AVI or Audio Video Interleave was developed by Microsoft as the file format for its media player application. It is an old container. MOV was developed for Mac OS and QuickTime application by Apple. MOV supports MP4 codecs like H.264 while AVI does not.

On the Internet, where the compatibility demands are high, AVI had become very popular. This format is supported by almost all players, even portable devices like video players and video smart phones. Because of the growing needs of the users of this format, Microsoft abandoned AVI container and launched WMV with newer and more features but for the later version of the Windows Media Player.

The AVI container has no native support for modern MPEG-4 features like B-Frames. Hacks are sometimes used to enable modern MPEG-4 features and subtitles, however, this is the source of playback incompatibilities.

AVI files do not contain pixel aspect ratio information. Microsoft confirms that "many players, including Windows Media Player, render all AVI files with square pixels. Therefore, the frame appears stretched or squeezed horizontally when the file is played back."

More modern container formats (such as QuickTime, Matroska, Ogg and MP4) offer more flexibility, however, projects based on the FFmpeg project, including ffdshow, MPlayer, xine, and VLC media player, have solved most problems with viewing AVI format video files.

While the AVI format has been superseded by more advanced formats like MP4, MOV or WMV, people continue to use AVI because of its universal portability. AVI files can be played on almost any computer or device (unless the format has been hacked for supporting MP4).

The QuickTime (.mov) file format functions as a multimedia container file that contains one or more tracks, each of which stores a particular type of data: audio, video, effects, or text (e.g. for subtitles). Each track either contains a digitally-encoded media stream (using a specific codec) or a data reference to the media stream located in another file. Tracks are maintained in a hierarchical data structure consisting of objects called atoms. An atom can be a parent to other atoms or it can contain media or edit data, but it cannot do both.

The ability to contain abstract data references for the media data, and the separation of the media data from the media offsets and the track edit lists means that QuickTime is particularly suited for editing, as it is capable of importing and editing in place (without data copying). Other later-developed media container formats such as Microsoft's Advanced Systems Format or the open source Ogg and Matroska containers lack this abstraction, and require all media data to be rewritten after editing.


Comparison chart

.avi versus .mov comparison chart
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  • current rating is 4.1/5
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Support for B-frames Yes Yes
Variable bit rate audio Yes Yes
Variable frame rate Yes Yes
Chapters Yes, via third party modifications Yes
Subtitles Yes, via third party modifications Yes
Video formats supported Almost anything through VFW (Video for Windows); H.264/AVC is problematic due to the limited B-frame support Limited to what is available to the QuickTime codec manager
Audio formats supported Almost anything through ACM (Audio Compression Manager); Vorbis is problematic Limited to what is available to Sound Manager or CoreAudio
Metadata/tags supported not officially Yes
Supports menus (like DVD) No No
Container for Audio, Video Audio, video, text
Introduction (from Wikipedia) Audio Video Interleave, known by its acronym AVI, is a multimedia container format introduced by Microsoft in November 1992. AVI files can contain both audio and video data in a file container. The QuickTime (.mov) file format functions as a multimedia container file that contains one or more tracks, each of which stores a particular type of data: audio, video, effects, or text (e.g. for subtitles).
Initial release November 1992 December 2, 1991
Origin Developed by Microsoft as the file format for its media player application. Developed by Apple for Mac OS and QuickTime
File size and quality File size is big and quality bad as compared to MOV Small size and better quality
Codec support AVI does not support MP4 codecs. MOV supports MP4 codecs like H.264
Media player support The AVI file format is fairly popular and can usually be played on any computer or multimedia device. MOV files cannot be played on all media player applications.
Popularity The AVI file format is very popular, several times more popular than the MOV format. Not as popular as AVI
Internet media type video/avi video/msvideo video/x-msvideo video/quicktime
Type code 'Vfw ' MooV
Uniform Type Identifier public.avi com.apple.quicktime-movie
Developed by Microsoft Apple Inc.

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