Image Processing Reference
Windows Media will not be completely displaced by any other codec. As long as
Microsoft manufactures it, the WM9 codec is likely to be a successful codec and a good
choice. However, beware of committing yourself totally and irrevocably—you could be
painting yourself into a corner.
The H.264 codec is becoming more widely supported. DVD standards bodies are
selecting H.264 for use in delivering HDTV, but to be fair they are also considering sup-
port for VC-1 at the same time. So you have two codecs to choose from. The H.264 codec
is much more likely to be well supported on all platforms. It remains to be seen whether
VC-1 will be deployed at all.
Summary of Where Windows Media Is Most Useful
So, if you want to deploy to a large audience known to be using the Windows platform
and you intend to deliver to them a service comprising small clips or reasonably sized lin-
ear-video programs and movies, the WM9 codec is a good choice, given that by using it
you will potentially reach a large proportion of the available audience.
Take note, though, that Microsoft has been ordered to unbundle the media player
from the operating system package when sold in Europe. This doesn't make the media
player less available, but users will have to install it separately and will also therefore have
an easier choice to replace it with an alternative.
But what if you don't want to use Windows Media? In the next chapter we'll look at the
strengths and weaknesses of the Apple QuickTime system before considering
RealNetworks in the chapter following.