Benefiting from a software bundling deal announced in July with AOL, RealNetworks last year widened its lead over rival Microsoft in the media player arena in the US, according to market researcher Jupiter Media Metrix. In January, RealNetworks software was employed by 25.9 million US home Internet users – up 47.6 per cent from 17.6 million a year earlier, the research found. Microsoft's Windows Media Player was used by 21.5 million people in January, up 31.2 percent from 16.4 million in January 2000. While RealNetworks and Microsoft both saw their user bases grow, Apple Computer 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 in the year ago period, 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 U. 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. Ownership of multimedia players has been pushed to nearly 100 per cent, mainly due to "aggressive bundling campaigns". RealNetwork's market share is still rising rapidly thanks to AOL – which it also bundles with in the UK. An increasingly better user experience, greater connection speeds and more efficient content delivery are driving usage growth, Media Metrix said. Overall, the number of U.S. home media player users increased 33.2 percent, from 31.3 million a year ago to 41.7 million in January 2001.