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Mozilla To Support H.264

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the lost-the-battle-but-not-the-war dept.

Firefox 249

suraj.sun writes with a followup to last week's news that Mozilla was thinking about reversing their stance on H.264 support. Mozilla chairman Mitchell Baker and CTO Brendan Eich have now both written blog posts explaining why they feel H.264 support is no longer optional. Eich wrote, "We will not require anyone to pay for Firefox. We will not burden our downstream source redistributors with royalty fees. We may have to continue to fall back on Flash on some desktop OSes. I’ll write more when I know more about desktop H.264, specifically on Windows XP. What I do know for certain is this: H.264 is absolutely required right now to compete on mobile. I do not believe that we can reject H.264 content in Firefox on Android or in B2G and survive the shift to mobile. Losing a battle is a bitter experience. I won’t sugar-coat this pill. But we must swallow it if we are to succeed in our mobile initiatives. Failure on mobile is too likely to consign Mozilla to decline and irrelevance." Baker added, "Our first approach at bringing open codecs to the Web has ended up at an impasse on mobile, but we’re not done yet. ... We'll find a way around this impasse."

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Fiiirst!!! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39415899)

Screw EA for ruining Ass Effect 3!

Re:Fiiirst!!! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39416257)

I loved ME1 and ME2, haven't played ME3 yet, so I can't say if the ending is a disappointment in the context of the story. What I can say is that the ME3 ending is already my favorite ending to any videogame ever, solely for the pain and anguish it has inflicted upon whiny, obnoxious fanboys across the globe.

Re:Fiiirst!!! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39417717)

I find this offensive. There are so many reasons to screw EA that enumerating them cheapens all the other reasons.

Good move (5, Insightful)

vivek7006 (585218) | more than 2 years ago | (#39415907)

better live to fight tomorrow, rather than become irrelevant

Will Googorola sue them? (5, Interesting)

recoiledsnake (879048) | more than 2 years ago | (#39415945)

They have recently declined to pledge that they won't sue over standards essential patents like H.264, instead of demanding 2.5% of proceeds of devices(ad revenues in this case). Apple and Microsoft have pledged this.
http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2012/02/regulators-to-google-you-can-buy-motorola-but-we-still-dont-trust-you.ars [arstechnica.com]

Interesting to see Google becoming the patent trolls over H.264 that it previously warned others over and recommended WebM.

Re:Will Googorola sue them? (4, Funny)

ZorinLynx (31751) | more than 2 years ago | (#39416149)

Given that Firefox is free, 2.5% of revenues from Mozilla would be $0.00, and still satisfy the agreement. Right?

Re:Will Googorola sue them? (2)

ccguy (1116865) | more than 2 years ago | (#39416265)

Firefox is free to final users, but someone (Google at least) is definitely footing the bill.

Most likely that 2.5% doesn't apply to what you pay for firefox but to their global income.

Re:Will Googorola sue them? (4, Insightful)

CharlyFoxtrot (1607527) | more than 2 years ago | (#39416565)

Firefox is free to final users, but someone (Google at least) is definitely footing the bill.

Google is paying for access to Firefox users through search bar and default home page. They are not supporting Firefox out of kindness.

Re:Will Googorola sue them? (1)

Beelzebud (1361137) | more than 2 years ago | (#39416193)

Considering they give the Mozilla foundation a huge chunk of money every year, wouldn't that be like suing themselves?

Re:Will Googorola sue them? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39416399)

Considering they give the Mozilla foundation a huge chunk of money every year, wouldn't that be like suing themselves?

No. It wouldn't.

Re:Will Googorola sue them? (4, Informative)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 2 years ago | (#39416235)

Key patents are also held by... actually, there's a list [wikipedia.org] . A long one. Will all of them agree not to sue too?

Yes, that's the point of the pool (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39417733)

Key patents are also held by... actually, there's a list [wikipedia.org] . A long one. Will all of them agree not to sue too?

By joining the pool, the ones on that list have put their patents under a common license. So as long as you buy a license from the pool, then yes, they have agreed not to sue you.

(That's no help against Google/Motorola, or patent trolls that aren't in the pool, however.)

Re:Will Googorola sue them? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39416241)

Don't you see it, now Google can push H.264 out of existence and push WebM with Google Tracking Technology.

Re:Will Googorola sue them? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39416293)

Yes, yes - because Google has a long patent trolling history and Mozilla is obviously at the top of their "To sue" list.

Seriously, how do you get from "Google’s commitments were more ambiguous and do not provide the same direct confirmation of its SEP licensing policies." to "Interesting to see Google becoming the patent trolls over H.264"?

Re:Will Googorola sue them? (3, Informative)

mystikkman (1487801) | more than 2 years ago | (#39416469)

Because Motorola is suing Apple and Microsoft over standards essential patents with exorbitant fees, in the classic way of bait-and-switch once the standard is in place.

And Google specifically declined to make the same promise as Apple and Microsoft about this issue.

Re:Will Googorola sue them? (5, Interesting)

CharlyFoxtrot (1607527) | more than 2 years ago | (#39416655)

Yes, yes - because Google has a long patent trolling history and Mozilla is obviously at the top of their "To sue" list.

Yahoo wasn't a patent troll either, until it was [pandodaily.com] . And Mozilla would very quickly become enemy no1 at Google if they ever switched to Bing or another search engine. It'd be all-out war.

