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Mozilla Debates Supporting H.264 In Firefox Via System Codecs 320

An anonymous reader writes "Adoption of the HTML5 video element has been hampered by the lack of a universal video format that is supported in all browsers. Mozilla previously rejected the popular H.264 video codec because it is patent-encumbered and would require implementors to pay royalty fees. The organization is now rethinking its position and is preparing to add support for H.264 video decoding in mobile Firefox via codecs that are provided by the underlying operating system or hardware. The controversial proposal has attracted a lot of criticism from Firefox contributors, including some employed by Mozilla."
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Mozilla Debates Supporting H.264 In Firefox Via System Codecs

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  • by BZ ( 40346 ) on Tuesday March 13, 2012 @05:33PM (#39344487)

    Google promised they'd drop H.264 in Chrome... and then never did. Recent queries about the state of that promise are met with curious silence.

  • by not already in use ( 972294 ) on Tuesday March 13, 2012 @05:44PM (#39344643)
    The death of FOSS is going to be the inability to adopt pragmatic solutions to problems, and instead trying to achieve some ideal solution that aligns with their fundamentally flawed ideology. RIP GPL, you've grown to old and stuck in your ways. The younger, better looking, not-as-cynical-and-angry bsd-style licenses are quickly replacing you.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 13, 2012 @05:50PM (#39344719)

    Maybe that's what the vast majority of the people want the purpose to be, but the reality is that an insignificant portion of loud mouthed geeks screaming at the top of their lungs trying to make their insignificant lives meaning full, Mozilla is about half browser and half "damn the man" movement demanding that everything be open.

    Fixed that for you.

  • Re:WebM (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 13, 2012 @05:56PM (#39344803)
    Right, and they didn't need to implement PNG because they had already implemented GIF.

    Hang on, Microsoft did actually try that one! That was a great time for the Internet wasn't it?
  • by J0nne ( 924579 ) on Tuesday March 13, 2012 @05:59PM (#39344833)

    Because they tried this before, with the <object> tag, which could support any possible codec (quicktime, realvideo, wmv, ...). This ended up being such a huge mess that web developers decided to just go with flash instead, because for all its failings, at least it worked on most computers (and you didn't need to deal with the ugly default controls media players insisted on at the time).

  • Re:WebM (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 13, 2012 @06:06PM (#39344917)

    Though it's been over a year and the codec is still supported, Google announced they plan to drop support of H.264 [] in the future. Opera also does not support H.264. Moving forward, I would wager that Google will phase out H.264 in favor of WebM on mobile devices as well. Google seems to be taking a more cautious approach of keeping H.264 support for now and hoping WebM catches on eventually before dropping it entirely.

  • by pavon ( 30274 ) on Tuesday March 13, 2012 @07:27PM (#39345925)

    Okay, I just did some rough calculations on the support for HTML5 video codecs by browsers (source []), weighted by browser market share (source [] via []), including both desktop and mobile browsers. What I got was:
    Theora: 41%
    WebM: 37%
    H.264: 41%
    None: 40%
    These numbers add up to more than 100% because some browsers support more than one codec. Looking at single codec support I get:
    WebM and not H.264: 17%
    H.264 and not WebM: 21%
    What it amounts to is that FF + Opera(Desktop) have close to the same market share as IE9 + Safari (OSX & iOS), so they just about cancel each other out. IE9 market share is growing slowly (thanks to not supporting win XP), so there's still a couple of years for WebM to gain traction before declaring H.264 a sure winner for HTML5 video.

  • Re:WebM (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 13, 2012 @07:43PM (#39346067)
    True. And WebM comes with an uncertain future as that same patent troll organization will probably come after the first well funded WebM implementer. At this point in time it is unknown whether they would succeed in showing that WebM violates any existing patents. However it is a virtual certainty that they will try and that it will be expensive to defend against. This is why folks like Microsoft and Apple have stayed away and simply said that they will use WebM if there is already a plug in on the system that implements it. Whoever writes and distributes that plug in gets to battle the wrath of the h.264 patent trolls.
  • Re:WebM (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jonwil ( 467024 ) on Tuesday March 13, 2012 @08:08PM (#39346285)

    Actually, a big reason Microsoft and Apple wont touch VP8 is that they hold H.264 patents and are members of the H.264 patent pool and that because of the extremely broad patent grant attached to VP8, supporting it would mean giving up the rights to use their patents as part of a future VP8 patent pool and extract money from those who ARE using VP8.

  • by Zenin ( 266666 ) on Tuesday March 13, 2012 @08:38PM (#39346583) Homepage

    "Its a throwback to the times when every program used to include its own graphics, sound, and printer drivers. We moved away from those times for a very good reason."

    There's a reason why VLC [] can play basically anything, on any system, far better and more reliably then anything else on the planet. And it sure as hell isn't because they're leveraging whatever maze of codec hell happens to be lying around a user's system.

    System codecs were a nice idea in theory that never delivered in practice. Too many bad codecs included with every random software application that all register themselves to try and be the first priority codec for every format for the entire system... Did I mention there's no sane way for users to adjust codec priority order? The best of tools are 3rd party and at best can be described as incredibly cryptic. And they each are trying to reinvent that wheel because the ones actually shipped with the base OS are themselves, bad.

    Mozilla using system codes would increase crash reports 100 fold overnight, as well as security breaches, 99.9% of which would have nothing to do with Mozilla but damned if the users know or care about the distinction, and there wouldn't be a damned thing Mozilla could do to fix it if they wanted to.

  • Re:WebM (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mug funky ( 910186 ) on Tuesday March 13, 2012 @09:49PM (#39347269)

    all video formats come with the threat of a lawsuit from that cunt at MPEG-LA.

    i say bring it the fuck on. when they try to defend their patent portfolio against google's lawyers (and any other vested interests that want to jump into the fray), they'll find their portfolio shrinking to the level their legitimacy hit years ago.

  • Re:WebM (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 14, 2012 @02:43AM (#39349507)

    Your post isn't inherently FUDdy, but it becomes so by being so one-sided. You're right, Google doesn't offer any indemnity to users of VP8. But MPEG LA doesn't offer any indemnity to users of H.264, either. If the codecs are similar, then both are at risk of trollish lawsuits.

User hostile.