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Microsoft Offers H.264 Plug-in For Google Chrome

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the windows-users-hearken dept.

Chrome 332

Apparently Firefox was just the beginning: Pigskin-Referee writes "Microsoft has released a Windows Media Player HTML5 Extension for Chrome so as to enable H.264-encoded video on HTML5 by using built-in capabilities available on Windows 7. As you may recall, less than two months ago, Microsoft released the HTML5 Extension for Windows Media Player Firefox Plug-in with the same goal in mind. Even though Firefox and Chrome are big competitors to Microsoft's own Internet Explorer, the software giant has decided Windows 7 users should be able to play back H.264 video even if they aren't using IE9. Here's the current state of HTML5 video: Microsoft and Apple are betting on H.264, while Firefox, Chrome, and Opera are rooting for WebM. Google was actually in favor of both H.264 and WebM up until earlier this month, when the search giant decided to drop H.264 support completely, even though the former is widely used and the latter is not. The company also announced that it would release WebM plugins for Internet Explorer 9 and Safari. Although IE9 supports H.264, excluding all other codecs, Microsoft is making an exception for WebM, as long as the user installs the corresponding codec, and is helping Google ensure the plug-in works properly."

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.. Not again (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35187660)

The whole point of HTML5 was to standardize web video.. now we have two standards in a never ending battle. What makes this so terrible is that instead of one competitor losing out like in HDDVD vs Blue Ray, video codecs are so easily sustainable..

Re:.. Not again (2)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 3 years ago | (#35187702)

Then that is a moronic point.

It is not the place of HTML to enforce stifling rules regarding data formats.

It's simply not necessary. Despite all of the moaning and groaning, system decoders have always been able to handle diverse media types including video.

The real issue is DRM and hiding content from the end user.

HTML5 video does NOTHING AT ALL to address that issue.

The platform vendor is in the best position to create decoders that exploit all of the features of the OS and underlying hardware. Being stuck with with some 3rd party blob decoder is just shifting the problem around.

We shouldn't be stuck with the built-in video decoder. That's just as bad as being stuck with Flash.

Re:.. Not again (1)

davester666 (731373) | more than 3 years ago | (#35187862)

It's simply not necessary. Despite all of the moaning and groaning, system decoders have always been able to handle diverse media types including video.

Except browsers like Chrome and Firefox aren't actually using the system decoders.

The real issue is DRM and hiding content from the end user.

Yup.

Re:.. Not again (2)

Pentium100 (1240090) | more than 3 years ago | (#35187992)

Except browsers like Chrome and Firefox aren't actually using the system decoders.

Well, it's not like they cannot use the system codecs. Which means that this is just a stupid choice, the same way that I would insist on buying a PC power supply that is designed for 110V then using it with a transformer that converts the 230V in the outlet to 110V and complaining that the power supply was quite expensive because I needed to buy it from the US and then needed to buy the transformer.

"But it works on my computer" (2)

tepples (727027) | more than 3 years ago | (#35188168)

Well, it's not like they cannot use the system codecs.

There are two problems here. First, Mozilla wants a page to work on the end user if it works on . For example, the end user might be missing a codec, which is likely if the end user is on Windows XP Home Edition, Windows XP Professional, Windows Vista Home Basic, Windows Vista Business, Windows 7 Starter, or any freely redistributable GNU/Linux distribution. Mozilla doesn't want web developers to give the excuse "But it works on all of our computers; try buying Windows 7 Home Premium and using that to view the web site." Second, Mozilla doesn't want users to blame Firefox if a defect in a system codec causes a crash or intrusion.

Re:"But it works on my computer" (1)

Pentium100 (1240090) | more than 3 years ago | (#35188360)

So, instead they only provide the less popular codec, the copy of which I still would have to have in my system (so I could watch the downloaded videos) and now if a vulnerability is found inside the codec, I would have to update Firefox and the system one.

Also, for h264 I use CoreAVC, because it uses less resources and (mainly) manages to use all 4 cores of my CPUs (my main PC has two dual-core CPUs) about evenly, so I can watch 1080p video without problems, even at 60fps. Now let's say that for whatever reason Mozilla now can include h264 codec in the browser, they would probably choose ffdshow, which is less efficient than CoreAVC. Same thing about WebM. If the decoder is single threaded (or even if it is multithreaded but uses the cores unevenly, like some games), I will probably not be able to watch 1080p video. And even if CoreCodec makes a multithreaded and efficient decoder, I would not be able to use it on web videos, I would have to download the video and then play it.

And if Mozilla cares about choice, they can always make the internal codecs as a second choice - if the correct system codecis not found, try internal ones, if no suitable internal codec found, display which codec is needed to view the video.

For example, the end user might be missing a codec, which is likely if the end user is on Windows XP Home Edition, Windows XP Professional, Windows Vista Home Basic, Windows Vista Business, Windows 7 Starter, or any freely redistributable GNU/Linux distribution.

I really doubt that it is likely. Someone who watches videos on Youtube most likely also watches downloaded videos (maybe even downloads from Youtube), so he will have the codecs needed. I am sure that there are some people who just watch Youtube and similar videos but do not download any videos, however I really doubt that there is a lot of them.

Second, Mozilla doesn't want users to blame Firefox if a defect in a system codec causes a crash or intrusion.

So, instead it wants the users to blame Firefox for not showing some videos? Or if flash causes a crash?

Re:"But it works on my computer" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35188522)

As a fellow CoreAVC acolyte, I have to say there's a serious argument to be made for security when it comes to browsers. AFAIK, Windows codecs run fully under the context of the user account. This is a huge gaping security flaw. If codecs were executed under low-integrity mode (such as what the Google Chrome browser uses) then they wouldn't be able to start other programs which create a tray icon, for instance; thus, the plugin would fail to run, and it would need to be totally redesigned. So there's no good way at all unfortunately to utilize CoreAVC inside the browser. Especially not if your browser is the one pioneering encompassing security.