Re:Will Googorola sue them? (2)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 2 years ago | (#39417913)

It's not google so much as it's Motorola with Google's blessing.

I'm not going to call Motorola a patent troll because they're not, per se. But they watched competitors (Samsung and Apple) overtake them, they watched their revenue dry up and the red ink flow. And they turned to the dark side.

And this isn't just suing Apple or Microsoft -- they started threatening to sue all the other Android manufacturers before Google bought them for $12 billion.

Re:Will Googorola sue them? (4, Insightful)

tlhIngan (30335) | more than 2 years ago | (#39416425)

Or better yet... why doesn't Firefox on Android use the standard, pre-licensed, OS library to play back h.264?

All Android devices support h.264 playback these days and it's baked into Android's media playback architecture, so it's prelicensed by the device manufacturer.

I don't think an app needs to pay in order to use h.264 playback if it's already been paid for and provided for everyone else to use.

Heck, Firefox on regular PCs can do the same - Windows 7 supports it, and I'm sure Firefox could leverage other plugins like QuickTime to support h.264 playback on other OSes (really, Apple's giving away a h.264 decoder, for free. Licensed that they have to pay for! Each download costs Apple money!)

Not sure what they want to do with Boot 2 Gecko though, since there won't be a pre-licensed library already.

Re:Will Googorola sue them? (4, Insightful)

Tridus (79566) | more than 2 years ago | (#39417185)

That's exactly my understanding of what they're doing. They're not licensing it themselves, they're just going to rely on the OS implementaiton where one exists.

Re:Will Googorola sue them? (5, Informative)

RebelWebmaster (628941) | more than 2 years ago | (#39417685)

Exactly, which is also why they brought up Windows XP, which does not have a built-in H.264 decoder.

Re:Will Googorola sue them? (1)

Henriok (6762) | more than 2 years ago | (#39417337)

Yes, Apple is paying for each download.. up to a cap of $6.5 million annually. Google payed 125 million for On2. That's 19 years worth of h.264 licenses. Money google probably will have to pay anyway.

Re:Will Googorola sue them? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39416497)

Oh please, it would be utterly *insane* to pledge to not sue anyone over patents because that is how the game - disgusting as it is - is currently being played by the likes of Apple (and in a more indirect and shady way, by Microsoft). People need to get over the fact that Google isn't holy and can't be the good 'do no evil' guy here as long as this patent situation is allowed to spiral out of control.

Re:Will Googorola sue them? (5, Informative)

Tridus (79566) | more than 2 years ago | (#39417117)

Firefox isn't implementing h.264 though. They're simply going to call the system codec if the OS has one. Typically the OS vendors that do that also offer patent indemnification for their users, so if someone sues you for using h.264 in FIrefox on Windows, Microsoft would get involved because they already paid to license it to Windows users.

Re:Will Googorola sue them? (2)

JDG1980 (2438906) | more than 2 years ago | (#39417895)

Almost all modern smartphones and tablets support H.264 decoding in hardware. Likewise, virtually every video card and integrated video chipset made in the past 5 years (with the exception of Intel's Atom) supports H.264 decoding in hardware. There should be nothing to sue over, since the hardware manufacturer already paid the H.264 license fee. All Firefox has to do is send the raw data stream to the hardware using the appropriate API and say "Here, decode this."

Re:Good move (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39416209)

Indeed. Particularly since everything is moving to mobile, the ability to sync across platforms is becoming more and more important in my everyday life. I can't have a non-functional browser in mobile, and I won't use a desktop browser that doesn't cooperate with my mobile one.

not a troll (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39415921)

Firefox Is Really Struggling To (survive).

Re:not a troll (-1, Troll)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 2 years ago | (#39416145)

I would think so. I have personally switched to Chrome from Firefox. So have many others.
Mozilla Firefox has gotten too complicated for what I do with a Web Browser (If you remember Firefox started as the Fast and Light back to Basic Browsers). Right now Google Chrome is the Fast Light and Back to Basics browser that people really want.

What made it worse was Firefox really messed up when they did that crazy version numbers issue just to copy Google chrome as if the Version Number was the key to success. What that did was Show how desperate Firefox is, then their choice to snub their noses at valid complaints from business usage just made it worse.

Re:not a troll (2, Insightful)

Tumbleweed (3706) | more than 2 years ago | (#39416183)

What made it worse was Firefox really messed up when they did that crazy version numbers issue just to copy Google chrome as if the Version Number was the key to success. What that did was Show how desperate Firefox is, then their choice to snub their noses at valid complaints from business usage just made it worse.

So, Mozilla copying Google's version numbering scheme and release schedule made Firefox *worse* than Chrome? Okay, then...

Re:not a troll (2, Insightful)

gauauu (649169) | more than 2 years ago | (#39416363)

So, Mozilla copying Google's version numbering scheme and release schedule made Firefox *worse* than Chrome? Okay, then...

Actually yes. Version upgrades in chrome are transparent to the user. I don't care if chrome updates to version 324...I don't know even know what version of chrome I'm running.

