Feeds

Google betas Flash-free YouTube sans open codec

Useless with Firefox and Opera

Security for virtualized datacentres

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."

You can try the player by visiting the YouTube TestTube site or you can join YouTube's HTML5 beta program here. ®

Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL

More from The Register

next story
Oi, Tim Cook. Apple Watch. I DARE you to tell me, IN PERSON, that it's secure
State attorney demands Apple CEO bows the knee to him
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Monitors monitor's monitoring finds touch screens have 0.4% market share
Not four. Point four. Count yer booty again, Microsoft
Getting to the BOTTOM of the great office seating debate
Belay that toil, me hearty, and park your scurvy backside
Hey, Mac fanbois. HGST wants you drooling over its HUGE desktop RACK
What vast digital media repository could possibly need 64 TERABYTES?
In a spin: Samsung accuses LG exec of washing machine SABOTAGE
Rival electronic giant tries to iron out allegations
Lumia rebrand begins: Nokia's new UK web home is Microsoft.com
Yarr, them Nokia logos walking the plank and into the drink
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.