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.
The HTML5 test too is listing H.264 support for the Firefox test build as well.
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.
Advertising revenue is falling fast across the Internet, and independently-run sites like Ghacks are hit hardest by it. The advertising model in its current form is coming to an end, and we have to find other ways to continue operating this site.
We are committed to keeping our content free and independent, which means no paywalls, no sponsored posts, no annoying ad formats (video ads) or subscription fees.
If you like our content, and would like to help, please consider making a contribution:
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.