When firefox updates, it make you go through a huge hassle of clicking approve on update boxes, checking to see if your extensions are broken, realizing half your extensions ARE broken, looking for new ones, etc. If they made their upgrades as transparent as chrome does, it wouldn't be a problem. But a rapid release schedule is a terrible idea when upgrading is a hassle.

Re:not a troll (4, Informative)

Tumbleweed (3706) | more than 2 years ago | (#39416435)

So, Mozilla copying Google's version numbering scheme and release schedule made Firefox *worse* than Chrome? Okay, then...

Actually yes. Version upgrades in chrome are transparent to the user. I don't care if chrome updates to version 324...I don't know even know what version of chrome I'm running.

When firefox updates, it make you go through a huge hassle of clicking approve on update boxes, checking to see if your extensions are broken, realizing half your extensions ARE broken, looking for new ones, etc. If they made their upgrades as transparent as chrome does, it wouldn't be a problem. But a rapid release schedule is a terrible idea when upgrading is a hassle.

Many people aren't thrilled with the idea of silent updates, for sure, the hassle of updating past versions was horrible. Fortunately, it's pretty easy now, and I haven't had any add-ons break since v8 or so. v13 will bring silent updates.

Language pack FAIL (1)

Inf0phreak (627499) | more than 2 years ago | (#39417481)

Mozilla still haven't fixed Firefox to be able to handle automatic updating of language packs. Every time I update Firefox here, it reverts back to the language I installed it in (the rest of my family isn't as good as English as I am), so I have to manually go and get the newest en-GB.xpi.

Re:not a troll (1, Insightful)

VGPowerlord (621254) | more than 2 years ago | (#39416403)

What made it worse was Firefox really messed up when they did that crazy version numbers issue just to copy Google chrome as if the Version Number was the key to success. What that did was Show how desperate Firefox is, then their choice to snub their noses at valid complaints from business usage just made it worse.

So, Mozilla copying Google's version numbering scheme and release schedule made Firefox *worse* than Chrome? Okay, then...

Chrome does transparent updates... not only are you not prompted to update, but you usually don't even know you've updated unless you check the revision number.

To contrast, Firefox not only gives you a dialog saying "Firefox updated, restart Firefox!" but also follows this with an in-your-face addon-compatibility dialog the first time the new version starts.

Oh, and Firefox changes something in the visual style every other version or so.

Re:not a troll (1)

Microlith (54737) | more than 2 years ago | (#39417605)

To contrast, Firefox not only gives you a dialog saying "Firefox updated, restart Firefox!" but also follows this with an in-your-face addon-compatibility dialog the first time the new version starts.

Yup, it keeps you informed of what it is doing rather than doing so silently and surreptitiously.

Firefox changes something in the visual style every other version or so.

Funny, I haven't noticed a visual change since FF4, whereupon I promptly reverted its appearance back to the FF3.6 style.

Re:not a troll (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39417779)

Chrome does transparent updates...

What, it doesn't even prompt for sudo?

By what magic?

Note: /home is often mounted no-exec. So it can't cheat by installing itself there.

Re:not a troll (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39416507)

No, you failed to comprehend the first part of his post after your brain got hung up quoting only the second part. Re-read it.

What makes Chrome better? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39416267)

As a long time Firefox user I don't understand how Chrome can be that much better. Keep in mind I'm not like the rest of you crazies who insist on having 40 tabs open at once and never closing the program. I look at things in maybe a handful of tabs and when I'm finished I close the program. Apparently this is not normal behavior now.

I do use a few mandatory addons to make the internet workable now. Adblock, Flashblock, Ghostery, and Greasemonkey with a few scripts. Firefox has crashed maybe once for me this year. The slowest thing I notice is the ad servers and scripts that take forever. Sure hold up my page while b.scorecardresearch.com hangs. Most address like that go directly in the hosts file.

Re:What makes Chrome better? (3, Interesting)

i_ate_god (899684) | more than 2 years ago | (#39416557)

Firefox has become my webapp IDE these days. Firebug (and things that let me log to firebug from the server-side code) + SQLite manager + a variety of tools for mangling http requests and responses + a variety of tools for creating your own requests, all in one tabbed application. It's perfect!

Chrome has become my web browser though.

IT's like comparing Eclipse to say, Notepad. Eclipse is useful because of everything that it CAN do. Notepad is useful for everything that it can't do (and thus doesn't get in your way when you're not doing it).

Re:What makes Chrome better? (1)

fast turtle (1118037) | more than 2 years ago | (#39417791)

you mean like the 7 google tabs that I have open all the time whenever firefox is started? That's my home page. I've also currently got another 7 open for Stories Online plus another 8 open from SoFurry with another 5 for /. stories/comments and a few odds/ends. This is just my normal daily usage pattern.

As to shutting down firefox, why in hell should I do that? I've got an always on connection, a battery backup w/30 mins run time and I use the damn thing when ever I feel like it (retired/disabled). The only time I shutdown firefox is when Win Updates forces a system reboot and as to the pages I have open, it's easier to leave them up then wait for them to load.

On the adserver issue, I've been blocking them in the hosts file since 1996 when I first figured out that doubleclick was the bottleneck when I was on dialup. Figured out that the hosts file was the way to go have been doing that to every adserver I encounter though I now cheat and simply merge a copy of several online hosts files. Much nicer as many of them have comments as to what breaks when you block certain servers.

