Google and 16 Other Companies Come Together to Form the WebM Community Cross-License Initiative

WebMI have always advocated the use of royalty free codecs (first Ogg-Theora and then WebM) for the HTML5 <video> tag. The WebM movement has been slowly but surely gaining momentum since its inception. We have already seen almost all the the major desktop browser vendors (Google, Opera Software, Mozilla and Microsoft*) adopt Google’s open source and royalty free media format. Desktop media players like Winamp are beginning to embrace WebM. And, perhaps most crucially, chip makers like Intel are working to add WebM support at the hardware level.

One of the biggest challenges for WebM is the intellectual properties issue. It’s no secret that the patent system is seriously messed up. Some of the patents granted to the members of MPEG LA, the consortium that owns the patent pool for H.264, are so broad and ambiguous that it’s almost impossible to develop a media codec without violating them. Nevertheless, Google has maintained that WebM doesn’t infringe any existing patents, and is a clean and reliable royalty free alternative to H.264. A couple of months back, MPEG LA, the entity that stands to loose the most from the success of WebM, called upon its members to submit patents essential to the VP8 video codec specification, presumably in preparation of a patent infringement lawsuit..

With the threat of legal action looming, all the companies involved and interested in the growth of WebM have formed a cross-license initiative. It’s essentially a consortium that will freely share all patents related to WebM on a royalty free basis. Google was already working closely with Xiph (maintainers of the Ogg audio format) and Matroska (maintainers of the Matroska video container). Additionally, CCL includes the likes of AMD, LG, Mozilla, Opera Software, Samsung, and Texas instruments. The hope is that with the backing of these corporations, WebM will be able to tackle any legal challenge that it might have to face in the future.

*Internet Explorer 9 can play WebM videos provided that the required codecs have already been installed.

Hey Microsoft, HTML5 isn’t Native, Because the Web isn’t Supposed to be Native!

As you must have read by now, Microsoft introduced the first platform preview of Internet Explorer 10 at the MIX11 conference. The announcement surprised many, including yours truly, since Microsoft is known for dragging its heels over Internet Explorer. There was a gap of five years between Internet Explorer 6 and Internet Explorer 7, and a further gap of three years between Internet Explorer 7 and Internet Explorer 8. Say what you want about Internet Explorer, but a significant portion of internet users still rely on Microsoft’s browser for surfing the web. Rapidly evolving IE augurs well, not only for Microsoft and IE users, but also the entire web. It’s all well and good if Opera or Chrome or Firefox implements cutting edge standards, but not many developers are going to use those features unless Internet Explorer also supports it.

Internet-Explorer-10-Platform-Preview

Over the past year or so, Microsoft has largely been saying the right things, and making the right moves. Internet Explorer 9, which was a huge improvement over Internet Explorer 8, introduced support for several HTML5 and CSS3 standards. With Internet Explorer 10, Microsoft is continuing to focus on making IE even more developer friendly and standards compliant. The first developer preview itself has a fairly impressive changelog. CSS3 Multi-column Layout, CSS3 Grid Layout, CSS3 Flexible Box Layout, CSS3 Gradients, and ES5 Strict Mode are some of the major new features Microsoft has implemented. These are changes that should thrill developers, and excite general web users. IE 10 platform preview should be winning accolades. Instead, Microsoft has once again managed to annoy developers and web standards enthusiasts.

In the past, Microsoft has been heavily criticized for twisting facts, spreading FUD (Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt), and talking out of its behind. Microsoft has been trying to turn over a new leaf, but old habits die hard. Yesterday’s announcement was full of buzz-words and half-truths meant to influence the average joe. Microsoft’s official announcement proclaimed:

The only native experience of the Web and HTML5 today is on Windows 7 with IE9. IE9’s approach to taking advantage of what the operating system offers from the native graphics stack to jump lists in the shell maximizes performance, usability, and reliability.

The trouble is that no one is quite sure as to exactly what Microsoft means by native web and HTML5 experience. The phrase native webis by itself is an oxymoron. The web isn’t supposed to be native. The web is supposed to be operating system and hardware independent. The web is supposed to be open and uniform. While HTML5 and CSS3 strive to deliver a native app like experience, there’s definitely no such thing as native HTML5.

Dean Hachamovitch, Corporate VP of Internet Explorer, wrote, The best HTML5 is native to the operating system, so Web sites have the fewest translation layers to pass through. Like all PR-speak, this statement is purposefully ambiguous, and conveys a false sense of superiority.

Microsoft is also making a lot of noise about “full hardware acceleration” support. However, as far as I know, Firefox 4 supports hardware accelerated compositing on most platforms, Chrome has been testing this for a long time through the beta channels, and Opera has demoed it in a labs build.

Dismayed at Microsoft’s shady tactics, people have already begun speaking out. While Haavard from Opera Software lambasted Microsoft, Mike Beltzner (ex-director of Firefox) decided to be cheeky and sarcastic.

