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Google To Push WebM With IE9, Safari Plugins

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the first-one's-free dept.

Google 413

surveyork writes with this "new chapter in the browser wars: 'Google in a defense of its decision to pull H.264 from Chrome's HTML5 revealed that it will put out WebM plugins for Internet Explorer 9 and Safari. Expecting no official support from Apple or Microsoft, Google plans to develop extensions that would load its self-owned video codec. No timetable was given.' So Google gets started with their plan for world-wide WebM domination. They'll provide WebM plugins for the browsers of the H.264-only league, so in practice, all major browsers will have WebM support — one way or the other. Machiavellian move?"

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Then has anyone decided to fork the H.264 builds? (-1, Flamebait)

sethstorm (512897) | more than 3 years ago | (#34892420)

If Google is going all out to kill H.264, have they made sure previous versions of Chrome aren't available that have said support?

Re:Then has anyone decided to fork the H.264 build (1)

guruevi (827432) | more than 3 years ago | (#34892446)

I guess as long as you don't mind eventually paying for the licenses or battling the patent trolls. Even though currently H.264 is available for 'free' (as in you don't have to pay for it), the current owners are not obligated to keep it that way. H.264 is not really free in the rms sense of the word.

Re:Then has anyone decided to fork the H.264 build (2, Interesting)

node 3 (115640) | more than 3 years ago | (#34892586)

MPEG-LA isn't meant primarily to generate a profit, it's a collaboration of many patent holders who have pooled their patents to create a legal, high quality, open, widely supported video codec that they can all use, preventing a slew of inferior, proprietary incompatible video formats from each company. MPEG-LA, and their members, primarily want a codec that can be more or less used universally. It's not in their best interest to become "patent trolls" and sue people not making money off of their patents.

On the other hand, it's very much in their interest to sue large companies that are deliberately pissing in their pool, like Google.

As a consumer, H.264 is pretty much perfect. It essentially comes free with everything I own, costs me nothing to use on the web, is universally supported, and runs smoothly and sips power on all my devices. Of those, WebM only does the "costs me nothing to use on the web".

On paper, WebM is inferior technology. In theory, WebM's license is superior. But in actual, present reality, H.264 is really the best thing out there, and WebM is just not compelling enough to overturn the consumer apple cart in order to cater to the ideological whims of a small minority of consumers.

Re:Then has anyone decided to fork the H.264 build (4, Insightful)

LordLimecat (1103839) | more than 3 years ago | (#34892602)

IIRC it also costs oodles for licensing for those making browsers, which in turn raises the costs of making a browser, which in turns hurts competition.

Re:Then has anyone decided to fork the H.264 build (2)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 3 years ago | (#34892690)

> MPEG-LA isn't meant primarily to generate a profit...

Horseshit. It's purpose is to maximize the profits of the members.

Re:Then has anyone decided to fork the H.264 build (5, Insightful)

grcumb (781340) | more than 3 years ago | (#34892720)

As a consumer, H.264 is pretty much perfect. It essentially comes free with everything I own, costs me nothing to use on the web, is universally supported, and runs smoothly and sips power on all my devices. Of those, WebM only does the "costs me nothing to use on the web".

And there is the crux of the issue: Assuming a strong distinction between consumer and producer, there's no problem. But anyone astride the cusp between the two is vulnerable to fees that could stop them from distributing a popular video made with H.264. People have already testified here that once the license regime kicks in (for distribution above a certain number) they suddenly gain the interest of the licensing body and have no choice but to pay or to stop distributing the video.

The idea that video content is made solely for profit is the worm in the middle of this particular apple. And it's likely why Google, with their huge investment in Youtube, want to give their users an alternative.

Re:Then has anyone decided to fork the H.264 build (1)

Skapare (16644) | more than 3 years ago | (#34892880)

How is it that it costs you nothing? Are you pirating it?

If you are using H.264 legally, you ARE paying for its licensing, even if indirectly, as part of the costs of the products you pay for that include it.

People like me that want to run computers more safely with 100% locally compiled source code are being locked out by the MPEG-LA. If they would allow me to use MPEG-LA legally based on freely downloaded source I compile, I would use it. Being as they do not allow that, I won't use it.

There is an alternative. If certain hardware makers (CPU or GPU or other) would make H.264 encoders/decoders in hardware, with an open interface to allow any software to use that hardware, that would work for me (then I'd be paying for H.264 licensing via my hardware purchase).

Until then, WebM, Dirac, OGG/Theora/Vorbis, FLAC, and such for my video and audio needs. If they (MPEG-LA) don't want me (someone who compiles their own source code) as a user, then I guess I won't be.

