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Opera Supports Google Decision To Drop H.264

CmdrTaco posted more than 3 years ago | from the rally-behind-the-big-dog dept.

Google 336

An anonymous reader follows up to yesterday's Google announcement that they would drop H.264 support from Chrome. "Thomas Ford, Senior Communications Manager, Opera, told Muktware, 'Actually, Opera has never supported H.264. We have always chosen to support open formats like Ogg Theora and WebM. In fact, Opera was the first company to propose the tag, and when we did, we did it with Ogg. Simply put, we welcome Google's decision to rely on open codecs for HTML5 video.'"

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Everyone else uses H264/MPEG4 (5, Interesting)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 3 years ago | (#34847700)

It would be very strange indeed if, in year 2020, radio is using this codec and television is using this codec and cable is using this codec and DVRs are using this codec and Blurays are using this codec...... but the internet did not. The web would be the odd man out.

Re:Everyone else uses H264/MPEG4 (2)

Guspaz (556486) | more than 3 years ago | (#34847722)

By 2020, it's likely that we'll be using h.264's successor rather than h.264 itself.

Re:Everyone else uses H264/MPEG4 (4, Interesting)

tixxit (1107127) | more than 3 years ago | (#34848014)

Really? I'd think a good codec would have a longer useful life. I mean, mp3 is going on 17 years at this point. JPEG is around 20 years old. MPEG-2 is still being used in DVDs and BDs today and is 15 years old (BD requires h.264 support as well, though). I think you have the law of diminishing returns. How much better can we really do than h.264? It took a while to get audio right, but once it got 'good enough' (mp3), any minor improvements weren't enough to overcome the inertia mp3s had already gained. Same with JPEGs and PNGs. After a certain point, the minor improvements just aren't enough to win over the inertia gained by the previous codec. In order to beat h.264, you have to be significantly better, and h.264 is pretty darn good.

Re:Everyone else uses H264/MPEG4 (1)

beelsebob (529313) | more than 3 years ago | (#34848730)

I mean, mp3 is going on 17 years at this point. JPEG is around 20 years old. MPEG-2 is still being used in DVDs

Well done for defeating your own point – DVDs use AC3 (MPEG 2 audio) as opposed to mp3 (MPEG 1 audio)
Similarly, Blurry disks use AAC (MPEG 4 audio) as opposed to either of the above.

MP3 is only about still because alpha geeks can get their finger out their ass and use a modern codec, the rest of us have been encoding in AAC for god knows how long.

Re:Everyone else uses H264/MPEG4 (4, Informative)

alvinrod (889928) | more than 3 years ago | (#34848828)

HEVC [wikipedia.org] is aiming for a 50% reduction in bit rate for the same subjective quality, while increasing the complexity no more than 200%. A few candidate solutions have been able to get similar quality, at lower bit rates, all while decreasing the complexity. It's likely that by the time the standard is completed, it will be a lot better than h.264.

This doesn't matter as much for disc-based media, but a 50% reduction in bit rate means its cheaper to push it over the web, even if decoding it on the other end takes more time. If it takes off like AVC, then a lot of devices will include dedicated hardware to decode it. A big part of the reason phones, iPods, etc. are able to get such good life on video playback is that they have dedicated hardware to deal with certain codecs.

The reason that good codecs stick around is that there's a lot of hardware that will play/display them. A lot of people still have DVD-players so MPEG-2 still gets used because that's what the player expects, even though MPEG-2 isn't all that good compared to h.264. MP3 is still around because there are still tons of MP3 players and almost any device that can output audio continues to include MP3 support because it's cheap to do so.

h.264 is good, but h.265 of whatever they decide to call it will be even better, especially if it significantly reduces bandwidth consumption.

Re:Everyone else uses H264/MPEG4 (1)

m50d (797211) | more than 3 years ago | (#34848968)

What's kept us on jpeg rather than jpeg2k is, surprise surprise, patent issues. I suspect that's the case for your other examples too.

Re:Everyone else uses H264/MPEG4 (1)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 3 years ago | (#34848056)

You think there's a codec more advanced than MPEG4-derived 264?

It already has the ability to stream VHS-quality videos at dialup speeds (50kbit/s) and FM-quality audio at 90s-era speeds (14 kbit/s). Not sure how much more this lossy codec can be improved? I know technology advances but eventually you knock-up against Nyguist Theorem (or is it Shannon's Theorem) and can go no farther past that point. That's why Dialup has been stuck at 56k for over a decade. I suspect MPEG4 video and audio has reached that point too, and cannot be shrunk any smaller.