Re:"But it works on my computer" (1)

Pentium100 (1240090) | more than 3 years ago | (#35188584)

So there's no good way at all unfortunately to utilize CoreAVC inside the browser.

So, just download the file and watch it locally, that will be safer? Probably not. And I would have to download the file to watch it locally if it was too high resolution to be decoded by the less efficient codec.

Re:"But it works on my computer" (2)

tepples (727027) | more than 3 years ago | (#35188552)

Also, for h264 I use CoreAVC

I don't think Mozilla can afford to distribute a copy of CoreAVC to everybody who doesn't already own a copy of CoreAVC.

Someone who watches videos on Youtube most likely also watches downloaded videos

A lot of such downloaded videos will use MPEG-4 Part 2 (DivX/Xvid) or Windows Media Video, not necessarily AVC.

So, instead it wants the users to blame Firefox for not showing some videos? Or if flash causes a crash?

Flash Player doesn't crash Firefox anymore; it crashes the plug-in container. What kind of finger-pointing will happen with a message like "The plug-in Flash Player published by Adobe Systems Inc. stopped unexpectedly"?

Re:"But it works on my computer" (1)

Pentium100 (1240090) | more than 3 years ago | (#35188644)

I don't think Mozilla can afford to distribute a copy of CoreAVC to everybody who doesn't already own a copy of CoreAVC.

They do not need to distribute it, I already have it, just use it. A lot of other people have ffdshow or similar codecs, just use them.

Mozilla does not distribute Flash (or Silverlight, or Java) with the browser too, but it can use the plugin if it is available on the system (it even shows where I can downlaod it if I do not have it). Why should the codec be any different?

A lot of such downloaded videos will use MPEG-4 Part 2 (DivX/Xvid) or Windows Media Video, not necessarily AVC.

Most of the videos I see on the pirate bay are either divx/xvid (SD) or h264 (HD). If you want HD you most likely have AVC. Some newer phones and cameras film in h264 too.

Flash Player doesn't crash Firefox anymore; it crashes the plug-in container.

It might crash the system. Also, the codecs can also be invoked by a separate process so they do not crash FF.

Re:"But it works on my computer" (1)

Goaway (82658) | more than 3 years ago | (#35188652)

It has never been quite explained to me why "works on some machines" is a worse choice than "works on no machines".

Re:.. Not again (2)

Draek (916851) | more than 3 years ago | (#35188518)

It is not the place of HTML to enforce stifling rules regarding data formats.

It is.

The real issue is DRM and hiding content from the end user.

HTML5 video does NOTHING AT ALL to address that issue.

Sure it does, by promoting a standard that's able to be freely implemented by anyone willing, they make it less desireable to use plugins that support DRM instead. Which is all they can do, honestly.

We shouldn't be stuck with the built-in video decoder. That's just as bad as being stuck with Flash.

We shouldn't be stuck with the system decoder, either, which is why we need the aforementioned free format.

Re:.. Not again (2)

Tx (96709) | more than 3 years ago | (#35187752)

Don't be so boring; it's battles like these that make life interesting. Will the mighty Google be able to gain enough traction for WebM to actually make a fight of this in the first place? Or is the de-facto-standard status of h.264 unassailable? Does the works-everywhere combo of Flash and h.264 now become even more the option of choice for web developers trying to keep their jobs simple, or will they persevere with HTML5 and cope with supporting multiple codecs? Tune in to future episodes to find out. It's like reality TV, except interesting.

Re:.. Not again (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35188080)

Will the mighty Google be able to gain enough traction for WebM to actually make a fight of this in the first place? Or is the de-facto-standard status of h.264 unassailable?

Will the mighty Apple be able to gain enough traction for their own Youtube competitor to actually make a fight of this in the first place? Or will Google's upcoming announcement that Youtube will be WebM only starting in 20XX make it the de-facto-standard of web video, making anyone who refuses to include WebM support in their gadgets a paperweight manufacturer?

Re:.. Not again (2)

commodore6502 (1981532) | more than 3 years ago | (#35188110)

Yes battles are interesting.

But my worry is the "winner" will be an inferior standard, like how VHS beat Laserdisc, so we were stuck with blurry ~320x480 movies for the next 30 years. (LD did manage to hang-on but a lot of the movies I wanted were only available on vhs.)

If there's going to be a war, let's pick the one that can produce the best quality even if limited to a rural America stream of 1 Mbit/s. That would be MPEG4 video with HE-AAC audio.

Put money where mouth is (4, Insightful)

tepples (727027) | more than 3 years ago | (#35188178)

If there's going to be a war, let's pick the one that can produce the best quality

Are you willing to buy everyone in the developed world a licensed encoder and a licensed decoder?

Re:.. Not again (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35188228)

H.264 is _not_ a defacto standard in the context of web video. After Chrome drops support for it, it will be supported by one browser, Safari. That's a few percent of web users. After IE9 is released that number may grow to 10 or even 20% -- still not a defacto standard.

The sad truth is that Flash is the video standard on the web at the moment. HTML5 video winner and the future of HTML5 video itself is totally undecided at this point.

Re:.. Not again (1)

OptimusPaul (940627) | more than 3 years ago | (#35188396)

but the defacto standard is flash video which in most cases is h.264.

Re:.. Not again (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 3 years ago | (#35188444)

The whole point of HTML5 was to standardize web video..

How do you propose to do that?

HEVC/H.265 will be final in about two to three years.

