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Microsoft makes Chrome play H.264 video


By Nicole Kobie

Posted on 2 Feb 2011 at 15:16

Users of the Chrome browser will be able to play H.264 video - thanks to Microsoft.

Google ditched HTML5 support for H.264 video last month, citing the codec's licensing requirements. Instead, Google said the HTML video tag should favour the freely available WebM.

Today, Microsoft revealed the Windows Media Player HTML5 Extension for Chrome, which will let users of the Google browser play H.264 video.

"At Microsoft we respect that Windows customers want the best experience of the web including the ability to enjoy the widest range of content available on the internet in H.264 format," said Claudio Caldato, interoperability program manager, in a Microsoft blog post.

He noted that Internet Explorer 9 will support H.264 as well as Google-sponsored WebM video - as long as users have installed the codec - and that Microsoft had already created a Firefox extension. "We also recently provided an add-on for Windows 7 customers who choose Firefox to play H.264 video so as to enable interoperability across IE, Firefox and Chrome using HTML5 video on Windows."

The move hasn't convinced everyone. One comment on the post read: "H.264 isn't an open standard and isn't supported by Firefox or Opera, so in what way is this in support of interoperability? Commercial interests absolutely, but interoperability certainly not."

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User comments

Sad news for the poster - the dictionary definition of "interoperability" does not mention open standards.

By AdrianB on 2 Feb 2011

Many modern video cameras in the consumer sphere record direct to h.264, so, for most consumers, putting their own work on the web requires the people they show it to to have h.264.

Most people are not Linux users (last I read, Linux had a 1% market share). I think a lot of what Microsoft does is risible and derisory, but this at least comes into the "Do not Evil" category that Google abandoned recently.

By SwissMac on 2 Feb 2011

I agree, for once with SwissMac.

As I said in the Google article comments, most cameras use h.264. Until we get cameras that use WebM natively, internet users will need h.264 support or will have to put up with inferior quality video, as the source material is converted from one lossy format to another.

Either we need consumer video cameras that use a non-lossy format, or that can record in WebM. Until then, I want h.264 support.

We need industry standards, which h.264 is, to allow interoperability, if those standards are also open, so much the better.

By big_D on 3 Feb 2011

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