Dial-up stuck? Don't think so! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34848290)

Dialup, or rather data transmission using antique crappy copper wires buried haphazardly in the ground and left to corrode, is doing just fine. Or did you think ADSL/VDSL is somehow not using the same copper wires?

I'm not sure if we are approaching Nyquist or Shannon, but currently I get 40Mbit down / 4 Mbit up easily. And, get this, I can even call on the same line at the same time.

I wouldn't call that stuck, would you?

Re:Everyone else uses H264/MPEG4 (1)

eggled (1135799) | more than 3 years ago | (#34848522)

Compression algorithms (which these video encodings are) have little to do with sampling rates and channel capacity. A better compression algorithm *allows* you to use a higher sampling rate with the same data rate (thereby mitigating the impact of the Nyquist theorem), and *allows* you to send the same data through a smaller channel (mitigating the Shannon theorem). Neither phenomenon has an impact on the ability of a compression algorithm to compress. That said, I still think we're approaching the limits of A/V lossy compression.

Re:Everyone else uses H264/MPEG4 (2)

Halborr (1373599) | more than 3 years ago | (#34847738)

All of those things are consumer electronics. Personal Computers sometimes have non-commercial software on them by the operator's choice.

You don't change the OS on your TV or radio for a reason.

Re:Everyone else uses H264/MPEG4 (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 3 years ago | (#34847800)

You don't change the OS on your TV or radio for a reason.

If I could change the OS on my TV, I would. It has a USB port that I'd like to be able to use for other things. Of course I'd have to have most of the base functionality. I'd sure like to add wake-on-signal...

Re:Everyone else uses H264/MPEG4 (1)

spxero (782496) | more than 3 years ago | (#34848832)

I'd sure like to add wake-on-signal...

Yes! This would be great to have. I have media centers attached to all my TV's, but still need the TV remotes just to turn them on and off. A wake-on-lan for my TV would keep it down to one remote (or phone, web interface, etc.).

Re:Everyone else uses H264/MPEG4 (1)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 3 years ago | (#34848224)

Having lived through an era where TVs and computers were not compatible with one another (except Commodores and Amigas), I'd rather not repeat that. I'd rather have the two using the same standards so I don't need to use two separate CRTs. Moving in a direction that makes them incompatible is a mistake IMHO

Re:Everyone else uses H264/MPEG4 (1)

Halborr (1373599) | more than 3 years ago | (#34848412)

Um... Pardon me if I'm misunderstanding, but... A TV is a monitor and a tuner (a really basic computer). The PC takes care of all the decoding and just sends a video signal to your monitor. I'm not familiar with how HDMI works, so maybe that argument has some substance behind it with HDMI, but not with CRTs, which you seem to be arguing around.

Moreover, you still hook up your computer to your CRT tv? You can't get someone to give you their old CRT monitor? I just got a ~20" CRT monitor for FREE. They're not that hard to come by.

Dude, usually I'm behind the tech curve as well, but I feel like you're trying to name drop with CRT and VHS, except you're 12 years behind. You're making yourself look outdated.

Re:Everyone else uses H264/MPEG4 (2)

somersault (912633) | more than 3 years ago | (#34847836)

Since when has the web been anything like TV, Radio, or physical media, and why should it be? Much better to use a free codec than have to have your browser developer or whoever waste money on licensing.

Re:Everyone else uses H264/MPEG4 (1)

CharlyFoxtrot (1607527) | more than 3 years ago | (#34848276)

All those devices use hardware decoding, which has also made it into modern GPU's. What it comes down to is that either we go back to offloading decoding onto the CPU, forget about this for mobile and its going backwards even on the desktop, or separate hardware will need to be developed which will be more expensive than the h264 hardware because that will have a scale advantage since everybody else is using it. In short if Google gets its way we're in for a real "win" for consumers: either we get choppy playback because of software decoding or we get more expensive hardware ... but it's at least it's "open" (Google gets to drive development and saves on license fees.)

Re:Everyone else uses H264/MPEG4 (3, Interesting)

lingon (559576) | more than 3 years ago | (#34848378)

If Google wins this, we will have choppy playback because of software decoding or we get more expensive hardware but at least the videos can be played anywhere, on any system and you're free to implement it in any product you choose to develop. If H.264 wins this, we will only have video playback on Windows and MacOS X, but at least you'll have your smooth playback. That's not enough for me, though.

