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Google will try to push WebM with IE9, Safari plugins

updated 07:10 pm EST, Fri January 14, 2011

Google WebM plugin for IE9, Safari due soon

Google in a defense of its decision to pull H.264 from Chrome's HTML5 revealed that it will put out WebM plugins for Internet Explorer 9 and Safari. Expecting no official support from Apple or Microsoft, Google plans to develop extensions that would load its self-owned video codec. No timetable was given.

The search firm still insisted that it wouldn't add H.264 back to Chrome and fell back on sheer platform support to make its case. WebM supporters Chrome, Firefox and Opera make up significant portions of the browser landscape, Google said, and so would require that anyone hoping to support HTML5 on those browsers to encode in WebM or at least Ogg Theora.

Staffers may have undermined the argument, however, by justifying how Chrome would support those instances where H.264 was necessary. Google saw plugins like Flash and Silverlight as catch-alls that would play the majority of video. It unusually tried to downplay the format it was trying to support as it noted that "few sites use [HTML5] today" and wouldn't be hurt as a result.

The plugin strategy still doesn't address much of the policy and non-desktop concerns surrounding the decision. Google officially made the move to insist on support for strictly open formats but hasn't explained why it continues to support Flash or even MP3, neither of which can be freely added to or modified. Concerns have existed that Google is primarily trying to avoid the licensing fees that come from commercial use of H.264, but it hasn't explained why it still supports MP3 in this regard or challenged claims that it might still owe patent royalties for the similarities to H.264.

The decision also conveniently helps drive traffic back to Adobe. As both Apple and Microsoft have actively opposed WebM and actively depend on H.264 for virtually all of their non-computer devices, many developers aren't expected to encode videos twice and may just use Flash to supply H.264 to Chrome users. It may inadvertently hurt HTML5 adoption as well by encouraging developers to either use Flash alone or to enable it only for part of the web. [via TechCrunch]

by MacNN Staff



  1. facebook_Gautama

    Via Facebook

    Joined: Jan 2011


    Well Said.

    Great coverage of this very obtuse decision by Google.

  1. Salty

    Joined: Dec 1969


    So what they're saying is...

    The whole point of the video tag was to make it so that plugins aren't necessary. This is asinine by Google, and almost enough to make me switch to Bing.

  1. chas_m



    Dear Google

    This isn't going to work. It's not that HTML5/H264 is so great -- it's not (at least not yet) -- it's because we all know what this is really about, and that's advertising. Your "audience" will revolt.

    And that's BEFORE the other video codec owners start seriously coming after WebM for stealing code and violating patents ...

    Everyone on the internet

    Comment buried. Show
  1. wrenchy

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Just use WebM

    instead of H.264


    That's what Steve would say. No?

    Comment buried. Show
  1. facebook_Jordan

    Via Facebook

    Joined: Jan 2011


    Back at Apple

    Basically the reason behind this is because of Apple staunch lack of support for anything they don't want... basically this was Apple's Worst Case Scenario: What if H.264 isn't adopted as the HTML video codec of the masses?

    Let's not forget - Apple ran, head first, into H.264 and it alone stated: "HTML5 WILL USE H.264!" - to which the folks actually putting it together went "O'rly?"

    Apple picked a format (Theirs...) and decided it'll work for all their devices, and called it HTML5. Of course the format hasn't been minted yet, still in development, but yeah! Let's support a format that's still on the drawing-board despite EVERYTHING CURRENTLY IN USE.

    In essence: Is it a d*** move from Google? Yes. It's a d*** move because it opens up a format war.
    Is it wrong? No not really, because HTML5 isn't out yet, and is still being fleshed out, and to be honest if they can actually get OGG into this mix I'd be happier than a pig is Sh*&t because Ogg Theroa both rock - and the fact that they have been ignored thus far is just plain sad.

    Granted the article is 100% right, HTML5 adoption is going to be slowed by this... but the good news is: We're at least getting a better HTML5 than the one we were going to be served. Sometimes it's best to be patient. (and not buy products that hinge on a particular technology to be taken in as it's infancy. Got bit by Betamax way back when, and it's not happening again.)

  1. facebook_Noah

    Via Facebook

    Joined: Jan 2011


    This is a good thing

    H.264 would essentially kill firefox and opera. I don't use either but that doesn't seem fair. Then theres midori and Konquerer and others as well.

    I'm sure we can. All work together to make the web work, this is just a little forward thinking from google. Some people seem to be flipping out about it.

  1. B9bot

    Joined: Dec 1969


    I hope Apple blocks Google's WebM plugins

    I hope Apple Blocks Google's WebM plugins. Google is being very STUPID. H.264 is a superior technology over WebM which isn't even a developed technology. Most developers have taken on H.264 completely and aren't very happy with trying to develop with WebM as well. Chrome users are furious and plan on moving off of Chrome if Google continues with its stupidity!
    This is backward thinking as H.264 is superior over WebM. Apple rejected WebM because of poor quality. That's why its free! It also still uses flash which Apple also rejects because it is a resource hog and usually crashes your web browser if not your hole PC or Mac.
    Google has the money to license H.264 and should do so and drop WebM stupidity!

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