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245 comments

Good (5, Insightful)

The End Of Days (1243248) | more than 2 years ago | (#34581042)

Seems like a pretty reasonable solution to me.

Re:Good (2)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 2 years ago | (#34581120)

It always was. Firefox could have used the installed codecs in Windows, OS/X, and Linux to offer H.264. The only reason I can figure Microsoft did this was to keep people from dropping Firefox and going to Chrome.

Re:Good (2)

figleaf (672550) | more than 2 years ago | (#34581166)

Doesn't Chrome support Firefox-compatible plugins?
I would have sworn it did.

Re:Good (1)

BagOBones (574735) | more than 2 years ago | (#34581240)

No, but it does support user scripts natively that can be found in Opera and in the GreaseMonkey plugin for Firefox.

Re:Good (0, Flamebait)

dingen (958134) | more than 2 years ago | (#34581276)

And Microsoft is of course always happy with a Windows-only solution that just doesn't work on other platforms.

Re:Good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#34581348)

They probably have an update prepared for the win7 h264 codec that inserts adverts directly into the decoded data stream.

I'm assuming by Win7 only they're including the beta version they called vista.

Re:Good (4, Insightful)

h4rm0ny (722443) | more than 2 years ago | (#34581436)

Can I just be clear, here? Are you blaming Microsoft for not also writing support plugins for O/Ss they don't develop?

Re:Good (1)

dingen (958134) | more than 2 years ago | (#34581478)

I'm not blaming anyone, altough I am somewhat surprised why Microsoft bothers to write Firefox plugins. I'm just saying Microsoft doesn't mind providing a solution that specifically works on Windows and not on any other platform Firefox runs on.

Re:Good (3, Insightful)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 2 years ago | (#34581752)

I'm not blaming anyone, altough I am somewhat surprised why Microsoft bothers to write Firefox plugins. I'm just saying Microsoft doesn't mind providing a solution that specifically works on Windows and not on any other platform Firefox runs on.

How is it surprising?
MS wants its users to be able to do shit.
MS recognizes many of its users use firefox.
MS wants h.264 video to work for them just as much as they want it to work for IE users.

Re:Good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#34581798)

MS also wants h264 to win over WebM and knows adding support in Firefox will help.

Re:Good (2)

gmack (197796) | more than 3 years ago | (#34582156)

Think: acceleration and battery life.

Microsoft recognizes that a lot of Windows prefer Firefox over IE and they won't change that any time soon users. On a laptop this change will save battery life and improve performance by offloading work from the CPU. MicroSoft isn't out money if you use FF over IE but they are out money if you decide to use some other OS because it has better battery life or plays movies better.

Re:Good (1)

dingen (958134) | more than 3 years ago | (#34582548)

How is it surprising?

I'm surprised Microsoft is developing things outside of it's own ecosystem. It's my understanding they don't generally do this.

And you can call me paranoid, but I really don't think enhancing the user experience of people using Firefox is at the top of Microsoft's list of priorities.

I suppose trying to outmanoeuvre Google by blocking WebM and Chrome makes some sense.

Re:Good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34582150)

If this was something like a tab manager plugin, you would have a point. In case you were unaware, decoding video and displaying it isn't a trivial task. Why the hell should Microsoft put in a lot extra work to reinvent a wheel they already have just to allow any other OS, against whom they compete, just so they can be on an even playing field? Given that, this makes perfect sense. They are improving their overall user experience by adding a feature to a widely used browser that requires the competition to do work to offer the same.

If you want to complain, pick something reasonable, like why has firefox not implemented the codec themselves, or why have the other OS's not done this either? OR. . .you could prove to me that writing an OS independent version isn't so difficult and write it yourself.

Re:Good (2, Insightful)

rjstanford (69735) | more than 3 years ago | (#34582982)

Because Firefox isn't a good citizen and tries to reinvent shit that the underlying OS already provides, like video codecs. Sorry, but its true - this is not the job of the browser. Or at least it shouldn't be, and in every modern OS and every other modern web-browser, this relationship is very well understood - the OS provides a graphical framework, the applications use it.

And sorry, but Firefox wanting to provide a common experience over multiple OSs is a complete crap excuse. It might as well provide its own clipboard and font renderer then...

Re:Good (3, Insightful)

FatdogHaiku (978357) | more than 2 years ago | (#34581740)

Can I just be clear, here? Are you blaming Microsoft for not also writing support plugins for O/Ss they don't develop?