Re:Everyone else uses H264/MPEG4 (2)

CharlyFoxtrot (1607527) | more than 3 years ago | (#34848576)

If they (Google) were really concerned about openness they'd spend the money fighting software patents instead which is the real underlying issue here. But there's not much chance of that [google.com] .

Re:Everyone else uses H264/MPEG4 (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 3 years ago | (#34848460)

Well, I haven't looked into it, but it may still be able to offload the decoding to the GPU, just not to hardware designed specifically for that actual codec. That shouldn't be any more expensive, but it would probably use a lot more power.

Re:Everyone else uses H264/MPEG4 (2)

Yvanhoe (564877) | more than 3 years ago | (#34848974)

Exactly. On internet people download and upload. They "consume" media but produce it as well. A codec that is free only for reading has no place on internet.

Re:Everyone else uses H264/MPEG4 (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34847998)

Unlike all those formats you mentioned, the internet is free as in speech.

Re:Everyone else uses H264/MPEG4 (2)

silanea (1241518) | more than 3 years ago | (#34848108)

Absolutely. Which is why no DVD player can handle DivX, and why MP3 never made the jump to mobile phones and even dedicated devices. And, regarding your choice of time span, which is why we all still use VHS. Right. You do not honestly believe H.264 in its current form will be around in 10 years in any other use than to convert legacy media to its successor's successor?

Re:Everyone else uses H264/MPEG4 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34848130)

You mean the web would be the ogg man out! Ba Dump Tschhhh!

Re:Everyone else uses H264/MPEG4 (5, Insightful)

MtHuurne (602934) | more than 3 years ago | (#34848258)

How relevant will TV, radio, Blu-ray etc be in 2020? CD sales are already being replaced by digital downloads and while a lot of people continue to listen to the radio, they often do so by streaming it over the net. I see no reason why the future would be different for video.

Re:Everyone else uses H264/MPEG4 (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34848266)

What?

Well, you're correct in that DVB, Blueray and (probably) a lot of DVRs use H.264 (DAB uses MP2, otoh). However, all those are closed systems which is why they rely on a closed, patent encumbered codec. It's a feature.

The web, on the other hand, is a free and open environment with nothing in common with television broadcasting or selling movies on pieces of plastic. The web requires an open, patent-free codec; adopting H.264 is just as bad as when everyone started using flash video or when certain web browsers decided to "adopt, embrace and expand" HTML. I *really* hope WebM wins this as I would like to be able to continue using a free and open web browser in the future.

Re:Everyone else uses H264/MPEG4 (4, Interesting)

Steauengeglase (512315) | more than 3 years ago | (#34848394)

It isn't the odd man out, it is simply ahead of the curve.

This is why almost every net appliance failed and cellphones have the lifespan of butterflies. They can exist in that curve or slightly behind it, but they can't keep up.

Re:Everyone else uses H264/MPEG4 (1)

beelsebob (529313) | more than 3 years ago | (#34848752)

If you think in 2020 any of TV, radio, DVRs, blurays etc are going to be delivered by something other than the internet, you're deluding yourself.

Re:Everyone else uses H264/MPEG4 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34849006)

I don't think it will at all, its almost as if Betamax vs VHS. One expensive with slightly better quality, the other "free" (free of patent royalties) with close enough quality at same bitrates.

No news here. (0, Troll)

Quick Reply (688867) | more than 3 years ago | (#34847716)

Opera are against everything and everyone, while their actual market share consists only of a hardcore minority. In other words, nobody from the real world actually cares what Opera think, and there is no news here.

Re:No news here. (0)

Quick Reply (688867) | more than 3 years ago | (#34847742)

Also the fine people at the European Commission are not from the real world either.

Re:No news here. (2)

feedayeen (1322473) | more than 3 years ago | (#34847762)

Opera are against everything and everyone, while their actual market share consists only of a hardcore minority. In other words, nobody from the real world actually cares what Opera think, and there is no news here.

Opera's user base is only a hardcore minority? You want to take that outside punk?!? Just kidding, not like I'm ever going AFK

Re:No news here. (2)

MrHanky (141717) | more than 3 years ago | (#34847862)

Opera is still the most widely used mobile web browser worldwide, according to Statcounter. But perhaps mobile is irrelevant in the real world.

Re:No news here. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34848502)

any idiot who walks around with a phone or tablet all day is irrelevant.

Re:No news here. (1)

Jugalator (259273) | more than 3 years ago | (#34847876)

Funny comment to make after Opera kindly endorses Google and open codecs (= not against this, rather the contrary).

