Image Processing Reference
Portability and Compliance
In the end, compliance with standards leads to better portability and less lock-in to a pro-
prietary set of products. Portability is a very desirable thing from the perspective of broad-
casters and content providers. The analogy about not having to buy a different TV set to
view each channel is often rolled out to support this argument and is profoundly true. The
world of broadcasting would not have become such a huge industry if not all TV receivers
were immediately compatible with the broadcast service regardless of the manufacturer.
The owners of proprietary systems imagine that somehow they can achieve that
100% total market penetration. This is a vain hope. There will always be some detractors
who will choose not to buy into a platform simply because it is the dominant one.
It is important to realize that “never” is a very big and difficult word for proprietary
player manufacturers. They might say today that their player will “never” play some
particular open format or be available on operating system X. Two years later this could
change completely. Be wary, though, because support is withdrawn just as easily as it
The platform describes the computer type or the genre of device that the video is being
played on. Including the computer operating systems in this category is sensible because
they are indeed platforms and each supports a very different combination of video play-
Microsoft Windows-Based Computers
There is no argument that currently the most popular operating system is Windows (in all
its flavors and variants). Viable player choices for this platform are Windows Media,
RealNetworks, and QuickTime, all of which work acceptably well. There is a range of
open-source players that work very well on the Windows platform if you want to use
Unless you particularly want to use another proprietary solution or you have a pref-
erence for an open-source player, it is a very easy choice to go for Windows Media Player
and the Series 9 codec. For a Windows-only scenario, this is the best choice. It locks you in
to Microsoft from one end to the other, but if you are deploying to a large network of
Windows machines, you are already committed to Microsoft and this will not significantly
affect the risk factors.
Apple Mac OS-Based Computers
The optimum choice for Mac OS users is QuickTime. Because Apple engineers QuickTime
as part of the overall platform experience, the level of integration with the operating sys-
tem is excellent. QuickTime performs at its best on the Mac OS platform.