Feeds

Windows Firefox stiffs Adobe Flash, plays H.264 YouTube vids

Any HTML5 site using patent-heavy codec welcomed

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

Users of the Firefox web browser on Windows can now dump Adobe Flash and still watch H.264-encoded videos online.

Fresh overnight builds of Firefox 20 will now play footage found on HTML5 websites, such as YouTube and Vimeo, that use the patent-encumbered video codec - without the need for Adobe's oft-criticised plugin, which also handles H.264.

The Mozilla Foundation, which makes Firefox, slipped support for the popular video compression standard into beta-test versions of its browser by drilling into Microsoft's Windows Media Foundation, which does the actual H.264 video decoding.

Mozilla is averse to proprietary codecs because they're typically buried under patents and require a licensing fee. By using the video support built into the operating system, the open-source browser maker can sidestep these constraints.

The codec support is not enabled by default and requires at least Windows Vista, although support isn't there for Windows 8 yet. Official Firefox 20 builds are due to be released in April 2013.

Firefox for Android 4.x already supports H.264, again using the operating system and underlying hardware to decode the video for playback. Mozilla reluctantly added the ability to play the high-definition format on Google's platform in March to compete in the mobile arena.

The organisation had hoped patent-free codecs, such as Google’s VP8, would succeed at the expense of H.264 on the web, but that hasn’t happened. Google bought VP8 in 2009 as WebM from On2 Technologies for $124.6m and released it under a royalty-free licence in May 2010.

However, H.264, which is licensed from the MPEG-LA patent pool, remains the standard for video playback for desktop web browsing and handheld devices.

As Firefox on Android gained support for the codec, Mozilla chief technology officer Brendan Eich wrote at the time: “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." ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
Preview redux: Microsoft ships new Windows 10 build with 7,000 changes
Latest bleeding-edge bits borrow Action Center from Windows Phone
Google opens Inbox – email for people too thick to handle email
Print this article out and give it to someone tech-y if you get stuck
Microsoft promises Windows 10 will mean two-factor auth for all
Sneak peek at security features Redmond's baking into new OS
UNIX greybeards threaten Debian fork over systemd plan
'Veteran Unix Admins' fear desktop emphasis is betraying open source
Entity Framework goes 'code first' as Microsoft pulls visual design tool
Visual Studio database diagramming's out the window
Google+ goes TITSUP. But WHO knew? How long? Anyone ... Hello ...
Wobbly Gmail, Contacts, Calendar on the other hand ...
DEATH by PowerPoint: Microsoft warns of 0-day attack hidden in slides
Might put out patch in update, might chuck it out sooner
Redmond top man Satya Nadella: 'Microsoft LOVES Linux'
Open-source 'love' fairly runneth over at cloud event
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.