Against everything and everyone? Is h.264 really that big?

Re:No news here. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34848044)

Good question, at least in the web context. I'd be surprised if (after Chrome change) more than 2% of web usage is on a browser that's capable of HTML5+H264...

Re:No news here. (3, Insightful)

afidel (530433) | more than 3 years ago | (#34848268)

Yes, .264 is that big. It's embedded into just about every consumer electronics device that plays video. All the smartphones have hardware accelerated .264, all the settop boxes have .264, etc. It's not that these things couldn't get WebM support, its that it took 6 years of arguing in committees and standards boards to get everyone to agree on h.264 and then another 3 years or so for a significant number of products to end up on store shelves and then another couple of years before those devices became a major percentage of devices. Basically you're looking at around 10 years to go from codec to ubiquity.

Sad news for the web (0)

Guspaz (556486) | more than 3 years ago | (#34847736)

Sad news for the web, that we'll be saddled with outdated inefficient codecs that, at least in the case of WebM, are probably just as patent-encumbered as h.264.

Re:Sad news for the web (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34847786)

Your wheelbarrow is showing underneath your skirts.

Re:Sad news for the web (5, Informative)

Jugalator (259273) | more than 3 years ago | (#34847822)

Why would it "probably" be as patent encumbered as h.264? Google claims no patents at least, so that would in this case be if it's too similar in some regard to MPEG LA patents. But if we are to dismiss codecs on the basis of pessimistic probably's, we won't approve a single modern video codec at all. What matters is that the format has, after scrutiny of the FSF, been endorsed, that Google has irrevocably released all patents of VP8, and that there are signs that On2 made an effort to avoid MPEG LA patents in designing the format [conecta.it] . It doesn't really get much better than that. We'll always have the doubters, the pessimists, but we can't base decisions on possibilities, only facts. At least in a world that is moving forward as quickly as the IT world.

Re:Sad news for the web (1)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 3 years ago | (#34848152)

Even if WebM is completely "liberated" and free of patents, they'll still get sued by the MPEG lawyers (they said they would). And WebM supporters might still lose depending on the incompetence of the judge, who might think WebM is infringing.

Re:Sad news for the web (5, Insightful)

lingon (559576) | more than 3 years ago | (#34848488)

So your solution is that we should go with the 100% patent encumbered codec instead? I fail to see how this solves the problem. With WebM, at least we have the possibility of a free and open solution.

Re:Sad news for the web (2)

Haedrian (1676506) | more than 3 years ago | (#34847858)

Naah. At least this way we won't go back to the days when to view a video you needed 10 different plugins from 10 different vendors.

Or we could... use... flash, till someone write a proper codec with no strings attached? You know flash? Its that thing the web's been using for a few years now. Yeah I know its proprietry, but the player is free.

Re:Sad news for the web (1)

mikael_j (106439) | more than 3 years ago | (#34847914)

And h.264 is no more proprietary than Flash with the added advantage that the standard isn't controlled by a single company well-known for producing buggy insecure software...

Re:Sad news for the web (1)

zeroshade (1801584) | more than 3 years ago | (#34848668)

Except that a company distributing a flash plugin wouldn't have to pay Adobe a helluva lot of money, whereas a company that distributes an h.264 decoder has to pay a damn lot of money for a license.

Re:Sad news for the web (1)

EdZ (755139) | more than 3 years ago | (#34847926)

Most 'flash video' you watch now is h.264 in an flv container.

Re:Sad news for the web (1)

Haedrian (1676506) | more than 3 years ago | (#34848088)

The argument remains that for the end user/browser they don't have to pay the h.264 license. Yeah I would prefer it if we get weaned off proprietary stuff, but for now this'll do

Re:Sad news for the web (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34848156)

Yep and you can shove that 'flash video' garbage right into the nearest black hole. flash needs to die now. The open format of ogg is the way to go. The ogg codec might be a bit poopy now, but if it is the standard more developers will look at it and begin to add to the project. Next step would be a codec that is better than the h.264 and ogg is open.

Re:Sad news for the web (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34848286)

Most flash video should be H.264 in a MP4 container. At least that's the container Adobe recommended for use with H.264 ever since they added support for it in Flash 9. Youtube for instance uses MP4 for it's H.264 content AFAIK.

Re:Sad news for the web (1)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 3 years ago | (#34848312)

THANK YOU. I was about to say the same thing. If you're watching Flash, you're watching MPEG4's H264 codec most of the time.

