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Oh, What a Lovely Standards War

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the enhance-enhance-compress dept.

Media 400

ChiefMonkeyGrinder writes "You know something big must be afoot when people start to get worked up over video compression standards. Basically, the issue is whether the current de facto standard, H.264, will continue to dominate this field, and if not, what might take over." Related, reader eihab writes "Nuanti, a company that develops Web browsing technologies, has produced a high-performance Ogg Theora decoder for Microsoft's Silverlight browser plugin. Nuanti's Highgate Media Suite will enable support for standards-based HTML5 video streaming with Theora in browsers that have Silverlight. It works entirely without requiring the users to install any additional software."

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No additional software? (4, Insightful)

wealthychef (584778) | more than 4 years ago | (#31041408)

It works entirely without requiring the users to install any additional software."

Except, of course, a browser that has Silverlight. :-|

Re:No additional software? (3, Funny)

ElusiveJoe (1716808) | more than 4 years ago | (#31041442)

I have an idea, this could be implemented in Flash, too... oh, wait.

Won't someone think of the poor iPad users? :) (1)

ChunderDownunder (709234) | more than 4 years ago | (#31041778)

Indeed, as been mentioned in this thread, Theora support could be very easily added to any browser supporting NPAPI plugins for Flash, Java or *Light.

Let me know when there's an app for that!

 

Re:No additional software? (1)

alansingfield (257819) | more than 4 years ago | (#31041462)

But the Silverlight dependency can be removed later as browsers are upgraded. Vast quantities of H.264-encoded video will be far more difficult to change.

Re:No additional software? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31041496)

Far more difficult to change to what, exactly? If you're assuming browsers will directly support video playback without a plugin why would they not support H.264?

Re:No additional software? (5, Informative)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#31041630)

If you're assuming browsers will directly support video playback without a plugin why would they not support H.264?

Free software that decodes H.264 cannot be distributed in countries that recognize MPEG LA members' patents. Slashdot is operated and hosted in one of those countries.

Re:No additional software? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31041664)

Yea, but everyone just clicks "yes I want to download this anyways"

Re:No additional software? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31041950)

Firstly, they shouldn't have to click yes to download anything

also

The MPEG LA could very easily charge massive licensing fees in the future
(or even just big enough to prevent free software from using it) or place
additional restrictions on it's use such as requiring DRM to be implemented
or some 'phone home to check you have permision' feature.

Re:No additional software? (1)

nine-times (778537) | more than 4 years ago | (#31041916)

Maybe we should start distributing browsers and hosting websites only from countries that don't recognize those patents. Move enough commerce offshore, and maybe we'll get some patent reform.

Re:No additional software? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31041966)

Yes.

In the countries we move said commerce to.

And not in our favor.

Re:No additional software? (4, Insightful)

click2005 (921437) | more than 4 years ago | (#31041972)

Free software that decodes H.264 cannot be distributed in countries that recognize MPEG LA members' patents

It wouldn't surprise me if ACTA eventually requires countries to abide by patents held in other countries?

Re:No additional software? (1)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 4 years ago | (#31042004)

You think that will stop people?

I for one, don't mind a little civil disobedience.

Re:No additional software? (1)

hawk16zz (960734) | more than 4 years ago | (#31041842)

This AC has a point. And the post doesn't deserve a -1 Troll, even if there are royalties to be paid. I remember there being an HTML5 article a few weeks ago talking about the YouTube beta and how it's supported in IE, Chrome, and maybe Opera and Safari (don't remember) and since YouTube used h.264 for it's videos the AC still has his valid point.

Re:No additional software? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31041844)

Not to mention the fact that is has absolutely nothing to do with decoding as to why it hasn't been chosen by most.

Unless the format is improved, sadly, H.264 will win.

Re:No additional software? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31042114)

FUD. The one absolute certainty in a standards war.

Re:No additional software? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31041884)

Uh... yeah. You know, that one that has to be installed just like it's direct competitor Adobe Flash (which is already installed on 99%+ computers)?

Re:No additional software? (3, Insightful)

samkass (174571) | more than 4 years ago | (#31042022)

So other platforms will have native, hardware-accelerated, high-quality h.264, and the open-source community will be stuck with emulated, software-only, lower-quality Theora. That doesn't sound like a good outcome, despite the solution to compatibility concerns.

Eww... (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31041412)

...Silverlight

it's just as bad as flash only from an even scummier company.

I do not think that means what you think it means. (1)

deliciousmonster (712224) | more than 4 years ago | (#31041502)

It works entirely without requiring the users to install any additional software... in browsers that have [the Microsoft] Silverlight [plugin]. c'mon now...

It will be Ogg Theora or VP8 (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31041504)

The only video codec that every browser can use at the moment is Ogg Theora. Unlike H.264, there are no costs involved beyond implementing support for it in your browser and there are no licencing issues that prevent distribution. Firefox, Opera, and Chrome currently support Ogg Theora. It's a shame that Safari and IE won't support it by default in the near to medium term.

It will be interesting to see what Google does once they own On2 Technologies. They may choose to open source the VP8 codec so every browser can use it and make it the default codec for YouTube, possibly as VP8 in Ogg as Ogg is a pretty good container format.

Re:It will be Ogg Theora or VP8 (0, Offtopic)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | more than 4 years ago | (#31041854)

The only video codec that every browser can use at the moment is Ogg Theora.