HEVC is targeted at next-generation HDTV displays and content capture systems which feature progressive scanned frame rates and display resolutions from QVGA (320x240) up to 1080p and Ultra HDTV (7680x4320), as well as improved picture quality in terms of noise level, color gamut and dynamic range.

Not to mention:

Half the bit rate of H.264 or WebM for the same subjective video quality.

Good news for Netflix.

The problem with "open standards" are many:

The global standards commitee moves slowly. It is riddled with national, ideological, commercial and technical rivalries.

MP3 began as a digital audio codec for motion pictures.

There are many tracks along which such defacto standards may evolve and gain traction - and not much of anything in the way to slow them down.

The chances are good next season's Vizio will have thirty or so content protected client "apps" for the Internet-enabled HDTV.

Most of them available as well as a one-click install for OSX, the iOS and Windows PC or mobile device.

But not for Linux.

Microsoft supporting choice? (5, Insightful)

drb226 (1938360) | more than 3 years ago | (#35187680)

Something strange has been going on at Redmond, WA lately. And I like it. It seems like a reversal of roles for Google to be reducing end-user choice and Microsoft to be making up for it.

Re:Microsoft supporting choice? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35187694)

Google is pushing an open codec while Microsoft is pushing a closed one. It's to Google's benefit to have an open web, and to Microsoft's to close it off as much as possible. Not much has changed.

Re:Microsoft supporting choice? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35187874)

Here we go again, confusing what open and closed mean and conflating "patent encumbered" with "closed". h.264 is an OPEN STANDARD. WebM may be an open standard some day, but today it is not and the docs released so far (while a good start) are not even intended as standards documents and WebM has not been submitted to any standards body at all so far. Yes, h.265 is patent encumbered but is an open standard. WebM is currently considered by Google to only be encumbered by patents that Google owns and is freely licensing. It remains to be seen whether WebM will remain this way as MPEG-LA is soliciting patents now for a possible WebM patent pool. It is possible that WebM will remain only encumbered by the patents that Google is willing to license for free. It is also possible that it won't be and license fees will be required for that. Nobody knows yet. At this point, WebM is a closed codec because there are not enough specs and no standard for which someone can create a compatible codec of their own.

Re:Microsoft supporting choice? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35188006)

Your open standard definition is as defined by Microsoft, not most standard bodies.

Furthermore, no one gives a shit whether the standard is open for input. For one thing, 'open' standards are often worse off because of it. Secondly, you aren't going to be able to afford the $100,000 to whisper your desires to the corporate oversight committee anyway.

Re:Microsoft supporting choice? (2)

node 3 (115640) | more than 3 years ago | (#35188218)

Your open standard definition is as defined by Microsoft, not most standard bodies.

Like the ISO?

You guys are doing the thing you complain about everyone else doing. Namely, confusing "open" and "free". WebM is more free than H.264 (although H.264 is free in many cases). H.264 is more open than WebM.

Furthermore, no one gives a shit whether the standard is open for input.

About the same amount that give a shit that their hardware and software came with a small licensing fee for H.264. Far more people care about the video quality and the impact on their devices that their video has, and H.264 trounces WebM here.

For one thing, 'open' standards are often worse off because of it.

Wait, did you just say that open standards are worse off because they involve open collaboration?

Secondly, you aren't going to be able to afford the $100,000 to whisper your desires to the corporate oversight committee anyway.

The proof is in the pudding. Compare WebM with H.264, or if you want a more open source comparison, Theora.

You're making all these arguments for why the open standards process is bad, but when it all boils down, the best video codec out there was borne out of that very process.

Re:Microsoft supporting choice? (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35188406)

ISO has as much, if not less, credibility than does Microsoft these days. You do yourself a disservice by selecting that example.

Re:Microsoft supporting choice? (1)

arose (644256) | more than 3 years ago | (#35188408)

Like the ISO?

Like W3C, we are talking about the web here, not about the "you don't have a license to use videos taken with your camera"-open of ISO.

Wait, did you just say that open standards are worse off because they involve open collaboration?

For one it's 'open' collaboration in the same way that the cell phone providers compete in a 'free' market. That is your are welcome if you are a big player with deep pockets. For another, there are ways in which it is worse of yes, H.264 is a pig of a standard instead of a group of related ones, at least in part, so that the big players can stuff as many of their own patents in as they can, then you have to pay (through MPEG LA) for 3D video patents when all you want is to make a Baseline decoder.

Compare WebM with H.264, or if you want a more open source comparison, Theora.

WTF doesn't "more open source" mean? In the end it's just a souped up VP3, they have the same history. If you want to compare open source to closed, then compare x264 to anything the collaborators have come up. Apparently the ability to make a high quality encoder is a side effect of the collaboration since they can't be arsed to actually do it.

If you want to compare the patent constrained efforts of free format creators why don't you also compare, for example, Vorbis, Musepack, FLAC, Speex, CELT, PNG and 7zip to their respective competitors?

Re:Microsoft supporting choice? (0)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 3 years ago | (#35188204)

It is closed codec, because there aren't specs? That's New World doublespeak, isn't it? Preposterous. If the codec isn't even written yet, how CAN it be closed? Listening to you mush-mouths can actually make a guy's head hurt.

Google is at least trying (2, Informative)

tepples (727027) | more than 3 years ago | (#35188208)

At this point, WebM is a closed codec because there are not enough specs and no standard for which someone can create a compatible codec of their own.

WebM is Matroska, Vorbis, and VP8. Matroska [matroska.org] and Vorbis [xiph.org] are already well documented, and Google is at least trying with VP8, having submitted a draft RFC to IETF [dig-life.com] .

Re:Microsoft supporting choice? (0)

Draek (916851) | more than 3 years ago | (#35188546)

h.264 is an OPEN STANDARD.

