Real Networks is winning the multimedia-standard wars, widening its lead over both Apple's QuickTime and Microsoft's Windows Media formats, according to market research outfit, Jupiter Media Matrix.

The research boffins claim that Real's solutions were being used by 25.9 million surfers and Windows Media Player by 21.5 million people in January.

Apple lost numbers. QuickTime software was used to watch video or listen to audio files by 7.29 million home Internet users in January, down 8.4 per cent from 7.96 million for the same period last year, according to Media Metrix.

Media Players are also increasingly being installed on work computers, with RealNetworks holding the largest number of users there as well. QuickTime, surprisingly, is more popular in the office than at home.

In January 2001, RealNetworks software was used by 10.5 million US workers, up 52.1 per cent from a year earlier. Windows Media Player had 9 million office users, up 39.9 per cent. QuickTime's user base grew 8.5 per cent to 1.9 million work users.

Overall, the number of US home-media-player users increased 33.2 per cent - from 31.3 million a year ago, to 41.7 million in January 2001.