Nnnoo. MPEG-LA have promised us that all H264 hits are free until 2016.

That's so far away, I can't even foresee any future problems with the internet giddily adopting H264 en mass. Now, here; be quiet and take a sniff of this pipe I'm going to pass you. It'll feel good.

Re:It will be Ogg Theora or VP8 (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31041974)

Not at all! H.264 continues (as it has in the past) to require license fees to be paid for _every_ encoder or decoder.

The recent news from MPEG-LA is about fees for distributing CONTENT - which they may charge for in the future, but have announced that that's remaining free for now.

Don't be deluded into thinking that this doesn't require you to pay for H.264 though - it's just that the charge is on the production and consumption ends, rather than in the middle.

Mike

Re:It will be Ogg Theora or VP8 (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31042000)

The recent MPEG-LA announcement was a *great* way of spinning "We have chosen not to increase prices on h264 this year" which somehow has everyone dancing around saying 'It's free! It's free!"

All the encoder and decoder royalties are unchanged (still high). And they are still allowed to increase them next year if they wish. Read the whole thing!

They chose not to add a new royalty on the streams themselves for now, a royalty that has never existed before but may yet exist in 2016. In short, they decided not to commit a messy public suicide by driving the whole industry out of business and the fanboys are cumming all over themselves about it.

Re:It will be Ogg Theora or VP8 (1)

mdarksbane (587589) | more than 4 years ago | (#31042162)

The real problem with H.264 is that it's *really* good. It makes it a really hard sell for those who can't afford to use it for various reasons to those who can.

+1 for MS? :) (-1, Troll)

ChunderDownunder (709234) | more than 4 years ago | (#31041528)

Moonlight 3.0 will support Theora.
Since Apple is competing with [wired.com] Google for the title of the company that can "Do most evil", should we be cheering on Miguel and MS in the hopes that Theora gains some traction?

Yes, in this case, +1 for MS. (2, Insightful)

KingSkippus (799657) | more than 4 years ago | (#31041820)

Since Apple is competing with Google for the title of the company that can "Do most evil", should we be cheering on Miguel and MS in the hopes that Theora gains some traction?

Yes.

For one thing, I dispute your assertion that Google is doing evil. It's a company, it's doing what's in its best interest. Still, I know of few companies who have contributed so much to open standards and yes, even open source software, to the technological community. But I digress...

For another, it boils down to one simple question. Do we want a de facto web standard to depend on a patent-encumbered standard? We've been there before. Remember the GIF kerfuffle? Remember the JPG morass? Remember how long it took Microsoft to get a browser out there that supported PNG, which is a better image rendering codec, and a standard that all browsers (or any other software developer, open source or otherwise) can implement? Wouldn't it be nice if, just for once, we could bypass all of the stupidity and just settle on something up front that's easy and that everyone can support?

Also, what the hell good does it do to write a web standard designed to get people out of the Flash embedding hell that we're in right now, only to put us into yet another hell of a patent consortium that may or may not charge exorbitant fees to develop software with its standard built in?

Let's not fool ourselves. Anyone who wants H.264 to become a web standard, whether it be codified or de facto, is basically saying, "I hope that Firefox dies a miserable death." Why? Because Firefox is open source, and as such, it can't build in a patent-encumbered codec like H.264. On the other hand, most other browser makers (Apple, Microsoft, Google, etc.) have a choice. There is nothing stopping them from implementing either or both. "Evil" Google has taken the middle road, and Chrome handles both. We have yet to hear from Microsoft. Apple has chosen to deliberately not support Ogg Theora, even though it would be trivially easy for them to do so. It has taken this position, I believe, because it knows that Firefox can't implement H.264. I honestly think they want to kill off Firefox so that there's more marketshare for Safari.

So yeah, I will gladly cast my lot with those who support Ogg Theora as THE video standard of the web, and I don't care who they are. If Microsoft wants to come on board, then hell yeah, +1 for finally doing something right and that will ultimately benefit all video producers and consumers. Google and Firefox already have Ogg Theora built in, so they've already earned their +1, even though Google was one of the objectors to Ogg Theora being codified in the HTML 5 standard. I've given up on Apple getting anything but -1 Troll for this issue.

Re:Yes, in this case, +1 for MS. (1)

ChunderDownunder (709234) | more than 4 years ago | (#31042012)

For one thing, I dispute your assertion that Google is doing evil. It's a company, it's doing what's in its best interest. Still, I know of few companies who have contributed so much to open standards and yes, even open source software, to the technological community. But I digress...

Sorry, I was paraphrasing Steve Jobs! My point was, in the context of the article, if patented codecs are "evil" then to an extent Google is not exactly doing "good", whatever their contributions to open source.

Doublespeak (1, Insightful)

dr00g911 (531736) | more than 4 years ago | (#31041534)

Installs in Silverlight but doesn't require additional software?

Huh? That's full-on doublespeak.

I'm not sure that the words "standards" and "just works" mean the same thing to some folks. Developing an open source project that uses Silverlight as a platform, while admirable, is pretty suspect on the philosophical front unless there's an angle here.

