Report: RealVideo Beats Out WMV, Flash, Apple's H.264 on Monday published "Proprietary Streaming Codecs, 2006," a research report that compares RealVideo and Windows Media with Flash and Appleis H.264 codec, which lies at the heart of QuickTime 7. The report found that RealVideo was the best of the group, with Windows Media starting to fall behind its top competitor.

"With Microsoftis recent success in standards bodies, we expected quality to be at or near the top," report author Jan Ozer said in a statement, "but usually it was at or near the bottom. Companies using or considering Windows Media really need to evaluate other technologies."

Ms. Ozer also found that while Flash and H.264 have been heavily touted as superior solutions, their quality also trails RealVideo. She noted that the two challengers have seen "impressive" progress, however.

To research her 118-page report, which sells for US$295, Ms. Ozer created a six-minute file that contained 38 scenes of business, sports and entertainment videos, as well as several animations and still image pans and zooms. The files were encoded by Apple, Microsoft and RealNetworks and then analyzed in five different playback configurations: modem, 3GPP, 100Kbps, 300Kbps and 500Kbps.