The new kid on the block
Compared to many of the other codecs listed here, VC1 is a spring chicken. While MOV has been around since the heyday of the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, VC1 was only introduced by SMPTE (the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers) in April of 2006. The standard use for VC1 is Windows Media Video 9, the primary visuals format of Microsoft's A/V network.
Although MPEG-4 is considered an improvement to previous video codecs, including H.261, H.263, MPEG-1, and MPEG-2, VC1 is actually an even more advanced application. This is because VC1 very efficiently integrates both interlaced and progressive video. The fact that VC1 can support interlaced content without first converting it to the "backwards" progressive is a real draw. This has made VC1 very attractive to the video and broadcast industry.
Even gamers are on board with VC1. Microsoft, makers of the Xbox 360 console, have designated VC1 as the primary video codec for the device. In this role, VC1 will offer thumbstick-akimbo techies the ability to view full-motion video (FMV) within the titles they play, a feature that could potentially bring the virtual and real worlds even closer together. Of course, those who remember the Sega CD might have good reason to fear the growing use of FMV in games.
...and HD-DVD use VC1 Technology
Regardless if you are young or old, you're probably going to hear VC1 become a more common term in tech lingo – and eventually common amongst home theatre braggarts – before the next Winter Olympics. Real hands-on techies will be interested to know that VC1 may become a central part of the FFmpeg project, which gives users the ability to convert, stream, and even record digital audio and video without charge. That kind of support means that VC1 will appeal to both casual and hardcore media enthusiasts for a very long time.