Yes! There is no telling how deep this issue actually runs in our modern society. I have found some sort of conspiracy whereby I can not procure O.E.M. engine parts for my Chevy pickup at the local Ford dealership! According to Mike Rowe, Ford has the top selling pickup. It should be incumbent on Ford to make sure that people who did not chose Ford products still have all the advantages and or benefits that Ford's paying customers derive from ownership. Also, as soon as a company successfully markets a flying car I expect someone to show up and retrofit all my vehicles!

Damn, I'm out of pills again...

Re:Good (1)

wmac (1107843) | more than 3 years ago | (#34582208)

And you expect Microsoft develop plug-ins to promote competitor OS and browsers? Which commercial company does that?

Re:Good (1, Insightful)

BenoitRen (998927) | more than 3 years ago | (#34582948)

Either you still don't understand or you've been living under a rock for the past year. There are good reasons that Firefox doesn't use the OS-provided codecs, and I'm not going to repeat them YET AGAIN.

Re:Good (1)

powerspike (729889) | more than 3 years ago | (#34582118)

I have to agree with this as well, There are licencing issues with h264 and this would allow firefox to use the codec with the windows7 licening deal's which are already in place. MS wouldn't be able to do this for other operating systems (inwhich i couldn't blame them for either).

Re:Good (1)

scdeimos (632778) | more than 3 years ago | (#34582794)

There's nothing stopping anyone from writing a similar plugin for Firefox that uses the H.264 codec in ffmpeg, for example. Then you have the same functionality for Firefox in Linux (and probably OSX).

Re:Good (1)

ADRA (37398) | more than 3 years ago | (#34582198)

Just a thought, as long as this is using DirectShow or the modern equivalent, doesn't this open up the web browser to any and all flaws in said stack? Are Microsoft or the rest of you really that open to rely on the multi-media stack for security tightness? I'll stay afraid and yet wish everyone else luck.

Great summary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#34581058)

In other news... Anonymous Coward is going for first post. It seems as if it may not work if he does not go for first post.

Re:Great summary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#34581762)

You missed it, bra

Sounds just like Microsoft (1, Insightful)

dust11 (895301) | more than 2 years ago | (#34581092)

So in effect, to use said extension, you will need to either:

a) Upgrade your XP/Vista box to Windows 7
b) Say goodbye to your Mac
c) Ditch your *nix distro

I can't really see many people doing that. However for anybody using the operating system, it's really not such a bad idea. While the idea of Microsoft developing a Firefox extension may turn heads, they're only doing it to benefit themselves.

Re:Sounds just like Microsoft (5, Insightful)

gman003 (1693318) | more than 2 years ago | (#34581222)

Don't view the plugin as an enhancement for Firefox. View it as an extension for Windows 7 - it's increasing compatibility with a certain feature. And then, it all makes sense - it's Microsoft's business to improve Windows, and now Firefox is getting a free boost on that platform.

Re:Sounds just like Microsoft (4, Insightful)

beakerMeep (716990) | more than 2 years ago | (#34581420)

It's hard to see anything MS does without some cautious skepticism that they may hold ulterior motives. I personally see two possibilities here:

1) They are trying to keep the FF userbase from building up a critical mass of users watching video with open source/patent free codecs such as WebM

2) They are trying to further marginalize Flash video (since at the moment Flash based video is the only H.264 option for FF users).

These two things arent mutually exclusive either, but I think they make more sense given MS's history and the context. What you said would make more sense if MS released a WebM player for IE/FF. To be clear though, having more options is good and this release isn't necessarily bad, but it's a good idea to keep in mind MS's past gift horses.

Re:Sounds just like Microsoft (5, Insightful)

noidentity (188756) | more than 2 years ago | (#34581462)

Presumably Windows 7 has a media decoding architecture that can make use of multiple cores/hardware acceleration, so this takes advantage of that. Why should a browser have to reinvent all this, when the OS provides it? But it must be evil to do this, since it only works on Windows 7. At times, the anti-Microsoft bias here is too much!

Re:Sounds just like Microsoft (1)

GigaplexNZ (1233886) | more than 3 years ago | (#34582210)

Vista has the same framework architecture (Media Foundation) but it doesn't include the array of codecs that were added in 7 (such as H.264).

Allow to help with your confusion ... (0)

Zero__Kelvin (151819) | more than 3 years ago | (#34582976)

"All too often, the anti-Microsoft bias here is far too little!"

Your Slashdot User # suggests you don't know the history. You should listen to the old timers and learn something. Seriously.