Re:Then has anyone decided to fork the H.264 build (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34892898)

MPEG-LA, and their members, primarily want a codec that can be more or less used universally.

That's easy to achieve. Release it under open, royalty-free terms for all uses (distributing, commercial and non-commercial streaming, encoding, decoding, etc) and you'll get universal use. That's what Google is doing. That's why WebM is already headed towards universal availability across all browsers.

Microsoft recognised this early which is why they made sure IE9 would make use of WebM if it was installed. Perhaps they'll even start distributing it with IE in the future.

Re:Then has anyone decided to fork the H.264 build (0)

mbone (558574) | more than 3 years ago | (#34892630)

Actually, they are. MPEG-LA has said that H.264 will be permanently royalty free [slashdot.org] for Internet broadcast video. I am not a lawyer, and this is not legal advice, but my understanding is that they cannot retract that. They might even lose the rights to enforce their patents if they tried. (Again, you are insane if you rely on slashdot for legal advice, from me or anyone else.)

Now, a new party could come along and sue, but that is true for WebM or any other standard.

Re:Then has anyone decided to fork the H.264 build (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#34892770)

That only covers broadcasting, it doesn't cover the encoding or decoding of the stream. So, they're basically letting you stream the media for free as long as you use a licensed implementation on either end. Plus, they require you to have a license for each individual software product rather than a blanket license to cover the computer.

Re:Then has anyone decided to fork the H.264 build (1)

TrancePhreak (576593) | more than 3 years ago | (#34892876)

Plus, they require you to have a license for each individual software product rather than a blanket license to cover the computer.

This is incorrect. A codec can be installed that can encode/decode for a system. It's just that software makers don't want to give away their encoding to other companies, or often they are not general purpose codecs. Ahead's Nero is different in this, as I believe they have codecs they install that allow you to use the formats they pay form.

Re:Then has anyone decided to fork the H.264 build (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34892826)

Actually, they are. MPEG-LA has said that H.264 will be permanently royalty free [slashdot.org] for Internet broadcast video.

Use doesn't matter, we're talking encoders and decoders here.

That license costs like 10c per copy distributed, I'm sure that will work wonders for Firefox to turn back into Netscape/Opera and charge for their browser.

[If you want to argue that they should have used DirectShow/MediaFoundation on Windows, GStreamer/Xine on Linux and QuickTime on OS X for video so that wouldn't be a problem, I can buy that argument at least]

Now, a new party could come along and sue, but that is true for WebM or any other standard.

This is why the patent system sucks, if it didn't exist then H.264 wouldn't be patented. The fact that it does means that WebM and H.264 are both subject to submarine patents, IIRC we've already had some asshole outside of MPEG-LA suing people over H.264 so this just blows.

Re:Then has anyone decided to fork the H.264 build (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#34892662)

>>>the current owners are not obligated to keep it that way

Have the MPEG raked us over the coals with MPEG1, MPEG2, JPEG, MP3, or AAC? Then why do you think they'll do it with MPEG4/h264?

Re:Then has anyone decided to fork the H.264 build (5, Informative)

MrL0G1C (867445) | more than 3 years ago | (#34892784)

What, like this:

mp3 is not free..
http://mp3licensing.com/royalty/emd.html [mp3licensing.com]

h.264 is not free:
http://www.streaminglearningcenter.com/articles/h264-royalties-what-you-need-to-know.html [streamingl...center.com]

mpeg2 is not free:
http://www.mpegla.com/main/programs/M2/Pages/Agreement.aspx [mpegla.com]

(how do I make a proper link here - without the whole url showing up?)

Re:Then has anyone decided to fork the H.264 build (1)

gbl08ma (1904378) | more than 3 years ago | (#34892846)

OGG is free.

...But few things support it (when compared to MPEG and H.264), and most people don't know what it is. If it weren't this way, you would have people calling "OGG Players" to Digital Audio Players instead of "MP3 players"! I dream with that day when people do that...

For the links: use "a href=" blah blah blah as you would do in a plain XHTML webpage. For me it always worked well. If you can't take it, then I suppose this thing of having to write in HTML is to keep noobs away and filter the geeks :)

Re:Then has anyone decided to fork the H.264 build (3, Interesting)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | more than 3 years ago | (#34892922)

I think you might be surprised what supports OGG. It never says it on the box or, when it comes to car stereos, on the faceplate, but sometimes it is there. My car stereo that supports USB plays ogg, and it surprised me when it worked because there is no information anywhere that it would. It's free so it simply gets put in, and maybe in some cases the bozos in management don't even know it.