Re:not a troll (1)

Githaron (2462596) | more than 2 years ago | (#39416751)

Firefox is still my browser of choice for desktop. For my mobile, I use Dolphin Mini.

Re:not a troll (0, Offtopic)

Eponymous Hero (2090636) | more than 2 years ago | (#39416375)

but you're not first... so sorry

Failure? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39416013)

"Failure on mobile is too likely to consign Mozilla to decline and irrelevance."

Yes, because 60 kB/s mobile browsing sure is the future for the internet. Please, 80% of our daily lives are spend around laptop or desktop computers. I use mobile browsing once a month, and couldn't care less about it. It's clunky, without proper screen, and useless as most of what you want out of your smartphone is in app form already (maps, nav, market, etc).

Start making your browser better and stop caring about this kind of pointless thing.

And no, I wasn't addressing you smartphone junkies with your $80 dollar a month plan and your 2 MB/s. I'm gonna go ahead and put that $50/month in my pocket, drinking coffee behind my laptop as I watch you struggle with a touchscreen keyboard on a 5 inch screen.

Re:Failure? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39416191)

I'm going to bet that you're over 70 years old.

Re:Failure? (4, Insightful)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 2 years ago | (#39416221)

You are are becoming the minority.

The Mobile Smart Phone popularity is due to the face that you can bring it with you almost anywhere. Even an Ultra Portable Laptop has places where you would be looked at kinda funny if you took it with you, and the extra power of the laptop comes at a cost of battery life. A Smart Phone under moderate use gives you about 16 hours a day. A Laptop under that use gives you 3-5 hours. Also the Mobile Network is handy to get data when you are not near any other hot spots. Which does happen more often then you think. I got a smart phone figuring that it would be a fun toy... But I found it more useful then I thought.

Re:Failure? (1)

ifiwereasculptor (1870574) | more than 2 years ago | (#39416695)

Wait, wait. You guys can just stop here with the insane comparisons, all right? Yes, a laptop has a lot more computing power and a keyboard. Yes, it's much more cumbersome to carry around. There are, obviously, other differences, but they don't really matter because those two are simply so big that they are the only deciding factors.

Re:Failure? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39417205)

You're gonna watch in horror as "a lot more computing power" diminishes to "a negligible amount more computing power" over the next couple years. The writing has been on the wall for a while.

Then the only major deciding factor will be "keyboard vs. cumbersome to carry".

Re:Failure? (1)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 2 years ago | (#39417597)

I think the Transformer shows that not even that will differentiate them.

Re:Failure? (1)

Githaron (2462596) | more than 2 years ago | (#39416803)

A lot of these are starting to become services through the mobile device instead of services through a browser through a device.

Re:Failure? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39417437)

Don't worry, people also look at you kinda funny when you are staring at your damn phone all the time. It's just that you are sooooo interested in whatever idiocy is on your phone that you fail to realize there is life (and buses, and stairs, and ...) all around you.

Re:Failure? (1)

Gordonjcp (186804) | more than 2 years ago | (#39416369)

Most people who use mobile phones *aren't* in the US, and don't pay for things in US dinars.

$80 is about the price of a cup of coffee here, and my monthly phone bill is about a tenth of that.

Re:Failure? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39416379)

Except the mobile market IS the future, idiot. People all over the world use it every day, and you're a tiny irrelevant minority. Go ahead and take your time to open your laptop and spill your coffee over it as I laugh at you with my smartphone already open on the webpage you're trying to type the URL of with your old hands.

Re:Failure? (3, Insightful)

Hadlock (143607) | more than 2 years ago | (#39416461)

I am pretty sure my mom uses her phone for web browsing more than she does her desktop. She always had a hatred for desktops, but she finds her slow, 2nd gen 2.1 crappy android phone rather likable for some reason.

Re:Failure? (2)

jsdcnet (724314) | more than 2 years ago | (#39416625)

Yes, because 60 kB/s mobile browsing sure is the future for the internet.

Excuse me, are you from the past? You realize that mobile devices are shipping right now that can get something like 44Mb/sec down? One of the guys in my office just demoed his new iPad on LTE getting 44/20Mb/sec. Even my iPhone on AT&T's crappy oversubscribed 3G network in San Francisco can regularly pull 1Mb.

H.26x (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39416025)

Oh no! And I just spent my weekend encoding 100 TB of movies in H.265...

Re:H.26x (3, Funny)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 2 years ago | (#39416343)

Oh no! And I just spent my weekend encoding 100 TB of movies in H.265...

You should have went with h.266 and used the --backward-compatible flag.

Hardware Acceleration (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39416029)

I don't know the status of VP8 support but many video cards/chipsets support accelerated h264 decoding taking a great deal of load off the processor. This probably isn't as important with multiple cores but it helps. This is similar to the level of support MP3 still gets due to unusual devices that can play it (ex: car stereo CD players).

Re:Hardware Acceleration (5, Insightful)

XanC (644172) | more than 2 years ago | (#39416097)

It's critical, even with multi-core, if for no other reason than battery life.

Re:Hardware Acceleration (1, Interesting)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 2 years ago | (#39417439)

It's critical, even with multi-core, if for no other reason than battery life.

Because firing up the GPU is such a good way to save power?