Re:Sounds just like Microsoft (1)

TheoCryst (975577) | more than 2 years ago | (#34581536)

Exactly. Microsoft is investing pretty heavily into HTML5 going forward (starting with IE9), and all this does is ensure that 99.9% of Windows 7 users have the ability to view H.264 video content. With this plugin, the three browsers that make up the vast majority of Windows users--IE, Firefox, and Chrome--along with Safari now fully support H.264 video.

Re:Sounds just like Microsoft (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34582166)

> With this plugin, the three browsers that make up the vast majority of Windows users--IE, Firefox, and Chrome--along with Safari now fully support H.264 video.

Without this plugin (but with codec support installed in the OS), the vast majority of Windows users--IE, Firefox, and Chrome--along with Safari and Opera support WebM video.

WebM codec support can installed in the OS from here:
http://www.webmproject.org/code/#repositories

According to previous advice from Microsoft (which they issued when Google announced the Google Chrome Frame Plugin for IE), browser plugins are additional security risks which should be avoided.

Happily, browser users on all platforms will be able to view WebM video content without any plugin.

The very first hardware video decode accelerators for WebM/VP8 are just beginning to appear on the market.
http://blog.webmproject.org/2010/12/chips-delivers-vp8-hd-video-hardware.html

On Linux, BTW, work is in progress to write a state tracker for the Gallium3D graphics drivers which will use the GPU shaders to accelerate video decoing, which will work even for generic GPU hardware which does not include specific hardware support for a given codec.

YouTube announced some time ago that by that time 80% of the videos of YouTube were available in WebM format.

Perhaps when YouTube switches to WebM primarily, Microsoft and Apple might then try to catch up with that effort and provide software in their respective graphics stacks to support GPU-shader-based hardware acceleration of video decode for WebM on Windows 7/Windows XP and OSX/iOS respectively.

Or perhaps not.

Re:Sounds just like Microsoft (1)

scdeimos (632778) | more than 3 years ago | (#34582844)

According to previous advice from Microsoft (which they issued when Google announced the Google Chrome Frame Plugin for IE), browser plugins are additional security risks which should be avoided.

Which, I might point out, didn't stop them from silently installing the "Microsoft .NET Framework Assistant" add-on in the Firefox browser so Firefox users would be vulnerable to attack ^h^h^h...^h^h^h able to install ClickOnce applications hosted on the web.

Re:Sounds just like Microsoft (0)

tenchikaibyaku (1847212) | more than 2 years ago | (#34581982)

You can view it however you want and it might not even be particularly wrong as such, but to me it seems like a pretty obvious attack on WebM and open standards for HTML5 video. h264 is not open and firefox will never be able to ship with it.

Yes, you can outsource the problem to things like gstreamer, but the problem still remains - you will be unable to ship a complete open source system that plays video on the web and doesn't depend on any legally dubious patented stuff. As I've understood it, mozilla has avoided taking this approach in order to be able to steer the development onto the more open alternative.

Re:Sounds just like Microsoft (1)

camperslo (704715) | more than 3 years ago | (#34582012)

From the article, it is a plugin to an extension:

"This new plug-in, known as the HTML5 Extension for Windows Media Player Firefox Plug-in, is available for download"

Perhaps the VLC plugin could be enhanced to do the same thing?

The article doesn't mention support for GPU acceleration, or to what extent it uses/supports 64 bit mode or extended instructions.

- - -
Hiroshima 45, Tchernobyl 86, Windows 95

Re:Sounds just like Microsoft (5, Insightful)

Dan East (318230) | more than 2 years ago | (#34581416)

Are you proposing that Microsoft should also write Firefox extensions to utilize the lower-level internals of other operating systems such as OSX and Linux, although Microsoft has neither the technical experience nor obligation to do so, just to keep competing operating systems on a level playing field? I'm sure that 3rd parties will quickly follow suite and provide similar functionality for other operating systems, assuming it can be done at all.

Remember, Firefox does not include an H.264 decoder due to patent issues. MS holds the necessary licenses already - essentially those licensed to use Windows have already paid in some way for H.264 codecs, thus MS is doing Firefox users a big favor by extending that functionality. I'm sure Apple can do the same with OSX, but I'm unsure about the whole patent issue when it comes to Linux.

If I remember correctly, when people were complaining about Firefox not supporting H.264 decoding, Mozilla specifically alluded to the fact that OS vendors would have to provide this functionality to work around patent issues.

Re:Sounds just like Microsoft (1)

vux984 (928602) | more than 2 years ago | (#34581500)

. I'm sure Apple can do the same with OSX, but I'm unsure about the whole patent issue when it comes to Linux.

