M4V is a standard file container specially developed by Apple and designed to be used for video websites and portable media devices such as iPod, iPhone, iTunes, etc. Using H.264 video coding and AVC audio coding, M4V is much identical to the MP4 format but there are a few differences between them, for example, M4V is copy-protected by Apple’s FairPlay DRM copyright protection, which prevents users from sharing the M4V video files freely but have to make the purchase instead. Besides, iTunes player can play the M4V files natively while MP4 files can be played on QuickTime player by default.
Actually, apart for Apple iTunes and QuickTime players, there are other applications that support M4V files which include Windows Media Player, RealNetworks RealPlayer, VideoLAN VLC media player and Media Player Classic. As to the unprotected M4V video file, it can be played by other media players after changing the extension from “.m4v” to “.mp4″.
So far, a variety of the videos from many popular video websites like YouTube, Vimeo are usually in FLV, F4V, MP4, M4V formats. The videos using H.264 coding with the extension of “.mp4” or “.m4v” are actually the M4V videos. By using H.264 video coding, M4V offers a much higher resolution with smaller size, which meets the requirement of consumers. This is also one of the main reasons why M4V format is widely adapted by lots of websites.