programs function with your browser to allow you to view certain types of files, hear music, view video, have a conference call, and so on.
Your PC is not really your TV yet. But it's getting there. Already, you can watch live or recorded video through the Internet and listen to live radio broadcasts and CD-quality recorded music, too.
Your ability to do that depends on your browser. Good, up-to-date browsers come equipped to play most of the multimedia content on the Web (sometimes with a little help from programs built in to the Windows or Macintosh operating systems). Good browsers are also extensible ; that is, they can be refitted to deal with new file types and Internet services as they come along. New stuff always does come along, all because petulant teenage geniuses keep inventing new multimedia formats (like CD-quality music files) and putting 'em online.
Taking advantage of today's hottest multimedia ”and tomorrow's ”requires an understanding of the accessory programs ”often called plug-ins, players , or helper programs ”that endow your browser with new powers. In this chapter, you discover not only how to fit your browser to play the coolest online multimedia, but also how to make your browser play anything even newer and cooler that may come along.