Re:Sad news for the web (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 3 years ago | (#34848510)

Yeah I know its proprietry, but the player is free

And cross-platform. We just got a big snowstorm here in Illinois, and when I went to look up road conditions [gettingaro...linois.com] , the page informed me that Silverlight is required -- and Silverlight won't run in Linux, [microsoft.com] nor will it run on any version of Windows prior to XP, or on an old Mac ( just acquired an old Mac a few nights ago).

Re:Sad news for the web (1)

CharlyFoxtrot (1607527) | more than 3 years ago | (#34848860)

Naah. At least this way we won't go back to the days when to view a video you needed 10 different plugins from 10 different vendors.

Looks to me like Google by doing this is trying to refragment a market that looked like it was going to be ruled by the one codec to bind them all, H264.

Re:Sad news for the web (1)

Haedrian (1676506) | more than 3 years ago | (#34848980)

Except that Firefox already said it wasn't going to support it. So that's 30% of the market fragmented already.

Re:Sad news for the web (1)

Andy Dodd (701) | more than 3 years ago | (#34848010)

Yup, there is very little evidence other than Google's claims that WebM is really patent-free.

There was a VERY good analysis of WebM from one of the x264 developers (admittedly there could be bias there, but my opinion was that it was high on technical content but low on bias.) - http://x264dev.multimedia.cx/archives/377 [multimedia.cx]

There was at least one component of WebM that the x264 developer felt WAS patent-encumbered. However there is a potential for a prior art challenge on that one.

The WebM/VP8 spec is apparently AWFUL. Almost as bad as, if not worse than, Microsoft's OOXML spec.

Re:Sad news for the web (1)

lingon (559576) | more than 3 years ago | (#34848542)

While both have an obvious bias in this, I'd rather trust the word of Google with its armada of IP lawyers than one x264 developer. Especially since Google will take the possible courtroom fight.

Re:Sad news for the web (5, Insightful)

Kjella (173770) | more than 3 years ago | (#34848198)

Every time this comes up the meme is that they're waiting for someone with deep pockets to sue. Well, Google has extremely deep pockets. If Google can use it with impunity without getting sued, you can be sure this is nothing but patent FUD. And if Google is sued, well at least there will be a real trial on the validity of the patents. Either way there's no reason for Opera or Mozilla or anyone else not to join in as long as Google leads the flock.

Re:Sad news for the web (2)

fast turtle (1118037) | more than 3 years ago | (#34848550)

Now the question is, why in hell should my browser support H264 when it's the OS that should support it? That's the exact reason for a Standard. Support by the OS and keep the many software packages as lean as possible and yet everyone is bitching that Opera and Chrome have dropped support when Firefox included it since it's supported by the OS through a plug-in. Windows Media Player for MS and Quicktime for Apple. What does *nix have? Nothing legal that I'm aware of

STOP USING CHROME AND OPERA!!! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34847780)

Now if everyone was smart they would stop using Opera and Chrome!!! Do it today please!!! I believe a lawsuit is pending about codecs with WebM so it may not be free in the end as well.

Bad research.... (5, Informative)

gQuigs (913879) | more than 3 years ago | (#34847788)

The article ends with, "It will be interesting to see if major browsers like Firefox, Internet Explorer and Safari will follow the suit and drop support for H.264."

Re:Bad research.... (4, Funny)

Haedrian (1676506) | more than 3 years ago | (#34847866)

"It will be interesting to see if major browsers like Firefox, Internet Explorer and Safari will follow the suit and drop support for H.264."

Fixed that up for you

Re:Bad research.... (1)

guruevi (827432) | more than 3 years ago | (#34847958)

Both Firefox and Safari have taken a huge chunk of the market. IE is down to 44% market share, Firefox now takes up nearly 30% and Safari takes up 5% + 20% of the mobile share.

Re:Bad research.... (2)

silanea (1241518) | more than 3 years ago | (#34848240)

Both Firefox and Safari have taken a huge chunk of the market. [...] Safari takes up 5% [...].

For a very kind definition of "huge". With Apple's market share in the desktop and laptop world somewhere between 4 and 10%, depending on who you ask, those 5% look rather bleak to me. Either they barely manage to keep their few hardware customers from jumping ship or they lose about half of the many Mac users to competing browsers. Neither option sounds much like a success.

Re:Bad research.... (3, Informative)

EdZ (755139) | more than 3 years ago | (#34847956)

Firefox does not support h.264.

