Image Processing Reference
Windows Media (38.2%)
Real Networks (24.9%)
Source: Frost & Sullivan
Figure 21-1 The main players' relative market shares, spring 2004.
So Many Players to Choose From
No single player or technique will solve all of your deployment problems. There is a vari-
ety of factors that will affect your strategy and choice.
Which is the best one to choose? Well, you will have to decide. There are continuing
arguments on the World Wide Web about whose codec is better. Some say that Windows
Media is best. Others say that H.264 is better. But the truth is, none of the codecs is best in
all situations. Windows Media is adequate for many deployments, but your reasons for
choosing it will more likely be due to your preference for the Windows platform or the
way it ties in with an existing information technology strategy. H.264 is a good choice for
consumer-oriented services because it is an open standard and should in theory work on
a far wider range of platforms and devices. In strict terms of video quality, it depends on
how smart the encoding operator is and how well suited the encoder is to the content
being compressed. It is possible to work out demonstration cases to prove that any one of
the mainstream codecs is the best performer.
Judging from interviews with several implementers, there is a consensus that the
computational workload for decoding appears to be slightly less for H.264 than for
Windows Media, and the market seems to be leaning towards the adoption of H.264 in
preference to Windows Media.
In the next few chapters we will look in detail at the three main players and then con-
sider some alternatives.