Q. How can I convert AVI files to view on my Android phone or Surface Pro 4? I have videos of my mother, who passed away several years ago, and I can’t open the files! There are many programs that claim to play them, but they look dubious.

A. The web is full of dubious things, and being suspicious of programs and companies you have never heard of is a good general safety step when you are looking for an application to play the old AVI files. The Microsoft Store for Windows apps and the Google Play store for Android are two places to browse; reviews and user testimonials can give you some idea of what to expect, although certain user reviews can be skewed or fake.

If you are looking for video playback software with a long history and good reviews, consider VideoLAN’s VLC media player, a cross-platform, open-source application with a reputation for playing video files in a wide variety of formats. The VLC player was first developed as a student project at a French engineering school in 1996 and is free to download for the Android, Chrome OS, iOS, macOS and Windows, as well as several distributions of Linux and other operating systems; donations are accepted from the appreciative.

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The VLC media player app can usually play AVI files on Android devices and several other platforms.

Credit
The New York Times

The Windows Media Player software is included with most versions of Windows 10 and should be able to play the AVI videos on the Surface Pro 4 when you open the files from within Windows Media Player or have the software configured to open AVI files by default. Microsoft’s site has a page of troubleshooting tips if you get error messages or need to install additional codec software if the app says it needs updates to play certain types of video files.

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