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Microsoft Slams Google Over HTML5 Video Decision 453

Posted by samzenpus
from the our-vids-are-better-than-your-vids dept.
jbrodkin writes "Microsoft is accusing Google of some heavy-handed tactics in the battle over HTML5 video standards. In an attempt at humor, a clearly peeved Microsoft official wrote 'An Open Letter from the President of the United States of Google,' which likens Google's adoption of WebM instead of H.264 to an attempt to force a new language on the entire world. Internet Explorer 9, of course, supports the H.264 codec, while Google and Mozilla are backing WebM. The hyperlinks in Microsoft's blog post lead readers to data indicating that two-thirds of Web videos are using H.264, with about another 25% using Flash VP6. However, the data, from Encoding.com, was released before the launch of WebM last May. One pundit predicts the battle will lead to yet another 'years-long standards format war.'"
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Microsoft Slams Google Over HTML5 Video Decision

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  • by arivanov (12034) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @09:09AM (#34860240) Homepage

    Kettle, meet pot, pot, meet kettle - you are both black.

    • by MouseR (3264)

      FYI, this article makes it sound like MS is the only backer of H.264 and is out to lash at Google.

      But H.264 is backed by MANY companies out there, including Apple, Sony, DivX amongst others.

      Its a file format adopted by BlueRay, QuickTime, DiVX/XviD.

      Now, if HTML5 would go ahead with H.264, think of the transcoding hours you would spare by being able to simply stream the same content a those popular sources of content.

      • by hitmark (640295) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @10:30AM (#34861230) Journal

        Most of big media and a whole bunch of tech companies with ties to big media backs H264, sure. But then they can afford to fork over the license fees involved as they get payed pr "unit" sold, and can recoup it from there.

        Google, Mozilla and the rest give their browsers away. This means that any license fees will end up being a running expense. And with the download rates they get on their browsers, that is a whole lot of red ink.

        H264 is the last in the line that started with Edison's phonograph, a mental world where there are a few big broadcasters and millions of passive "consumers". Not so with the net, as anyone that can hook a computer to the net is a potential broadcaster! And trying to get a "pr use" license out of those, especially if the pricing is in the "big broadcaster expensive" range, is just not going to happen. Until the MPEG-LA steps up and states that the H264 will be licensed for free (price and use) for as long as the patents apply, this will continue to be a issue.

        This is the equivalent of the catholic church having a patent on latin, and attempting to leverage a use fee from anyone writing something in that language.

        • by igomaniac (409731) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @12:43PM (#34863516)

          No, the insanity here is that Google and Mozilla refuse to use the codecs installed in the operating system that you've already paid royalties for (if they require royalties to be paid) and that automatically take advantage of hardware acceleration and any other features the OS offers for media playback.

          What Google (and Mozilla) _should_ do if they want to play nice and not just hurt their competitors is to bundle a DirectShow/Quicktime codec for WebM in their Windows/Mac version of their browser. This would also enable all other applications on the OS to play WebM so it's a win-win.

          • by Bert64 (520050)

            It has traditionally been possible to both view the web and to contribute towards it by creating sites or operating a server, and all using free software. It is also possible for you to create your own software to interact with the web, either as a client or a server, and all the documentation needed for you to do so is freely available.

            If H.264 starts becoming common, then that freedom is lost and it's a slippery slope...

          • by ccady (569355)

            >>No, the insanity here is that Google and Mozilla refuse to use the codecs installed in the operating system that you've already paid royalties for (if they require royalties to be paid) and that automatically take advantage of hardware acceleration and any other features the OS offers for media playback.

            Funny, I don't recall paying anyone for my GNU/Linux operating system...

      • by Bert64 (520050)

        And if H.264 were released as a totally royalty free standard, just like HTML, Javascript, CSS and all the other web standards then it wouldn't be a problem.

        Also most of those companies don't produce web browsers... Only Apple and MS produce browsers that support H.264, Mozilla, Google and Opera produce browsers which support WebM.