Unless you've got a review sample of the new Nvidia cards, your GPU is going to be on a larger process than your CPU and generally consume more power for the same amount of work. Power savings over GPU decoding of video content are a thing of the past, and have been for a long time. GPUs being massively parallel by nature doesn't help shit when CPUs have 4+ more cores and can selectively throttle frequency and voltage, and even power down, unused and underused cores.

Hardware decoding is useful for when the CPU can't do it, or the CPU has to ramp up to assblaster load to do so. Unless you're got a single core or first generation dual core piece of shit, this isn't the case.

Re:Hardware Acceleration (2)

dbrueck (1872018) | more than 2 years ago | (#39416463)

Yup, that's exactly it, especially when it comes to mobile: just about any modern smartphone has at least some hardware acceleration for video decoding (and often encoding). It makes an enormous difference in terms of battery life. VP8 has made little or no headway into the hardware space (it's a chicken and egg thing - vendors won't put it on the chips if there's no demand for it, and there's no demand for it because it's not supported on the chips).

I don't understand the opposition (4, Insightful)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#39416093)

We currently use MPEG1, MPEG2, and JPEG in our browsers (and TVs) but the world has not collapsed, or our personal savings wiped out.

I don't see any problem with moving onward with MPEG4 audio and video (AACplusSBR)(h.264)(ATSC 2008).

OSS advocacy or maybe zealotry (5, Insightful)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 2 years ago | (#39416205)

They wanted a completely patent and royalty free standard. Now I can accept that is the preferable way to go but it wasn't very practical. The problem was nobody in the open and unpatented world wanted to get their shit together and develop a next gen video format in a timely fashion. So AVC got standardized and started to get implemented everywhere since it gives quite good quality/bit. Once it was huge and implemented in near everything, there was movement to create an open standard but too little, too late. When standards get entrenched, they get entrenched hard. GIFs are a great example, people still use them all over despite PNG being more or less in every way superior.

Well FF wanted to fight back against that and so said "No AVC evar!" They backed WebM, which had Google gotten done 3-5 years earlier, might have had a shot, but they are finding it just isn't feasible.

So AVC is what we have now, and probably will for a long, long time. When the next better standard comes out, it'll be hard to get people to switch because AVC is "good enough". We finally have a "good enough" video streaming solution, meaning it offer the kind of quality we want and can do so in bandwidth we have.

Re:OSS advocacy or maybe zealotry (2)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#39416735)

>>>GIFs are a great example, people still use them all over despite PNG being more or less in every way superior

My ISP (and Opera's Turbo) can compress GIFs and JPEGs prior to sending them, and thereby speed up webpage loads. Not so with PNGs. As for the rest of your post I agree completely; the OSS crowd acted too late with their development of a new video standard. (And WebM really is not better than MPEG3 in quality; it's inferior.)

Re:OSS advocacy or maybe zealotry (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39417131)

I'm not sure this helps. GIFs and JPEGs (and PNGs, for that matter) are already compressed. Your ISP (and Opera's Turbo) might be costing you bandwidth, and is almost certainly waiting your computing resources by trying to recompress a compressed file. Even if you're able to squeeze a few bytes out extra out of it, it sounds like an issue with your ISP (and Opera's Turbo) if it can compress some files but not others. Or perhaps your ISP (and Opera's Turbo) is smart enough to know that it's counterproductive to compress PNGs, and thus doesn't bother--because it's already in a superiorly compressed format.

I won't deny that PNGs are generally larger than GIFs or JPEGs, but that is due to the fact that GIFs use indexed palettes, and thus cannot support more than 256 colors, and JPEGs are lossy whereas PNGs aren't. I think there is software, though, that can make PNGs lossy and give you file sizes comparable to a JPEG, but of course you have the tradeoff in image quality.

Re:OSS advocacy or maybe zealotry (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39417401)

> My ISP (and Opera's Turbo) can compress GIFs and JPEGs prior to sending them, and thereby speed up webpage loads.

Wait, what? PNG files, on average, compress better than GIF or JPEG: not having to recompress them in the first place should make page-loads faster - they are smaller to begin with. And if your ISP really means "make the image look 50% worse" when they say "compress"... well they could mangle the PNGs the same way.

Re:OSS advocacy or maybe zealotry (1)

CharlyFoxtrot (1607527) | more than 2 years ago | (#39417101)

That's the BS. This was just Google's play to push a standard they define over a standard defined by their competitors (Apple, and Microsoft chief among them) because owning one of the largest online media properties AND the file format would've given them a lot of leverage. As things stand now the competition technically has leverage over YouTube and Google through control of a format Google must support to remain competitive (the reason they left their Firefox homies high and dry by continuing to support h264 themselves.) "Open" is just the marketing wrapper.

Re:OSS advocacy or maybe zealotry (1)

Gazzonyx (982402) | more than 2 years ago | (#39417663)

When standards get entrenched, they get entrenched hard.

QFT.

Re:I don't understand the opposition (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39416233)

Do companies pay a license fee to be allowed to render jpegs?

Re:I don't understand the opposition (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39416329)

Yes, all the above require licences, the costs are added into the selling prices. It's just another money grab at the expense of the consumer.

Re:I don't understand the opposition (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 2 years ago | (#39416327)

There were similar fights over patents back then too - the LZW patent in particular was a huge pain for developers, being essential to the GIF image format. There is just a lot more money involved today. Back when the fight was over GIF, there were not more smartphones on the planet than people - and every one of them a potential royalty.