Can, but probably won't. Firefox reproduces core functionality already provided by Safari. ;)

That said, its unclear to me why a 3rd party couldn't do it, they wouldn't need an h264 patent license to connect firefox to the h264 codec already licensed and present on the computer would they?

As for linux, same thing... if one has an h264 codec, then the plug in should be doable. I don't offhand know much about the availability of h264 on linux... i use linux... but primarily for servers... usually headless or virtualized... so h264 support hasn't come up much. :)

Re:Sounds just like Microsoft (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34582308)

. I'm sure Apple can do the same with OSX, but I'm unsure about the whole patent issue when it comes to Linux.

Can, but probably won't. Firefox reproduces core functionality already provided by Safari. ;)

That said, its unclear to me why a 3rd party couldn't do it, they wouldn't need an h264 patent license to connect firefox to the h264 codec already licensed and present on the computer would they?

As for linux, same thing... if one has an h264 codec, then the plug in should be doable. I don't offhand know much about the availability of h264 on linux... i use linux... but primarily for servers... usually headless or virtualized... so h264 support hasn't come up much. :)

This particular plugin uses a machine's graphics hardware to accelerate decoding of video.

Even if one is running Linux as the OS on a given machine, one has still purchased the hardware of the machine, and so one is still licensed to use the h.264 video decoder functions embedded in the graphics hardware of that machine.

There is no Windows dependency involved in the purchased-with-the-machine-hardware license for the h.264 graphics hardware support.

Re:Sounds just like Microsoft (1)

interval1066 (668936) | more than 2 years ago | (#34581442)

a) Upgrade your XP/Vista box to Windows 7

Wow... I can't think of any good reason to still be running anything less than XP, if you're going to go down the windows road...

b) Say goodbye to your Mac c) Ditch your *nix distro

Ditching linux... yeah, that ain't happening.

Re:Sounds just like Microsoft (1)

camperdave (969942) | more than 2 years ago | (#34581684)

Wow... I can't think of any good reason to still be running anything less than XP, if you're going to go down the windows road...

I can: Because corporate policy says so.

Re:Sounds just like Microsoft (2)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#34581720)

How many h264 videos you watching at work? It seems pretty clear he meant for home use.

Re:Sounds just like Microsoft (1)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 2 years ago | (#34581808)

Wow... I can't think of any good reason to still be running anything less than XP, if you're going to go down the windows road...

I can: Because corporate policy says so.

He said good reason.

Re:Sounds just like Microsoft (0)

LordLimecat (1103839) | more than 3 years ago | (#34582086)

Wow... I can't think of any good reason to still be running anything less than XP, if you're going to go down the windows road...

I can, having worked with 7 for about 24 months now (since the December beta leak in 2008). XP is a heck of a lot less arcane (you seen the firewall configuration? Or Event log? Or task scheduler?), easier to recover from a disaster (installable recovery console, a repair mode that works, and drives can be cloned without having to dick around with bcdedit), easier to do advanced things with (like cloning hard drives, setting up ext3 drivers), and has substantially fewer bugs.

Its nice that theres UAC in 7, but you basically already had that in XP, with stuff that requires admin popping up a runas box, and most of the other stuff (eyecandy, iscsi support) can be tacked on after the fact. There are some security enhancements, but if you have out of date browser plugins, it really doesnt matter, Im seeing more and more pwned Win7 boxes, as coders figure out how to bypass protected mode, ASLR, and all the rest.

When doing a deployment for a hundred users who cant be bothered to use a non-awful browser, yes, possibly Id do 7 because theyre unlikely to encounter those issues; but for myself, theres really no comparison, XP is just better, and I wish I hadnt upgraded (since downgrading is a PITA, as I run server software).

Re:Sounds just like Microsoft (1)

hahn (101816) | more than 2 years ago | (#34581472)

So in effect, to use said extension, you will need to either: a) Upgrade your XP/Vista box to Windows 7 b) Say goodbye to your Mac c) Ditch your *nix distro I can't really see many people doing that. However for anybody using the operating system, it's really not such a bad idea. While the idea of Microsoft developing a Firefox extension may turn heads, they're only doing it to benefit themselves.

Microsoft is a Fortune 500 company that exists to make profit. What do you expect from them? Help other companies compete with them? Work on projects with no financial benefit or strategic value at all? Are there companies I'm unaware of that do this?

Re:Sounds just like Microsoft (1)

jo_ham (604554) | more than 2 years ago | (#34581678)

Why say goodbye to the Mac? If you are desperate for H.264 content on the Mac and are in love with Firefox, you can just fire up Safari or one of any number of other browsers that support H.264 on the Mac.