Re:Then has anyone decided to fork the H.264 build (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#34892924)

Funny you provide those links because this is what I noticed immediately: "No license fee..... for entities with gross revenue less than $100,000." I also note that I did not pay a dime in license fees personally. Not for my MP3 Player, or when I encoded my CDs to AAC (MPEG4), or when I turn on my television (MPEG2), or downloaded VLC Player (MPEGS 1-4), and so on.

If I did pay any hidden fees in the price, it must have been extremely reasonable since my last DVD player cost just $20 and it has MPEG2 in it. And Blurays with MPEG4 codecs have now dropped to $50. So where's this "onerous" burden at?????

Re:Then has anyone decided to fork the H.264 build (-1, Troll)

gbl08ma (1904378) | more than 3 years ago | (#34892468)

[AFAIK] Remember that, unlike happens with Chromium, auto-update feature of Chrome can't be disabled easily and Google has almost total control over what you can do with the browser. If many people start using older versions to get H.264, they might put an end on the use of such versions.[/AFAIK]

Re:Then has anyone decided to fork the H.264 build (2)

ifiwereasculptor (1870574) | more than 3 years ago | (#34892864)

Actually yes, auto-update can be easily disabled and no, they do not have any control over what you do with your browser once it's on your PC. You PC isn't an iPhone and Chrome isn't Steam, so it can't automatically uninstall nor does Chrome tries to validate itself with Google in order to work, at least not without liborwell present. Also, lo and behold: http://www.oldapps.com/google_chrome.php [oldapps.com] Chrome since version 1.0.

Re:Then has anyone decided to fork the H.264 build (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#34892632)

I would be shocked if Google goes to any great lengths to hunt down and exterminate H.264(especially since they now distribute and auto-update Flash, which has Adobe's H.264 support, albeit only within flash applets), though they will presumably auto-update by default, as Chrome always has, which will eliminate the older copies run by people who don't do anything to stop that from happening.

There are clear strategic reasons why Google would care about WebM vs. H.264 marketshare; but(unlike a DRM problem, where obsessively exterminating the few compromised nodes before they can leak plaintext versions is a constant activity), marketshare battles are about trying to move the mainstream in one direction or another, not about trying to twist the arms of a few percent of die-hards. Google would, one presumes, want to save the licensing money, and be able to say to web video outfits "Hey, look at the WebM vs. H.264 numbers..."; but they have nothing to gain by burning their geek PR by trying to snatch H.264 from the hands of those who are clinging on to it(nor, in the same vein, would I expect them to do anything if somebody were to release a Chrome plugin based on x.264).

While you are at it.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34892426)

Can you fix IE9's canvas implementation? [slashdot.org]

Thanks Google!

Yes, Machiavellien, quite (5, Insightful)

Miseph (979059) | more than 3 years ago | (#34892434)

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

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

Re:Yes, Machiavellien, quite (1)

Jon.Burgin (1136665) | more than 3 years ago | (#34892526)

Yes, either the poster doesn't understand what Machiavellien means or they don't understand the situation at hand.

Re:Yes, Machiavellien, quite (-1)

pyite (140350) | more than 3 years ago | (#34892538)

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

Uh, it's very likely that WebM infringes on patents, so saying it's unencumbered is wrong. There's nothing wrong with supplying plugins to watch WebM video. Like Flash plugins, I won't install them. It's nice having freedom. WebM is going to remain a niche format, and Google and Adobe can enjoy their now obvious relationship together, as this serves only to prop up Flash.

Re:Yes, Machiavellien, quite (2)

Homburg (213427) | more than 3 years ago | (#34892598)

Uh, it's very likely that WebM infringes on patents, so saying it's unencumbered is wrong.

Well, Google says it doesn't, and they've studied WebM in some detail. So either they're stupid, or they have some kind of plan whereby, somehow, patents on WebM won't cause them problems. I can't think what such a plan would be, but if you have any suggestions, I'd be interested to hear them.

Re:Yes, Machiavellien, quite (1)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 3 years ago | (#34892734)

They also refuse to indemnify you if patent infringement is found. If they seriously believe it is patent free, why not put up a bounty? Paying $10,000 (or whatever) per patent is a lot cheaper than a Texas jury and gives them a chance to fix any offending code before it's an issue.

Re:Yes, Machiavellien, quite (2)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 3 years ago | (#34892764)

Google may have determined that any patents WebM infringes are too weak to stand up to a determined attack in court and so will not be enforced against them. Owners of weak patents often license them at just below the cost of destroying them in court. Since Google is not going buy a license at any price...

