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Google To Push WebM With IE9, Safari Plugins 413

surveyork writes with this "new chapter in the browser wars: '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.' So Google gets started with their plan for world-wide WebM domination. They'll provide WebM plugins for the browsers of the H.264-only league, so in practice, all major browsers will have WebM support — one way or the other. Machiavellian move?"
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Google To Push WebM With IE9, Safari Plugins

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  • by Miseph ( 979059 ) on Saturday January 15, 2011 @06:26PM (#34892434) Journal

    How sinister of them, trying to compete with a proprietary codec by releasing free plugins for other vendors' browsers to play their unencumbered format.

    Look out Lex Luthor, Eric Schmidt is stealing your schtick.

    • "Those who freely open video codecs on a wide scale will someday freely open people on a wide scale."

      -Concerned Citizens for the MPEG LA
    • by commodore64_love ( 1445365 ) on Saturday January 15, 2011 @07:07PM (#34892768) Journal

      So let's see: WebM is the container.
      --- VP8 is the video
      --- Vorbis is the audio

      Google also has a WebP standard based on VP8, to replace GIFs/JPEGs - wonder why they're not pushing that too? Ya know: Remove image support from their Chrome. (shrug)

      MPEG4/h264 vs. VP8 comparison (h264 slightly better - specially on low bitrate connections):
          - []
      HE-AACplus vs. Vorbis (HE-AAC wins):
          - []
      JPEG vs. WebP (WebP wins):
          - []

      • by Tacvek ( 948259 )

        The key here is that all the supported image formats have no known patent threats, so Google does not really care about images. They offer WebP simply because they can, and It was already well known in some circles that modern video compression algorithm's key frame compression was better than JPEG. (Although JPEG2000 can give many lossy image compression formats a run for their money)

        With H.264 though the patent royalties on H.264 makes many small time content producers very wary, and does not help with ke

      • Noone really cares about image formats anymore. JPEG, PNG and even GIF are good enough for their purposes, supported everywhere and are old enough that future patent issues are unlikely.

        The same can't be said for video :( the MPEG LA members are pushing towards a world where users have to pay royalties on video encoding and decoding software and where free software has to chose between not playing and infringing patents.

        Google is pushing against that and I really hope they will be sucessful.

    • Except VP8 is a proprietary codec (WebM is just a container), while H.264 is an open standard. That is, the definition of VP8 is entirely defined and controlled by Google, while the definition of MPEG4 is controlled by the ISO standards organization.

      This is of course complicated by the fact that H.264 is crippled by patents that require licensing fees of anyone wishing to legally distribute in the US, while VP8 is theoretically free of such troubles because Google released all related patents into the publ

  • Start your betting (Score:2, Interesting)

    by elashish14 ( 1302231 )

    Something tells me that MS and Apple (and especially, Apple) will do all they can to break the plugin's functionality.

    • Something tells me that MS and Apple (and especially, Apple) will do all they can to break the plugin's functionality.

      Apple might be able to get away with it, but MS will always have that "monopoly" monkey on its back.

    • Microsoft actually said they welcome this when they released info about only supporting H.264 themselves. Their video player usually supports any video codecs installed on the system.
    • by thechink ( 182419 ) on Saturday January 15, 2011 @09:13PM (#34893558)

      Do people think before posting idiotic comments like this?

      My Mac already has many codecs installed that Apple doesn't officially support. Nothing Apple can do about it. What's one more?

      What incentive would MS or Apple have in blocking it?

    • by shutdown -p now ( 807394 ) on Sunday January 16, 2011 @04:30AM (#34895460) Journal

      Something tells me that MS and Apple (and especially, Apple) will do all they can to break the plugin's functionality.

      Did you miss the part [] where MS had already announced that IE9 will handle WebM just fine provided the codec is installed, a few months ago?

      In its HTML5 support, IE9 will support playback of H.264 video as well as VP8 video when the user has installed a VP8 codec on Windows.

      It's about as clear as it gets. It also dodges any patent issues nicely as far as MS is concerned (if MPEG LA wants to sue Google, they are given a clear line of fire since Google is the one making and distributing the codec).

  • Well, more good news for IE and Safari users. Not sure this makes too much sense though. Basically Google is removing a feature from their own browser, and then adding a new feature to their competitors. I guess that settles it, Google really believes that WebM is the superior codec, and is willing to destroy themselves to prove it. Most people are probably going to be happy using browsers that have both codecs, but hey, maybe there's some crazy Xanatos Gambit here that I'm just not seeing.