The same can be said for XP - no need to update.

As for "typical Microsoft" did you expect them to be actively developing new features like this (and really, it's an extension to windows rather than an extension to firefox) to anything other than their current Windows product?

XP and Vista are supported products, but I'm not expecting them to release new software on them - fine if they do, but it's no great conspiracy if they do not in this case.

And everything went better than expected. (4, Insightful)

kwabbles (259554) | more than 2 years ago | (#34581124)

Open slashdot... see add... Microsoft releasing plugin for Firefox (huh?) open article, "oh only works on Win7"... look for reason to get angry at Microsoft... can't find any on this one, seems like a nice thing, hear a bird outside, sip my soda, nice day out.

Re:And everything went better than expected. (2)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 2 years ago | (#34581524)

well, that's fine for you. but here it's a horrible day, which is normal for this season, and that damn happy bird of yours would be a frozen corpse in five minutes.

Re:And everything went better than expected. (4, Funny)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 3 years ago | (#34582298)

hear a bird outside, sip my soda, nice day out.

HE'$ TRYING TO 3SC4PE THE BASEM3NT!!1!! GET HIM!!!1111!!!!

Thanks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#34581152)

But Microsoft could not afford to sign the add-on? I sure did not feel confident installing it given it's not open source is unsigned and comes from a non-microsoft.com domain. Also seems like it doesn't always work - not a huge surprise from Microsoft but I like their honesty in admitting it this time :)

Good for Them (2)

Tibor the Hun (143056) | more than 2 years ago | (#34581174)

They are either realizing that either:
1. they are becoming increasingly irrelevant on the desktop as people are using mobile devices more and more for their needs (iPad/Android for email and facebook)(and Apple computer sales have been growing handsomely), and therefore need to compete for customers for the first time in 20 years, or
2. it is a good opportunity for them to pull the old Embrace, Extend, Extinguish.

Only time will tell.
Now, off to RTFA.

Re:Good for Them (1)

bloodhawk (813939) | more than 3 years ago | (#34582840)

Or the far more likely, They license H.264 already, they have a user base that use FF and want them to continue to use windows as their preference by ensuring they have the maximum capabilities. FFS why do the tin foil hat wearers have to come out at everything they do. This is a pretty obvious move by them that makes both business and technical sense and has nothing to do with the shit your spouting. It is all about keeping their dominate hold on the OS regardless of browser choice.

windows 7 but need codec (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#34581206)

I have windows 7 but still need to get vlc to play h.264 movies. WHY?

Re:windows 7 but need codec (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34581996)

Because you are doing it wrong?

Good enough? (5, Interesting)

Khopesh (112447) | more than 2 years ago | (#34581212)

(Speaking as a Linux user here)

This is probably "good enough" since it will apply enough pressure to get the rest of the userbase covered quickly enough. Competitive forces should drive similar efforts for GStreamer [wikipedia.org] (and perhaps Phonon [wikipedia.org]) and QuickTime (is that the right MacOS framework?) soon enough. The problem comes with the fact that it's almost guaranteed to be a closed application, so there's nothing to build atop except the interface and feature set.

The real question is what Google thinks of this; despite YouTube's H.264 ties, they've been pushing WebM (a simplified Matroska container holding VP8 video and Vorbis audio) in place of FLV (or...?) containing H.264 and MP3 (or AAC?). Google will have to react FAST if they want to push WebM. For the sake of free/open standards in HTML5 video [wikipedia.org], specifically to prevent license/royalty issues with proprietary codecs to let the little guys compete, I'm rooting for Google.

So when I say "good enough," I'm referring to what it might kick-start rather than the more immediate effects. Things should start to get interesting.

Re:Good enough? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#34581310)

Guess what? This isn't about users and codec battles, or offering firefox anything. Windows has h.264 hardware support out the box, OS X and Linux do not. MS wrote a tiny plug-in to use standard MS APIs for this codec which hands off decoding to the video drivers. The net result is windows is going to perform significantly better than other OSes using FF, with very little pissing around, and almost no CPU usage.

Now factor in the massive benefits of h.2164 decoding in hardware and portable computing. Oh look, battery life just got a massive boost.

If you want to see how this works, look at apple's h.264 in the metal on their gadgets. This is why they're lousing at codec support, the system has been optimized to palm off video decoding to dedicated silicon.

