RealNetworks still on top - report

RealNetworks has a 15-to-one lead over Microsoft's media player - and it sounds better too, say reports

The latest salvo has been fired in the increasingly bitter war between Microsoft and RealNetworks.

Just days after Microsoft proudly pointed to a report showing its streaming-media player to be growing faster than Real's, RealNetworks is pointing out that the same report includes more favourable news: namely, that it has a 15-to-one market lead over the Microsoft player.

Real is also waving around copies of a study by KeyLabs, an independent IT testing labs service, which found that seven out of 10 consumers prefer the sound of RealAudio and RealNetworks MP3 to Microsoft Windows Media Audio.

KeyLabs' study involved 250 participants listening to clips of songs using three different codecs, or encoding methods. Of the 1,500 responses this generated, 71 percent of consumers preferred the RealNetworks format over the Windows Media Audio format. According to KeyLabs, the RealNetworks MP3 and RealAudio formats outperformed Windows Media Audio in all major test groups, including mono and stereo, low bit rate and high bit rate, and local and streamed.

Neither RealNetworks or Microsoft were available for comment.

What do you think? Tell the Mailroom . And read what others have said.