AVI

Better with age

Designed by Microsoft in 1992 for its Windows operating system, the Audio Video Interleave (AVI) is a "jack of all trades". It remains both useful and popular because it has the unique ability to employ a variety of codecs for video encoding purposes, including:

If you don't already know, these two formats are some of the most important video formats in the modern history of moving images.

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AVI, like Miss Loren, has aged well

AVI really isn't all that complicated. It contains both audio and video information in a stock container, with each given the ability to offer simultaneous playback. Although hardly ever used by those still employing AVI, the format actually has the same capabilities as DVDs in that both can support multiple audio and video streams.

However, since its last major update in 1996 by the Matrox OpenDML group, AVI hasn't evolved much. It's one of the oldest video formats, and like the audio codec WAV, has fallen into limited use. Most of the problems stem from the fact that it really doesn't get the user much bang for his or her buck. When working with MPEG-4, for example, AVI often creates files that are much larger than necessary. That's never a good thing in a tech world currently obsessed with downloading music and/or movies.

Still, despite its age, AVI offers the user a whole lot. Although it is slowly becoming obsolete, AVI remains very compatible with the ultra-popular Windows Media Player, and so has managed to keep with the times. Despite the issue with larger-than-life file sizes, most AVI fans are file sharing junkies (who employ AVI's services in WMA and DirectShow). This is particularly surprising because compatibility and ease of use are clearly more important to the average user of peer-to-peer networks.


AVI has stayed popular through
the Windows Media Player

AVI has stuck with us despite some its visible "wrinkle lines" and its frightening "crow's nest". Although incompatibilities make it a distinct "grand-pappy" in the world of video formats, many of its long-time users are familiar enough with the structure to be able to manipulate the structure in order to avoid such issues. How much longer does it have? It might just depend on the length of this whole "file sharing" phenomenon you've heard so much about.