It isn't. The fact that its specs are published is what makes it a standard in the first place as there's no such thing as an "unpublished standard", it has no relevance whatsoever in its openness or lack thereof.

Re:Microsoft supporting choice? (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35187720)

H.264 support requires that software devs pay MPEG LA patent license fees, while WebM is royalty free and open. I'm afraid Microsoft is still on that side of the fence.

Re:Microsoft supporting choice? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35187814)

There was an article on Slashdot just yesterday that debunked the "no VP8 patents" claim. It's simply not true, VP8 is just as patent encumbered as H.264 for noticeably worse video quality.

All removing H.264 support does is cement Flash as the web video display method of choice. Not that it shouldn't, mind you, Flash is still clearly better than HTML5 for video for a ton of reasons - mainly that it actually fucking works for the most part.

When Chrome crashes trying to display YouTube in HTML5 mode, you know HTML5 video has a ways to go...

Re:Microsoft supporting choice? (2)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 3 years ago | (#35187818)

Companies were banding together patents that they claimed to relate to VP8, but it's undecided if their patents are indeed relevant.

Re:Microsoft supporting choice? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35187906)

Why are there so many patent trolls now on Slashdot? This community has a veritable hatred of anything patent related. Even if WebM were infringing -- which there has been zero proof of -- do you think that's going to win minds? All it would do is band people together under a new chorus: fuck patents, adopt WebM.

It feels as if the OSS community has been sabotaged by corporate interests. I just thought I'd never see it actually happen.

Re:Microsoft supporting choice? (1)

arose (644256) | more than 3 years ago | (#35188152)

Ah yes, another "debunking" without actual violations given. AKA FUD.

Re:Microsoft supporting choice? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35188602)

meanwhile - back in the real world the latest version of flash gets gpu support and improves further upon the full-screen capabilities. something that html5 vid can't do. debunk that.

you guys certainly know how to pick out the lost causes to latch onto. go back to linux on the desktop - more chance of that.

Re:Microsoft supporting choice? (1)

RedK (112790) | more than 3 years ago | (#35188374)

There was ? Because I'm pretty sure the article on Slashdot just yesterday was about a company with no patent claims against VP8 actively seeking out others in a desperate attempt to justify its FUD. What patents were listed in that mysterious article that you seem to be the only one to have read ?

Re:Microsoft supporting choice? (3, Interesting)

Threni (635302) | more than 3 years ago | (#35187774)

Either that or they're hoping all their shit is going to crash Chrome and give it the same shocking reputation for security, speed and standards compliance that IE has always had.

Re:Microsoft supporting choice? (2)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#35188240)

More likely it's a scheme to ensure that H.264 continues to be the codec of choice so as to make it harder for free OSes and browsers to compete with them. H.264 isn't free despite the claims that a lot of people make. It's free if you've got a small number of licenses or to stream, but as soon as your user base grows beyond the threshold you have to pay for all the licenses and streaming isn't typically very useful, they do charge for encoding and decoding the streams.

Which is one of the reasons that Google and Mozilla aren't so keen on it.

Chrome and Firefox have a plug-in container (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 3 years ago | (#35188260)

Google Chrome runs plug-ins in a separate container process. (Firefox has since adopted a limited version of this feature [ghacks.net] in the 3.6 series.) A plug-in crash doesn't crash Chrome; instead, the plug-in is replaced with a blank box with text to the effect "the plug-in crashed". Should defective plug-ins from one company become a problem, watch it show the name of the plug-in and its publisher: "the MPEG-4 AVC plug-in by Microsoft Corporation crashed".

Re:Microsoft supporting choice? (1)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 3 years ago | (#35187866)

You remember Word for Mac, right? Even though Apple was pushing the only viable desktop OS/platform alternative to Windows/PC at the time (I'm talking well before Redhat, Ubuntu, and other distros made desktop Linux easy), Microsoft saw value in porting Word, etc., to the Mac. Was it because they supported choice between their own platform and Apple's? Of course not. It was because there was money to be made, and because it promoted MS dominance in office productivity software.

I'm pretty sure the same lessons apply here.

Re:Microsoft supporting choice? (2, Informative)

Dcnjoe60 (682885) | more than 3 years ago | (#35187914)

Well, actually Office was available for the Mac in 1990 and not for Windows until 1992 (version 3.0) was the first Windows version.

Re:Microsoft supporting choice? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35187982)

Not that strange, not only does seem like a positive move, Microsoft allowing more choice for the end user. It actually is an enabler for continued lock-in into the family of patent-encumbered h.264 codecs, why should websites even consider supporting or switching to WebM when mp4 is available "everywhere".

As a side-effect they successfully added a potential security hole that is big enough to drive a truck through in their competitors. And finally they are causing fragmentation for users of both Firefox and Chrome which had the advantage that they pretty much worked cross-platform without surprises, Linux/MacOS, and older versions of Windows, but now the provided h.264 functionality only works on the Windows 7 platform.

Re:Microsoft supporting choice? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35188268)

They're not supporting choice. They're supporting their patent encumbered standard. Microsoft has patents involved in H.264, that's why they are members of the MPEG-LA group. This isn't about supporting choice, it's about capturing and locking up standards.

No thanks (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35187688)

I like freedom from patent-encumbered garbage.

And it's sad that patent-loving idiot companies are all over WebM trying to "prove" it is patent-encumbered as well. Go fuck off. Seriously, this is what we need to tell patent trolls. OH PATENT WE'LL SUE! "Fuck off." BUT-- "FUCK... OFF."

No phone, no lights, no motor cars, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35187920)

not a single luxury.
Like Robinson Crusoe,
as primitive as can be.

