Google released its WebM video format back in 2010 and heralded it as an alternative to the widely used H.264 video format. The company then in 2011 announced that it would ditch H.264 support in Chrome to only support WebM when it comes to HTML5 video, which must have sounded reassuring to Mozilla at that time as the company's web browser was not supporting H.264 at that time.
Well, Google did not keep the promise until today, and Mozilla started to think about ways of getting out of the predicament the company was in. Even Google's own video hosting platform YouTube is not offering all videos hosted on it as WebM videos, while all videos are offered in H.264 format either directly or through Adobe's Flash Player.
With Google not pushing WebM the way the company could have, both in the Chrome web browser and on its properties like YouTube, it became clear that Mozilla had to add support for H.264 to their desktop and even more important mobile versions of Firefox to compete on the same level with Google and other browser developers.
The latest Firefox Mobile beta version for Android 4.x supports the playback of videos in H.264 format, with the desktop version to follow suite soon. The basic idea is to use H.264 if it is available on the system. Firefox still won't ship with it natively, but will take advantage of it if the system makes it available.
Windows Vista and newer versions of Windows ship with the codec included for instance so that users of those operating systems do not need to do anything to benefit from the support. Similar support is available on Mac OS X and Linux. And Windows XP? According to this post, Adobe Flash is the option for the operating system.
It is not clear when H.264 support will land in desktop versions of the Firefox web browser, but on Windows at least, it would not only add support for H.264 but also Mp3.
I do think it is a step in the right direction for Firefox and its user base as it is making a technology available in the browser that is widely used on today's Internet. (via H-Online)
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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.