Re:Bad research.... (1)

JackieBrown (987087) | more than 3 years ago | (#34848038)

I think that was his point. Not sure why he was modded troll.

He highlighted the only browser that does not support h.264

Re:Bad research.... (1)

gQuigs (913879) | more than 3 years ago | (#34848448)

You are correct... Apparently I should be more verbose next time...

They can't drop something they've never had.

Re:Bad research.... (1)

calebpburns (1925438) | more than 3 years ago | (#34848288)

The article ends with, "It will be interesting to see if major browsers like Firefox, Internet Explorer and Safari will follow the suit and drop support for H.264."

Firefox does not natively support [mozilla.com] the H.264 codec without plugins (i.e., Flash or WMP Firefox Plugin [interopera...ridges.com] )

Re:Bad research.... (1)

gparent (1242548) | more than 3 years ago | (#34848874)

Good job, you know how to read.

Re:Bad research.... (1)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 3 years ago | (#34848334)

There's something fundamentally perverse about developers making efforts to remove features from their products, and/or issue press releases bragging about features they will not offer. It's almost as if they had some agenda other than making their software more useful to end-users and content publishers.

Re:Bad research.... (1)

gparent (1242548) | more than 3 years ago | (#34848888)

They're helping keep the web open and thus IMHO more useful. Fine with me.

Since when do we listen to Oprah about this? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34847834)

She should stick to getting her TV channel up and running, and not meddle in the technical details of how the video is encoded and viewed.

WebM (2)

jpea (879421) | more than 3 years ago | (#34847852)

everyone, get your zencoder [zencoder.com] instances fired up

I wish.. (0, Troll)

js3 (319268) | more than 3 years ago | (#34847912)

I wish software developers would stop playing politics with software and just deliver products that work

Re:I wish.. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34848018)

What, all the megacorps and patents behind the h264 licensing aren't to blame? Your logic is impeccable.

Re:I wish.. (0)

js3 (319268) | more than 3 years ago | (#34848076)

what part of the word 'politics' didn't you understand?

Re:I wish.. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34848070)

That can only be achieved with patent free software, like the move Google just did with Chrome. Proprietary software or patented software will always have lawyers stopping the delivery of products that 'just work'.

Re:I wish.. (5, Informative)

Shikaku (1129753) | more than 3 years ago | (#34848344)

Because then you'd have to pay money to use Firefox in 2014 with h264 support, and Firefox would violate the GPL unless you paid. It would also segregate those that paid and those that did not.

Remember the time when you had to pay money to buy a browser? 15ish years ago?

Citation:
http://www.streaminglearningcenter.com/articles/h264-royalties-what-you-need-to-know.html [streamingl...center.com]

According to the “Summary of AVC/H.264 License Terms,” which you can download from the MPEG LA site (www.mpegla.com/ avc/avc-agreement.cfm), there are no royalties for free internet broadcast (there are, however, royalties for pay-per-view or subscription video) until Dec. 31, 2010 [extended to 2014]. After that, “the royalty shall be no more than the economic equivalent of royalties payable during the same time for free television.”This makes royalties payable for “free television” the best predictor of where internet royalties will stand in 2011. Under the terms of the agreement, you have two options: a one-time payment of $2,500 “per AVC transmission encoder” or an annual fee starting at “$2,500 per calendar year per Broadcast Markets of at least 100,000 but no more than 499,999 television households, $5,000 per calendar year per Broadcast Market which includes at least 500,000 but no more than 999,999 television households, and $10,000 per calendar year per Broadcast Market which includes at 1,000,000 or more television households.”

This isn't just free as in beer, it's free as in free of cost.

Re:I wish.. (1)

Shikaku (1129753) | more than 3 years ago | (#34848370)

*This isn't just about free as in beer, it's about free as in free of cost.

Fucking typos.

Don't blame Google, Blame Mozilla. (0)

spinkham (56603) | more than 3 years ago | (#34848008)

For good or ill, this is Mozilla's fault.

Mozilla were the first ones to take a stand, even when theora was the best free option. Opera agreed and followed suit. It's only afterwards, now that Google has proven WebM code and hardware available that they are growing a pair also.

I think in the short term this will push many sites back to flash video, in the medium term it will be good for the web, and in the long term patents don't matter, so H.264 is probably a better choice.

How you feel about this greatly depends on the timeframe you reference...

Re:Don't blame Google, Blame Mozilla. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34848414)

All video sides I know of still do largely, if not solely, Flash video. Of course, I'm using Firefox, so this may be why I'm seeing it this way.

