An Overview of WMV Files

A WMV file (Windows Media Video) is a video encoded in a Microsoft proprietary file format.  The WMV format was introduced by Microsoft in 1999.

General Information

The format is included with the other Windows formats like the High Definition Photo (HDP), Advanced Systems Format (ASF) and Windows Media Audio (WMA). The Windows Media Video file employs the Microsoft container format. It is Microsoft’s answer to MPEG-4.

The format’s main competitors are RealVideo and DivX. They are used mainly for distributing video on the Web. Numerous versions and updates of the codec have appeared.

Technical Information

The WMV file extension is used to describe ASF files that utilize Windows Media Video codecs. The audio codecs are usually Sipro audio codecs or Windows Media Audio. In some cases, the file extension is abbreviated to .wm.

Although they are usually in ASF formats, the Windows Media Video can be changed into AVI. This can be done with the WMV9 video compression manager codec.

Features of the Windows Media Video Format

The format can deliver over different network protocols. Other features include document and content management, support for multiple languages and stream prioritization as defined by the author. Other features include scalable media types, component download and extensible media types.

But the most important feature is its ability to contract large files without sacrificing the quality. This means videos and movies can be compressed and downloaded online more easily. You can watch the file with your computer. It can also be used with other media players that support the file.

How to Play Windows Media Video

You will need codecs to play the file format. The codec is an application that recognizes the file. Windows Media Player can play back the format. For Windows XP, Windows Media Player 10 is recommended.

For the best results you will need a 256 MB RAM video card, at least 512 MB of RAM and a 24 bit sound card. To play the Windows Media Video file, launch Windows Media Player. Click open to choose the file. Once chosen, it will start playing automatically.

There are other applications that can play Windows Media Video. Go online and do a search. Several free players will appear. Just make sure that your computer meets the system requirements.

You can also play Windows Media Video on other operating systems. Linux has a built in VLC player you can use. The Macintosh has no native support for the file, but you can download plugins so you can play them. The VLC player can be used on Macs too. As these facts about WMV files show, it is a very versatile format.