divx, h264, and (maybe) mkv on Windows 7?
An interesting bit of news from the doom9 forums. Â As anyone who is testing the Windows 7 beta has discovered, and as the above photo shows, Microsoft is breaking with their tradition and including more codec support in the upcoming Windows bundle. Â Previous Windows versions did not even include MPEG-2 decoding, which proved to be quite mystifying to many users trying to watch a DVD in their computers for the first time. Â And, needless to say, Microsoft stayed far away from any of the more esoteric codecs, including the key MPEG-4 ASP implementations such as DivX and Xvid. Â
However, the beta of Windows 7 includes the ability to play back DivX, and Xvid, and even the next generation MPEG-4 AVC, better known as h.264. Â Why is this important? Â A couple things. Â First, if anybody needed further proof that VC-1 is essentially dead in the water, this is another nail in its coffin (to mix macabre metaphors). Â Secondly, and more importantly, it appears that Microsoft is jumping on the bandwagon of broad interoperability, allowing Windows users to play back a range of video formats right out of the box, something that will surely be a boon to less sophisticated users who just want to be able to watch something without having to even know what a codec is, much less a container format, audio stream, etc.
Even more intriguing is the news that Microsoft may be working on an implementation of the matroska container, or mkv for Windows 7 (according to madshi and haali on doom9). Â For the file-trading community, this is quite significant. Â H.264 has a ton of “legitimate” uses today, notably in higher quality Flash videos on YouTube and elsewhere. Â MKV however, is almost exclusively used currently by pirates, particularly those sharing HD video. Â Blu-Ray rips and high def TV captures are generally distributed as x264 encodes with AC3 audio in mkv containers (both 720p and 1080p), and while HD video content is still a small minority of what is shared relative to standard def video, it is growing and is likely to become the dominant format before long. Â Maybe Microsoft is just getting back at the movie studios that went with Blu-Ray instead of the MS-backed HD-DVD formats, but regardless, it would be good news if mkv support signaled that Microsoft was thinking about their users first, and video business strategies second.