Re:I don't understand the opposition (1)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#39416829)

GIF was developed in the early 80s by CompuServe (national BBS) and I don't remember anyone fighting against it? On the contrary the user community was still small but they embraced GIF. It gradually became the defacto standard when you wanted to share images across multiple platforms (Atari, Commodore, IBM, Mac). When Mosaic browser introduced webpages with images, GIF was already the default.

Re:I don't understand the opposition (1)

dbrueck (1872018) | more than 2 years ago | (#39416521)

The problem is the way the licensing works - if you ship h264 encoding or decoding capabilities in your software, you owe the patent holders money for each copy, up to a certain maximum per year. Not usually a deal breaker if you're selling a device or software, but it can be a really big issue if you are giving the software away for free - the annual cap can be millions of USD.

Ideally, major OSs (which tend to provide h264 already) would provide nice, clean APIs for at least h264 decoding, and then browsers and other apps could just tap into it in a semi-cross-platform way and not actually have to ship the codec themselves.

Re:I don't understand the opposition (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 2 years ago | (#39417417)

That's already how things are, and they plan to use those APIs to implement H.264 decoding to avoid shipping the codec (and paying license fees).

The only catch there is that XP does not have that, and won't be getting it. It might be irrelevant in 3-4 more years, but it's certainly very relevant today.

Re:I don't understand the opposition (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39416635)

Because in 4 years (see 2016) when the MPEG-LA is forced to make a decision on what to do about H.264, everyone will be at there mercy. So between now and them, if your media support has been flourishing, and suddenly comes to a screeching halt, your market share will as well.

Yes, I now this goes for everyone else who is supporting H.264 as well, but VP8 is slightly subject to the timeframe as well. That is unless Google and MPEG-LA go ahead duke it out in court, which neither of them would like. $Billions could be involved there, going either direction.

/I have little faith in sensible patent decisions by the courts, much less decisions on media patents

Re:I don't understand the opposition (1)

inpher (1788434) | more than 2 years ago | (#39417621)

Because in 4 years (see 2016) when the MPEG-LA is forced to make a decision on what to do about H.264, everyone will be at there mercy. So between now and them, if your media support has been flourishing, and suddenly comes to a screeching halt, your market share will as well.

The license [mpegla.com] (PDF) says on page four:

The first term of the License runs through 2010, but the License will be renewable for successive five-year periods for the life of any Portfolio patent on reasonable terms and conditions which may take into account prevailing market conditions, changes in technological environment and available commercial products at the time, but for the protection of licensees, royalty rates applicable to specific license grants or specific licensed products will not increase by more than ten percent (10%) at each renewal.

Re:I don't understand the opposition (0)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 2 years ago | (#39416985)

The issue with H.264 compared to MPEG2 are
1. It is licensed by a MPAA shell company/subsidiary
2. The terms to license it are much more strict than just pay us $2.00 for every product for example
3. License requires DRM to be implemented with a straight handshaked path all the way from the video card to the output device
4. Netflix, Apple, and MS backed it out of greed to sell DRM movies and videos
5. it kills the spirit of the world wide web to even dare suggest it as a standard
6. Hurts internet users in 3rd world countries with phone prices and those who use Windows 7 Starter Edition

The real reason why IE 9 is not available for XP? It can't meet the licensing requirements for h.264 therefore not compatible iwth html 5 anyway legally as the explorer.exe does not support the DRM of Aero. Technically legal, but not kosher wise without civil penalties. Mozilla and Google did not want to treat Linux and XP users as second class citizens and tried to fight it. Google kept h.264 for Android and Chrome and now it is too late.

It also is annoying for third world countries and some netbook owners with starter editions of Windows 7 who do not have these codecs. Many people in places like India use phones without these codecs to cut down on price. The internet is rapidly growing in these countries and h.264 is a thorn due to the cost. True some do not support mpeg 2 anyway, but mpeg 2 is not an offical html standard.

I could be wrong with the exact requirements for the implemention of DRM to my points so any geeks can correct me if I am wrong? But, I do not feel that it is fair not to mention I hated Flash for turning web development into a win32 only (and mac) platform with proprietary tools because no FOSS project can get permission from the MPAA cartel to run h.264.

However, flash is more evil I guess and it is time to let my anti h.264 rant go. I guess Linux users will have to download codecs on various websites.At least BSD users can visit places like youtube as more and more videos now have Html 5 counterparts.

Re:I don't understand the opposition (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39417161)

You want a single organization to unilaterally decide which sites stay and which sites go? Any organization can revoke the license they granted at any time to any particular user/groups of users -- especially if you haven't signed a contract with them (corporate promises are broken every day).

Individual products are different (like cameras and TVs): they're often not interconnected, and usually the software / hardware you use cannot be changed or updated, or even support multiple codecs. Your computer is different: it does whatever the hell you tell it to.

Re:I don't understand the opposition (1)

archen (447353) | more than 2 years ago | (#39417911)

I'm glad video is standardizing, but I'm wondering about audio (ala HTML5 audio tag). My understanding is that ogg and mp3 are supported. Are we stuck with the annoying ogg/mp3 combo, is firefox going to adopt this stance for mp3 as well (at least the patent expirations are within sight and any device that supports h264 pretty much supports mp3) or is AAC going to become an option for audio now?

