Bugger....I've posted a link in another thread about this whole WM9 media quality debate. Now the quote below is Neo Neko's comment taken directly from this thread in doom9's forum. I think we all should listen to this.
I don't know where you are getting the idea it is crap. Because it is not. WM9 is not half bad. But it is not really better than many of the alternatives out there. Having said that the main reasons people choose not to use WM9 are thus. The programs you can encode to WM9 with are rather limited. Your editing options are rather limited. Microsoft provides you with all sorts of software to perform spiffy fades but can't provide simple video clean up filters to treat older video or do quality resizing. WM9 is a closed standard. Microsoft will not make an effort to port it to other OS unlike companies like Real. It simply put is another monopoly maker tool that Microsoft is trying to push to rest the high and low end video markets from their many respective holders and bring them under the Microsoft monopoly umbrella.
You probably think I am paranoid. But that is far from the truth.
The reason MPEG4 is so popular are many. It is the sucessor to the insanely popular and useful MPEG 1 and 2 codecs. The standard is open meaning that anyone can impliment their own version of the encoder which brings competition for better codec tuning. Something which Microsoft simply will not allow. Hardware support with MPEG4 is guaronted long term.
The next thing to watch is h.264. It is part of the MPEG4 specs, but it is so much different from traditional MPEG4 that you are likely to see it as a stand alone codec more than part of a larger MPEG4 codec for a while. I can say with a good bit of certanty that h.264 stands to blow traditional MPEG4, WM9, and RM9 clean out of the running with a bit of spit and polish. I am really anxious to see more people jump on the open source h.264 project. Another great thing about h.264 is that the base profile looks as if it will be possible to impliment with a GPL license which means we should see the possibility for some insane community tweaking and tuning.