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Google hits 'fast forward' button on WebM codec love for YouTube

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Google is transcoding all freshly uploaded videos into the WebM format on its popular YouTube website, and it wants the world to know about it.

The company, which has been slotting the codec into YouTube in recent months, reaffirmed the move in a blog post yesterday.

Google's back catalogue of most heavily viewed videos (about 30 per cent of its data so far) is being transcoded into WebM, which is supported by Google's Chrome browser, Mozilla's Firefox, and Opera Software's Opera.

The Chrome browser initially offered the royalty-saddled H.264 favoured by rivals Apple and Microsoft, but it was dropped by Google last month in the hopes of speeding up the adoption of WebM online.

However, the addition of the WebM format in YouTube doesn't mean Google has altogether backed out of support for the H.264 codec on its video-sharing site, well, for now at least. It does plan to ditch it at a later stage, however.

Last year, Google open-sourced the VP8 codec under a royalty-free licence, in a move to create a completely free and open standard for HTML5 web video.

At the same time, Mountain View rolled the codec into a new web media format dubbed WebM.

"In keeping with our goal of making videos universally accessible, we will continue to support H.264 as an important codec for video on YouTube. We are also committed to continuing to develop our HTML5 video player that we announced last year," said Google. ®

Update: This story has been updated to clarify some points about when the WebM format debuted.

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