Image Processing Reference
Support for Other Formats
Windows Media Player used to support the .ra , .rm , and .ram files that are used by the
Real Networks player, but that support has been withdrawn in recent versions.
You have to understand that proprietary player manufacturers are in the business of
making money from their products. It is unreasonable to expect any of them to support
and promote their competitors' formats unless there is some perceived gain or benefit for
them. Microsoft is often accused of eliminating competition, but this is just the company's
way of increasing business.
Here is a list of the popular open standards or proprietary formats that Microsoft
supports in Windows Media Player. This list evolves according to the emphasis placed on
different codecs and Microsoft's commercial needs:
MPEG-4 Part 2
CD audio files ( .cda )
Wave files ( .wav )
QuickTime audio ( .aiff )
Implications of the SMPTE Standards Process for WM9
Interestingly, in the autumn of 2003, Microsoft lodged the specifications of WM9 with
SMPTE in order to get the codec ratified as an open standard. Cynical commentators noted
the suspicious timing of this news with respect to the release of the H.264 codec standard.
However, if there ever was an intention to compromise the chances of the emerging H.264
standard becoming dominant, it appears to have backfired.
The extent to which the standard is open depends on the conditions that surround
the licensing. This is not the first time that a proprietary standard has been passed
into the public domain. To date, the standard has not been ratified and the licensing
terms have yet to be defined. This process is taking longer than Microsoft predicted
at the outset.
SMPTE is an unusual choice for standardizing this codec; this kind of work has gen-
erally been undertaken by MPEG or the ITU. But then they already had H.264 nearly rat-
ified, so they would have been unreceptive to another codec design at that time.
Nevertheless, SMPTE has expertise in the area of moving images and is well qualified as
an organization to back this process.
If the standard is ratified and adopted, it could become quite popular, possibly at the
expense of H.264, and there are some very concerned people in the broadcast and stream-
ing industry who have already invested a lot of time and money into H.264 implementa-
tions. The SMPTE standard is sometimes incorrectly referred to as WM9 or VC-9 . SMPTE
has announced that they will call it VC-1.