My sister just sent me another video, so I thought I'd try one of the converters I listed above. I started with the Converterlite. It was a simple program and easy to use. It was specifically aimed at converting .mov files to .avi. It was a little slow, but everything went well until I tried to import it into my Movie Maker program. I got an error message saying it couldn't import because the codex (whatever those are) were missing. I didn't feel like hassling with it so I just uninstalled it and went on to the next program.
Next I tried the Prism Video Converter Software. It looked serious. It was also rather slow but converted my file fine. I couldn't import it into Movie Maker, however. I got the same error message.
Next on the list was the Movavi Video Converter. It looked really slick. It ran fast and even gave a neat "ta-da" chord when it was done. Unfortunately, I had the same problem with importing. They also listed a Codec Pack for download. I thought maybe that was what I needed. It didn't help. This converter wasn't free either. It has a free trial period and they put a watermark on your video.
Last, but not least was the AVS4You. It isn't free either, but I was on a roll and decided to give it a try. To my surprise it actually converted my file so that it could be imported into Movie Maker. It ran fast too. It also put the watermark on my video,but that would go away if I went so far as to pay for the program. My only complaint was that it tended to snip the end of the video off. If I were doing these myself, I'd just leave a longer tail on the end.
Several of these programs advertised them as converters from .mov from a camera to .avi for portable devices. Maybe they don't need the codex, but I did. If I really want a free converter, I guess I'm still looking. Otherwise I'll just keep using Zamzar.