Nice computer (or is it a phone) you seem to be using. :D

We keep spending most our lives living in... (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 3 years ago | (#35188338)

[snip Weird Al Yankovic lyrics taken from the closing theme of Gilligan's Island TV series]

No, giving up software patents doesn't necessarily mean you have to move to an Amish paradise [wikipedia.org] . Once you buy a computer, all the hardware patents are presumably licensed and paid for.

Re:No thanks (4, Insightful)

node 3 (115640) | more than 3 years ago | (#35188292)

What do you use that isn't "patent-encumbered"? Your computer is chock full of patents, as is everything else computer-related (except maybe an Arduino). Do you use Linux? Do you use Flash on Linux? Do you have x264 or VLC installed?

What kind of car do you drive? Do you have a TV? Microwave? Electric shaver? Normal disposable razor? What kind of pens and pencils do you use? Do you ever listen to the radio? MP3 player?

Sure, you are a hypocrite, but I really don't have too much of a problem with that. Nor do I have a problem with you trying to lead an ascetically "pure" life. I *do*, however, have a huge problem with you trying to fuck over everyone else, demanding they live their lives by your ideology. If you don't want to take part in modern society, by all means, whatever floats your boat.

Re:No thanks (1)

westyvw (653833) | more than 3 years ago | (#35188458)

The difference is, of course, that those patents in physical items are not changing the way you use them. Would you enjoy your world where patents are connected to licenses so that your electric razor is not allowed outside the borders of your country? Would you like it if the razor stopped working if you no longer were using it in approved homes? How about if you could not reuse anything inside of it for a different purpose? I could go oon, but I think we get the point that patents are not black and white, and in that context, we have to make choices that benefit us from a consumers perspective.

Re:No thanks (1)

shoehornjob (1632387) | more than 3 years ago | (#35188476)

I *do*, however, have a huge problem with you trying to fuck over everyone else, demanding they live their lives by your ideology.

The parent didn't say anything in his post that leads me to believe he is pushing his agenda. He simply stated that he's sick of patent trolls wageing war. It does get a bit old.

Missing the point (1)

vadim_t (324782) | more than 3 years ago | (#35187696)

Chrome doesn't have H.264 not because they're unable to implement it, but because it has patent issues. Microsoft implementing the codec doesn't remove the patent issues.

Besides, it's a WMP plugin. I don't expect to see Linux support.

Re:Missing the point (1)

CaymanIslandCarpedie (868408) | more than 3 years ago | (#35187786)

I'm curious what Google will do if MPEG-LA is successful in creating a patent pool for WebM? Will they actually pull support for their own codec and abandon it if patent issues arise? Will be interesting to see what happens if MPEG-LA succeeds.

Re:Missing the point (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#35188252)

My money is on Google using its own patent portfolio to bash them back into the last century. I'd be very surprised if between offensive patents and patents covering the technology that they aren't quite well covered.

Re:Missing the point (1)

alvinrod (889928) | more than 3 years ago | (#35188434)

Stop using it. They didn't indemnify anyone else who uses it so Google is only on the hook for "damages" caused by its usage in YouTube or Chrome. Anyone else who used the codec is on their own.

After that they can work around any of the patents that they were found to violate and release a new standard.

Re:Missing the point (4, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#35187794)

Architecturally speaking, my understanding is that Microsoft's plugin simply exposes the (already bought and paid for) h.264 decoder that they ship with Windows 7. It doesn't remove the patent issues with h.264 in a broader sense; but Google and Chrome remain completely separate from any h.264-decoder-related code. Even if Google were to start shipping the plugin by default, on Windows Chrome installs, my understanding is that that still wouldn't expose them to any h.264 MPEG-LA trouble: they'd just be shipping a component that plugs into the decoder library available in Windows(Still using Directshow or a descendant thereof, I assume?).

While, personally, I would prefer to avoid patent encumbrances as much as possible, there is actually a very good 'realpolitik' (and even arguably architectural) argument to be made in favor of this approach. While the ideal would be a single, patent-unencumbered, codec, this seems less than likely at present. Since the FOSS browsers cannot ship the encumbered codecs, and some of the commercial ones don't want to, they could simply ship a mechanism for handing the problem off to the platform's native codec system, possibly along with a matching implementation of their open codec of choice, and let the OS deal with it. Windows, OSX, and Linux all have viable candidates with which to interface, and doing so makes any patent issues Not Their Problem.

Re:Missing the point (4, Insightful)

Simon80 (874052) | more than 3 years ago | (#35187824)

Yes, they could do that, but that would guarantee continuation of the current situation, where Linux users privately infringe patents, and everybody else running a business that needs to use H.264 has to pay royalties. Google and Mozilla are for whatever reason trying to rid the world of this indirect tax by pushing a free alternative, and we should celebrate this instead of questioning the short-term sacrifices they are making to accomplish this.

Re:Missing the point (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#35188026)

I'm no fan of patent-encumbrances, and I have the greatest enthusiasm for what WebM, Theora, and friends are pushing for(and specifically purchase portable music players based on ogg/vorbis and ogg/flac compatibility, and so forth); but I would, for those areas where h.264 cannot be dislodged, rather see a situation where I can use a OSS implementation of a patent-encumbered format than a situation where I need Flash, a closed(and notoriously buggy) implementation of a patent-encumbered format.

That is my concern: even for situations where some ridiculous DRM attempt isn't being made, a fair few operators are likely to take the "The hell with it, I'll use a flash widget decoding h.264 on PCs and h.264 on iDevices." Flash and patent-encumbered is the status quo, and it kind of sucks. My ideal is FOSS and patent-unencumbered; but I'd take patent-encumbered-in-some-jurisdictions, but high quality OSS implementations are available, over the current situation...

Re:Missing the point (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35188130)

Plus, it doesn't make sense for every application on your machine to have to pay for a license. You bought a license when you bought the OS that bought the license. Why should you have to pay double? or treble? or worse?