Just like Adobe, MS wants Silverlight as THE web platform of the future too. And while some folks might deride Apple for lacking plug-in support of any kind on the iPhone/iPad, it's achieved more in the uptick of standards-compliant sites in the last few years than all the other guys combined.

Silverlight's as bad as Flash, long-term, for the web. Worse in-fact because it supports DRM out of the box and can't be cached locally. Yay for big media control and zero benefit for the consumer other than streaming Netflix sucking less than the competition currently. Now if they'd only do something about having decent stuff available to stream.

H264's patent encumbered, but is a supported, documented standard. Ogg will never take off. MKV files don't work on bloody anything reliably except VLC, even though they're theoretically an h264 variant. Then you have various other mpeg4 flavors, and that's pretty much it in terms of getting HD content out there at reasonable bandwidth.

We've been using wrapper plug-ins as a dirty, hacky path to web video since the launch of the web proper. Enough's enough.

So TLDR: no, no, no, no no

Re:Doublespeak (4, Informative)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 4 years ago | (#31041740)

MKV files don't work on bloody anything reliably except VLC, even though they're theoretically an h264 variant.

Matroska (.mkv) is not a "H.264 variant". It's not a codec at all! It's a container format, which usually contains [wikipedia.org] an H.264 video stream these days, but this has varied historically, and is not in any way standardized.

Re:Doublespeak (1)

hitmark (640295) | more than 4 years ago | (#31041774)

"the street makes is own uses of things", or something like that...

What benefit does MKV have? (1)

Midnight Thunder (17205) | more than 4 years ago | (#31041876)

Forgetting the codecs for two seconds, what does the MKV container have going for it over the MPEG4 container? Why would I want to use it over MPEG4, assuming the codec I want to use is available for both containers?

Re:What benefit does MKV have? (2, Informative)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 4 years ago | (#31041924)

It seems to do mostly with the ability to use more audio codecs in MKV, and more subtitle formats. In theory MP4 is just as extensible there, but in practice few players understand IDs for anything but the "official" codecs - which do not include e.g. AC3.

Wiki is your friend (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31041988)

Comparison of container formats [wikipedia.org]
Matroska [wikipedia.org]

Chances are, if you're asking the question, then you're not missing any features provided by MKV.

Re:What benefit does MKV have? (1)

mikael_j (106439) | more than 4 years ago | (#31042128)

Well, I've never really seen any good reason to use Matroska containers for anything so personally I use MPEG4 containers with h.264 for video and AAC for audio when ripping movies but it seems that for some reason Matroska has become the "scene standard" which means you can expect it to stay around until it's painfully obsolete (kind of like ASF which was sort of a "scene standard" for those stuck on modem connections for way too long, I'm sure I'm not the only european who remembers americans on modems arguing that 200 MiB ASF files for entire movies were "good enough" even though they were so crappy that most of them would barely play in the video players of the day).

(And yeah, "the scene" seemed to adopt MKV before the big name media players (VLC and mplayer) had decent support for the container format which resulted in lots of people being extremely frustrated and the scenesters telling them to "run Windows and download <SomeGiantCodecPack> and use Media Player Classic, n00b!".)

/Mikael

Re:Doublespeak (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31041770)

Flash & Silverlight are good for the web - they allow the web to do stuff that it takes years for standards bodies to come up with. How long has it been since HTML 4 was released and how long till we see HTML 5. Flash (& to a less extent Silverlight) have allowed that innovation in web UI's to take place at a faster pace than the standards bodies ever could.

Re:Doublespeak (0, Troll)

biryokumaru (822262) | more than 4 years ago | (#31041812)

Typically when I see a UI done with flash, it's rarely at a level of sophistication where it couldn't have been done significantly more efficiently with CSS and Javascript. And unlike flash UIs, which are always tiny and unusable, it would have been scalable to a usable size for my monitor's resolution.

Re:Doublespeak (4, Insightful)

dr00g911 (531736) | more than 4 years ago | (#31041828)

Wow, got a flamebait in record time for that one.

No offense to the OGG crew and developers, but what you're not getting is that the battle is already lost. The future of web video isn't really in the browser. It's on low-powered appliances like XBoxes, iPhones, iPads, Playstations and the like. And that's now. People are already building libraries in h264 and divx because of this. It's an insurance policy against your media not becoming obsolete like VHS and DVD.

Divx just slides in because most devices will play it hardware assisted even though you need to install the codecs on a desktop.

Without hardware decoding on those low-powered devices, and the ability to play your media anywhere you damn well please with no software installs necessary and no transcoding required, you may as well not exist.

OGG's a fine set of codecs, but if I have to transcode out of it to play on anything but a desktop, basically, I have no use for it and neither does the consumer other than the idea behind it is a quite appealing one.

Funny device list... (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31042164)

Theora can be decoded on the cpus of all the devices you listed, at the applicable screen resolutions, in real time. Heck, the arm optimized version of theora can decode HD at a significant multiple of real time on a CPU slower than the one in the 3gs.

All of this craze and expectation of hardware acceleration comes from H.264 being an utter pig. They overestimated how much faster cpus and memory would become by now, and we're only coping by using lesser profiles or adding hardware acceleration.

Re:Funny device list... - MOD PARENT UP (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31042234)

Couldn't have said better...

Re:Doublespeak (1)

Randle_Revar (229304) | more than 4 years ago | (#31042288)

>OGG's a fine set of codecs,
It isn't a codec or a set of codecs

You could have said "Xiph has a fine set of codecs..."