Re:Yes, Machiavellien, quite (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34892604)

I'm curious, is there really any sound basis for this assumption that "its very likely WebM infringes on patents" ?

Or is this just the standard FUD from peeps that have run out of sound arguments, and have nothing else to say ?

I've yet to see something solid to back it up, and I am genuinely curious ?

I presume Google would have taken a good hard look ???

I can't be the only one sick of hearing it ?

Re:Yes, Machiavellien, quite (1)

Sam Douglas (1106539) | more than 3 years ago | (#34892684)

To me it seems quite possibly FUD. I am not sure if it would be in their interests to sue yet; on one hand it could get WebM out of the way, but it could also go badly for the MPEG patent holders if some of the key patents are ruled invalid or too broad (which they possibly are).

Re:Yes, Machiavellien, quite (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34892762)

The claim is based on the fact that large chunks of VP8 (the WebM video codec) are literally lifted straight from H.264.

In fact, VP8 is basically a suboptimal H.264 with a bunch of features removed.

Because it uses a large chunk of H.264 technologies, it's almost guaranteed to run into patents. It can't NOT run into patents, since it uses so much of the same tech as H.264.

The only reason no one has sued is because Google can't check if it infringes on patents: if they check and it does, damage figures triple. Likewise, VP8 isn't use enough yet for patent holders to bother suing Google, so instead they're waiting to see if it catches on. If VP8 ever looks like it might be competing successfully with H.264, expect the lawsuits to start.

Re:Yes, Machiavellien, quite (2)

kanto (1851816) | more than 3 years ago | (#34892698)

What doesn't infringe patents? WebM is good news imo since it will have Google's pockets behind it and firefox, opera etc. won't have to dig deep to license h264; if done correctly this solves one huge problem for the little guys.

Re:Yes, Machiavellien, quite (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 3 years ago | (#34892718)

> it's very likely that WebM infringes on patents, so saying it's unencumbered is wrong.

Where are the lawsuits?

Re:Yes, Machiavellien, quite (1)

gnasher719 (869701) | more than 3 years ago | (#34892774)

Where are the lawsuits?

If you had any patents that you believe WebM is infringing on, suing _now_ build be totally stupid. You would wait until WebM is a lot, lot bigger.

Re:Yes, Machiavellien, quite (2)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#34892636)

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

-Concerned Citizens for the MPEG LA

Re:Yes, Machiavellien, quite (0)

Calibax (151875) | more than 3 years ago | (#34892712)

How sinister of them to remove working code from their browser simply to force people to use their own codec.

On the face of it, it looks like a political move that reduces freedom for users.

Re:Yes, Machiavellien, quite (1)

EyelessFade (618151) | more than 3 years ago | (#34892860)

Uhm no.
On two accounts.
1. An proprietary codec can never be freedom. So you can't loose any freedom by having it removed
2. Cromium is free software. If you like you can put H264 right back in there.

Re:Yes, Machiavellien, quite (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34892912)

An proprietary codec can never be freedom. So you can't loose any freedom by having it removed

what kind of argument is this. Do you lose anything if Windows or Mac OSX go away? Yes. You lose the features that those have that you don't find in non-proprietary alternatives.

Re:Yes, Machiavellien, quite (5, Informative)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#34892768)

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

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

MPEG4/h264 vs. VP8 comparison (h264 slightly better - specially on low bitrate connections):
    - http://compression.ru/video/codec_comparison/h264_2010/vp8_vs_h264.html [compression.ru]
HE-AACplus vs. Vorbis (HE-AAC wins):
    - http://listening-tests.hydrogenaudio.org/sebastian/mf-48-1/results.htm [hydrogenaudio.org]
JPEG vs. WebP (WebP wins):
    - http://englishhard.com/2010/10/01/real-world-analysis-of-googles-webp-versus-jpg/ [englishhard.com]

Re:Yes, Machiavellien, quite (1)

Nyeerrmm (940927) | more than 3 years ago | (#34892900)

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

This is of course complicated by the fact that H.264 is crippled by patents that require licensing fees of anyone wishing to legally distribute in the US, while VP8 is theoretically free of such troubles because Google released all related patents into the public domain. Add to this the debate about whether any marginally useful video codec is truly free of patent concerns, the largely-accepted fact that H.264 is technically superior and has a large installed base for hardware decoding, and lingering concerns over Google becoming too dominant on the web, and you've suddenly got an incredibly complicated and confusing situation.

Personally, I worry that the split between VP8 and H.264 is going to kill the tag and leave us with Flash Video for the foreseeable future. If the choice is between VP8 and H.264, I'd pick VP8, but H.264 via is far superior than H.264 via Flash in my mind. Quite frankly, at this point its a largely intractable problem that can only truly be resolved by patent reform in the US.

