Windows Media Video and You

WMV, or Windows Media Video, probably sounds familiar. It's basically the cute little sister of Windows Media Audio (WMA). Both are key components in Microsoft's Windows Media Player, which is the central audio and video device for the company's ultra-popular (and necessary) operating system.

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Crafted by Microsoft itself, Windows Media Video is actually a general term for a set of codecs. Much like Apple's creation of MOV, Microsoft developed WMV for streaming low bitrate applications, such as movies placed on websites. This means that anyone can view grainy video of your brother getting hit in the groin with a baseball, so long as you load it onto your homepage.

Windows Media
Windows Media Video is well supported
and features a high definition codec
As previously mentioned, Windows Media Player is the major host of WMV files. The player itself is only available to those who own a PC or Apple Macintosh, but third-party applications do exist for other systems, such as Linux. However, Mac users should keep in mind that the Windows Media Player designed for their system does not support each and every single WMV file available. In order to have access to more video files when working on your trendy Macintosh, look into players like Flip4Mac, QuickTime, or MPlayer.

Although WMV is used fairly frequently online for low bitrate streaming purposes – the not-so-pleasant-on-the-eyes kind – it is capable of higher quality video. In fact, the popular codec is used to distribute high-definition video on standard DVDs. Microsoft, who are again behind this, have labeled this process as WMV HD.



Windows Media Video High Definition is Microsoft's long-winded name for its high- quality codec. WMV HD allows users to watch high-definition videos on their computer using the Windows XP operating system, although there are some issues.

WMV HD opens the codec up to many possibilities, but at a cost

WMV HD takes the Windows Media Video experience further with its employment of low-complexity codecs. This allows for superior video resolutions, including 720p (or 1280x720) and 1080p (1980x1080). Although this makes video on your computer a much more pleasurable experience, it will cost your computer some speed and you some time and patience. Most reports regarding WMV HD indicate that playing the codec can seriously bog down systems not retrofitted with recent hardware upgrades.

Still, the use of HD with WMV shows that Microsoft still has many uses for the codec; therefore, WMV should remain a prominent video format in the future for Windows Media Player.