most compatible windows video codec?

hey guys,

im producing a bunch of simple screen captured video tutorials which demonstrate how to use an application. the problem im having is that my audience will have a range of operating systems installed on their computers and i need to encode my videos into the most "compatible" codec for all users.

my audience will have operating systems ranging from winXP to win7 and i cant assume an internet connection (for them to download codecs). i have no intention of supporting pre xp or non windows systems.

from the research i've done it seems that wmv is the most compatible codec, however im having trouble trying to find which wmv codec xp supports "out of the box". from various forums people have said that xp will only support wmv7, from a microsoft page it indicates that xp will support wmv7 and wmv8, while other forums suggest that xp will support up to wmv9 as long as its not the advanced codec. i only have one xp machine to test on and wmv9 files seem to run perfectly, however unfortunately the machine has service pack 3 installed so im unsure if the codec compatibility came with one of the service packs or from installing the base OS.

does anyone have any suggestions?
thanks
gem56Asked:
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smokeykurtConnect With a Mentor Commented:
To play it safe i'd go with wmv7.  I have test workstations running windows xp service pack 1 and 2.  The stations running service pack 2 seemed to play wmv7 through wmv9 fine, but Service pack 1 had some issues with both wmv8 and wmv9.

Hopefully that helps ya some.  Just on a side note, did you consider rendering to a standard mpeg?  They're bigger files generally, but it takes very little cpu to run them well...and they also work windows 98/Mac as well.  I'd say its more compatible then wmv files if the size difference isn't a huge issue.  

Hope some of that helps.
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Rikin ShahMicrosoft Dynamics CRM ConsultantCommented:
WMV 9 introduced a new profile titled Windows Media Video 9 Professional, which is activated automatically whenever the video resolution exceeds 300,000 pixels (e.g., 528x576, 640×480 or 768x432 and beyond) and the bitrate 1000 kbit/s[citation needed]. It is targeted towards high-definition video content.

In a case if you capture a video with wmv7/8 it will not be advisable as minimum resolution of the screen would(assuming) be 800x600.

I would suggest installing K-lite mega codec pack which includes most of all popular video playing codecs available. It is free and widely used all over. And then you can go for any other popular video codec. It would play for you.

Regards,
Rikin Shah
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silverkornCommented:
What I would suggest you do is to add the install/updates for Windows Media Player as well as a codec pack. This way if someone was to run into trouble trying to play the video there is software also provided that will update their software to allow the playback of the video

Windows Media Player 11 for Windows XP:
http://www.microsoft.com/download/en/details.aspx?displaylang=en&id=8163

Other Window Media Player download links:
http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows/downloads/windows-media-player

Media Player Codec Pack:
http://download.cnet.com/Media-Player-Codec-Pack/3000-13632_4-10749065.html?tag=mncol;2
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gem56Author Commented:
hi guys, thanks for all the info and replies.

i have already considered putting relevant codecs and even external players (vlc/mpc) onto the my distribution disc however it just seemed simpler to encode the videos on the lowest common codec to begin with and avoid extra packaging.

@smokeykurt: mpeg-I was initially considered, however due to the recording program not offering to produce said output file (using camtasia studio 7), it was then dismissed as we couldnt find a decent free third party program to re-encode into mpeg-I with good quality results.

thanks guys
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smokeykurtCommented:
http://www.tmpgenc.net/en/download.html


tmpg used to be my favorite for free mpeg1 conversion although its been abit since i used it.  I don't think the free version can do mpeg2 but not really needed in this case.  wmv7 sounds like a safe bet in your scenario though, just figured I'd post the link in case anyone needed it in the future.  
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gem56Author Commented:
champion, thanks a lot mate :)
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