Re:Missing the point (4, Interesting)

tepples (727027) | more than 3 years ago | (#35188356)

You bought a license when you bought the OS that bought the license.

The following operating systems do not include an AVC license: Windows XP Home Edition, Windows XP Professional, Windows Vista Home Basic, Windows Vista Business, and Windows 7 Starter.

Re:Missing the point (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#35188270)

Youtube is the main one that would need to be dislodged, the other providers will likely go that route if Youtube is doing it. Given that Youtube is now owned and controlled by Google, it's a pretty good bet that H.264 is going to be yanked before long. Which is legitimate, Google has to pay a royalty to be able to reencode files in H.264 and as such would almost certainly be free of any antitrust claims that might result.

Re:Missing the point (2)

Simon80 (874052) | more than 3 years ago | (#35187882)

Besides, it's a WMP plugin. I don't expect to see Linux support.

For Microsoft, lack of Linux support is a bonus. If they can look like they're improving interoperability while actually harming it, that's great for them. I suspect that any web developers that adopt the video element this early are aware of all of these issues, and are either offering multiple formats or a flash-based fallback.

Re:Missing the point (2)

node 3 (115640) | more than 3 years ago | (#35188336)

H.264 has no "patent issues". You want to use it, under certain circumstance, you pay to use it, just like countless other things you pay for. There's no "issues" here for 99+% of the people out there.

The effects of the H.264 patents are minimal, and easily addressed. It's disingenuous to act like this is some major problem.

Re:Missing the point (1)

allo (1728082) | more than 3 years ago | (#35188388)

its not a bad thing, ms is doing. chrome can use h264 and ms pays the license. the best thing google could happen.

Choice is good (2)

anlag (1917070) | more than 3 years ago | (#35187698)

Hard to argue with that, surely. I'm very far from a Microsoft fan, but credit where it is due.

Re:Choice is good (1)

sxeraverx (962068) | more than 3 years ago | (#35187872)

You're confusing choice on the part of comely producers with choice on the part of consumers. It would be amazing if all content were available I'n every conceivable format, but it's not. Providing a patent-encumbered codec that works on only one platform will lead to the situation we had with the ActiveX debacle.

Re:Choice is good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35188034)

You're confusing choice on the part of comely producers with choice on the part of consumers. It would be amazing if all content were available I'n every conceivable format, but it's not. Providing a patent-encumbered codec that works on only one platform will lead to the situation we had with the ActiveX debacle.

Windows-Mac-iPhone-Android is one platform? Who knew?

(oh, and you can play it on Linux if you install the right codec)

Which licensed AVC decoder? (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 3 years ago | (#35188368)

(oh, and you can play it on Linux if you install the right codec)

Who sells a lawfully made copy of this codec, apart from the version tied to Adobe Flash Player?

Re:Choice is good (3, Insightful)

Simon80 (874052) | more than 3 years ago | (#35188046)

I see lots of people saying this, but it's not true. This is designed to indirectly combat choice. Not the choice of what codec to use on the client side, but the choice of accessing the web from completely unencumbered operating systems, with no flash and no patented codecs, or from mobile devices that don't have flash support, or whose manufacturers haven't paid to include the H.264 codec on the device. This is the kind of choice that matters: people on the client side don't care about choosing what codec is used, they care about choosing the devices or operating systems they want to use. A codec that is free from patent royalties is easier to support in free operating systems, browsers, and in mobile devices, where the OS is included out of the box, and the device maker would otherwise need to pay royalties.

Microsoft can still claim to be supporting choice, because they're helping web developers have the choice to use a patent encumbered codec. The use of this codec helps reduce consumer choice in what devices and operating systems they can use.

What is each company's interest in supporting either side? Microsoft recognizes that anything that is good for alternative operating systems and devices is bad for their Windows monopoly, which is why they are pro-H.264. I'm not sure what Apple's motivation is, but maybe it's similarly because all of their devices and software support H.264, and they want to retain a competitive advantage, however small. Google wants the web to be an open standard, because it's what their applications use, and Mozilla can't properly support H.264 without compromising their attempt to offer a free web browser that works just as well on every platform they support.

Re:Choice is good (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35188192)

Developers don't create demand for codecs. Consumers do. That's like saying businesses create profit. The root of the profit (and demand) is always with the consumer, not the creator.

The FOSS community and Google is trying to foist off 'it's good enough' on the rest of us. Taking away choice is NEVER appropriate. They should have let the end user decide to use or not use H.264, not force it on them.

Windows users, as well as Mac users already payed for their H.264 support. Why not let them use it rather than forcing the inferior VP8 codec on them?

Re:Choice is good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35188266)

It's funny how you speak about choice of using FOSS, but conveniently forget about other choices - such as using a better codec. Your argument basically boils down to "choice is good, so long as you choose the same as me" - and you further argue that if I choose differently, then it negatively reflects on your choice as well (which, I admit, it does, since it dilutes the marketshare - but that's freedom of choice for you).

Re:Choice is good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35188486)

Just get a decent phone (capable of running Flash). That is what most people have done. Of course you can always wait for html6

Use VLC instead (2)

hcdejong (561314) | more than 3 years ago | (#35187716)

I want a plugin that intercepts HTML5 or Flash video and opens it in VLC instead of the browser window.

For Flash video, this means it'll get played in by a player that performs decently (instead of the crappy Flash video we get in OSX browsers). And it means I get a decent UI to control playback, with real controls that listen to keyboard input and whose preferences can be modified, instead of the pathetic mouse-only 'controls' offered by Flash video code.

