WMV, shorts for Windows Media Video, is a video format released by Microsoft. It’s the most used video file format in the Windows operating system. WMV file format contains the following three different video codecs:

One is WMV's original video compression technology which is designed for streaming applications on the Internet, and this codec was taken as a competitor to RealVideo; the second is developed for WMV screens and WMV images to meet specific content requirements; the third is version 9, a file format which was released as a physical media after SMPTE (The Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers) got standardized.

WMV file format supports users playing videos while downloading at the same time, and the file size is much smaller than other formats, so, it’s very convenient to play and transform this file.

Microsoft also developed a digital container format, ASF (Advanced Systems Format), to save WMV’s video codecs.

How to Open a WMV File

If you are a Windows user, you can use many programs to play WMV files, such as Windows Media Player, RealPlayer, MPlayer, Media Player Classic, VLC Media Player, and K-Multimedia Player.

For Mac users, Microsoft once released a Windows Media Player in 2003 for the Mac OS X operating system, but the development of this software has been discontinued already. Now, Mac users can use Flip4Mac to play WMV video files, but they need to spend money on this. In addition, VLC, DivX Player, KMPlayer, MPlayer, and Elmedia Player are all workable for Mac.

If you want to open a WMV video file on a mobile device, you can use J2 Interactive MX Player and Videolabs VLC on an Android device, olimsoft OPlayer, and VideoLAN VLC for Mobile on iOS.

What’s more, you can also upload your WMV video files to Google Drive to watch them on a web browser, and you don’t need to download any software by this means.

How to Convert a WMV File

If you want to convert your WMV files to other file formats, such as MP4, AVI, MKV, FLV, etc., you will need a dedicated video converter. Zamzar is an online video converter that can help you convert video files without downloading any software. However, the conversion speed may be a little slow. You can also get desktop programs, in which Any Video Converter and Freemake Video Converter are easy to use.

Advantages and Disadvantages of WMV Format


When containing the same video or audio files, WMV files always take up smaller storage space than other file formats. In addition, WMV files are compatible with all Windows-powered systems and devices, which makes it more convenient to play WMV videos.


As said before, WMV is designed for the Windows operating system, so the major disadvantage of WMV is that it doesn’t work well on Mac, Linux, and many other systems. It is also precisely the reason WMV didn’t become popular on a large scale. In addition, many media players don’t work with WMV files because those files have a tiny file size.

Monica has accumulated more than three years of experience in writing tech products. Now she works as an English columnist for this website. With her extensive experience, Monica has offered many helpful and feasible recommendations.