    • by paul248 ( 536459 )

      Most people are probably going to be happy using browsers that have both codecs

      Which browsers would those be? I thought Chrome was the only one with both WebM and H.264.

    • Google really believes that WebM is the superior codec, and is willing to destroy themselves to prove it.

      The absolute worst thing that will happen to Google because of this is that Chrome will die, and that's extremely unlikely. Google doesn't make money on Chrome, they make money with advertising. Google will not destroy themselves with this move.

  • Hah (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward

    ..Microsoft responds by releasing an H.264 plugin for Chrome

    • DivX HiQ already does cross-browser H.264 in MKV/MP4/MOV with MP3 and AAC support, and ASP in AVI/DivX. []

      It also supports DXVA acceleration for H.264, and it's available on Mac too. It's still in beta and has its quirks but given the discussion I'm surprised it's not mentioned more :)

  • by 93 Escort Wagon ( 326346 ) on Saturday January 15, 2011 @06:29PM (#34892464)

    After all, we've seen how Silverlight has come to dominate the web.

  • Developers should pay close attention to how Microsoft and Apple react to this, as the real test of support for their plugin API doesn't come until it's used to build something like this, which really doesn't align with their own strategic interests.
  • I dont feel like browsing my mayor much - sounds like an invasion of privacy.
  • Won't Chome and Opera also have plugins for H.264 ? Unless those are banned, this
    doesn't seem very profound.

    • So far as I know, Chrome doesn't have an open codec architecture for HTML5 video. Safari does (it uses QuickTime). It's not entirely clear about IE9 - it looks like it uses the OS-provided H.264, and it will also use VP8 if installed, but whether it will pick up other codecs (e.g. Theora) was not stated.

      Opera is interesting. They use GStreamer - on all platforms. On Linux, the system one is used, so if you have H.264 decoder installed (e.g. paid one from Fluendo, or possibly x264 would work too?), it should

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 15, 2011 @06:40PM (#34892558)

    So lets recap:

    * Mozilla and Google push for a video tag in HTML that is unencumbered by patents. Apple and Microsoft will not go along.
    * Google acquires On2, and promotes it as an open standard, including promises to defend it in court.
    * Google promises to release plugins that allow IE9 and Safari to decode their codec in the two browsers which won't support it natively. No one is forced to use their open standard, but it is now an option across all browsers that implement the video tag.

    If buying a codec so you can open it, make it freely available to everyone, and defend it from patent attack is Machiavellian, than how would you describe Apple and Microsoft's work to make sure the only way to play a video is the use of a proprietary format?

  • Why not take the easy way, and buy Microsoft and apple?
  • A brilliant move! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by erroneus ( 253617 ) on Saturday January 15, 2011 @07:06PM (#34892754) Homepage

    We learned an important and valuable lesson with MSIE and HTML. We learned that Microsoft's implementation of HTML/CSS is very, very broken. However, because at one time, the majority of users used MSIE, web developers needed to design their content primarily for MSIE. And since the majority of content was for MSIE, users mostly used MSIE. And because most users used MSIE, content was designed for MSIE... and so on and so on in that looping fashion.

    So, with HTML5, we have a chance to start anew. We should ALL be adhering to the same standards so that everyone gets a fair shake. But already, there is positioning, posturing, claim staking and all manner of politics threatening the HTML5 fresh start.

    Google wants a good cleam fresh start. Why? Because they are primarily content providers, that's why. Their stake is more closely aligned with the users of the internet as we share a common interest -- good, usable content, without irregularities or problems. Good for us; good for Google.

    So Google, with this move, is trying to break the looping cycle I described above. If the most commonly supported format out there is WebM, the content creators will design for the most commonly supported format! It will not matter if browsers also support a second format, only that WebM is supported.

    Now will Microsoft and even Apple play the "only MSIE/Safari is supported" game with their content? Most definitely. There is still room for the other players to spoil it for everyone else. But this is a pretty good strategy to get content creators to help break the cycle before it starts.

    • If the most commonly supported format out there is WebM, the content creators will design for the most commonly supported format!

      A nice fantasy.

      However you really gloss heavily over that "if", because when has ANY browser plugin been "the most commonly supported format".

      Never mind that they can't distribute plugins for iOS devices, users of which consume enough video that they have forced the content providers into the position where h.264 is the de-facto standard for deploying video to the web today.