        The Internet has thrived because it's built on open standards, while proprietary networks attempting to compete with it have either died out or been relegated to just providing ac

    • by pyrr (1170465) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @12:28PM (#34863228)

      Oh, I don't know about that. I would rather just say Microsoft, "Pot, go f--- yourself."

      I keep hearing about how "evil" Google is becoming, but supporting open standards to the detriment of patent-ridden corporate rubbish is not really remotely evil. No sir, "evil" would be buying all their competitors to cement their vendor lock-in, and boosting proprietary technology that furthers only their interests, which are attempts to squeeze as much money out of consumers as possible. Google is furthering its own goals while benefiting consumers at the expense of bloated corporations and patent trolls who were salivating over squeezing more money out of everyone. As far as business models go, Google seems to have more of a symbiotic relationship with consumers, whereas Microsoft is just a crippling parasite.

  • by bemenaker (852000) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @09:12AM (#34860266)
    when Microsoft does it!!
    • Microsoft is accusing Google of trying to lock people into their standard?

      Is someone at MS taking the piss?
    • The difference is that when Microsoft does it, they get condemned for doing so - and quite rightly. So it seems reasonable that Google should also get similar condemnation. It is not a valid defense to just point the finger back at Microsoft just because they have done similar things in the past.

      However, the royalties problem does make it difficult for open source browsers. The best solution would be for all browsers to implement WebM as a base. It wouldn't cost much to do without any royalties to be paid.

  • 66% + 25% (Score:5, Informative)

    by gbjbaanb (229885) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @09:15AM (#34860302)

    The hyperlinks in Microsoft's blog post lead readers to data indicating that two-thirds of Web videos are using H.264, with about another 25% using Flash VP6

    yes, but once Google updates Youtube to only use WebM, I guess that'll show 91% of all online video to be in WebM format.

    I wonder what Microsoft will say then?

    • by Junta (36770)

      They'll celebrate the fact that Youtube suicided, or won't be impacted at all.

      The former will happen if they did that move without Adobe supporting it in flash. It may well still happen because all the iPhones and similar in the world suddenly couldn't play youtube content because they depended on efficient ASICs that can't be adapted to WebM and there isn't enough generic processing power to do it without such an ASIC.

      The latter will happen if they figure a way around it on mobile devices, and have a flas

  • by GrBear (63712) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @09:16AM (#34860308)

    Dammit, does this mean I need to buy the white album again?

    • A Men In Black reference? Well done good Sir, well done indeed!

      Next up, I'd like a Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure reference.

      • Everything is different, but the same... things are more moderner than before... bigger, and yet smaller... it's computers... San Dimas High School football rules.
  • Hey Microsoft (Score:2, Insightful)

    by surgen (1145449)

    Microsoft,

    Nobody but people who spend to much time with the business world or tech world really give a damn if you're in a tiff with google. Just do whats best for the consumer: support both.

    Frankly, you're in no position to talk badly about a company forcing new things on the rest of the world.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      That advice would be better directed at Google, since they are the ones dropping support for H.264.

      • by kestasjk (933987) *

        That advice would be better directed at Google, since they are the ones dropping support for H.264.

        We'll see about that..

  • MS considers their position to be perfectly opposite to google. No matter what choice google makes, MS will try to find a way to spin it as wrong and completely distinct from their own stance.

    Here, MS has by many measurements, less than 50% share, and Chrome, Firefox, and Safari all reject H264, meaning it actually has a shot.

    That shot is small, as practically speaking, all this HTML5 video stuff is mostly moot with 100% of those video sites using flash players, which gives not a rat's ass about any of thi

    • Re:Well of course.. (Score:5, Informative)

      by TheRaven64 (641858) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @09:30AM (#34860430) Journal

      Chrome, Firefox, and Safari all reject H264

      Chrome and Firefox reject H.264. Safari only supports H.264. IE9 supports whatever you have codecs installed for, which is H.264 by default but can be WebM / Theora / whatever.

