Electronic Team uses cookies to personalize your experience on our website. By continuing to use this site, you agree to our cookie policy. Click here to learn more.

What Is .WMV Format File Extension?

Elmedia logo
Top choice
Elmedia 4.8 Rank based on 1531+ users, Reviews(793)
Olga Weis Jul 21, 2021

One of the questions that arise when talking about a file extension is What does WMV stand for? Short for "Windows Media Video", WMV is a Microsoft format, designed to help video encoding, streaming, and playback on computers. What’s great about WMV is that it can store a large number of files and it also can compress a video, while keeping its quality at the same time.

In the beginning, the WMV file format was not accessible to the average users, but later SMPTE made it public. Microsoft still owns the WMV license, and therefore this file format is mostly supported by Windows. Not too long ago, the WMV file format was incompatible with macOS, but lately, this problem was solved with a WMV player for Mac. It was created to play this type of file and keep its top quality as well.

what is wmv format?

WMV Facts and Trivia

  • Even though they have a .wmv file extension, WMV video streams are saved in ASF.
  • AVI and Matroska are also compatible with WMV videos.
  • WMV also contains DRM.
  • A .WMV file can contain video, slideshow, and screencast. MPEG-4, one of the first competitors of WMV also includes WMV file format.
  • WMV is a standard video distribution used by Microsoft, especially in subscription services.

What Is WMV Format Good For?

If you’re curious to know what is WMV used in, you can find below a shortlist with its main attributes:

  • WMV has fast streaming, easy storage, and a high compression ratio. It’s twice higher compared to MPEG-4.
  • It works great as an e-mail attachment, and Silverlight also supported it. However, the plug has no longer been continued.
  • Any Windows-based device can run a WMV file extension.
  • Great compatibility with MS software.
  • It’s a high-quality format designed for commercial purposes.
  • Google Drive online playback supported.
  • Compatible with most popular video converters.

What Is WMV’s downside?

Like anything, WMV has its disadvantages which you should be aware of:

  • Non-compatibility with other OS rather than Microsoft. However, there are some Apple solutions such as Switch Player, Eltima Elmedia Player, QuickTime that can read WMV file format.
  • High-security DRM. Microsoft protects media by locking or taking videos down.
  • CPU-Intensive when decoding a video.
  • "WMV" can be rather confusing, as both video codec and file format are called .wmv, but have different encoding.

The Two Kinds of WMV

As mentioned before, there are two types of WMV: the video file and the container. It’s important to know the difference, so you won’t have unpleasant situations where one of your WMV file formats doesn’t work. Here’s what you need to know:

As a Video Encoder

A video encoder or decoder is mainly a role for a codec. A codec program is used to extract or compress audio and video data. A very good codec will keep quality and save space, too. Most of the time there are separate video and audio codecs, so to combine them, the files are stored in a container.

As a Container File

One of the biggest advantages of container files is that both audio and video tracks can open together. Container files also have subtitles, can store multiple audio tracks. These type of files also have their content, such as codecs. .wmv is a .asf subtype and when they contain the same video and audio files, they are the same thing.


If you have even more questions about what is a WMV file and how you can play it, here you can find the answers. Our comment section is also open and we’ll answer any inquiry as fast as we can.

QuickTime can’t open WMV files, however, there are a couple of workarounds you can do to open them.

One solution is to play WMV files with a third-party app, such as Elmedia, VLC, 5kPlayer to name a few.

Another solution is to use an online or offline converter. Search on the web and choose one that can offer you a great converting experience.

MP4 has few qualities that make it extremely accessible, and that’s due to its open format. MP4 can be played on any type of computer and mobile operating system.

WMV keeps its quality and uses a higher compression rate. Thus, it’s recommended to use it on a Windows PC, mobile or tablet device. WMV file format is also a great choice for cloud storage and online streaming.

Unfortunately, no. WMV loses some quality when it’s compressed, as it is a lossy format. During playback, it can either reduce the resolution or any other type of permanent loss.

But don’t worry! These types of issues appear after many conversions or compressions, which usually doesn’t happen with on-sale WMV files.

Yes, of course. You can choose a converter and then you can do the conversion very easily. Simply open the WMV file, pick your output, such as Apple, the resolution, then choose the format, MP4 in this case. Click on Convert and you’ll get your new file in no time.

Elmedia Player Free
Requirements: macOS 10.12+ , 89.14MB of free space
Version 8.5(3120) (8 Jun, 2022) Release notes
Category: MultimediaApplication