The HTML5 web video wars are heating up again, this time with news that Google announced to remove support for the h.264 codec from the Chrome browser in the next couple months.
Google product manager Mike Jazayeri admits that " H.264 plays an important role in video" but that Google has decided to direct their resources exclusively "towards completely open codec technologies".
What does it mean for Chrome users? Chrome will eventually only support HTML5 web videos that are making use of Google's own WebM (VP8) codec or Theora video codecs, and refuse to play H.264 videos if the website in question streams video in that format only.
While that's not the case for YouTube and maybe a few other sites, the majority of Internet sites will not encode their videos multiple times to make sure they can be watched in all browsers.
Lets take a look at browsers and their HTML5 video support:
Google Chrome until now was the only browser that supported all video codecs. Internet users now have the problem that their favorite browser may not be able to play videos that they want to watch on the Internet which means that they need to keep a second browser installed, or download the videos to the computer to watch them locally.
H.264 is the Blu-Ray codec and Apple makes use of it as well in their products. If you look at entertainment devices you notice that the majority plays H.264 but not WebM or Theora.
The majority of commenters at the official blog announcement over at the Chromium blog appear to disagree with Google on the move. Some think Google tries to push their own codec at the expense of the Chrome user experience, others state that the WebM8 codec is inferior to h.264 in quality.
What's your take on this? And how will you handle HTML5 web video?
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.