Who cares? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39416273)

Firefox sucks any way you slice it. May as well be using IE.

I still don't think..... (1, Insightful)

mark-t (151149) | more than 2 years ago | (#39416355)

... that you can get away with pure html5 and h264 for all video concerns.

What about, for example, wanting to show a video with certain mandatory commercial points during the main video, which the user cannot skip? Not that I'm a big fan of this, but at the same time I can respect that a company might still find this sort of thing desirable.

You can get a flash video player to do this easily, but to the best of my understanding, can't be done so easily with just html5 and a <video> tag. Not that I'm so in love with Flash.... but I really wish there was a solution to this.

Re:I still don't think..... (2)

BaronAaron (658646) | more than 2 years ago | (#39416501)

With just a tag? No, not possible. In combination with javascript? Very possible.

There are plenty of javascript libraries out there that might get you most of the way there, like this one here [projekktor.com] .

Re:I still don't think..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39416601)

What about, for example, wanting to show a video with certain mandatory commercial points during the main video, which the user cannot skip? Not that I'm a big fan of this, but at the same time I can respect that a company might still find this sort of thing desirable.

A javascript solution will surely arise. It's easy enough for websites to refuse to work when javascript is disabled, and ad blockers can probably be detected by attempting to play a millisecond of dead air served from the ad site before the video starts.

Re:I still don't think..... (1)

mark-t (151149) | more than 2 years ago | (#39417023)

The problem with javascript being that it's running on the client, and particularly since it is in source-code form, is subject to possible alteration.

Re:I still don't think..... (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 2 years ago | (#39417431)

Flash is also running on the client, and can be easily decompiled if needed.

Re:I still don't think..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39417195)

Well, it should be possible to bake the commercials into the video stream on the fly on the server. I'm no expert for video encoding, but it should be possible to switch between streams just before each full frame that is encoded. No decoding or encoding would be required, so it should be reasonably cheap.

IMHO, they've already failed on Android (1)

scottbomb (1290580) | more than 2 years ago | (#39416405)

No flash support makes for a lot of web content I cannot access. Dolphin works great though, I just miss out on the automatic synchronization of bookmarks like I get with FF.

Re:IMHO, they've already failed on Android (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39417289)

Agreed, but not just for that reason. It's failed because it stinks. Stiiiiiinks, stinks. P-U. Load time is slow, page loads are slow, operation is clumsy and unintuitive, the interface is cluttered, plugin support is nonexistent. Crashes all the time. Feels very late to the party and underdeveloped.

By contast, Dolphin Mini is a delight, fast, stable, clean. It's the app to beat. I have both on my phone\tablet just in case Dolphin doesn't render something but I can't remember the last time I really had to use it.

Desktops becoming more relevant, mobile is a niche (2, Interesting)

Eravnrekaree (467752) | more than 2 years ago | (#39416417)

It is true that firefox should try to work its way onto mobile devices. There was some talk about the alternative such as the Ogg formats that were not patent encumbered, one wonders if some sort of plugin for browsers like IE would have removed a barrier to adoption.

  However, I think the idea that firefox will become irrelevant if they do not make their way onto mobile is dubious, because desktops will remain the primary means of computing, for many reasons. This is due to the fact that desktops are superior and a better value overall, mobile devices are only good in a niche usage when in a car on in a subway or out and about town. However, at home in the evening, mobile devices provide a drastistically worse usage characteristics and value than desktop. Do we really think that its a good idea to trade in your 20" screen, full sized keyboard and fast, memory expansive system for a 4" screen with a chiclet sized keyboard or some overpriced tablet that gives far less computing power and reliability than a desktop system? It seems absurd to me.

I do think that desktops will be used in conjunction with a mobile device, like a smart phone and or lap/netbook and that allowing these two to share data will be important (hello, remote desktop anyone).

Smart phones are a very specific usage niche, they only really make since when one is on the go, in their car, on a subway, or walking about town. This is a trade off because the mobile device provides much worse user experience and value than a desktop, which is only tolerable where portability is important. At home, in the den, the desktops strengths vastly excel over a mobile device, and in that place the mobile has absolutely no advantage. So, desktops will be used at home, few people want to do spread sheets, work on a collage paper, play a 3D game or such on some lousy mobile device.

Another fact is that since the mobile has a smaller display and different usage characteristics, the GUI is customized for that environment, however, the GUI that works well on a mobile, such as tabs, does not work very well on the desktop where full window system is very workable. So these two classes of computing device will have different UI designs.

It is true there has been growth in the smart phone sector. However, this should not be read as these becoming more popular than desktop, but that the mobile platform is unsaturated so far so that there is more room to growth. This growth as well is due to a technological tresh-hold that has been reached recently which has made smart phones viable for purposes. However, this is a business cyle, eventually mobile sales will fall of significantly, and i expect that mobile and desktop sales will eventually equalize as people have purchased both and enter more of a long term wear out replacement cycle on mobiles as with desktops.