Re:Doublespeak (1)

BenoitRen (998927) | more than 4 years ago | (#31041864)

Ogg will never take off.

You can look into the future?

Then you have various other mpeg4 flavors, and that's pretty much it in terms of getting HD content out there at reasonable bandwidth.

Most web video isn't HD. This isn't about streaming movies through services like NetFlix. It's about video sharing, first and foremost, like on YouTube.

Re:Doublespeak (1)

Draek (916851) | more than 4 years ago | (#31041866)

Installs in Silverlight but doesn't require additional software?

Huh? That's full-on doublespeak.

No, that's merely assuming Microsoft will start bundling Silverlight with all new versions of Windows/IE sometime in the future. And given their history, particularly that of the .NET framework itself, that's a very reasonable assumption.

Just like Adobe, MS wants Silverlight as THE web platform of the future too. And while some folks might deride Apple for lacking plug-in support of any kind on the iPhone/iPad, it's achieved more in the uptick of standards-compliant sites in the last few years than all the other guys combined.

Source for that? because I've yet to see a website that formerly used flash before the iPhone but now is 100% HTML. As opposed to Firefox, which *did* drive a significant switch from IE-only websites to W3C-compliant HTML code.

H264's patent encumbered, but is a supported, documented standard.

When the organization owning most of the patents over said 'standard' plans on charging per file, the idea of sending the standard to go screw itself is quite tempting. Isn't that what we did with OOXML? oh yes, that's exactly what we did when they tried to pull the same "patented standard" bullshit on us. Except they actually had the decency not to charge per document.

MKV files don't work on bloody anything reliably except VLC, even though they're theoretically an h264 variant.

Err... what? MKV is a container, and one which has nothing to do with h.264 other than the fact that most h.264-encoded stuff on the 'net has decided to use it. Also, they work quite well in all the video players I've tried so far. Though still, I can't understand why you'd bring it up as its completely irrelevant.

We've been using wrapper plug-ins as a dirty, hacky path to web video since the launch of the web proper. Enough's enough.

Sure, but then Apple decided to shot down the actual, working standard to solve that because they couldn't be arsed to update their iPod's firmware, hence our current situation. No, h.264 isn't an option, *YOU* may be alright with submitting the entirety of the world wide web to the whims of a litigious corporation in hopes of having your HD porn streamed directly onto your iPod, but the rest of us aren't. And "the rest of us" includes the second most popular desktop browser and the most popular mobile browser respectively, while the most popular desktop browser doesn't seem to give a crap either way so good luck getting support for your idea.

Re:Doublespeak (1)

nine-times (778537) | more than 4 years ago | (#31041940)

Yeah, if I have to install something to watch Theora movies, I'd rather not install Silverlight. I can just as easily install the Theora codec from xiph.

Re:Doublespeak (5, Informative)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 4 years ago | (#31042056)

MKV is a container. OGG is container. H.264 is a codec.

Basket vs Fruit.

Re:Doublespeak (1)

Korin43 (881732) | more than 4 years ago | (#31042226)

There should be a +2 informative and succinct.

Re:Doublespeak (1)

NitroWolf (72977) | more than 4 years ago | (#31042172)

MKV files don't work on bloody anything reliably except VLC, even though they're theoretically an h264 variant. Then you have various other mpeg4 flavors, and that's pretty much it in terms of getting HD content out there at reasonable bandwidth.

We've been using wrapper plug-ins as a dirty, hacky path to web video since the launch of the web proper. Enough's enough.

So TLDR: no, no, no, no no

MKV files work just fine in anything that uses mplayer as it's base, pretty much. Which describes a rather large portion of the available media players out there. I've not had any problems playing it back in the last year or so. Prior to that, I would have agreed with you, but the last year or so has seen it become pretty standard and a robust container format.

As a point of fact, .MKV has nothing to do with H.264. You can have just about any type of file in the MKV container, not just H.264.

Rather large portion (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#31042238)

MKV files work just fine in anything that uses mplayer as it's base, pretty much. Which describes a rather large portion of the available media players out there.

Including set-top and handheld?

Video for Everyone code hack is the solution (3, Informative)

jroysdon (201893) | more than 4 years ago | (#31041546)

For now, the Video for Everyone code hack [roysdon.net] is the solution. Works on Firefox, Opera, and Chrome natively with Ogg Theora, and Safari natively with H.264, and Internet Explorer with Flash (loading the H.264 content).

Naturally the best solution would be that everyone implements Ogg Theora as a standard fall-back solution, and use their "better/proprietary" solution when available.

Re:Video for Everyone code hack is the solution (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#31041614)

So, they have to serve h.264 inside of flash to support Internet Explorer, once that concession has been made, what's the point of the rest of it?

I guess if they want viewers to have access to the video they could provide a direct link to the file.

Re:Video for Everyone code hack is the solution (2, Informative)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 4 years ago | (#31041756)

So, they have to serve h.264 inside of flash to support Internet Explorer, once that concession has been made, what's the point of the rest of it?

On Windows, Flash is almost as ubiquitous as IE.

On Mac and Linux, Flash sucks.

On other platforms, it is pretty much non-existent.

