♦ Second, you need to figure out which tool you want to use to rip DVD movies, as Windows 7 doesn't come with such a thing. And on a related note, you have to settle on a video format for those ripped files. (In the music field, this is simple: MP3 is the universal standard for audio files and is the most compatible with software and devices. Video, alas, is a bit trickier.)

That latter issue used to be more of a concern. Windows Vista and earlier Windows versions were, of course, compatible with Microsoft video formats like Windows Media Video (WMV) and AVI—that is, if you wanted to play back a ripped movie in Windows Media Player, Zune, or Windows Media Center, you pretty much needed to rip it in WMV format. However, if you wanted to use the more popular and superior H.264 format—used by Apple's software and devices, and compatible with the Zune and Xbox 360—you couldn't use Windows Media Player or Media Center: earlier versions of those applications were not compatible with H.264.

In Windows 7, this has all changed. Now, Windows Media Player and Windows Media Center are completely compatible with H.264. This solves a compatibility issue, but only if you've completely migrated to Windows 7. If you have a mix of Windows 7-based PCs and PCs based on earlier Windows versions, you will want to carefully consider which format to use. Of course, you could always use Zune, QuickTime, iTunes, or other applications in Windows Vista or older Windows versions if needed.

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