Analysis (5, Insightful)

The MAZZTer (911996) | more than 3 years ago | (#35187742)

It looks like it's just a NSAPI plugin, with a content script that converts video tags to object tags for all mp4, wmv, mp4v, and m4v files, and uses Windows Media Player to handle them. It's a bit of a misnomer to say it's HTML5; basically it converts the HTML5 back to HTML4.

The best part is that it looks like the plugin can be invoked manually through an object tag, no video tag required. Now all three browsers (IE, Firefox w/a Microsoft addon, Chrome) can have WMP invoked at will, unsandboxed (Plugins aren't sandboxed by Chrome since most wouldn't work correctly, the one exception being a modified Flash). Great.

Re:Analysis (2)

The MAZZTer (911996) | more than 3 years ago | (#35187756)

Oh yeah addendum: It's not hosted on the Chrome Web Store, probably because it uses a plugin. Extensions using plugins have to undergo manual review to ensure they don't have gaping security holes, and THIS plugin launches WMP, which is perhaps too large a code base to test thoroughly for that kind of thing (if Google would even want to). Microsoft probably didn't want to risk extension rejection by Google, I think.

Re:Analysis (1)

The MAZZTer (911996) | more than 3 years ago | (#35187784)

Addendum addendum: I just remembered there are third-party IE-engine plugins, but web pages cannot use the plugin component, only the extension can invoke it (when the user presses the "IE engine" button, an extension page is opened which invokes the plugin). This WMP plugin can be invoked at will by web pages.

Re:Analysis (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35187952)

The user can force Chromium to sandbox all plugins, but they're not guaranteed to work. Adobe's official Flash plugin mostly functioned under it. And Chrome's Flash certainly isn't the only sandboxed plugin; it was simply the most recent.

Re:Analysis (1)

cgraeff (1098129) | more than 3 years ago | (#35187954)

object tags for all mp4, wmv, mp4v, and m4v files

This makes me very suspicious.

Re:Analysis (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35188074)

So? Yep, might cause problems. So could a lot of other things, your just FUDding it up unless you have evidence thats something is going to happen for sure, since its just as likely a brand new WebM implementation will be exploitable as it is the WM api which has been around for a while and had most of its exploits found, but hey, why let logic come into the conversation, we're talking about OSS against Patents here.

Personally, this is great news. Means I don't have to quit using Chrome because of some retarded idealogical battle Google has started. ZOMG h264 IS PATENTED, THEY CAN CHANGE THE LICENSE FEES AT ANY TIME OR PULL THE RUG OUT FROM UNDER YOU! ZOMG.

Seriously, thats the only statement that can be made that has any leg to stand on, to which can be followed up with ZOMG SO DOES WEBM ZOMG. Which is just as much FUD cause theres no evidence of either of those things being true, just two sides being retarded spreading lies. If you have to pay for a h264 license and thats your complaint, then just go fuck yourself, you don't have to pay until you've moved enough units that you should be profitable and if you aren't profitable you should probably just be shut down anyway, and even when you move enough units, whats the price? A penny a unit AT MAX, and goes down from there? Seriously, shut up, it'll cost you more than that to send me the download.

On the other side I could be excited about WebM ... which only works in Chrome, Firefox stopped counting for anything useful at the 3.x branch when it became clear we've just renamed netscape navigator and got all the bloat and bugs instead of any sort of focus and actually fixing bugs before continuing to do major redesigns of things that don't need redesign. It doesn't work on anything else I have, and won't work on anything other than my laptop since I have at least 12 devices between my boat, cars, and home that are capable of playing h264 and not WebM and they'll never be able to do so unless I replace them.

So to me, this is just another reason h264 will win. I can actually use it everywhere, including the places where the retards had some ideological movement that supposed to help me but actually doesn't do me any good in any way what so ever at this point in time unless I buy into the FUD factor, which I don't.

WebM's only advantage is cost, which can change far quicker than it can for h264. h264 is handled by a large group of companies that won't agree over night. WebM can be changed at the whim of one man. This is one of those instances where greed is useful, Ih264 isnt' going to change over night as they companies will all fight each other for who gets the new profits long enough to deal with whatever they try to pull. Its not like they can make it retroactive.

Look ma, Microsoft did what Firefox and Chrome should have done in the first place USE THE FUCKING VIDEO CODECS PROVIDED BY THE OS. What the fuck is so hard with Firefox doing that on their own? Hmmm? Other than being a bunch of idealogical asswipes?

Sounds enticing... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35187820)

But I wouldn't use it. The way this plugin uses the OS's media frameworks probably means that, unlike all of Google's Chrome plugins (including the invisible ones for video handling), this one will handle format parsing at the user account level, meaning that any website serving up malformed video will be able to bypass the browser sandbox entirely.

Why Media player rather than Silverlight? (1)

namalc (66960) | more than 3 years ago | (#35187834)

Interesting that Microsoft built the H.264 player on top of Media Player rather than Silverlight (given that Silverlight has H.264 support). Guess that's just more indication that Silverlight is not catching on.

Gotta love it. (4, Insightful)

Beelzebud (1361137) | more than 3 years ago | (#35187888)

I love how with some people, everything MS does has to be bad, no matter what. Give users more choice? Booo!!!!

This is a good thing. Choice is good. This doesn't render html5 as useless, as it just gives their users more choice.

Re:Gotta love it. (2, Insightful)

0123456 (636235) | more than 3 years ago | (#35187930)

I love how with some people, everything MS does has to be bad, no matter what. Give users more choice? Booo!!!!

Users don't care whether the video is H.264, they just want to play it. Web sites put up video in a format that users want to play.

If Windows users can play H.264 in their web browser and Linux users can't because it's patented to hell, then this clearly has the intentional or unintentional side-effect of encouraging web sites to use a format which Linux users can't view.