So I see value in a solution that only requires Flash on Windows users who are still running IE. I'll certainly consider using it on my page, which currently requires Quicktime.

Re:Video for Everyone code hack is the solution (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#31041810)

As my post indicates, I am lazier than you. I would embed the video using flash and just provide a direct link for people that didn't want to mess with flash. I guess, I might use a video tag with just the h.264 and fallback to flash inside of it though. I wouldn't mess around encoding everything twice.

Re:Video for Everyone code hack is the solution (2, Insightful)

rsborg (111459) | more than 4 years ago | (#31041616)

For now, the Video for Everyone code hack is the solution. Works on Firefox, Opera, and Chrome natively with Ogg Theora, and Safari natively with H.264, and Internet Explorer with Flash (loading the H.264 content).

Great, now just go tell YouTube, Vimeo, etc. to convert all their terabytes (probably exabytes) of H.264 content into Theora... I'm sure they wouldn't mind double the work and storage requirements.

Re:Video for Everyone code hack is the solution (2)

tayhimself (791184) | more than 4 years ago | (#31041668)

This solution requires the installation of Flash or Quicktime for h.264 videos. Sucks almost as much as the Silverlight option. I hold out hope that Mozilla will choose to support h.264. Otherwise, I may finally switch to Chrome & Safari.

Re:Video for Everyone code hack is the solution (2, Informative)

KiloByte (825081) | more than 4 years ago | (#31041824)

Mozilla CAN'T support h264, at least not in countries with broken patent law (US, Germany, UK, Japan).

Re:Video for Everyone code hack is the solution (3, Informative)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 4 years ago | (#31041772)

For now, the Video for Everyone code hack is the solution.

Your solution only solves the problem for users, not for those who wish to host video content, and can still potentially end up in a situation where they have to re-encode all their video in 2016. Any "solution" for today which can cause problems in six years is not a good solution.

Re:Video for Everyone code hack is the solution (1)

jroysdon (201893) | more than 4 years ago | (#31042206)

Excellent point. Of course, you'd have it all in Ogg Theora format (Video for Everyone has hosts encoding in both Ogg Theora and H.264), and in 2016 you could always just tell all your users to install the Ogg Theora plugin, install Firefox/Chrome/Opera, or take a hike. That's what users get now with all the Flash requirements anyway.

Re:Video for Everyone code hack is the solution (1)

jroysdon (201893) | more than 4 years ago | (#31042244)

Also, note that I said, "For now". It's a 5-year solution. Who knows what will change in the internet world in 5 years. That's like 100 "business" years and like 1000 dog years.

Hopefully Ogg Theora will just take over and/or surpass H.264 and/or MPEG LA will get their patents tossed or that sort of patent will be invalidated globally. We can only hope.

Perhaps 2016 will be when all the internet broadcasters "pull the plug" and drop H.264 support since Ogg Theora and "open" browsers will be common-place.

We can speculate a lot about what will be in 2016, but:

For now, the Video for Everyone code hack is the solution.

Re:Video for Everyone code hack is the solution (1)

lewiscr (3314) | more than 4 years ago | (#31042328)

In 6 years, computers will be 16 times as powerful vs. today. Just transcode the videos then.

You are saving them in high enough quality that you can transcode, right? If not, you're going to have problems eventually.

Re:Video for Everyone code hack is the solution (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 4 years ago | (#31041786)

If I understand one of the main arguments of Theora supporters correctly, the problem is that H.264 requires website owners to pay up for a license, eventually. So you can use Flash/Silverlight/Java/... to provide "kinda seamless" H.264 support for the end users, including those with otherwise FOSS browsers, but content publishers are still SOL.

In contrast, doing the same trick for Theora means that those who care about pure FOSS can have it that way (FOSS server, FOSS client, and no patent fees), while people at large who don't know the world outside IE can still have access to all that content.

However, the technical inferiority of Theora is a serious counter-argument to that.

Re:Video for Everyone code hack is the solution (1)

Midnight Thunder (17205) | more than 4 years ago | (#31041898)

In contrast, doing the same trick for Theora means that those who care about pure FOSS can have it that way (FOSS server, FOSS client, and no patent fees), while people at large who don't know the world outside IE can still have access to all that content.

However, the technical inferiority of Theora is a serious counter-argument to that.

Not only that, this is not a solution that works out of the box. If it doesn't work out of the box, then it won't find itself added to all boxes, especially for company desktops.

Re:Video for Everyone code hack is the solution (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 4 years ago | (#31041934)

Not only that, this is not a solution that works out of the box. If it doesn't work out of the box, then it won't find itself added to all boxes, especially for company desktops.

No solution at present works out of the box, and this won't change anytime soon, as IE doesn't support the HTML5 video element in the first place.

Re:Video for Everyone code hack is the solution (2, Interesting)

ClosedSource (238333) | more than 4 years ago | (#31042016)

Since all solutions require a browser, there is no such thing as a an "out of the box" solution anyway. Certainly the ability to have a solution that works on all major platforms is important, but it has nothing to do with packaging.

Re:Video for Everyone code hack is the solution (1)

jroysdon (201893) | more than 4 years ago | (#31042292)

So read up on Video for Everyone [roysdon.net] . It addresses all 3, and "just makes it work" with whatever solution you have.