Re:Yes, Machiavellien, quite (1)

Nyeerrmm (940927) | more than 3 years ago | (#34892928)

Sorry, the last paragraph should read "Personally, I worry that the split between VP8 and H.264 is going to kill the <video> tag and leave us with Flash Video for the foreseeable future. If the choice is between VP8 and H.264, I'd pick VP8, but H.264 via <video> is far superior..."

This is why they have the preview button...

Start your betting (1, Interesting)

elashish14 (1302231) | more than 3 years ago | (#34892450)

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

Re:Start your betting (1)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 3 years ago | (#34892490)

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

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

Re:Start your betting (0)

gbl08ma (1904378) | more than 3 years ago | (#34892556)

That would be easy, as the browser is theirs. And yes it wouldn't be a pacific action, but they can always block the plugin from running in their browser - at least, by allowing plugins only to be installed through a "something-store" (something so chic today, isn't it? Even Ubuntu has a Software Store!), and by not allowing that plugin to be distributed through that "store" - turning these browsers into small Apple-philosophy devices locked in a walled garden (and no, Chrome isn't in a walled garden, because you can install extensions through the "developer mode/menu")

Re:Start your betting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34892660)

I remember the FLAC dev tried to keep his QTComponent going, and eventually gave up as he got fed up of Apple changing the spec without warning. I can't find the link now, but I'm sure in my dotage, I'm not making this up.

Funny thing is, if you're (music) content supplier to iTunes, you can supply FLAC (alongwith aiff, wav and lossless apple codec 'ALAC')

Re:Start your betting (1)

TrancePhreak (576593) | more than 3 years ago | (#34892840)

Microsoft actually said they welcome this when they released info about only supporting H.264 themselves. Their video player usually supports any video codecs installed on the system.

Re:Start your betting (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#34892844)

Apple block google addons? Nah. They are supposed to be the good company. Like Toyota. Or Toshiba (hd dvd).

Okay, good... (1)

mrxak (727974) | more than 3 years ago | (#34892454)

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

Re:Okay, good... (1)

paul248 (536459) | more than 3 years ago | (#34892492)

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

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

Re:Okay, good... (2)

bruce_the_loon (856617) | more than 3 years ago | (#34892606)

Firefox has h264 added on with the MS WMP plugin, IE and Safari will get WebM via the Google plugin. Only Chrome doesn't have h264.

Foot, meet gun.

Re:Okay, good... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34892682)

Firefox has h264 added on with the MS WMP plugin, IE and Safari will get WebM via the Google plugin. Only Chrome doesn't have h264.

Foot, meet gun.

Excellent, I can't wait for the cross platform version of this Firefox h264 plugin. Oh... wait... It won't work on all of the supported Firefox platforms ? What's that Skippy, because its "Patent Encumbered" ???

Re:Okay, good... (1)

AberBeta (851747) | more than 3 years ago | (#34892704)

'Firefox has h264 added on with the MS WMP plugin'

In Windows 7.
For users outside of that 20% of 90%, Firefox will support Ogg and WebM.

Re:Okay, good... (1)

EyelessFade (618151) | more than 3 years ago | (#34892886)

So ff for windows gets h264. What about Opera or FF for mac/linux/bsd then?

Re:Okay, good... (1)

gbl08ma (1904378) | more than 3 years ago | (#34892542)

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

I would say that "most people" won't even notice there's a change in the codecs; what they might think is something like "another plugin to install? Geez! Well it'll have to be, I want to watch this YouTube so badly..." and then click "Install".

Re:Okay, good... (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#34892812)

>>>is willing to destroy themselves to prove it.

If Google did Not provide WebM functionality to Microsoft Explorer, then they'd lose by default. They could safely ignore teeny-tiny browsers like Safari or Opera, but not the #1 IE. If 60% of the world can't see Youtube WebM videos, google loses its plan to make WebM the standard.

But by providing the WebM plugin, they ensure everyone will be able to see youtube. They can even provide a direct link on the site: "You need this plugin to view WebM content. Thank you."

Re:Okay, good... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34892950)

60%? Check your year!

Re:Okay, good... (1)

prichardson (603676) | more than 3 years ago | (#34892854)

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

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

Hah (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34892458)

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

Re:Hah (-1, Flamebait)

gbl08ma (1904378) | more than 3 years ago | (#34892640)

I don't think Microsoft will stop its busy work making banners saying the blue E version 9 is the best and better than the 2nd best as well as irritating Silverlight (with H.264 video included!) ads for the same purpose, to release a plugin for a browser that no one uses. Even because, in Europe everyone is using the orange fox (around the blue globe!) and they need to get everyone back to the blue E before people start using the multicolored ball (with a blue center!).