  • The machiavellian move would have been NOT to release those plugins, and from one day to the next i.e. move Youtube to WebM, forcing Apple/Windows users to move to Chrome or Firefox if they want to see something embedded in most of internet content. If they want to push a internet standard, better that they provide free, updated, for every platform and browser, plugins to show them.

    In the other hand, thats very different with what Microsoft did in almost everything they released as "open","standard","inte

  • Google's hubris (Score:2, Interesting)

    by javacowboy ( 222023 )

    Google is exhibiting reckless behaviour because they think they're invincible, and it's all going to come back and bite them in the ass really soon:

    1) Google "borrowing" Overture's ad-search business model, and paying them off not to sue them. I guess they got away with this one.
    2) Google "borrowing" Sun's Java patented IP for use in Android/Dalvik with a Java-like language because they didn't want to pay for J2ME, not to mention the GPL code they slapped with an Apache license header. Oracle is fending

  • At the moment, much of the content available in the HTML5 demo on YouTube seems to be only available in H.264. It seems strange that Google would serve content that Chrome can't play. It seems like they will almost certainly transcode all of their video to WebM. I wonder if they will continue to serve H.264 or if they'll cripple YouTube for IE and Safari users who don't have the plugin. If they're willing to develop those plugins, I would guess that they will make YouTube WebM only.
  • by suv4x4 ( 956391 ) on Saturday January 15, 2011 @07:18PM (#34892848)

    So.. I guess Chrome Frame was a success then? Strangely how the stats don't reflect that at all.

    so let's see how the future will play out then...

    On one side of the ring: H.264

    * Solid native support on the default browser of Windows - IE9.
    * Solid native support on the default browser of OSX - Safari.
    * Solid support on the rest of the browsers via the ubiquitous (95%+) and well known by the public Flash player.
    * Native support on mobiles.
    * Formally approved standard by ISO and IEC
    * Guaranteed free distribution on the web for free content, minor free for paid content.
    * Vast amounts of existing H.264 content, widely used in video editing apps, broadcasting, recording motion cameras and so on.

    On the other side of the ring: WebM

    * No native support on the default browser of Windows - IE9.
    * No native support on the default browser of OSX - Safari.
    * Solid native support on the rest of the browsers.
    * Spotty support on only some mobiles (don't expect it on Apple devices, Microsoft is on the fence).
    * Not formally approved standard by anybody, just an open code dump at this point.
    * Free to use, but questionable future if challenged by MPEG LA and others.
    * Almost no existing WebM content, spotty or missing support in video editing apps, not used in broadcasting, not used in motion cameras and so on.

    So uhmm, yeah, Google. I wish you guys good luck.

    • by hkmwbz ( 531650 ) on Saturday January 15, 2011 @07:45PM (#34893014) Journal
      You are forgetting that when Firefox 4 is released, WebM will be the most widely supported codec by far. IE9 will not magically capture major market share overnight. So it doesn't matter if IE9 doesn't support WebM. IE9 is basically irrelevant. Older versions will keep having more users.

      Safari on Mac will fight the fight for H264 on the desktop all by itself. Ouch.

      Flash supporting H264 is irrelevant. Or rather, it's a good thing, because Flash can be used as a fallback while WebM takes over the market. Future versions of Flash will support WebM anyway.

      WebM will be natively supported on all future Android devices. That's a huge market, and will probably be the dominant mobile OS.

      You are clearly biased against Google and WebM. You refuse to look at the reality of the situation. Apple fanboy, perhaps?

      • You are clearly biased against Google and WebM. You refuse to look at the reality of the situation. Apple fanboy, perhaps?

        I'm not biased against Google, I'm biased against their poor choices of late, primarily because they seem like poor choices. And maybe slightly desperate.

        May I remind you the "reality of the situation" is yet about to happen. I know that from the point of view on Slashdot, every next year is the Year of the Linux on the Desktop, and so on, but although the future of WebM seems so simple and clear to you, I wouldn't call any bets yet if I were you.

        I'm trying to point out that Google is climbing steeper and s

    • Mod this guy up, but he forgot to list the fact that H.264 support are on a number of set top boxes, built into DVD and blu-ray players, and even now supported directly by many TV's. WebM may get in to TV eventually, but the one I just bought has support for H.264. I encoded a movie yesterday from iMovie, plugged it into the TV's SD slot and it played. I'm not planning on buying a new TV for a while so...

