Cort Fritz, “Media Solutions Architect” (near the top of the heap for their media products) for Microsoft, says (emphasis mine):
Microsoft could even shut itself down and take it's video codec ball home and stop everyone from playing. But Cory is hiding the fact [...] that in reality of variety of platforms that play WMV is h u uuuuge. and growing. We are a mandatory codec for all next-gen DVD players. Yes that includes Blu-ray. Why? Because we are great at what we do. Oh, and we provide DRM. Which artists, content owners and governments have a right to use.
But not, I notice, end-users. How very Microsoft. (-:
Microsoft are great at what they do, that is, marketing. WMV and WMA have spread widely not because of any inherent technical superiority (many other codecs hammer them flat for quality vs compression) but because the marketing department has hammered them into every crevice available.
The key point is that, modulo screams from consumer protection officials or seriously large customers (how many tens of thousands of MS desktops does your company run?), Microsoft can pick up their ball and go home. But their ball contains a lot of other people’s balls too (innuendo intended), and they see nothing wrong with inducing other people to invest in a technology which those other people do not control, and which is essentially useful only at the whim of convicted monopoly-abuser Microsoft.
High-quality unencumbered alternatives exist. Use them!