Matroska Video files (MKV) are open source container video files that can hold a limitless number of audio, video and subtitle tracks in one file. Matroska developers have high hopes that this format will outlast and replace all other video formats, since they have designed it to be able to support a variety of audio and video compression formats and it is free for public use. This format is currently not supported by all operating systems or multimedia software and requires the latest codec packs installed in order to view the files.
- A MKV (Matroska video) file is a video file, similar to AVI and MP4 files, but unlike these multimedia formats, the MKV format is an open source container format. One MKV file can hold an unlimited number of audio, video, and subtitle tracks. A complete CD or movie with subtitles can be stored within a single file. With this capability, it can provide support for a variety of audio and video compression formats.
- MKV files came from the Multimedia Container Format (MCF) project. MKV founder Steve Lhomme left the project after disagreeing with the MCF project leader Lasse Kärkkäinen regarding using the Extensible Binary Metal Language (EBML) over another format. After Kärkkäinen had a long coding break, most of the developers on the project left for the new MKV project. The name "matroska" was derived from the Russian word "matryoshka," referring to the Russian dolls that contain many dolls within one doll.
- MKV files offer many features not found in AVI and MP4 video files in addition to the ability to store entire audio and video disc media to one file. These features include DVD-like menus, streaming audio and video over the internet, a cross-platform A/V multimedia container format, selectable subtitle tracks, selectable audio tracks, tools and libraries for developers adding MKV formats to their applications, and high error recovery.
- MKV files have a huge potential to becoming more widely used than the popular AVI and MP4 files. The software used for building the files is free for public distribution and use, and the developers have created tools to help create and edit MKV files. In addition, since the format does support a variety of compression formats, it's adaptable for future uses, unlike AVI formats. The Matroska developers are also continually working along with hardware producers to include MKV support in multimedia software typically included with new computers and support in a variety of operating systems.
- For now, MKV files are virtually unsupported in multimedia players and most operating systems. For a media player to read MKV files, the latest codec pack must first be installed, usually recommended from the Combined Community Codec Pack. Also, not all media players can play this format, even with the codec pack installed. The following media players have been tested and proved by Matroska to support MKV files: ALShow, Avidemux, BS Player, Chameleo, The Core Media Player, Core Player Mobile, The Core Pocket Media Player, foobar2000, GOM Player, Gstreamer-based Players, Handbrake, jetAudio, Kaffeine, The KMPlayer, Media Player Classic, Media Player Classic - Home Cinema, MediaPortal, Mezzmo Media Player, MPlayer, MythTV, Perian Quicktime Plugin for Mac OS X, Target Longlife Media Player, Totem Movie Player, VirtualDubMod, VLC media player, VSO, Vuze Media Player, Windows Media Player 11, xine, Zoom Player, plexapp, and XBMC.