Yesterday would have been a very eventful day at Google and Microsoft after Google accused Microsoft of stealing their search results and displaying it in the competitive search engine Bing. The day was filled with accusations and defense galore and lot of Google-and-Microsoft haters had a really big field day.
Day 2: Microsoft just did something that would irk Google even more, they rolled out a new Windows Media Player plugin for Chrome which supports the H.264 code. In a blog post, Microsoft said that they are rolling out these plugin which is also part of Internet Explorer so that Google Chrome customers on Windows 7 would be able to continue to play the H.264 video in spite of Chrome not supporting it.
Today, as part of the interoperability bridges work we do on this team, we are making available the Windows Media Player HTML5 Extension for Chrome, which is an extension for Google Chrome to enable Windows 7 customers who use Chrome to continue to play H.264 video.
We believe that Windows customers should be able to play mainstream HTML5 video and, as we’ve described in previous posts, Internet Explorer 9 will support playback of H.264 video as well as VP8 video when the user has installed a VP8 codec.
The announcement could just be a right hand jab from Microsoft on Google’s chin after they had earlier declared to drop support for the H.264 codec in Google Chrome because of lack of openness and could fuel a much more deeper war amongst these two tech giants.
It also gives consumers of Google Chrome a chance to view the videos encoded with H.264 codec which they could not have done otherwise. In a battle of browsers Google Chrome, Opera and Firefox have openly said that they would not support the H.264 codec because of royalty issues and would instead rely on the WebM codec, which is still not the best codec out there. Currently, it lacks hardware support and there is still a lot of work to be done with it. Microsoft and Apple on the other hand support the H.264 codec in the Internet Explorer and Safari browsers.
The said plugin is also available for Firefox but the main jabs taken by the article was at Google Chrome which is rapidly gaining more users from both Internet Explorer and Firefox.
So will this war continue to rage along? Will these competitors try to go down the throats of each other in the future too? Well, as per me they will. They will not let go off a chance to bring each other down. The wars had already begun, someone just put more fuel in the fire. What do you think?
At Google I/O Google, Mozilla and Opera have announced a new alternative for video content in HTML5.
The video codec for HTML5 has been a major bone of contention with Apple siding with H.264 instead of Ogg. Microsoft has offered support for H.264 too. Today, Google, Mozilla and Opera have come up with another alternative to this debate. Known as WebM, the format is based on the VP8 technology Google acquired with On2 Technologies. CNET reports that the audio uses Ogg Vorbis.
Given that the video codec to be used with HTML5 hasn’t been finalised and browser makers are free to use their own, Opera, Firefox and Chrome will be using WebM. The format seems to have a massive momentum behind it with the three major cross-platform browsers behind it.
Google has also released documentation on WebM:
Opera has a blog post about their plans for WebM and have committed to the format for their mobile and desktop browsers.
You can download Opera builds of WebM for Windows, Ubuntu and Mac OS X as of now:
Linux (currently limited to Ubuntu support):
Update: VP8 is a royalty free and completely open source video codec.
Update #2: Adobe just announced support for VP8 in Flash. Looks like Flash might not be dying so soon after all.
Update #3: Download the Nightly Firefox build with WebM here.
According to a recent study by video search site MeFeedia, there has been a 160% increase in the usage of H.264 videos over the Internet in the last few months, starting January this year.
The driving factor behind this adoption seems to be the ever rising dislike of Flash by accelerated by Apple. You can see the report findings at this page.
An important update from this report says,
Although 26% doesn’t seem like a lot, only 10% of our video index was HTML5-compatible at the beginning of 2010. We have seen rapid adoption of the new standard this year and that is now moving even faster with the recent release of Apple’s iPad.
This puts Apple iPad as an influential gadget behind the adoption of H.264. With this, Google has to deliver with its recently acquired On2 technology else, it will have a huge H.264 market to convert soon.
According to the report, most of the new content being put on the web is being encoded in H.264. This puts all these videos compatible across various kinds of devices from the iPhone and the iPad to Android devices and more.
(Via: ars technica)
Recently there was a lot of speculation on why Ubuntu went out of its way to license H.264 and discarded Theora in the process. This made Canonical the only company dealing in Linux to license H.264. It was highly expected of Ubuntu to license Theora though this licensing of H.264 comes as another blow to the already losing out Theora codec.
There were further talks on this matter and Canonical’s Chris Kenyon talked to the H-Online saying,
The good news is that there are other ways of enjoying video content and we strongly believe in the work to establish open source codecs. We offer strong support for Ogg Vorbis in our standard images.
This means that Theora still rules regular distros while H.264 is used in OEMs only. He has strictly assured here that the matter is of importance only in case the device comes pre-installed with Ubuntu. Thus, it is valid only for OEM installs and not for other regular versions. Further, the vendor also has options to exclude the H.264 codec from its offering.
Canonical simplifies this by saying,
Like Adobe Flash, Adobe Acrobat, Fluendo, RealPlayer, DVD players and other proprietary software, we have a direct re-distribution agreement for H.264.