Re:Good enough? (2)

tumnasgt (1350615) | more than 2 years ago | (#34581406)

Mac OS 10.6 most certainly does have support for H.264 out of the box, and I imagine that 10.5 and possibly earlier versions have it as well.

I'm not usually too keen of what MS do, but I think that using the OS's native codecs makes a lot of sense, and Mozilla really need to get off their high horse and implement native plugin use for all OSes that they support. A plugin is not ideal, but it's a hell of a lot better than not having H.264 support in Firefox, hopefully Mozilla will look at this and decide it is something that should be built in to their browser.

Re:Good enough? (2)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | more than 2 years ago | (#34581418)

Guess what? This isn't about users and codec battles, or offering firefox anything. Windows has h.264 hardware support out the box, OS X and Linux do not.

I guess I don't understand what you mean by that. Out of the box? On Windows you need to install a plug-in to get Firefox to use h264. The OS, of course supports hardware accelerated h264 and provides an API to third parties to use on Windows 7, but then OS X provides VDADecoder for the same purpose and, of course, uses it in Safari. Ditto for most Linux configurations as I understand, via Purevideo/XBMC.

So I guess my question for you is, "how does Windows support h264 out of the box, more than other OS's?"

Re:Good enough? (5, Informative)

moonbender (547943) | more than 2 years ago | (#34581560)

I know I'm probably responding to a troll, but for the record, hardware video (including H.264) acceleration is supported on Linux desktop via VDPAU/VA API. I can't vouch for the Intel/ATI VA API, but VDPAU has worked fine for me. Playing back a 1080p H.264 file has basically no impact on system load.

Re:Good enough? (2)

jo_ham (604554) | more than 2 years ago | (#34581800)

Goodness me, no wonder you posted AC. OS X definitely has hardware decoding support for H.264 as well as full software decoding support out of the box. 5 seconds on google would have confirmed that. It also comes with Quicktime 7 (at a minimum - Quicktime X in 10.6) that have a full set of modern codecs of various flavours out of the box - H.264 being among them.

Not only that, it ships with an H.264 *encoder* too as well as just a decoder (yes, yes, I am aware that the term "codec" is a combination of both terms).

There's no reason that firefox couldn't use these codecs provided by QuickTime very trivially - they choose not to for ideological reasons, which I have no problem with them taking.

Re:Good enough? (2)

Kjella (173770) | more than 2 years ago | (#34581352)

Competitive forces should drive similar efforts for GStreamer (and perhaps Phonon) and QuickTime (is that the right MacOS framework?) soon enough.

Firefox doesn't have a technical problem doing so, my computer plays all sorts of H.264 just fine because I have the x264 library installed. They've just consistently refused to use the system's codecs because it'd lead to a different experience depending on what OS the user is running and what he has installed, and because they can't both be open source and legally licensed at the same time they won't install it on demand either. Google has H.264 support in Chrome and I don't think they mind that much as long as they push HTML5 over flash. I think Firefox overestimate themselves on this on, they're not going to win and they're only going to lose marketshare trying. Probably to Chrome, which seems to be the "in" browser right now.

Re:Good enough? (2)

metamatic (202216) | more than 2 years ago | (#34581388)

They've just consistently refused to use the system's codecs because it'd lead to a different experience depending on what OS the user is running and what he has installed

a) Most users want a different experience on the Mac to (say) the experience on Linux or Windows. b) Firefox is already a different experience on different platforms, even down to look and feel. Basically, I think their arguments for not supporting h.264 are rationalizations.

Re:Good enough? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#34581546)

Basically, I think their arguments for not supporting h.264 are rationalizations.

So what could be Mozilla's "real" motive?

Re:Good enough? (1)

SplashMyBandit (1543257) | more than 2 years ago | (#34581618)

I use Firefox regularly on a Mac (typing now), Win7 and Linux is pretty much the same experience. The differences are pretty much negligible because you spend your time looking inside the window rather than at the menu bar or outside the frame. But yes, the arguments are rationalizations of decisions made mostly by instinct.

Re:Good enough? (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#34581610)

Chrome plugins are so limited in availability and what they can do it cannot replace firefox for many.

More likely is interested users make plugins like this one for the platforms they use.

Re:Good enough? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#34581778)

my computer plays all sorts of H.264 just fine because I have the x264 library installed

This is just nitpicking, but your computer plays because you probably have some version of ffmpeg, or more specifically libavcodec installed. libx264 only does encoding and can't be used to watch stuff.

They've just consistently refused to use the system's codecs because it'd lead to a different experience depending on what OS the user is running and what he has installed, and because they can't both be open source and legally licensed at the same time they won't install it on demand either.

