First Firefox builds with H.264 support appear (really)

Martin Brinkmann
Dec 13, 2012
Updated • Dec 13, 2012

Back in November I ran a story that Mozilla added support for H.264 video to Firefox Nightly versions. Turned out that this was not the case after all, but a case of the NoScript plugin blocking the detection on YouTube's HTML5 player site.

It has been a month since that unfortunate news piece, and things seem to have taken a turn for the better, finally. A test build of Firefox 20 with H.264 support has been created for Windows versions of the web browser. The Nightly test version adds a WMF decoder and reader to the Firefox browser that interfaces with Windows Media Foundation to add H.264, AAC and MP3 playback capabilities to the Firefox web browser.

It is an early build but one that is showing lots of promise. When you visit YouTube's hTML5 player site you get green lights for h.264, video tag and WebM support. If you open the same page with a current version of Firefox, you will notice that H.264 is not supported by those Firefox versions.

firefox youtube h264 support

The HTML5 test too is listing H.264 support for the Firefox test build as well.

firefox html5 video

This means that you can finally play H.264 videos in the Firefox web browser. Mozilla notes that Firefox won't play streams encoded with other codecs than the supported ones, and that the test build will only provide users with the functionality if they run Windows Vista or newer versions of the Windows operating system.

A couple of other issues are currently reported, like missing DXVA2 hardware acceleration or that metadata is not decoded yet. Bugs have been filed to address these issues in future builds.

It is not clear when the feature will be integrated into release versions of the Firefox web browser. It is likely that Mozilla will work on the implementation for some time to come to optimize and streamline it before it will make its way into regular Nightly versions of the browser and then all the way down to the other release channels until stable users of the browser on Windows can benefit from the implementation as well. (thanks Ahmad for the tip)

Missing H.264 is one of the things that is making Firefox look bad in comparison to Google Chrome especially which still supports both implementations (WebM and H.264) even though Google announced a long time ago that it would get rid of H.264.


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  1. Chaoky said on December 29, 2012 at 8:51 am

    sorry, it should be drop H.264, not WebM

  2. Chaoky said on December 29, 2012 at 8:50 am

    *sigh* this article completely misses the point. Mozilla traditionally did not want to support H.264 as it was a patented, non-royalty free format. Google wanted to push its nonpatented format WebM by dropping WebM support. Google hasn’t followed through, leaving Mozilla (who is championing WebM) in the dust. Now that the codec war has been lost, and H.264 is the standard everywhere, Firefox is forced to support it (it hasn’t been incompetence on the developers part.) This is bad news for everyone.

  3. amdou said on December 16, 2012 at 12:32 am

    ahhh, so if i install test build i have to stay with it or i will lose H.264 support :/ no more nightly build benefits

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on December 16, 2012 at 12:47 am

      Yep, or hope they do update the builds as well. It is basically news that Mozilla is on a good way of implementing it into Firefox.

  4. amdou said on December 16, 2012 at 12:22 am

    I dont see H.264 support, in nightly build for 64bit

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on December 16, 2012 at 12:23 am

      It is not yet in Nightly, only in test builds.

  5. Ray said on December 15, 2012 at 1:14 am

    “(…) even though Google announced a long time ago that it would get rid of H.264.”

    Maybe it is a typo but you meant WebM, isn’t it? H264 in Firefox is great news.

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on December 15, 2012 at 1:25 am

      No, Google mentioned that it would not support H.264 in Chrome in the future. At least that is how I remember it.

  6. lain said on December 13, 2012 at 6:54 pm

    awesome !

  7. imu said on December 13, 2012 at 4:24 pm

    I have stopped using flashplayer all together since I’ve discovered Minitube and Musictube.

    As a limited user you have no rights to create any rules for Windows firewall so any other program you use in this account should not have those rights too, right?
    So, lets say you are running your machine with this in mind and since this is Windows 8 I’m talking about there is Windows app store at hand and all the apps of course which you can grab and use within second. They say they are sandboxed so it gives you peace of mind, right?
    You install, say the Filmon a very nice app which lets you enjoy live stream tv etc. and then as you have to feed your paranoia you go to your Admin account to have a look at firewall rules, then comes the big surprise, this app which was installed on limited account somehow managed to create the rule for itself and now is fully allowed to pass through the firewall to and fro.
    Then even when you uninstall the app the door remains open.

    Cheers and Merry Christmas.

  8. Zlip said on December 13, 2012 at 4:18 pm

    Thanks for posting this news, I will in future try to tell about more such news using Contact form.
    Also you should post “Audio Section” image of html5test site. Since MP3, PCM and other support also landed using this build.

  9. Julia said on December 13, 2012 at 4:15 pm

    I had yesterday some Firefox/Flash Player-problems and deinstalled Flash Player from my system (Win7 HP 64bit). To my surprise I could watch Youtube-Videos without any problems altough I’m not in any HTML5 test and run the official 17.01 version of Firefox. For other websites though the Flash Player is needed. But I just tried again: no problem watching Youtube-videos with deactivated Flash-Player…

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on December 13, 2012 at 4:44 pm

      You should be able to play WebM videos fine on YouTube, but videos that are not available in that format are not playing.

      1. EuroScept1C said on December 13, 2012 at 4:48 pm

        Since I experienced that problem with Flash on Windows 8, IE10, I discovered that if you have H264 support, ALL videos are available, even the most new ones! While for WebM it does not happen the same! Most videos are not available in WebM format, especially the new ones.

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