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Microsoft likens Google's H.264 drop to abandoning English

updated 11:35 am EST, Wed January 12, 2011

Microsoft jabs Google dropping H264 in Chrome

Microsoft Client Platform team member Tim Sneath jabbed Google for its decision to drop H.264 support in HTML5 for Chrome in favor of WebM. He compared it to a country deciding to drop English as a language in favor of artificial languages like Esperanto and Klingon. The remarks pointed out the irony of claiming to promote openness and choice by artificially removing the most practical, popular option.

"Though English plays an important role in speech today, as our goal is to enable open innovation, its further use as a form of communication in this country will be prohibited and our resources directed towards languages that are untainted by real-world usage," he joked.

He also underscored the gap between actual usage and Google's claims that WebM was well adopted, pointing out that Esperanto had broad use by "as many as 10,000 speakers."

The criticism echoes that of many commenters following Google's abrupt change in policy. Most mainstream accessible HD video both online and off today is encoded in H.264 and would need to be either transcoded or put into a Flash container to be viewable in Chrome. Some developers and video editors have said they plan to abandon Chrome as an explicit target since they would have to support at least two and possibly three video implementations to get Chrome to work.

Third-party plugins may work around the flaw, but critics have noted that Google so far hasn't been consistent in dropping proprietary formats and still has fully integrated Flash. The company has commercial motives to keep Flash in spite of its principles, as YouTube is still only guaranteed to work for all videos in Flash and Google has a formal agreement with Adobe to promote Flash in its software.

Apple and Microsoft currently support H.264 in HTML5 and, as the defaults browser providers for their respective platforms, are likely to keep H.264 in majority use. Mozilla's Firefox and Opera's self-titled browser currently only support open formats like WebM and Ogg Theora, but both currently have flat market share where only Chrome and Safari have been seeing measurable gains.

by MacNN Staff



  1. msuper69

    Joined: Dec 1969


    +1 for Microsoft

    Totally agree with them on this point.

  1. aussiearn

    Joined: Dec 1969


    I totally agree with Microsoft

    To my surprise I totally agree with Microsoft on this one-I feel kind of dirty though!

  1. Eriamjh

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Only a P'Tok would drop H.264

    I prefer my Gak fresh.

  1. kerryb

    Joined: Dec 1969


    the lines are being drawn...

    for the next big technology showdown and it is a big one. The browser is by far the most important app on any computer or mobile device. Making money pushing one "open" technology versus another slightly more "open" one is nothing new. What is new is the partners, Apple + Microsoft vs Adobe + Google. This is going to be fun to watch but let's hope it is not the consumer that pays the price jumping through hoops to watch a cute cat on youtube.

    Comment buried. Show
  1. Sabon

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Did you know that MS is one of the patent holders.

    Did you know that MS is one of the patent holders for H.264? No?

    It's true. They, as well as Apple, are two of the biggest stock holders of the company that holds the patents for H.264.

    I'm not picking sides as to which is preferred BUT it is important to make things VERY clear about why Microsoft might appose them dropping H.264.

    Right now the company (not MS but the company they own stock in) says they will never charge download fees for free content, meaning if you don't charge for the content then won't put a download fee on it. You DO have to buy a license to create the content though.

    Now WebM. Google owns the patents for WebM so that is their side of the story. They do not charge any fees for creating content with WebM nor for any downloads of said content even if you charge for said content.

    Any company can license the standard for free. There is no charge at all. They just needs to sign a license agreement that you will follow the rules.

    Keep in mind that Google can do this because you do pay for everything in one way or another. In Google's case it is like commercial radio where you pay for the receiver but not for the programming. Instead the programming is paid for by commercials, hence the name "commercial radio" as compared to "free radio". The substance is only there to fill in the gaps between commercials and give you a reason to tune in.

  1. facebook_Chris

    Via Facebook

    Joined: Jan 2011


    Google is trying to get everyone's information

    If they can force you to use their VP8 tech... they can push advertising on you based on what you've watched in the past either through their integration of flash or through their VP8 tech. They can not track what people are watching and target ads to them.

    Comment buried. Show
  1. facebook_Stephane

    Via Facebook

    Joined: Jan 2011


    s**** you Appple and Microsoft with it!

    Flash proprietary? Really? Some people listen to Apple's gospel a bit too much and after all, Apple started that war so why is Apple's ally upset that Google defends its friend? We developers love Google and Adobe, we only pulled with Apple's bullshit because we did not have a choice. Now, it's showdown and payback time!

    The core engine of Flash Player (AVM+) is open source and was donated to the Mozilla Foundation, where it is actively maintained. The file formats supported by Flash Player, SWF and FLV/F4V, as well as the RTMP and AMF protocols are freely available and openly published. Anyone can use the specifications without requiring permission from Adobe. Third parties can and do build audio, video, and data services that compete with those from Adobe.

    There are no restrictions on the development of SWF authoring tools, and anyone can build their own SWF or FLV/F4V player.

    Flex, the primary application framework for the Adobe Flash Platform, is also open source and is actively maintained and developed by Adobe and the community.

    Finally, the Flash Platform has a rich developer ecosystem of both open and proprietary tools and technologies, including developer IDEs and environments such as FDT, IntelliJ, and haXe; open source runtimes such as Gnash; and open source video servers such as Red5.

  1. mankso

    Joined: Dec 1969




    - Klingon is an artificial language, Esperanto is not - it is a synthesis based on
    already existing ethnic languages, not something conjured up out of thin air.
    'Planned' or 'constructed' would be more appropriate terms to describe Esperanto.

    - And as far as Esperanto having "as many as 10,000 speakers", present internet use and attendance at annual world congresses would seem to indicate that this number is far too low.
    According to the the Esperantic Studies Foundation site: "The Universal Esperanto Association, with membership drawn from the most active parts of the Esperanto community, has national affiliates in 70 countries and individual members in many more. Estimates based on textbooks sold and membership of local Esperanto societies put the number of people with knowledge of the language in the hundreds of thousands and possibly millions. There are Esperanto speakers in all parts of the world, including notable concentrations in countries as diverse as China, Japan, Brazil, Iran, Lithuania and Cuba."

    - Some reasons why one might consider preferring Esperanto over English as a more egalitarian and less discriminatory means of inter-ethnic communication can be found in the multilingual Prague Manifesto:

    Comment buried. Show
  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969



    but critics have noted that Google so far hasn't been consistent in dropping proprietary formats and still has fully integrated Flash.

    Yes, they could be like Apple, just force people to not be able to use proprietary formats they don't want you to use so you have to use the proprietary formats they want you to use.

    Flash is 'proprietary', but it is also so mainstream and prevalent that to drop the support or not work to make it easier/better for the user is just treating your users to a crappy end-product.

  1. pairof9s

    Joined: Dec 1969



    To argue Flash is popular and thus justified to rule makes about as much sense as saying CD should be purchased instead of MP3s for music.

    If Adobe had been a good steward of this software's development and kept it moving with the times, then I think people, and Apple in particular, would not be hammering it for its deficiencies. Perhaps Adobe will get this software working well on mobile devices soon, but in the meantime, there's no need to banish H.264/HTML 5 because it's providing an!

    It's ridiculous what some people will post here just to make their anti-Apple sentiments known.


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