They can have a licensed open source H.264 encoder. They can't have one that is redistributable, so I guess the GPL is out. There are legally licensed binary H.264 decoders for all platforms, and for Windows XP and newer, as well as OS X, there are free (gratis) licensed decoders available. Mozilla could point the user to those if the decoder is needed. Apart from the availability issue I don't really see a problem. Unlike some formats like MPEG4 ASP (DivX/XviD) there is only one correct way to decode H.264, so the only difference between decoders should be performance and they are all pretty mature these days. Apart from that practically every GPU released less than 2 or 3 years ago comes with a hardware decoder that can be accessed for free.

Re:Good enough? (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#34581920)

You don't see the problem?
You don't see how there is no decoder that matches the MPL could be an issue?

The law needs changed, I should not have to pay rent to decode a file or to show others how to do so.

Re:Good enough? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34582352)

No, I don't see a problem. If you use the system codecs framework or hardware decoding you are not implementing the decoder yourself and you can use any license you want. If you want to distribute a decoder you can do that as a binary plugin and leave the source under any license that doesn't force you to own the patents. While I don't know how much true to the spirit of the license it is there are plenty (L)GPL licensed codecs for patented formats, for instance ffmpeg or x264.

I am against software patents, but that isn't the main issue here, since it is easy to work around them. Furthermore with H.264 you don't pay to decode the file or tho show others how to do so. Source code can be distributed without any regard to patents and the MPEG-LA doesn't collect fees for use. They collect fees for the distribution of decoders and encoders, and for payed distribution of files as well as broadcasts.

Re:Good enough? (1)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 3 years ago | (#34582114)

They can have a licensed open source H.264 encoder. They can't have one that is redistributable, so I guess the GPL is out.

_Any_ license to be called open source must allow redistribution. BSD, MIT, Apache, all of them allow redistribution. The difference between those and the GPL is that the latter forces distributors of binaries containing GPL code to distribute the sources too, but they all allow redistribution.

Re:Good enough? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#34581540)

It's pretty transparent what they're doing here. Microsoft has always pushed h.264 over webm. They want h.264 to become the de facto standard for web video so they want to get it on as many browsers as possible. As long as IE doesn't support webm and all browsers support h.264 they'll probably win.

Re:Good enough? (1)

josath (460165) | more than 2 years ago | (#34581888)

Microsoft has always pushed h.264? Ever heard of WMV?

MS backs H.264 over WebM (1)

Khopesh (112447) | more than 3 years ago | (#34582310)

Microsoft has always pushed h.264? Ever heard of WMV?

It is my recollection that MS has "always" pushed H.264 over WebM since such a stance can only have existed after WebM's introduction, which is pretty recent. WMV uses VC-1 (a MS proprietary codec written into the BluRay standard) and so is somewhat of a contender, but it's a bit behind VP8 (used by WebM, patents released into public domain), H.264 (preferred by YouTube in FLV containers, patent-encumbered), and Dirac [wikipedia.org] (a candidate for VC-2, preferred by BBC, patent-free). See also Wikipedia's Comparison of H.264 and VC-1 [wikipedia.org].

Re:Good enough? (1)

stms (1132653) | more than 2 years ago | (#34581904)

Or if you wanted to go open-source/cross-platform in a single plug-in you could use mplayer or vlc.

MacOS X (1)

Midnight Thunder (17205) | more than 2 years ago | (#34581466)

Given that Quicktime supports H.264, has anyone else looked into getting Firefox to use that for MP4/H264 playback, via a plugin in MacOS X?

BTW I am assuming we are talking about the video tag and not MP4/H264 in a embed/object tag?

Re:MacOS X (2)

jo_ham (604554) | more than 2 years ago | (#34581860)

There's nothing stopping them - QuickTime on the Mac is a well documented system. The Mac version of XBMC uses it for just that reason, for example. It should be trivial for firefox to do the same if they wanted.

What's In A Name? (1)

dorath (939402) | more than 2 years ago | (#34581552)

This new plug-in, known as the HTML5 Extension for Windows Media Player Firefox Plug-in

It's not a catchy name, but at least it's descriptive.

Re:What's In A Name? (1)

jo_ham (604554) | more than 2 years ago | (#34581872)

This is from the company that called a product "Bob" and decided that the best colour for a media player was shit brown.

They do make good mice though.

