Chrome drops H.264

Chrome is removing support for H.264 codecs, to make Chrome codecs match those of the Chromium project.

Not sure if this is a good move… will it drive people back towards flash?

Back? I never moved away from it. HTML5 <video> support is still spotty. Plus, re-encoding everything would be a huge task. Plus, not all browsers on the market support a common codec, so you will need more than one copy of videos just to play in all browsers.

IE8: no suppport
Safari 3.1+: h.264
Firefox 3.5+: Theora
Chrome: Theora (since version 3), WebM (since version 6), (h.264 will be dropped)
Opera 10.6+: Theora (since 10.5), WebM (since 10.6)

Firefox 4 beta: Theora, WebM
IE9 beta: h.264


I think the better headline is “Google fractures <video> tag and flogs WebM which is full of Google IP by dropping H.264 which is full of everyone else’s IP support in Chrome.”

More I think about it, the translation is perhaps “Youtube has everything streaming in WebM now so we can quit playing well with H.264 while not breaking the biggest video property on the web.”

Oh, and if I were MPEG LA, I would be building a chrome and firefox H.264 plugin today.

Anne van Kesteren argues that this is a good thing:

(or, Why WebM is Good)

A follow-up post addressing concerns about the removal of h.264:

I hadn’t been paying that much attention to the video formats struggle in the past, but after thinking about it a lot now, I’m absolutely convinced that the survival and success of html5 video depends on the success of WebM. There needs to be an open/royalty-free video format.

This is a good move by google. Microsoft and Apple are being stubborn and childish if they still refuse to add support for WebM. Google has the upperhand here: they own youtube.

I’ve not been paying too much attention to the video formats, however having a h.264 codec would have been useful (having already got video in that format for a flash player).

As has already been stated, different browsers supporting different formats is always a bad thing and it would be good to be able to get away from the requirement of Flash to play videos, but duplicating the encoding… urgh!

Useful yes, but with the MPEG-LA licensing arrangements, it won’t be free to encode and publish in the near future. That’s part of the whole issue here.

…there will not be agreement to make it the baseline in the HTML video standard due to its licensing requirements. To use and distribute H.264, browser and OS vendors, hardware manufacturers, and publishers who charge for content must pay significant royalties—with no guarantee the fees won’t increase in the future. To companies like Google, the license fees may not be material, but to the next great video startup and those in emerging markets these fees stifle innovation.

That says it all. It sucks that such a widely adopted standard needs to be dropped, but I understand and agree with the thinking behind the decision.

Microsoft did, however. That will allow you to play h.264 videos from Firefox. But seriously, h.264 already won. It can pretty much be played everywhere! Almost all the smart phones have built in hardware support for h.264. And almost every new computer has hardware support as well.

Ha, now Microsoft released an extension for Chrome so it can play h.264 as well.

Well both Firefox and Chrome get license free implementations of h.264. Lucky them.