This, my dear people, is human evolution along the times...

Re:Hah (1)

Your.Master (1088569) | more than 3 years ago | (#34892710)

Microsoft already released a plugin for Firefox that gives it H.264. It's not unreasonable to speculate that they could do the same for Chrome. Its usage isn't that rare, really.

What's a little weird about this is it's my understanding that IE9 won't need a plugin to run WebM anyway. It just needs the WebM codec installed, which is not installed by default. So either way it requires some software distribution, but "plugin" is inaccurate.

Re:Hah (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#34892816)

No, they haven't, at least not for XP, and there's a significant number of people still using it.

Re:Hah (1)

gbl08ma (1904378) | more than 3 years ago | (#34892882)

No, they haven't, at least not for Linux, and there's a significant number of people already using it.

In these browser wars discussions, people tend to forget that many browsers run on various platforms (not the case with IE, of course) and the plugins&codecs available differ from platform to platform. It's the case with WMP for Firefox, Chrome or Opera: it only exists on Windows, for obvious reasons.

Re:Hah (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34892910)

No, they haven't, at least not for Linux, and there's a insignificant number of people already using it.

I fixed it.

Re:Hah (1)

Your.Master (1088569) | more than 3 years ago | (#34892966)

Hmm, looks like it's Windows 7 (and presumably later) only, which I didn't realize. Let me amend that by saying that it's not unreasonable to speculate that Microsoft might release a plugin that lets Chrome do H.264 on Windows 7.

But I'm sticking to my guns here, because XP users also don't get IE9, so Google isn't writing any WebM plugins for XP. The only video-tag codec plugin on XP AFAIK will be Safari, and, well, Safari on XP? Seems uncommon and likely to shrink as XP marketshare shrinks in general. The relevant difference here is that IE9 does support Vista but the Firefox H.264 plugin does not.

There's already an H.264 plug-in (2)

DigitAl56K (805623) | more than 3 years ago | (#34892832)

DivX HiQ already does cross-browser H.264 in MKV/MP4/MOV with MP3 and AAC support, and ASP in AVI/DivX.
http://labs.divx.com/node/14711 [divx.com]

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

Of course it will work (5, Funny)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 3 years ago | (#34892464)

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

Re:Of course it will work (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34892522)

You say that factiously, but it's basically true.

In North America, the largest single consumer of internet bandwidth is netflix, at about 20% of the total. Netflix uses Silverlight.

So you're right: Silverlight does dominate, even if you don't include all the other users of it besides netflix.

Re:Of course it will work (1)

mbone (558574) | more than 3 years ago | (#34892572)

Bandwidth != usage. Netflix is not even in the top 100 of web sites. It uses lots of bandwidth because it is a video source.

Re:Of course it will work (2)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 3 years ago | (#34892622)

In North America, the largest single consumer of internet bandwidth is netflix, at about 20% of the total. Netflix uses Silverlight.

I'm curious about this. Netflix uses Silverlight-wrapped h.264 for streaming to computers. But does anyone know if they use that wrapper for streaming to devices like the Tivo, Roku, PS3, etc.? I have my doubts simply because other applications that stream to Tivo seem to be using a more straightforward h.264/mp4 package.

The reason this matters is I expect the amount of traffic Netflix streams to devices dwarfs the traffic it streams to computers.

Re:Of course it will work (1)

GaneshAnandTech (1896204) | more than 3 years ago | (#34892752)

For CE devices, no Silverlight is used. It is just straightforward H264 streams. Protection (DRM) is taken care of in the core hardware platform. Silverlight is primarily required on the PC in order to guarantee that you can't snoop and record the stream inbetween.

Re:Of course it will work (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34892894)

Of course it will work because Google owns Youtube.

Strategic Interests (1)

HRbnjR (12398) | more than 3 years ago | (#34892466)

Developers should pay close attention to how Microsoft and Apple react to this, as the real test of support for their plugin API doesn't come until it's used to build something like this, which really doesn't align with their own strategic interests.

Re:Strategic Interests (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34892532)

Microsoft already underwent such a "test" with the release of Google Chrome Frame [google.com] . Anyway, general the browser plugin API is quite entrenched (it's all based on what Netscape/Mozilla defined back in the days) and I doubt anyone could break it without breaking lots of plugins.

Honestly.. (1)

Krakadoom (1407635) | more than 3 years ago | (#34892496)

I dont feel like browsing my mayor much - sounds like an invasion of privacy.

