Do File Extensions Really Matter in Windows?

Today I had a perplexing experience. Of late I’m using Fedora 14 as my main operating system though I have windows xp on my machine. I know in Linux operating system file extensions are  not necessary. I mean if you have a file a don’t know what type of file it is (be it multimedia or document file) Linux will some how open it. I don’t know the  reason for it but i was happy for this facility so that I need not worry about what format the file, just double click it the file will open in Linux. In windows the operating system needs to know the extension of the file or else the file won’t open.

Yesterday I downloaded a video from youtube and saved in linux.  I’m using a firefox addon called DownThemAll!. It doesn’t save the download with file extension. Since I was using Fedora i was not bothered about it much. Then for some work I logged onto xp.  Then I tried to play the downloaded video in windows, but it didn’t play because it was not having an File extension.I know it should be either  mp4 or flv, So i tried renaming the file with extension mp4 and it worked.  Then i had a doubt, what if i rename the file with the extension flv and play. So i renamed with the extension flv and played. To my surprise it the file was playing without any glitch. My questions are

  1. If the same file can be played without any problem in two different extensions, then what is the use of having extensions?
  2. If VLC player in Linux can play a file without an extension, why can’t it do the same in windows?
  3. On the first place, What is the reason for having a file extension?
My questions can very dumb, but I’m sure there is an explanation for this. So if anyone knows answer kind post as your reply.

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About aronnirmal

A student pursuing Masters in Compter Applications. Intrested in Linux, Computer Hardware and networking,eco-enviorment related issues and politics.

Posted on February 10, 2011, in linux, Software, Technical, Windows. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. The file extension could be name “.asdjasdflkjsadf” and the in theory it would still work. The filename (including the file extension) is just a label or indication of what type the file may be. At the end of the data, the file just contains data and the filename doesn’t really matter in technical terms. However some program do use file extensions to detect file types so even if it was an flv file with extension “.wadsflkasdf” it wouldn’t be recognised.

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