    • by slim (1652)

      Here, MS has by many measurements, less than 50% share, and Chrome, Firefox, and Safari all reject H264, meaning it actually has a shot.

      Er, Safari prefers H.264. Apple are right behind H.264.

  • by gman003 (1693318) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @09:20AM (#34860344)
    I found MS's blog post to be pretty dang funny. If you don't get the satire, check where all those links go - apparently Theora was made by Klingons.

    Sure, I disagree with Microsoft's stance, but I will concede that they made a very humorous point.
  • by clickety6 (141178) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @09:20AM (#34860346)
    If Google want to pull a Microsoft they just need to drop flash and H.264 in Youtube and convert everything to WebM and then convince (bribe) Netflix to do the same...
    • Netflix ain't going anywhere near WebM until WebM has DRM technology built into it. Until that happens, the studios won't let them.

    • Netflix only servers 300 million users max. (U.S. residents only). The Internet is actually much larger (global), so it would not make that much difference.

      Google on the other hand does global business, so they can and probably will make a dent if they want to. And it seems they want.

  • by Vapula (14703) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @09:28AM (#34860410)

    We have Firefox, Chrome and Opera which decide that it's a good idea to avoid a format which is so patent encumbered that you've to pay licences to program a player, to program an encoder, to stream a video and to create a commercial video using that format (try to guess what it'd be like if authors had to pay Microsoft a licence to use the.doc format when they write their novel).

    And on the other side, Apple (Safari) which own part of the licences and Microsoft who decided to pay... But neither are streaming anything (unlike Google via Youtube) and both have plenty of money available.

    I don't see the problem with Google removing H.264 support from his browser... It's not like if he was the only one who don't support that format nor like if he had a major market choice...

    What could have been wrong would be if Google suddently moved Youtube to WebM-only without Flash or H264 fallback AND was the only one to support that format... But the format is open and free...

    • If suddenly they did that, everyone would be bitching at google because suddenly they broke YouTube. Especially the mobile market because of the millions of mobile devices out there that currently support H.264 hardware decoding. WebM won't be on those devices anytime soon and even if it was, it would be software decoding...aka kiss your battery life good bye.

      I worked in video production for several years and H.264 is a freaking god-send. Finally we had a good codec choice that was pretty much universall

  • by snaggen (36005) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @09:32AM (#34860460)

    English doesn't have license fees, making it unusable for everybody that doesn't want to pay. If it had, I guess Esperanto or Klingon would suddenly seem like a better choice.

    • It still takes time and energy to learn English, as it does for any language.

      Time is money.

      Q.E.D. (you had to pay).
  • This isn't evil. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Metabolife (961249) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @09:33AM (#34860468)

    Google is pushing a free and open standard that they released at an initial loss!? What bastards! We can't let them get away with this travesty and have their name associated with everything good about to come from the internet!

  • by ledow (319597)

    Funny, I don't remember having to pay a licence fee to use English.

  • by jav1231 (539129)
    How many "standards" has Microsoft tried to force upon the industry? Far more than Google. And it's not like you don't have a choice. That's what chaps Microsoft the most, choice. You shouldn't have a choice.
  • by Bob9113 (14996) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @09:38AM (#34860544) Homepage

    There are some simple questions that can make it easy to choose between competing standards.

    1. Are they sufficiently similar quantitatively in doing the job?
    2. Are they sufficiently similar qualitatively in doing the job?
    3. Is anyone allowed to use them without inhibition?

    It's not hard. If one of the potential standards satisfies all three of those requirements and the other does not, that is the better standard. Why? Because we strive to be a free market economy. We do that because it is a better answer -- mathematically speaking -- than being a biased-market economy. Free market means satisfying the customers needs (item 1), their wants (item 2), and their freedom to choose (item 3). Competition is one of the pillars of free market efficiency. Encumbered standards create inhibition to competition.

    Economically speaking, this is Dick & Jane stuff. The only people who could fail to get it are the ignorant and charlatans.