Mobile (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34892524)

Until they
1) can release a plugin for my iphone
2) have it hardware accelerated as efficiently and effectively as h264 on my iphone
3) can intall it on my iphone
then I think i'll pass on this webM stuff. Google really dropped the ball on this. Support as many codecs as you can. I don't seem them arguing against gif and jpeg when they were under patent and licensing?

Android (0)

iPaqMan (230487) | more than 3 years ago | (#34892528)

So are they taking H.264 out of Android? Isn't this a half hearted effort if they don't?

Also, what are the hundreds of millions of existing devices that only support h.264 supposed to do with WebM?

Re:Android (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#34892694)

I assume that, since mobile devices generally lean on some sort of hardware acceleration(and generally less versatile acceleration than GPUs on the PC side, where a simple driver update can probably change what most of the newer chipsets are capable of...), they do nothing for the moment. Further, since the issue with H.264 has always been with patent licensing, not implementation copyright licensing, they can presumably just kick the issue to the OEMs: "Sure, you are welcome to include H.264 support, if you or your chipset vendor have secured the appropriate patent stuff, no business of ours..." Given the terms of the Android licensing, they can't stop OEMs from catering to whatever web video formats they want, nor can they rely on anything but time to flush out older handsets and set top boxes and so forth and introduce new ones.

I suspect, though, that whatever SoC is at the heart of the next "Google's-bestest-Android-version-launch-buddy's-unlocked-flagship-device" will do hardware WebM decode...

Re:Android (1)

TD-Linux (1295697) | more than 3 years ago | (#34892802)

Note that hardware that includes a H.264 decoder has already paid for a license. So the browser does not need to pay any fees for the license.

In fact, I think it's generally true that any browser should not have to pay licensing fees - the decoder shouldn't be part of the browser. Major OSes already come with their own video API which either uses a software or hardware decoder.

I thought the whole point of the video tag was to allow in-browser video to reach parity with standalone player, not to force the browser to become a software video decoder too (Flash already does that mighty well).

Re:Android (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#34892974)

>>>what are the hundreds of millions of existing devices that only support h.264 supposed to do with WebM?

Probably the same thing my Insignia Player, or Nokia Phone does when it sees an AAC file. Refuse to play it. If customers want to play AAC or WebM, nearly all will need to go spend a few hundred dollars replacing my gadgets.
Yay.

Symmetry ? (1)

mbone (558574) | more than 3 years ago | (#34892552)

Won't Chome and Opera also have plugins for H.264 ? Unless those are banned, this
doesn't seem very profound.

Re:Symmetry ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34892610)

Does the mplayer-plugin work for Chrome (I think it does)? Couldn't you play h.264 through that?

"Machiavellian move?" (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34892558)

So lets recap:

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

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

Mayor Browsers? (1)

sodafox (1135849) | more than 3 years ago | (#34892560)

All Mayor browsers will have WebM support? Darn it. We don't have a Mayor, just an Council Prefect.

flame hate (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34892568)

it makes sense to not support what m$ is supporting(null).

This really doesn't matter (1)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 3 years ago | (#34892576)

All (two of them?) of the big power players keep the stranglehold on content distribution with their vast patent and copyright portfolios. And it further ramps up the hardware upgrade treadmill.

Why not take the easy way? (2)

freakingme (1244996) | more than 3 years ago | (#34892580)

Why not take the easy way, and buy Microsoft and apple?

Re:Why not take the easy way? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34892926)

Google could not afford either, but Apple most certainly could buy Microsoft or Google.

Google is evil (0)

cheeks5965 (1682996) | more than 3 years ago | (#34892616)

Will Google only use webm for YouTube, forcing me to use its plugin so I can watch silly videos? If I use Google's plug-in, will they track all my internet activity? While Google will provide support to other desktop browsers, will they use this as a wedge against iPhone/mobile safari? Make no mistake, this is very Machiavellian and sucks for users.

Re:Google is evil (1)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 3 years ago | (#34892716)

The library is Open Source under a non-restrictive license - you can include in with proprietary software. If you don't like Google's plugin, you can get one made by another person/company/foundation/etc.

Re:Google is evil (1)

cheeks5965 (1682996) | more than 3 years ago | (#34892750)

Yeah but what about android vs. iphone? This is what it's all about. More noncompetitive action from "open source friendly" google.

The code for the codec may be open source (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34892852)

By the format in itself is not. It is 100% proprietary and full of patents.

Unlike H.264, the V8 video format is not a standard. It is 100% proprietary and Google owns some (not all) of the patents that rule the format.