Native-HTML5

The use of dubious and shady marketing speak wasn’t Microsoft’s only blunder. In an attempt to justify the lack of Window XP support, Dean Hachamovitch wrote, Others have dropped support on Windows XP for functionality that we think is fundamental to performance. Others here implies Google Chrome, which removed GPU acceleration and WebGL for Windows XP in Chrome 10. However, what Hachamovitch ignored to mention was that Google intends to re-enable these features in Chrome 11 on Windows XP systems with reasonably up-to-date drivers. He also forgot to mention Firefox and Opera two browsers that have already demonstrated that Windows XP is fully capable of running modern browsers.

Through its reckless behavior in the 90s, Microsoft almost become synonymous with evil. It has been desperately trying to rebuild its image over the past few years. Internet Explorer 10 has lots of stuff that are worth getting excited about. Sure, a lot of it is stuff that other browsers have already implemented. However, the IE team has clearly been doing a pretty decent job over the past year or so. Cheap antics like this will only tarnish the efforts put in by the Internet Explorer developers, and antagonize users. We are already well into the new decade. It’s high time that Microsoft stops treating every one of us like a moron, and lets the products speak for themselves.

Why We Need HTML5 Apps To Shut The F UP Out of Fanboys

Well, unlike the title, I am really serious about this. There is a big problem amongst people who use devices and then use apps on it and it is more than apparent today with tech evangelists like Robert Scoble saying that apps are the only way into a system.

Being a software developer and now so called app developer (which I hate as a label) I can tell you that you are wrong about it and so is Scoble because you people don’t understand the fact that developing a single app for 3 different platforms require 3 different developers and more investments. This means that if you can develop an app for the , you will have to spend more to develop it for and Windows Phone 7.

In my entire development career of more than 12 years I have developed software and apps which have worked on every platform because of 2 reasons. I used Java and I used web technologies like PHP to develop my apps, both these apps will run anywhere without a user having to do anything (unless their systems don’t have Java).

Coming back to today, I dreaded the day when my boss asked me to develop an app for the iPhone and Android. Why? Because both these systems are not the same and though Objective-C is the best way to develop apps for Apple related devices, it is not one of my favorite languages structurally and syntactically.

So what do I do? Bail out? No, I convinced my boss to switch to . Why? Because we can reuse the same code on an iOS, or an Android device, or a device or a HP Palm or a RIM device or for any other device for that matter. Period. End of discussion.

I don’t know what Robert or the rest of the world thinks, but creating an app is not easy, and creating that for multiple OS is not easy at all. There are thousands of app developers who want to develop apps for multiple systems but the simple reason is that they can’t do it, don’t know it or can’t afford to invest in developing the apps because they need to HIRE specific developers to do the job. The big shots will do it, but not these smaller developers who have put their everything into learning a particular language or platform.

I know you would say, WTF, why not have a developer that does it all. I would say, hell yea, try hiring a developer that does it all and try getting one of your products right.

The way to go ahead is to use HTML5 to develop apps that can run everywhere. As a developer, who follows Object Oriented Coding, I find it difficult to rewrite the same code to work on different platforms. Of course you might call me stupid and ask me to use Web Services and SOAP. Don’t you think that I already did it?

YouTube Switches To iframe Embed Tags For Videos

youtube_logoLooks like the new YouTube homepage was not the only changes rolled out by yesterday. In addition to the homepage changes, YouTube has also switched all video embed codes to use <iframe> instead of the older <object> embeds.

This was probably the first time I saw YouTube providing me with an iframe embed instead of the regular object embed code. However, this is not a new change and has been in test for a long time now. I came up with across various articles which have discussed this issue in the past six months or so.

youtube_iframe_embed_code

One of the discussions I found was on the YouTube API blog done back in July 2010. The post delved into the new iframe embed and explained to developers that the switch from object to iframe was to allow YouTube to display the video in either or Flash, based on the user’s browser capabilities. They also wrote a post on Jan 20, 2011 to say that the iframe tag was now the default embed tag.

If you use the new embed code style, your viewers will be able to view your embedded video in one of our Flash or HTML5 players, depending on their viewing environment and preferences. Environments that support the HTML5 video player are listed here on our HTML5 settings page. In instances where HTML5 isn’t supported (e.g. our HTML5 player can’t play videos with ads), we use Flash.

The move was apparently done so that the embedded videos would eventually work on mobile platforms that do not support Flash including the .  However, it looks like Google still has a lot of work to do since the video does not play on the iPhone even if you use the iframe embed tag.

Did you have any luck with playing YouTube videos on the iPhone, or while using the iframe embed tags?

W3C Officially Unveils HTML5 Logo

has been around for a while and most of the major browsers have already integrated it and support most of the features it brings to the table. However, for unlike earlier versions of HTML, HTML5 did not have an official logo. That is until today.

HTML5 Logo

The W3C blog today unveiled the new HTML5 logo on their blog and through a press release. The logo was designed by a creative firm called Ocupop and represents HTML5, CSS, SVG, WOFF and other technologies which constitute the open web platform.

The new HTML5 logo does look futuristic and represents what the new technology is all about. HTML5 has introduced several new features including dedicated audio and video tags, offline caching and offline data storage among other things. HTML5’s video codecs have been a bane of contention with Google recently yanking off support for the H.264 codec in favor of the more open WebM codec in the browser. Even and openly support the WebM codec. Only Internet Explorer and Safari support the H.264 codec.