FOSS folks get pure FOSS. Closed-source/license folks get that (and hosts until 2016), and IE folks with flash (com'on, you can't navigate almost any sites without flash these days). It does this right now with only two encodings and on block of code.

Oh dear... (5, Insightful)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 4 years ago | (#31041560)

I wish there was a way to mod the original press release as +5, Epic Troll, because that's what it is with respect to Slashdot - it's going to be way more entertaining than the usual (and already somewhat tiresome) Google vs "do no evil" stories. But Microsoft's Silverlight used to enable support for Theora in pretty much all Windows browsers (and specifically IE of all things), while both Google and Apple stand by H.264 - oh my!

Hold on a second, I've got to fetch the popcorn...

Re:Oh dear... (1)

Randle_Revar (229304) | more than 4 years ago | (#31042312)

Great .sig, it's one of my favorite quotes

Other than, you know, Silverlight. (3, Insightful)

mxs (42717) | more than 4 years ago | (#31041566)

"It works entirely without requiring the users to install any additional software."

Other than Silverlight. Gee, that solves the problem.

Re:Other than, you know, Silverlight. (1)

dpilot (134227) | more than 4 years ago | (#31041932)

Likely most people don't install Silverlight any more than they install Windows.

Hardware Codec (3, Insightful)

vijayiyer (728590) | more than 4 years ago | (#31041572)

Ogg Theora won't become relevant until there are hardware decode chips available. Why would I install Silverlight to play Ogg when I can use HTML5 and H.264 instead? Because someone might charge to develop with the codec after 2015?
I don't care because the H.264 standard is open even though it's not free.

Re:Hardware Codec (1)

pslam (97660) | more than 4 years ago | (#31041728)

Why is a lack of hardware codec a problem? For a modern smartphone, it's possible to decode half-VGA resolution in real time. Yes, this is slightly (not majorly) more power expensive than hardware decode, but at least it provides a universal baseline.

You also seem to be expending a lot of energy writing an email for something you don't care about?

Re:Hardware Codec (1)

Draek (916851) | more than 4 years ago | (#31041952)

Ogg Theora won't become relevant until there are hardware decode chips available.

Much like it happened with MP3 and DivX, right? oh, wait, the hardware decoders appeared *after* they became popular. Funny, that.

Why would I install Silverlight to play Ogg when I can use HTML5 and H.264 instead?

Because the owner of the website you're visiting decided he didn't have the money to pay to MPEG-LA for the license, and therefore encoded his videos in Theora only. Remember, the standard doesn't specify both, it specifies *neither*. Some will support both, some will be h.264-only (read: Apple's iTMS), but many others will be Theora-only, and they'll still be HTML5-compliant so you'll have no room to bitch if they decide not to support your iPhone.

Kinda ironic... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31041576)

Using a proprietary technology (Silverlight) to implement an open-standard...

Probably a good thing, as we'll probably see functioning HTML5 support in IE15, coming out around 2030. It will even manage a 75% on Acid3!

Cortado (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31041580)

You can also implement Ogg Theora support in browser using the Cortado Java applet:

http://www.theora.org/cortado/

hope it works with Moonlight (1)

Kartoffel (30238) | more than 4 years ago | (#31041592)

Cool. If it works with Moonlight and has decent performance, I'll be more impressed.

Has a de facto standard ever lost? (2, Interesting)

Goner (5704) | more than 4 years ago | (#31041648)

By virtue of the de facto status, it seems like anything that the majority of people use will never be superceded by anything that barely matches or only slightly improves on the de facto standard. From what I've read [reddit.com] Theora is quite bare-bones compared to H.264 and hasn't been designed with hardware decoding in mind.

Re:Has a de facto standard ever lost? (3, Informative)

pslam (97660) | more than 4 years ago | (#31041764)

By virtue of the de facto status, it seems like anything that the majority of people use will never be superceded by anything that barely matches or only slightly improves on the de facto standard. From what I've read [reddit.com] Theora is quite bare-bones compared to H.264 and hasn't been designed with hardware decoding in mind.

And if you actually read what you linked [reddit.com] you'll see it immediately debunked. Theora is up to scratch and has been designed with hardware decoding in mind. It's slightly behind H.264, but come on, we're not talking double the bit rate or anything. It never stopped MP3 being the defacto standard when better stuff was around. Universal availability trumps technical excellence always.

Re:Has a de facto standard ever lost? (2, Insightful)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 4 years ago | (#31042252)

When you say "designed with hardware decoding in mind" do you mean that "it would be fairly simple to burn an FPGA to do it" or do you mean that "it can use the features of 'modern' video hardware to decode on the graphics chip" where 'modern' is some value that includes at least one chip that is either available for sale right now, or definitely in production for sale in the near future.

Because my laptop has a chip that can do h.264, but I'm not buying another laptop just to get theora (although I would look for it as a feature on my next laptop if it was in use). I could "brute force" it with the CPU, but comparing my power usage in hardware decoding of h.264, I'd really rather not. Also, the fan is kind of noisy.

Can Flash be used to pull the same trick? (2, Interesting)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 4 years ago | (#31041658)

On a more technical side, I found this bit in TFA interesting:

We'll be releasing a high-performance decoder for Theora video/Ogg Vorbis audio streams that plugs into the Silverlight 3 streaming media abstraction ...

