Microsoft endorses a Flash video replacement
The issue of what Web video format might replace Adobe's Flash got a little clearer -- but not clear enough -- with a brief post on Microsoft's Internet Explorer blog.
Under the headline, "HTML5 Video," IE general manager Dean Hachamovitch wrote that the next version of this browser "will support playback of H.264 video only." H.264 is a patented video format, used by some sites and in many video downloads, that such competing browsers as Google's Chrome and Apple's Safari already support. (Apple chief executive Steve Jobs, as you may have heard, isn't too fond of Flash.) Hachamovitch cited its industry-standard status and high performance as reasons to bake it into Internet Explorer 9, which the company expects to ship ... well, when it's ready.
Problem is, the most popular alternative to IE, Mozilla Firefox, doesn't support H.264, instead using an open, royalty-free format called Ogg Theora. And Firefox's developers don't seem interested in reconsidering that decision.
Microsoft, in turn, will have to coax users of older Internet Explorer releases to upgrade, which has historically involved a fair amount of teeth-pulling agony. (If you're reading this in the grotesquely obsolete Internet Explorer 6, please don't tell me; you'll only make me mad.)
To complicate things just a little further, there's the possibility that Google will open-source a third possible Flash successor, a high-performance format called VP8 that it picked up when it bought video developer On2 technologies.
So this story isn't nearly over yet. What's your guess as to how it ends?
April 30, 2010; 11:37 AM ET
Categories: The Web , Video , Windows
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