Google betas Flash-free YouTube sans open codec
Useless with Firefox and Opera
Google has publicly released an experimental YouTube player that uses the HTML5 video tag, as it continues the (very) slow process of moving the world's most popular video-sharing site away from Adobe Flash.
As you may or may not expect, the player does not embrace the open and license free Ogg Theora codec. Announced yesterday on the YouTube blog, it sticks with H.264, the same video codec used by the current version of YouTube. Among other things, this means it will not work with Opera or Firefox. And it can only be used with Internet Explorer if you turn the Microsoft browser into a Google browser using Mountain View's controversial Chrome Frame plug-in.
A Google spokesman indicated that the choice of H.264 over Ogg does not mean the company has picked H.264 for an eventual Flash-free version of YouTube. "Support for HTML5 is just a TestTube experiment at this time and a starting point," he said. "We can't comment specifically on what codecs we intend to support, but we're open to supporting more of them over time. At the very least we hope to help further this active and ongoing discussion."
HTML5 video is a bit of thorny issue among the major browser makers. Opera and Mozilla are adamant that they will only support Ogg. Apple won't budge from H.264. Google has straddled the line between the two, offering support for both in its Chrome browser. And Microsoft is, well, dragging its feet when it comes to the still-gestating HTML5 standard.
As a result, the HTML5 spec does not specify a video codec. Browser makers are free to use any codec with the tag. Microsoft uses nothing. Unlike Firefox, Opera, Chrome, and Apple's Safari, Internet Explorer 8 does not support the HTML5 video tag.
Opera and Firefox back Ogg because it's open and license free. "Anything else does not fit with the entire Mozilla mission," Mike Beltzner, head of Firefox development at the open source–obsessed outfit, recently told The Reg. But Apple insists that Ogg provides scant hardware support and an “uncertain patent landscape.”
Google claims that it's the most open company on earth, but its commercial aims often limit its openness. So it is with online video, and this has sparked harsh criticism from Mozilla. Flash - the basis for the current YouTube - uses H.264, and Google has said it's reluctant to switch to Ogg for performance reasons.
Provided you have the right browser, "HTML5 on YouTube" - as Google calls it - lets you view videos without a Flash plug-in. Or any other plug-in, for that matter. It does not yet support videos with ads, captions, or annotations, but Google says: "We will be expanding the capabilities of the player in the future, so get ready for new and improved versions in the months to come."
"the open source–obsessed outfit"
What a pejorative little nugget. You couldn't just say "open source" because pretty much everyone uses open source these days making it no longer a source of sneers. So you added "obsessed" to make it clear just what you think of these pinko commie bastards...
Don't be - what again?
So instead of needing a proprietry Flash plugin we now need a proprietry plugin on a proprietry browser
If it's not OGG...
...I don't want to know.
Actually, I couldn't give two craps if it's OGG or not. I just want one, open codec unencumbered by patents. Because let's face it, an "open" codec you can't implement because you'll breach some crappy US patent is not open at all.
Do no evil indeed...pfft.
Adding adverts to video (or anything else) does not improve it. Quite the opposite in fact.
if firefox can't view the videos (on windows), it's only got itself to blame...
just about every single consumer windows pc has a h.264 directshow codec installed. all firefox has to do is to hook into the operating system's own features for playing media. the firefox devs seem to have a "not invented here" view for using any kind of OS enhancements - which might be a very important design decision given the cross-platform nature - EXCEPT for anything relating to aero and other pointless bling. which means it's not because of design critera and it's just because they like making things difficult
- if firefox used directshow to play media, the video tag would work for most people
- if firefox used the user's x509 certificate store instead of its own, corporations might be able to use it for their dodgy intranet ssl sites
- if firefox used the user's registry for storing config information instead of an sqlite database, corporations might be able to use group policy to control firefox settings (specifically proxies, but I can think of other things that apply)