      I still have a number of friends who are videographers and WebM hasn't even hit their radar yet. If

    • by Terrasque ( 796014 ) on Saturday January 15, 2011 @10:26PM (#34893944) Homepage Journal

      It's strange that so few people have figured it out.

      Google is in the strange position that it got more bandwidth, more servers, more brains and more money than they honestly know what to do with.

      So they use the money on more talent, servers and bandwidth, and let the people work on their own ideas part of the company time. Anything that looks even remotely useful (strengthen their position, gaining mindshare, get their ads in more places) gets thrown out there.

      Gmail. Google Wave. WebM. WebP. Chrome. Chrome Frame. Google Maps. Google Apps. Google Reader. Android. Translate. Android App Inventor. Google Body. Google Mars. Google Earth. Calendar. Code. Groups. News. Books. Picasa. Docs. Analytics. Website optimizer. SketchUp. Voice. Sky maps. Google Video. Trends. Talk. Buzz. iGoogle. Goggles. Scribe. Code search.

      They're throwing an insane amount of random stuff on the wall, and then see what sticks. Some does, some does not.
      They have more resources than they can reasonably use, and this is the result. Have an idea that looks fun? Some example code? Good, here are some money, servers and practically unlimited bandwidth. See if you can make it work. A bit later Google Cakes pops up, and maybe it will find a use. And Google earns some more information and mindshare. And a new place to splash targeted ads.

      In the end, they make even more money, which they then put in talent, bandwidth and servers.. And the cycle continue. I sometimes wonder if they will hit a limit, or it will just go on and on.

    • by butlerm ( 3112 )

      Excuse me, IE9 hasn't even been released yet. Windows 7 has what, ten percent market share? And Windows Vista another ten percent? And the percentage of Windows 7 / Vista users who use IE instead of Firefox/Chrome/Opera/Safari is what, fifty percent maybe?

      So if IE9 were released tomorrow, it would add native H.264 video tag support to a whole ten percent of the market at best.

      All that aside, whatever its temporary technical merits, H.264 is epitome of an "evil empire" codec, and that is why it must die. "P

  • OK, so it may eventually work in all browsers if everybody installs the plugins.

    But how do you encode the stuff in the first place? I'm sure I can do it with ffmpeg, but what about the normal people who export videos?

    They are used to Quicktime exports from Final Cut Pro, or through Compressor, or maybe MPEG Streamclip or Handbrake. If Quicktime doesn't support it, then the simple direct export from FCP, or using MPEG Streamclip will not work. I wonder how this problem will be addressed.

  • Are they really making a plugin? Doesn't that kind of defeat the purpose of HTML5?

    I thought WebM support in IE9 was as easy as installing it as a system codec. No browser plugin would be required. Am I wrong?

  • by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Saturday January 15, 2011 @07:47PM (#34893034)

    The summary makes it out to be some kind of subtle plot on the part of Google. Nothing could be further from the truth.

    In fact what Google is doing is plain as day. They are trying to convert the whole of the web over to WebM and VP8, formats they control. This gives them an advantage, I don't even really blame them for trying. In fact had they done this a few years later I'd be in support of it from the standpoint of trying to establish a more open video format/codec.

    At the moment though, the industry is trying to get people behind HTML5 including the video tag. Googles premature move to try to get everyone behind VP8 means that no sane content provider or web site would support the video tag, since it's such a mess as to what browsers will support BY DEFAULT. You can build all the plugins you like, but you can't force people to install them and you certainly cannot deploy them to iOS devices.

    So with this early move, Google has screwed over two groups. Those who wanted to see HTML5 video tag advanced, and those who wanted to push for a truly open codec. Yes, this move harms VP8 by insuring that most sites across the web will use Flash players, and following logically from that will only encode in h.264. After all, if you only need to encode once why would you bother with another format?

    If they had waited to get the video tag established, for Chrome to gain even more marketshare (it has a really good momentum), to get solid hardware support lined up for VP8 playback/encoding (because people encode movies on devices too), and for Android to get a huge mass of devices in peoples hands. THEN at that point, Google could do what they are now, say that Android is not supporting h.264 and neither is Chrome - and basically force dual encoding on content providers, and eventually other browser and device makers (like Apple) might well convert to WebM.

