How To Add Missing HTML5 Video Support To Your Browser

When you look at HTML5 video support of the five most popular web browsers, you notice that there is not a single browser supporting the two formats WebM and H.264. Depending on your browser choice, you end up either with one or the other, but not both.

Problems will arise for Internet users once the acceptance and use of HTML5 video rises on the Internet. The clear winner for now is Adobe with its Flash technology, as it is being used as a fallback on many sites. A common misconception surrounds H.264. Many users believe that it might replace Flash on the Internet. That's however not possible considering that H.264 is a video codec and Flash Player a multimedia runtime. H.264 encoded videos need to be loaded into a player, like Flash on the web or a desktop video player.

Regardless of that, it is still true that Flash is used as a fallback if the web browser does not support the HTML5 video format that is embedded on a page. To paraphrase: Flash based players are the most common to play H.264 contents, and Flash may be used as a fallback if the browser does not support the format or WebM.

Here is how you can test if your web browser supports WebM or H.264. Visit the following links with your browser of choice. Your browser supports the standard if the videos play, if you get errors, the standard is not supported.

WebM Test Video

H.264 Test Video

Now that you found out that your browser is not capable of playing at least one of the formats, you may want to add support for the missing format to play all HTML5 videos regardless of codec.

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Microsoft recently has published extensions for the Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome web browser that add H.264 support to the browser. It has to be noted that the extension will only work under Windows 7, previous operating systems are not compatible.

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Windows Media Player HTML5 Extension for Chrome [download]
HTML5 Extension for Windows Media Player Firefox Plug-in [download]

Google on the other hand has created a plugin for Internet Explorer 9 that adds WebM to the web browser.

WebM Video for Microsoft Internet Explorer 9 (Preview) [download]

Instead of supporting both codecs in their web browser, Microsoft and Google have made the decision to produce plugins for each other's browser to add support for the video codec that they favor and support.

Microsoft made an announcement a while ago that Internet Explorer 9 would support the VP8 codec on Windows 7 if it was installed on the user system.

Please let us know in the comments if you have successfully downloaded the VP8 codec and managed to play WebM videos in Internet Explorer 9 afterwards.

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Responses to How To Add Missing HTML5 Video Support To Your Browser

  1. Ahmad March 15, 2011 at 3:16 pm #

    Awesome work. Easy to cover up all gaps of plugin issues.

  2. me March 15, 2011 at 4:15 pm #

    My Opera 11.01 plays both

    • hakunafilbatata July 23, 2012 at 1:14 am #

      Opera is actually falling back to flash on H.265, so does Geckos and WebKits.

    • hakunafilbatata July 23, 2012 at 1:14 am #

      Opera is actually falling back to flash on H.264, so does Geckos and WebKits.

  3. DanTe March 15, 2011 at 4:52 pm #

    Thanks for the clarification. I'm one of those who were expecting HTML5 to toss out that Adobe junk Flash.

  4. nero March 15, 2011 at 5:37 pm #

    Am I missing something? The WebM demo page doesn't work for me in FF4b13.

  5. SomeGuy March 15, 2011 at 5:46 pm #

    The HTML5 extension for Firefox plays hellbells with session restore btw.
    In particular if you use Panorama mode.

    • Squall September 7, 2011 at 10:20 am #

      It also causes Excessive memory allocation.

  6. ilev March 15, 2011 at 7:46 pm #

    My Chrome 10.0.648.133 beta on XP SP3 run both WebM and H.264 720P whitout any problems, and I didn't install Microsoft's h.264 add-on.

  7. Berttie March 15, 2011 at 11:12 pm #

    me is correct. Those of us wise enough to use Opera 11.01 don't have to jump through hoops to see either format, they just work.

    As for Google removing H.264 from Chrome, have we learnt nothing from the past browsers 'wars' with companies pushing there own formats at the expense of their clients? Sigh!

    • Martin Brinkmann March 15, 2011 at 11:15 pm #

      Berttie that's great news, even though I remember that Opera wanted to backup only Theora and WebM. Maybe they have changed their stance?

  8. Jojo March 16, 2011 at 2:49 am #

    The H.264 test works fine for me in FF 3.6.15. But the WebM test does not work.

  9. Aminifu March 20, 2011 at 8:19 pm #

    The WebM test link given is for the Chrome browser. You can use the YouTube WebM videos for testing FF 4 and IE 9.

    I noticed that the full screen toggle for the WebM player does not work as expected in FF 4 and IE 9. It causes the video to expand within the browser's window, not full screen. To get full screen you need to also toggle the browser to full screen mode. The only problem with that is the mouse cursor stays visible.

    One other thing, if you add WebM support to IE 9 with the automatic online installer you also get the GoogleUpdate installed. If you use the manual installer (that you have to download) it does not install the GoogleUpdate. This updater is supposed to keep the WebM support up to date and report crash info, but the downside is it installs an additional Windows service and 2 tasks that run periodically and every time you reboot your computer. This seems to me to be overkill just to keep a codec up to date. What's worse, the updater is not listed separately with the installed programs and is a hassle to disable or remove manually.

  10. beachboui April 5, 2011 at 10:15 pm #

    Shouldn't this article be updated since the release of Firefox 4.0?

  11. subgrampus August 18, 2011 at 10:53 pm #

    Both tests work for me in Vista & IE8

  12. mixedbag September 22, 2011 at 2:17 am #

    What works for linux users?
    Firefox is spotty at best, very few will play.
    It's like hitting the lottery when I find one that does. :p

  13. Rahul July 1, 2014 at 1:21 pm #

    Video is not working in safari

  14. Sherry Byrnes April 30, 2017 at 8:35 pm #

    Windows Media Player HTML5 Extension for Chrome [download] *Never would download for me.

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