So the going from a STANDARD to a PROPRIETARY video format is not an improvement. It is going from bad to worst.

WebM is not a format but a container that is a ripoff from Matroska (mkv).

Re:Google is evil (1)

erroneus (253617) | more than 3 years ago | (#34892780)

You are looking at it wrong. See my comment here: http://tech.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=1952346&cid=34892754 [slashdot.org]

And why not use the plugin? You already use plugins for Flash and probably don't find that to be terrible. And if you are an MSIE user, you probably install ActiveX plugins too. This will not be a difficult chore for most users.

Re:Google is evil (1)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 3 years ago | (#34892836)

Will Google only use webm for YouTube, forcing me to use its plugin so I can watch silly videos?

Could be. Are you forced to watch silly videos?

If I use Google's plug-in, will they track all my internet activity?

No, but if you use YouTube or other Google services, with or without a plugin, they will.

While Google will provide support to other desktop browsers, will they use this as a wedge against iPhone/mobile safari?

How would they do that? iPhones can view YouTube videos now, and Apple isn't going to let that feature disappear. WebM is an open codec. If users need WebM support to view YouTube videos, Apple will provide WebM support.

A brilliant move! (5, Insightful)

erroneus (253617) | more than 3 years ago | (#34892754)

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

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

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

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

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

Smell a lot of "if" coming off that plan (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 3 years ago | (#34892932)

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

A nice fantasy.

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

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

What else should do? (1)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 3 years ago | (#34892806)

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

In the other hand, thats very different with what Microsoft did in almost everything they released as "open","standard","intended by web", in all its history, from html extensions to .net. I would say that Machiavelli ideas were almost Microsoftians, not the other direction around)

h.264 Broadcasting consideration? (1)

Spicerun (551375) | more than 3 years ago | (#34892818)

Has Nobody ever wondered why TV stations aren't broadcasting in h.264? There's something about them having to pay royalties for broadcasting in the format. I'm not sure what the fee schedule is for them, but I know it is a lot more expensive than the ATSC MPEG2 (in the USA) format they are using now.

Google's hubris (2, Interesting)

javacowboy (222023) | more than 3 years ago | (#34892828)

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

1) Google "borrowing" Overture's ad-search business model, and paying them off not to sue them. I guess they got away with this one.
2) Google "borrowing" Sun's Java patented IP for use in Android/Dalvik with a Java-like language because they didn't want to pay for J2ME, not to mention the GPL code they slapped with an Apache license header. Oracle is fending to get payback, and I believe this case will be settled with Google either paying off Oracle with lots of money, or joining OpenJDK and paying license fees to Oracle.
3) GoogleTV, which is an attempt to serve ads over cable companies' signals. The cable companies are now blocking GoogleTV.
4) Google picking stupid fights with former partner Apple, including Android, NexusOne, Chrome and ChromeOS, leading Apple to develop iAd and go after HTC and others for patent infringement.
5) Google's end run around H.264's patents with a similar patent-encumbered codec simply to prop up Flash and screw up Apple serving H.264. Again, Apple is getting payback.
6) Google coming out with ChromeOS, Google Docs and corporate Google Mail. Microsoft hit back with Bing (although I don't see how this will succeed)
7) Google allying themselves with Adobe, having been a staunch supporter of web standards but now bundling Flash. If Flash won't cut it on mobile devices, as it still performs poorly on anything besides Windows and in 32 bit.

The day of reckoning is coming for Google because the world of computing is shifting away from the desktop at a rapid rate, and if Apple's iPad wins, then Google's ad revenue will dry up at the expense of iOS.

Let me be clear that I don't support software patents. Unfortunately, that's the way the game is played, this is accepted by all parties involved with large investments of capital made with an understanding of , and Google is trying to cheat. What goes around comes around, and Google is in for a rude awakening.

YouTube? (1)

Interoperable (1651953) | more than 3 years ago | (#34892830)

At the moment, much of the content available in the HTML5 demo on YouTube seems to be only available in H.264. It seems strange that Google would serve content that Chrome can't play. It seems like they will almost certainly transcode all of their video to WebM. I wonder if they will continue to serve H.264 or if they'll cripple YouTube for IE and Safari users who don't have the plugin. If they're willing to develop those plugins, I would guess that they will make YouTube WebM only.

Even more IE plugins from Google? (5, Interesting)

suv4x4 (956391) | more than 3 years ago | (#34892848)

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

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

On one side of the ring: H.264

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

On the other side of the ring: WebM

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

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

But how will it be encoded? (1)

rduke15 (721841) | more than 3 years ago | (#34892944)

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

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

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

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