    See, the term "Machiavellian" implies a crafty and ruthless plan involving many prongs. I have outlined one such above. But what Google is doing now, is not Machiavellian in the slightest. It is the tantrum of a three-year old demanding that everyone use Googles codec NOW, users and HTML5 and content provider storage/encoding costs be damned.

    I have backed Google many times in the past, said that basically they were a good company at heart. I still think they are but for the setback they have caused in forcing us all into a new dark age of flash players for video across the web - for that, I have dropped Chrome, and switched all my default search engines to Bing *shudder*. I think Google has somehow totally lost focus on what is good for the industry or the consumer, and are going totally now for what is good for Google and no-one else.

  • You guys cheer, but for Google, this is only a part of a bigger game: the platform battle. If Google loses the platform users access them through, which is currently mostly desktop browsing, their core business: ads (with search) may fizzle out very quickly.

    Hence why their hurried entering into markets that are quite foreign to them, such as mobile (Android), browsers (Chrome) and, somehow, also video codecs (WebM). With their politically clumsy attempts at hedging bets that keep the platform available to t

    • by DarkOx ( 621550 ) on Saturday January 15, 2011 @10:26PM (#34893948) Journal

      I don't know what you drugs you might be on but I want some. Since when have Microsoft and Apple been Google's friends? Microsoft and Google started a little cold war around the time Google first became a verb, and it became a hot war with the release of Bing. They have been slugging it out ever sense and this is just another round. Apple and Google have not exactly been at each others throats they way Google and Microsoft has but the have very different interests, Google wants the browser to be the Application, Apple wants to essentially go back to the way things were in the early days and push a bunch of tiny network aware Apps. Only this time Apple wants to sell you those Apps, and wants you to search for them in their App store. That does not leave much room for Google, who wants you doing as much as possible on the Web.

      I don't think Google has a bad relationship with the Mozilla foundation, I guess Chrome is competition but I doubt there is much anger over it. Google has done a lot to boost products over the years and if anything I am sure Mozilla sees this push for WebM as a big plus. They can't ship a built in H.264 decoder but they can ship WebM so as a user I am pretty happy about this and I would guess the developers are too.

      I don't care to speculate about MPEG LA, I don't know about and history Google has with them. What I am saying is that I don't see this impacting the landscape much with regard to who Google's friends and foes are or even who is ambivalent. It might raise they stakes with some but only where they were already high.

  • They'll provide WebM plugins for the browsers of the H.264-only league, so in practice, all mayor browsers will have WebM support –one way or the other. Machiavellian move?

    No ... it's the reason we have plug-ins.

  • by dave562 ( 969951 ) on Saturday January 15, 2011 @09:46PM (#34893726) Journal

    The more things change, they more they stay the same. Once upon a time, we used to visit webpages and were told that we needed to download Real Player to view the content on the page. Then we needed QuickTime. Then we needed Flash. Now we are going to need WebM.

    In the end, it doesn't matter what the browser vendors want to include with the browser. It will come down to the content providers and whether or not their content is compelling. If they are offering what consumers want, consumers will download whatever plugin they need. Downloading plugins is an established behavior.

    The only group who will be affected by this at all are the developers. They have to make the choice as to what video encoding scheme they want to use for their applications. So developers out there, how many of you care? On one hand you know that if you go with H.264, all IE and Safari users (read 90%+ of computer users) will be able to view your content without downloading a plugin. You will miss out Chrome users (assuming nobody comes out with an H.264 plugin for Chrome). On the other hand, you can choose WebM and presumably avoid the spectre of maybe, possibly, one day (but not very likely) having to pay royalities on H.264. You end up with some portion of the 90% of the market who are willing to download a plugin. Which do you choose? Or more realistically, which one does your employer hoist on you?

  • by shutdown -p now ( 807394 ) on Sunday January 16, 2011 @04:44AM (#34895516) Journal

    It's not a browser plugin in the same way as Flash, or that recent Microsoft thingy to play H.264 in Firefox. It's just codecs. Quote: []

    The HTML tag specification actually provides a capability known as canPlayType. Web developers use this capability to see which codecs are supported by the particular browser and it is completely transparent to them whether the codec was shipped natively in the browser or later installed by an end user. Safari and IE9 provide a way for users to install support for additional codecs via this capability. So basically web page developers still write their site based on the standards and all this “plug-in” does is add a capability to the browser in the context of what is permitted by the standard.

    So basically it's just a QuickTime filter for Safari, and whatever IE uses (DirectShow?) for IE.

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