Re:Don't blame Google, Blame Mozilla. (1)

calebpburns (1925438) | more than 3 years ago | (#34848554)

Mozilla is not to blame here. Firefox cannot support the H.264 codec legally in patent encumbered countries without licensing it. Licensing H.264 is royalty free at the moment but it expires in 2016 [slashdot.org] and the future fees associated with it have not been disclosed. A non-profit organization such as Mozilla cannot hope to spend as much on licensing fees as Apple or Microsoft. So it is simply not viable for Firefox to support H.264.

So to sum it all up... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34848020)

To sum it all up: Because nobody can play nice with their patents and their licenses HTML 5 video will still be "oh, work on machine x but not on machine y". And this was supposed to be a panacea for apps, video and everything. Except now it isn't. This is why we can't have nice things.

You want hardware accelerated video? Use h.264 and it will work swell on Safari on Mac and IE on Windows.

You want something that will target ALL machines? Use WebM, but make sure you have your users install some plug-ins or Codecs on the most popular operating systems. Oh, and for mobile? yeah - don't use WebM.

What a mess we are making of this stuff.

Good idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34848022)

Free standards are better for everyone, they don't need expensive licensing, they're freely usable from everyone and they don't need closed-source codecs. You will have to simply convert your video to ogg/theora instead of H.264. I think this is good.

Ah, Baloney (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34848094)

Gruber gets to the root and calls BS:

"Regarding Google’s stated explanation for dropping H.264 support in Chrome:
Though H.264 plays an important role in video, as our goal is to enable open innovation, support for the codec will be removed and our resources directed towards completely open codec technologies.
These changes will occur in the next couple months but we are announcing them now to give content publishers and developers using HTML an opportunity to make any necessary changes to their sites.
In addition to supporting H.264, Chrome currently bundles an embedded version of Adobe’s closed source and proprietary Flash Player plugin. If H.264 support is being removed to “enable open innovation”, will Flash Player support be dropped as well? If not, why?
Android currently supports H.264. Will this support be removed from Android? If not, why not?
YouTube uses H.264 to encode video. Presumably, YouTube will be re-encoding its entire library using WebM. When this happens, will YouTube’s support for H.264 be dropped, to “enable open innovation”? If not, why not?
Do you expect companies like Netflix, Amazon, Vimeo, Major League Baseball, and anyone else who currently streams H.264 to dual-encode all of their video using WebM? If not, how will Chrome users watch this content other than by resorting to Flash Player’s support for H.264 playback?
Who is happy about this?"

Wow, well if Opera thinks it's cool... (0)

Tomsk70 (984457) | more than 3 years ago | (#34848106)

...how many desktops use opera as their browser again?

It's bizarre - they all seem to think that decisions like this will simply be followed by the users, when the reality will be a) find a plugin, or b) go get a browser that does it already. Like IE9 :-)

Re:Wow, well if Opera thinks it's cool... (1)

kanto (1851816) | more than 3 years ago | (#34848430)

...how many desktops use opera as their browser again?

It's bizarre - they all seem to think that decisions like this will simply be followed by the users, when the reality will be a) find a plugin, or b) go get a browser that does it already. Like IE9 :-)

Please add Firefox and Chrome users to the tally. I personally don't care what the codec of choice will be, but from watching the long and miserable existence of Flash as a whole I appreciate having diversity and genuinely free software.

Re:Wow, well if Opera thinks it's cool... (1)

Tomsk70 (984457) | more than 3 years ago | (#34848544)

It bothers me - this isn't some codec that's up'n'coming, it's something that's in use *right now*, and it isn't some buggy app like Flash.

It reminds me of Open Office - 'hey, let's set the default format to something that *no-one uses* - oh, why has our userbase not exploded?'

Re:Wow, well if Opera thinks it's cool... (1)

kanto (1851816) | more than 3 years ago | (#34848790)

It bothers me - this isn't some codec that's up'n'coming, it's something that's in use *right now*, and it isn't some buggy app like Flash.

It reminds me of Open Office - 'hey, let's set the default format to something that *no-one uses* - oh, why has our userbase not exploded?'

Well, H264 isn't the first codec and won't be the last; I'd prefer everything just working without a hitch, but it's less likely to happen when device makers have to pay license fees to add support for codecs or contrainers. And what, Open Office should've used something outdated or a closed proprietary format?