I mean, seriously: why do you think that Microsoft would be releasing 'improvements' to other browsers out of kindness?

Re:Gotta love it. (4, Interesting)

Beelzebud (1361137) | more than 3 years ago | (#35188010)

If you can't watch h.264 on your Linux box, you're doing it wrong. Linux users don't need their hand held. Not everything is a nefarious plot to bring down the 1% of desktops that use Linux...

Re:Gotta love it. (1, Insightful)

0123456 (636235) | more than 3 years ago | (#35188040)

If you can't watch h.264 on your Linux box, you're doing it wrong

I can play H.264. I can't play H.264 in Firefox with HTML5 tags, because Firefox doesn't support it due to patent concerns.

Which part of 'play H.264 in your web browser' is proving so hard for you to understand?

Re:Gotta love it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35188306)

Which part of 'play H.264 in your web browser' is proving so hard for you to understand?

You forgot to demand a pony too.

Write the patch to allow an in-window video stream from an out-of-app decoder your damn self, Mr. Linux user. If the Mozilla foundation can't wrap its mind around the problem, it's hardly Microsoft's fault. I want H.264 video. My video card and iPhone accelerate it, my camcorder creates it, my Blu-rau player plays it. The video ecosystem is a single digit percentile of Linux desktop users, nor the fraction of them who are members of the cult of an "open-at-any-cost" HTML5 standard. It's every user of an internet connected device, from TVs to blu-ray players to smartphones as well as Linux desktops, and especially users who aren't going to run out any buy another camera-thingy so that they can encode content in Google's newest baby without a ugly manual transcoding step.

Re:Gotta love it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35188420)

Firefox aren't holding out because of Linux - it's about the patents and the threat to free software that they present.

Re:Gotta love it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35188060)

There are other operating systems out there other than Linux. Should all the other operating systems get left behind because M$ wants all video H.264. The web should be an open standard. If it only works in one or two popular operating systems, then it is a fail.

Soon it would be that it only worked in one or two operating systems, to it only works in the most popular operating system.

Nathan

Re:Gotta love it. (1)

pavon (30274) | more than 3 years ago | (#35188578)

I prefer not to break the law to watch videos online, nor support a codec that requires those websites to pay to encode it.

Re:Gotta love it. (3, Insightful)

FuckingNickName (1362625) | more than 3 years ago | (#35188100)

I mean, seriously: do you think that Google has released 'WebM' out of kindness?

Re:Gotta love it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35188672)

Yes. Google doesn't have a direct interest in video codecs. But H.264 gets in the way of their browser, of their operating systems, of their mobile handset, of the future of the web, and of their websites (e.g. YouTube). It's in Google's interest however to see a regular web standard covering video come to fruition. Google only got involved because there wasn't one.

I'll pose another similar question: do you think that Google has contributed [to] HTML5, Linux, Chromium, and Android out of kindness? In a sort of way, yes they have, because their business lies not with those products but on top of them.

Re:Gotta love it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35188094)

It's bad because plugins are bad. Period. This exposes a major attack vector for Chrome. A browser is only as secure as its weakest link, and this likely is to be its weakest link (Flash used to be, but that problem was cut in two; right now it's an easy way in, but not an easy way out).

Re:Gotta love it. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35188202)

I love how with some people, everything MS does has to be bad, no matter what.

I love how with some people, everything MS does has to be good, no matter what. Especially given their ongoing embrace-extend-extinguish history.

Choice is good

A standard whitewashing of a sabotage attempt. There's no actual new choice being added here - you already have those features on Windows and they're already built into IE. But MS is doing what it can to make sure you have a damn hard time choosing to use a cross-platform open-standards browser; nope, you're going to use the Microsoft version by any way they can make you, because they see everything else as a threat. They might as well be switching our coffee with Folgers.

Installed. (1)

cyberfr0g (2812) | more than 3 years ago | (#35188022)

See Subject:

Non-binary distributions? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35188076)

Say I run NetBSD/amd64, and I build all my packages from pkgsrc, and I have disabled all kinds of Linux support in my kernel.

Will whatever Microsoft is doing help me in any way?

Without actually looking into it, I'd say "No.".

Would whatever Google is doing help me get more compatible with next generation of web media?

Without actually looking into it, I'd say "Yes.".

Good! (0)

ceeam (39911) | more than 3 years ago | (#35188124)

Thanks, Microsoft! (oof, that's a hard thing to say)

As for Google - when will these hypocrites be also removing MP3 support?

Re:Good! (1)

Salvo (8037) | more than 3 years ago | (#35188200)

They's pull MP3 support shortly after they remove Flash support.
They'll pull Flash support when their "best Buddies" relationship with Adobe falls out.
Their relationship with Adobe will fall out when they realise Flash on a Mobile Device is a bad idea.
They'll realise Flash on Android is bad when more App developers follow BBC iPlayer's example and make a native iOS App that works hard and a Flash-based Android App that hardly works.

Another unfortunate turn of events but.... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35188462)

a lot of the predictions concerning HTML5 are turning out to be rather accurate, lets face it.

One of the main reasons it's doesn't get anywhere is because it seems to be several years away, and perhaps always will be. As far as large organizations and businesses are concerned that is a complete non-starter.

Quit treating Google with kid gloves (4, Insightful)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 3 years ago | (#35188576)

Google is behaving like any other company. Do you really think they've dropped h.264 because they love open formats? No, it's a strategic move with the ultimate goal of making more money - either through search, through monetizing your personal data, or both.

If they were being altruistic, they'd have dropped Flash support and mp3 support at the same time. Heck, to really be pure they'd need to drop gif and jpeg as well. No, they dropped h.264 because right now their browser is trending upward, and they see a way to grab an edge versus both Apple and Microsoft.

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