For those interested, you will find the new HTML5 logo at http://www.w3.org/html/logo/.

Google Gets Aggressive About WebM, Decides to Drop H.264 Support from Chrome

WebM Google has announced that it will be dropping support for H.264 in future versions of Chrome, and instead focus on high quality open codecs. Although Google’s announcement is surprising, it’s not completely unexpected. Last year, Google spent a fair amount of cash to acquire On2, the startup behind VP8. Later, Google unveiled its own open source codec called WebM, based on On2’s VP8. Now that WebM has begun to witness increasing amounts of hardware support, as well as improvement in performance, Google obviously feels that the time is right to put its foot down.

The core issue with H.264 has been that it is proprietary. Last year, MPEG-LA made H.264 royalty free forever for free web broadcasts, in an attempt to counter WebM. However, even that move was deemed insufficient since it didn’t include applications that encode and decode video, as well as commercial broadcasts. It also didn’t alleviate the threat that some other patent holding body might come calling.

Chrome will now join Opera and Firefox as browsers supporting only open video codecs, i.e. Theora and WebM. Microsoft had earlier announced that it will be supporting both H.264 and WebM in Internet Explorer 9, provided that the codec for the latter is installed on the system. Apple, which has been pushing for HTML5 <video> as an alternative to Flash, has been a steadfast supporter of H.264. It will probably continue to do so for the foreseeable future as hardware decoding support (which is crucial for portable devices like the iPod and the iPhone) for WebM is still fairly limited.

Although Google’s decision to drop H.264 support from Chrome represents a major setback for H.264, don’t expect it to disappear immediately. Apple’s dominance over the mobile devices segment, and the lack of WebM support in tablets and phones is something Google will have to contend with.

Apple Fanboy Redirects HTML5.com to Apple’s Website

is the future of the web, however, Apple did not invent it. However, an eager Apple fanboy has purchased the domain HTML5.com and is redirecting the website to apple.com/html5.

html5

Though the redirection is not wrong at all, it should definitely be redirected to http://www.w3.org/TR/html5/ instead. Nevertheless, who can argue with fanboys Smile.

(h/t @nimbuin)

Google Releases Ebook On Internet Basics

As tribute to Tim-Berners Lee proposing the web 20 years ago, this month,   Google has released a HTML5 based ebook that talks about the various (technical) Internet concepts.

The book deals with all the basics of Internet, from TCP/IP to browsers and malwares, even the latest buzz word Cloud Computing. As talked about on the official Google blog, the book explains how the browser works and the jargons. With really nice illustrations from Christoph Niemann, this is a must-read for anyone who has an interest in technology. The book has been done by the Google Chrome team and is titled 20 Things I Learned About Browsers and The Web

google-book

I hope this book makes into the syllabi for high schools. Oh, and it works mighty fine on IE9 beta as well.

CCleaner 3.0 Adds 64-Bit Support, Secure Drive Eraser, HTML5 Cleanup and More

ccleaner_logoOne of my favorite PC cleanup software; which was also part of my 35 Top Free Software List, has been updated to version 3.0 with several new and exciting features including 64-Bit Support, database cleanup, secure drive wiper among other features.

One of the most interesting features of this PC cleanup is that it now supports 64-bit systems natively which will result in improvised performance on compatible systems. In addition to that, it also has a new HTML5 database storage cleanup for the next-gen HTML specification. This new feature will allow them to cleanup temporary data which have been created by your browsers which support HTML5.

CCleaner 3.0 also adds a new secure drive wiper, which will securely erase the content of any drive without leaving any traces. If you use Internet Explorer 9 or , the new version includes better cleanup options along with support for clearing up files left behind by Microsoft Silverlight.

Oh and the best feature of all, the software now comes with a intelligent cookie retaining feature which will ensure that you do not have to login again to a site for which you have checked an option to keep you logged in for a while. In short,  CCleaner 3.0 will retain session cookies when you do a full cleanupgif. I tested this feature out and it works perfect with Google Chrome.

Want to know more? Head over to the announcement post or go straight up and download CCleaner 3.0.

Google Unveils the Chrome Web Store; Launching in October

Google unveiled the Chrome Web Store at GDC Europe on August 16. Google developer advocates, Mark DeLoura and Michael Mahernoff, revealed that the Google Chrome Web Store, an online application store which will allow you to purchase and use Chrome Web applications will be launched in October.

Chrome Web Store

The payments will be handled by Google Checkout, and here’s the important bit for developers: Google will take only a 5% processing cut, much less compared to the 30% cut which is the norm in mobile application stores. It will also support in app transactions by the first half of 2011.

It will support Flash as well as HTML5 games. Google also showcased a lot of games based on Flash, HTML5 and Javascript in the session. Using WebGL in HTML5, developers can create graphically intensive games which run directly in the browser.

Chrome Web App

The Chrome Web Store may help Google win a nice share of the social/web gaming pie. The lower cut is probably directed at luring Facebook game developers to create applications and games for the Chrome Web Store.

Source:   1UP – Chrome Web Store