I know little about Silverlight, only the most general look and feel, and capabilities. Does this mean that it actually has extensible codec framework, that can be extended from managed code (since any SL code has to be managed, so that it can be properly sandboxed - same as Java applets which cannot e.g. use JNI)?

If so, the next logical question is - can the same thing be done with Flash, architecturally?

As a side note, this also means that Silverlight CLR JIT produces code that's fast (not just "fast enough", but actually "high-performance", at least if the claims are true) for a video codec, which is quite impressive. I'm not sure you could reach the same levels with ActionScript, due to its inherently dynamic nature, even with Adobe's JIT. But perhaps I'm underestimating the ability of modern JS JIT compilers to do static type inference, and consequent optimization based on that type information?

Either way, pragmatically, this means that any browser running on Windows will be able to play Theora after installing Silverlight - which, by the way, pops up in "recommended updates" list in Windows Update as soon as you install Windows. While Silverlight plugin is only officially supported on Windows in IE and Firefox, IIRC, I haven't had any problems using it in Opera regularly, and I've seen it work in Chrome, so it does seem to be mostly browser-agnostic.

It would be very ironic if Chrome running under proprietary Windows and OS X could play Theora, while Chrome on Linux would only support H.264.

But somehow, I don't think that will matter. Ultimately, Google is the 800-pound gorilla here because of YouTube, and most likely whichever they will go with (and they have already said they want H.264) will become the de facto standard. Apple could probably steal the day, but they stand by H.264 as well...

Re:Can Flash be used to pull the same trick? (4, Informative)

BZ (40346) | more than 4 years ago | (#31041692)

> It would be very ironic if Chrome running under proprietary Windows and OS X could play
> Theora, while Chrome on Linux would only support H.264.

Chrome supports Theora out of the box natively, so I'm not sure what you're talking about...

Re:Can Flash be used to pull the same trick? (1)

Ingenium13 (162116) | more than 4 years ago | (#31041782)

Chrome on Linux supports pretty much any codec that ffmpeg supports, so it's not just limited to H.264 and Ogg.

Re:Can Flash be used to pull the same trick? (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 4 years ago | (#31041856)

Thanks for clarification, I didn't know that. Do they use ffmpeg directly, or plug into GStreamer, as latest Opera alphas do?

Also, what do they do on Windows and OS X? Plug into DirectShow and QuickTime?

It's a shame that Firefox refuses to just pick up whatever codecs the OS offers (specifically because they do not want to provide H.264 support, even indirectly)...

Why doesn't Adobe just open-source Flash? (3, Insightful)

Spy Handler (822350) | more than 4 years ago | (#31041712)

If they did, everybody could just use that (since it's already on 98% of computers out there) and put a stop to these stupid standards wars.

They probably wouldn't lose much revenue, if at all... I mean, they've always been giving away the Flash plugin for free. They make all their money from selling content-creating software (Flash CS3) right? That wouldn't change if they open-sourced Flash player. Similar to how Photoshop completely dominates the industry even though anyone is free to make .jpg/.png editing software.

Re:Why doesn't Adobe just open-source Flash? (1)

bhtooefr (649901) | more than 4 years ago | (#31041804)

Well, open-sourcing Flash wouldn't help the H.264 situation.

What about doing a workaround on the patent? Create an H.264 decoder that doesn't use any of the techniques that are patented? Then again, lawyers aren't exactly known for efficient coding, and you'd basically have to use lawyers as your programmers.

Why not? (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 4 years ago | (#31042170)

Well, open-sourcing Flash wouldn't help the H.264 situation.

Why not? Mozilla is willing to ship with Flash today, that includes an h.264 encoder. Perhaps they could simply embed a Flash player whenever an HTML 5 video player was encountered...

Re:Why doesn't Adobe just open-source Flash? (1)

ChunderDownunder (709234) | more than 4 years ago | (#31041902)

Would open-sourcing 'Flash' solve the problem? It sounds to be that the codecs are the crucial point.

Most likely you'd get an open-source plugin but the patent-encumbered codecs themselves would be delivered as binary blobs. This is a dilemma similar to that AMD and Nvidia face in graphics drivers and Sun had with areas of OpenJDK.

Re:Why doesn't Adobe just open-source Flash? (2, Interesting)

seanalltogether (1071602) | more than 4 years ago | (#31042084)

Open sourcing the flash player opens it up to design by committee politics which Adobe doesn't want. They can't sell a new version of CS7 if they can't get all the Flash players to implement the new features. Sun actually got caught by this problem as they've been trying to push JavaFX. JavaFX works great with features introduced in Java 6, but since Apple controls java on the mac, they've been crippled with Java 5 compatibility on Leopard.

Stick that up your Flash, Adobe! (1)

david.emery (127135) | more than 4 years ago | (#31041748)

Nuanti's Highgate Media Suite will enable support for standards-based HTML5 video streaming with Theora in browsers that have Silverlight. It works entirely without requiring the users to install any additional software."
Makes Steve Job's opposition to Flash look prescient...