What browser will support them all? (1)

CHK6 (583097) | more than 3 years ago | (#34848142)

I don't care about the backing of one over the other. When it comes down to it, what browser will support both?

Re:What browser will support them all? (1)

CharlyFoxtrot (1607527) | more than 3 years ago | (#34848418)

According to this article [broken-links.com] IE and Safari, through plugins, eventually.

No more h.264? (1)

jonescb (1888008) | more than 3 years ago | (#34848218)

Since Gentoo only provides Chromium, I haven't had built in support for h.264. I don't miss it. 99% of the videos I watch are on Youtube which is obviously owned by Google. If Chrome will only support WebM then so will >90% of the online video market (Youtube alone).

Re:No more h.264? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34848586)

You mean the non-porn online video market, surely?

This will cause flash to win in the end. (0)

ZorinLynx (31751) | more than 3 years ago | (#34848616)

In the end, the only format that's going to universally work on all browsers for video is flash. So flash is going to come out on top (or stay on top), and the industry as a whole will lose.

We need everyone to agree on one codec and STICK WITH IT. This sort of flapping around is going to mean that no one codec is ever going to be adopted, and flash will remain the standard because that's the only one that works on most devices.

Re:This will cause flash to win in the end. (2)

Spad (470073) | more than 3 years ago | (#34848756)

I'm sorry, I must have misheard that; did you just say that Flash works, universally, on all browsers?

In the news today... (1)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 3 years ago | (#34848640)

...companies brag about dropping features or touting ones they never had.

Drop H.264 in favour of OGG? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34848772)

Sorry, nobody uses OGG video and never heard of WebM. If you are going to support a format, support the formats people actually use, not just because they are free.

I am tired of "idea" that Free/Open software > closed software in theory but the "reality" is closed software >>>>> free software in usage.

A browser should not be a company's editorial on which formats they believe should be used, but instead reflect the technology people actually use. Apple should suck it up and support flash, and Google should suck it up and pay for the H.264 licencing fee which I know they can afford.

If I have to use 3 browsers to gain access to 100% of the web this is an epic fail for Google, Apple, Chrome, Microsoft, and the W3C as a whole group.

Compromise (1)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | more than 3 years ago | (#34848858)

The problem here is that multiple parties all have valid conflicts of interest, but lack of standardization hurts us all. Here's how:

  • Fragmentation promotes Flash which leaves us all stuck with a single vendor proprietary solution that will have poor security and performance.
  • Browser promoting WebM means everyone with an existing mobile device and many people with mobile devices being made for some number of years going forward will lack hardware support for that format, resulting in crappy battery life.
  • Companies that provide video now will have to translate large portions of their catalog, which means some video will simply go away (as that will be cheaper) and everyone will incur expense that no one wants.

So, can the big parties come together and create a compromise that will help everyone, or are they more interested in hurting one another than in helping consumers? Here's what I propose. All major browser/OS vendors commit to h264 support for a period of six years, then agree to remove said support; as part of the HTML5 transition. After six years, all browser vendors agree to support WebM. This gives content providers a plan going forward and gives companies that make cell phone chipsets time to integrate hardware support for WebM and for phone makers to incorporate those chips in their designs. People with six year old phones would still have shitty battery life at that point, but I suspect that will be well past the lifespan of a smartphone.

This won't change much in the "big picture" .... (1)

King_TJ (85913) | more than 3 years ago | (#34848870)

Maybe the Linux community will see this as a more important change than most people, due to their software options. (Obviously, Linux users aren't huge Internet Explorer users, nor do they use Safari browser as a rule. They're also more likely than others to use a version of the Opera browser.) But all in all? Apple was just recently pushing H.264 as one of their preferred codecs, so it'd be crazy for them to go along with pulling it from Safari. (Didn't they just recently convince YouTube to convert a whole bunch of former Flash based videos to H.264 format?)

I don't think Google Chrome has exactly taken the world by storm either, so their failure to support a popular codec like H.264 will just serve to further relegate the product to "niche use only". This would have MUCH more impact if FireFox was going to pull support for it, instead of Chrome doing so.

Ads, ads, ads (0)

mveloso (325617) | more than 3 years ago | (#34848942)

By controlling the codec, Google can design it so they can insert ads into the video stream more easily.

This isn't about open, unless open = more money for google.

Remember when computers did stuff (1)

holophrastic (221104) | more than 3 years ago | (#34849002)

I remember the days when computers had these things called codecs, and you could simply add support for just about any format. No one ever removed functionality, it was all about adding support for more and more formats.

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