As well, desktops are a better value in general for computing, providing higher speeds and more RAM for lower cost. They are also a general all in one computing device which can fill the role of DVR, Game console, office management, home management, communications and web browsing, telephone and video chat from home, and so on. Doing all of this with a desktop general purpose computer is a much, much better value than buying a bunch of seperate specific purpose computers like a wii or a tivo. It is far less wasteful becuse all of these devices have a general purpose computer and it makes sense to do all of these functions with a single general purpose computer rather than 3 seperate devices. As CPU speeds have increased and RAM has increased, a single desktop computer has enough resources that gaming, DVR, and office functions can all be done simultaneously. All of this results in desktops being able to multiple things for less cost making them a better value.

Mobile devices are a niche device and eventually sales of these will decline. Desktop sales will remain steady over time due to the much better value and better and more versatile usage characteristics.

Re:Desktops becoming more relevant, mobile is a ni (2)

Renderer of Evil (604742) | more than 2 years ago | (#39417079)

Is this satire?

Re:Desktops becoming more relevant, mobile is a ni (2)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 2 years ago | (#39417081)

Notice on Youtube the lower income looking people in a trailer typically we be on a phone commenting on showing a friend a song or video clip? Same is true with minorities who are statistically poorer.

Rich people own desktops and some offices. In places like India more people go on the web with phones than desktops. This trend will continue as costs go down. Phones will be the prefered method for teenage girls to communicate and use the web even if they have a computer at home for homework.

It is not a niche and there are probably more phones than desktops. In 3 years there will be more tablets and smart phones than laptops and desktops.

Re:Desktops becoming more relevant, mobile is a ni (0)

selven (1556643) | more than 2 years ago | (#39417407)

general all in one computing device which can fill the role of DVR, Game console, office management, home management, communications and web browsing, telephone and video chat from home, and so on.

DVR - mobile can do that just fine
Game console - mobile can do that just fine
Office management - desktop wins here
Home management - desktop wins here
Communications and web browsing - mobile can do that just fine
Telephone and video chat - mobile wins here

New flash: users don't care about RAM, super-overclocked multicore 4 GHZ CPUs or any other such acronyms. They care about UI responsiveness. We've had that since the 1980s, all you need is to keep the bloat down.

About damned time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39416453)

Finally, practicality and functionality trumps the FSF's hollow ideology. Only took them around two years to figure this out.

Glad to see it (2)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 2 years ago | (#39416533)

I'm really glad to see Mozilla making the pragmatic move. I understand it's ultimately a question of their own self interest; but in this case that dovetails nicely with what's best for their customers, in my opinion.

The best of all worlds would be for Google to continue development of WebM so it reaches quality parity with h.264. Right now I think it's harder for WebM to gain traction when most of the "pro" arguments are about licensing issues and gloss over any technical deficiencies.

Re:Glad to see it (1)

bhlowe (1803290) | more than 2 years ago | (#39417037)

Agreed. I believe FireFox was the last major browser holding out on H.264 support. (and Opera) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HTML5_video [wikipedia.org] Now web developers and programmers can output a single video format and have it playable on all browsers. This is a very good thing.

Re:Glad to see it (1)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 2 years ago | (#39417157)

It is not a zealotry or move on their own self interest not to implement h.264.

By agreeing to use it, they made FF a second class citizen in every non Windows 7(except starter edition) and MacOSX platform. The licensing is not only non free but requires drm support and a whole bunch of other nasties and ruins the spirit of an open world wide web that everyone regardless of platform and ideals uses.

For FF to be free it has to rely on the operating system and its DRM methods. I would not be surprised if MS missed it up to make IE look better in HD content like disable hardware acceleration for non IE browsers.

Its good to see Mozilla get with the times. But Mozilla and Google had great reason not to like it nor support it.

Re:Glad to see it (1)

DarkOx (621550) | more than 2 years ago | (#39417951)

No actually this is going suck. Let me tell you what will happen. Many or possibly all of the major distributions are going ship Firefox / Seamonkey binaries without h264 support compiled in. Its going to be just like the mp3 fiasco a couple years ago.

Microsoft and their kind are going to run around say pfft, Linux boxes can't even play web video, you need us for multimedia again. Linux users are going to nod and wink at each other and download libx264 and do their own Firefox / SeaMonkey / ffmpeg builds surging off the licensing concerns. Which is find for home users, but its one more thing that will keep Linux off institutional desktops.

What about non-mobile clients? (1)

jader3rd (2222716) | more than 2 years ago | (#39416715)

There are lots of clients that Firefox runs have which have H.264. Why focus on using it for just mobile? Using pre-existing technologies on the system, regardless of its mobileness, should be the right thing to do.

Firefox Mobile... h.264 is not your main issue. (1, Interesting)

yodleboy (982200) | more than 2 years ago | (#39417059)

I was eager to use Firefox Mobile after using the desktop browser for years. I've been running it for a couple of years on Android and color me unimpressed. I do like the way they handle tabs, and I like the ability to use plugins like adblock. What I DON'T like is the terrible performance. Slow to start, laggy, prone to lock up. This is on my Galaxy S, which granted is not a brand new phone. However, FF Mobile was one of the first apps I installed and it's always been a poor performer, time and revisions haven't made it better. YMMV, but my wife has a much newer phone and it doesn't seem to run any better. I'm much more concerned about ability to browse basic websites than what video codec it uses.

nig6A (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39417269)

the latest Netc"raft

4Ma8e (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39417443)

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