H.264 is ISO/IEC 14496-10, not a de facto standard (2, Insightful)

gig (78408) | more than 4 years ago | (#31041752)

HTML5 is a markup standard. Where it pertains to video is in the standardization of video-related markup, i.e. the "video" tag, not video formats. W3C has nothing to teach MPEG about video formats. W3C also has nothing to teach MPEG or ISO about standardization, because the Web is a mess of proprietary IE and Flash while MPEG has enabled 20 years of consumer digital video, including the DVD and Blu-Ray. Right now, both QuickTime Player and FlashPlayer play H.264, both iTunes and YouTube are H.264, both Flip and iPod camcorders are H.264, but I can't make one Web app for both IE and Firefox.

What we are talking about with Web video today is "will our H.264 video playback move from plug-ins (QuickTime Player and FlashPlayer) to native browser playback?" That is all. The format is not in question. The HTML4 Web has already been using the ISO standard format in iTunes, YouTube, and many others. There is no competing format. FLV is still used too much, but it has been deprecated since 2008, it has no HD sizes, it is proprietary to Adobe, the encoder costs $599, and it takes much more bandwidth than H.264. There are no Ogg camcorders, iPods, video editors. These tools and devices were all built for MPEG-4, which is a standardization of the QuickTime file format that was used previously. Google has already said that even if they had the compute time to transcode YouTube to Ogg, the Internet does not have the bandwidth for an Ogg YouTube, and almost nobody has a player.

Ten years ago, Linux users complained that they could not view the video on the Web because it was in QuickTime containers with Sorenson video and Qdesign audio and that was all proprietary, not standardized. Now, the video is all in ISO MPEG-4 containers, with ISO H.264 video and ISO AAC audio and is playable on Linux in FlashPlayer and WebKit browsers and other players, and the complaining continues. It is disheartening.

Re:H.264 is ISO/IEC 14496-10, not a de facto stand (4, Insightful)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 4 years ago | (#31041870)

Now, the video is all in ISO MPEG-4 containers, with ISO H.264 video and ISO AAC audio and is playable on Linux in FlashPlayer and WebKit browsers and other players, and the complaining continues. It is disheartening.

The complaining continues because Linux users still cannot play video using FOSS solutions, due to licensing fees associated with implementation of H.264. Given the overall Linux philosophy, it's a perfectly valid complaint.

Cluestick for the H264 crew (1)

Twinbee (767046) | more than 4 years ago | (#31041792)

Lower their prices. Opera moaned about how extortionate they are. It's reasonable that they should charge something, but make it small. They'll get a lot more cash in the long in the run, and everybody will be happy.

One reason to avoid h264 (1)

guidryp (702488) | more than 4 years ago | (#31041798)

http://www.osnews.com/story/22828/MPEG-LA_Will_Not_Change_h264_Licensing [osnews.com]

mpeg-LA seems to be letting broadcasts go free for the next couple of years. Note that is only for the actual broadcast. They can open a can of whoop ass on various licensing fees whenever they feel it gets entrenched.

Theora support will have problems from those who really don't want open solutions (Microsoft,Apple).

So we have an impasse.

Re:One reason to avoid h264 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31042080)

"Theora support will have problems from those who really don't want open solutions (Microsoft,Apple)."

I believe Apple's objection to Theora et al is that its status as an uninfringing item has not been tested in court.

It's all very well for the developer to assert that his stuff doesn't infringe on anybody's patents but nobody's going to commit until they know for sure.

And it won't be tested until it gets more traction, which is when the majors are comfortable about its status and so on.

At least you can see the dangling sword (3, Insightful)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 4 years ago | (#31042242)

mpeg-LA seems to be letting broadcasts go free for the next couple of years. Note that is only for the actual broadcast. They can open a can of whoop ass on various licensing fees whenever they feel it gets entrenched.

They can, but you know they will not until 2017 (expires in December of 2016). You can plan around and to a date.

Meanwhile Theora is an unknown patent quantity that may or may not be challenged at any time. It's the schrodinger cat of codecs, so no-one even wants to hold the box much less look inside.

A day late and a dollar short (3, Informative)

westlake (615356) | more than 4 years ago | (#31041808)

Nuanti has produced a high-performance Ogg Theora decoder for Microsoft's Silverlight

Hardware accelerated H.264 is in the 10.1 Flash Beta. Silverlight 4 will support Chrome. The "high performance" H.264 player will be everywhere and in everything in the next few weeks or months.

Two Words (1)

Zebra_X (13249) | more than 4 years ago | (#31041814)

Hardware Offload.

Without you are just another video codec.

H.274 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31041818)

Yes, this codec supports 3D ultra defenition holographic video and will only support Internet Explorer 13. The patents won't expire until 2099. So take that Ogg boys.

Re:H.274 (1)

argent (18001) | more than 4 years ago | (#31042232)

By that time H.666 will be ready.

Chromium + ffmpeg-nonfree = OSS H.264 HTML5 video (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 4 years ago | (#31041858)

I guess the title pretty much sums it up, there's now an open source solution for watching videos online and I will most certainly use it. Silverlight or Firefox with flash? Who wants to use closed source software, and Microsoft's EEE plugin or that horrible plugin from Adobe of all things? Not me. At least we're replacing the closed nonfree video with open nonfree video.

Silverlight installs it all for you I guess (0)

Gothmolly (148874) | more than 4 years ago | (#31042132)

So you install Microsoft's Trojan^WSilverlight into Internet explorer, and you assume that you don't install anything more? Buddy, you're going to be running more software than you can imagine, all installed FOR you by friendly Internet people !

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