  • "...which likens Google's adoption of WebM instead of H.264 to an attempt to force a new language on the entire world. Internet Explorer 9, of course, supports the H.264 codec,...

    People should listen to Microsoft! What better expert is there with regards to forcing things on the entire world?

  • by unity100 (970058) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @09:42AM (#34860588) Homepage Journal
    as a professional web developer who makes his living from web development, i say no to anything that involves internet explorer. internet explorer has accrued so much karma over the torture of web developers trying to make perfectly standard compliant code of websites fit the standards-ignoring whims of internet explorer that, its name is akin to 'plague' in the eyes of long time web developers. couple this with microsoft glorious, glaring, dazzling reputation in regard to open standards and compliance, and you can understand where i am coming from.

    'years long standards/format war' ? really ? with what ? internet explorer lost a lot of share to become head to head with firefox. chrome is eroding ie even more. google has much more reach on the web than anything microsoft, because google had come up embracing the web, even to the point of setting up adsense/adwords to enable small websites and advertisers that everyone on the internet was ignoring and snubbing, including microsoft. from webmaster tools to google analytics, and many more. what microsoft has to show against all these ? internet explorer ...

    there isnt going to be any format war. microsoft has nothing to wage a war with.
  • by alexhs (877055) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @09:42AM (#34860592) Homepage Journal

    an attempt to force a new language on the entire world.

    You mean, like,

    • C# ?
    • MS Java dialect ?
    • IE6 HTML dialect ?
    • Silverlight ? ... Wait, just kidding about that one.
  • I predict many years of having multiple browsers installed...

    wait - I have multiple browsers installed...

    So, I predict many years of, effectively, no difference to end users like me.

  • One pundit predicts the battle will lead to yet another 'years-long standards format war.'"

    Yeah, but this time, we the people will have someone on our side for a change. Unlike PNG in the mid 1990s and Vorbis around the turn of the century, the implementations we have will be big'n'mainstream. It's nice to not be a marginalized weirdo hermit for a change.

  • by ozbird (127571)
    I think I have the wrong audio codec for this article - all I hear is "waaa".
  • by wvmarle (1070040) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @10:31AM (#34861258)

    I don't see the "format war" potential here.

    Format wars were VHS vs Video2000 vs Betamax. BluRay vs HD-DVD. And the losers were primarily the manufacturers that bet on the wrong tech, and the other manufacturers that could barely sell anything before the format was settled on. After all users had to shell out real money in serious amounts to buy one, and even more if they wanted to be compatible with the others. The space taken by an unsightly pile of equipment notwithstanding.

    Now H.264 is effectively free for end users. I know there are license fees and whatnot but no end user has ever seen a bill for an H.264 player as far as I am aware. In other words: if it's not already included in your OS, you will be able to download it somewhere, and such an installation is usually very very easy. And has to be done only once. Problem solved.

    WebM same story. But without the license fees.

    And before anyone starts to complain about "installing so many plug-ins", I'd say many FF users chooses FF for the many plug-ins available. It's just that they're called "add-ons" in newspeak.

    So it may be a format war, but for most of the end users there is no difference. Video on the web will just play. Be it in Flash, H.264, WebM, or whatever comes next.

  • by Kenshin (43036) <kenshin AT lunarworks DOT ca> on Thursday January 13, 2011 @12:44PM (#34863550) Homepage

    This is what bugs me the most about Google abandoning H.264.

    They're a bunch of ideological zealots saying "Screw your phone, screw your iPod, screw your video card, screw your laptop, screw your PS3, screw all your expensive hardware that supports H.264. We're switching to WebM. It offers no real-world benefits over H.264, but it's OPEN!"

    At the risk of sounding like a bitter old man, that's a load of fucking hippie bullshit.

    Google can feel good about themselves for being "open", and save a few cents in the process, but all my hardware, which did its job perfectly, now won't. (That, and we won't see hardware supporting WebM until somewhere in 2012.)

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