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Old 09-24-2009, 05:30 PM
Jason Dunn
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Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 29,160
Default Windows 7's Expanded Video Format Support Rocks!

I'm slowly but surely migrating my computers from Windows Vista to Windows 7, and one of the things that is impressing me more and more as I use it is the expanded video codec support. With Windows Vista, one of the first programs I'd install would be VLC Media Player because Vista was incapable of playing pretty much anything but WMV and AVI files. With Windows 7, I chose not to install it because I wanted to see how good the new MPEG4/h.264 support was. In a word? Great! Going through my archive of old video files, which are in a variety of formats (AVI, WMV, h.264/MPEG4, AVI Divx), it looks like the only videos that won't play with Windows Media Player are some old-school Quicktime MOV files. No big loss there.

On to today's task: I had downloaded a video in XVID format and I wanted to burn it to a DVD for my wife to watch. The first thing that impressed me was that Windows Media Player 12 on Windows 7 was able to play this XVID file just as easily as it would play a WMV file. That's exactly how it's supposed to work. We should have had support like this in Vista, but Microsoft didn't seem to want to invest in the codecs - thankfully that has changed with Windows 7. Taking this XVID file, I loaded it into Windows DVD Maker, and it burned a DVD. That sort of smooth "A to B" task has sometimes been difficult on previous versions of Windows, so I'm impressed that Windows 7 finally gets it right.

I'm less impressed with Windows DVD Maker itself though. First, it barely used more than 20% of my Core i920 CPU (four cores, eight threads) when doing the transcode from XVID to MPEG2. Of all the applications on Windows 7 that you want to be multi-core smart, Windows DVD Maker should be at the top of that list. Second, even though the XVID file was a 16:9 aspect ratio file, Windows DVD Maker created a 4:3 disc, regardless of whether or not I had it set to 16:9 or 4:3. I'm not sure why it was so dysfunctional - I'll have to test it with another video file.

So while Windows DVD Maker looks like it needs some work, the expanded codec support in Windows 7 rocks. Good job Microsoft!

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