Re:What's In A Name? (1)

korgitser (1809018) | more than 2 years ago | (#34581940)

Microsoft never just names anything (whether descriptive or not). Remember what the PHB said: "the name is the most important part of the project". This particular name is meant to tell the average user that she should not really try to understand what it is, but she definitely needs it.

What was the advantage of HTML5 and video? (1)

devent (1627873) | more than 2 years ago | (#34581892)

To watch a video now I need the Flash plugin. To watch a video in HTML5 with the awesome video tags I need a FF plugin. Nothing really changed, does it? Instead they (the W3C) could have set a standard video codec so we don't need any plugins anymore and would have an addons free WWW.

Re:What was the advantage of HTML5 and video? (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#34581938)

What codec could they have picked?
WebM was not around, setting a standard that FREE software cannot use is no good, and h264 is what Apple and MS wanted.

Re:What was the advantage of HTML5 and video? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34582422)

What codec could they have picked?
WebM was not around, setting a standard that FREE software cannot use is no good, and h264 is what Apple and MS wanted.

h264 may well have been what Apple and MS wanted, but h264 does not comply with W3C patent policy.

http://www.w3.org/Consortium/Patent-Policy-20040205/

Now that there is WebM available, that is a codec that has equivalent performance to h264 and it DOES comply with W3C patent policy.

h264 does not charge video consumers, but it does charge royalties to video providers.

Using WebM as the codec will save significant costs for many millions of people. Why not specify WebM for HTML5? It is the right thing to do now.

Re:What was the advantage of HTML5 and video? (4, Informative)

BZ (40346) | more than 2 years ago | (#34581968)

They tried to set a standard video codec.

Opera and Gecko refused to implement one of the possible contenders (H.264) for patent reasons. Furthermore, H.264 doesn't comply with the spirit of the W3C patent policy, though it does comply with the letter (because while a W3C spec can't require implementation of a W3C-designed techonlogy that has W3C members holding patents on it and not licensing them, it _can_ require implementation of a patented technology developed by someone else, via citing it by reference).

Apple refused to implement anything other than H.264.

Microsoft refused to comment, basically.

Google implemented H.264 and the other containers+codecs Gecko and Opera implement (WebM/VP8 and Ogg/Theora).

So anything that was going to be specified was going to be a fiction in practice....

Re:What was the advantage of HTML5 and video? (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#34582082)

Gecko did not refuse, it could not implement 264 and be legal.

Re:What was the advantage of HTML5 and video? (1)

BZ (40346) | more than 3 years ago | (#34582146)

Whatever their reasons (and I know what they are, yes, and agree with them), the upshot was that they said they would not implement it. So it was DOA for standardization.

Cool story bro! (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#34581972)

Well, I've read about half the comments, and so far the general sentiment of the FOSStard community to my understanding is this:

- Microsoft should have written an h.264 plugin for Firefox on Linux and OS-X.
- It's typical of Microsoft to do something like this and not support XP.

- Etc.

Here's the deal, guys:
H.264 support is not "built into" Windows 7. It's built into Windows Media Player 12. That version shipped with and is exclusive to Windows 7. It can't be installed to XP. Microsoft has previously released a Firefox plugin that enabled some older version of Windows Media Player to run an instance within Firefox. There are some sites out there that use old IE-only extensions to play video and they embed an instance of Windows Media Player directly into the browser window. The old Windows Media Player Firefox extension only enabled Firefox to support this garbage.

Now they have released an updated plugin based on Windows Media Player 12 that (not surprisingly) only runs on Windows 7. Since it's based on Windows Media Player 12, it supports H.264. It probably is even neater now since it interprets HTML5 tags and automatically invokes. It's not just for embedded Windows Media Player crap anymore.

Re:Cool story bro! (0)

Spy Handler (822350) | more than 3 years ago | (#34582110)

is that you Bill? How's Melinda doing these days?

Thanks for the informative post... although that FOSStard bit was a little over the top

Re:Cool story bro! (1)

dingen (958134) | more than 3 years ago | (#34582468)

Well, I've read about half the comments, and so far the general sentiment of the FOSStard community to my understanding is this:

- Microsoft should have written an h.264 plugin for Firefox on Linux and OS-X

Which half would that be? I've read all of the comments and found nobody actually saying this is what Microsoft should have done.

Useless (1)

Saint Stephen (19450) | more than 3 years ago | (#34582862)

Installed it; went to Microsoft's very own HTML 5 page; it wouldn't play (readme warned me about this) even though it could (detection failed)

Googled "h264 html5 video demo" -> absolutely nothing worked or did anything

Gave up; uninstalled it. Useless alpha technology. Thanks HTML5!

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