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Sunday, March 25, 2012

Mozilla Will Reconsider HTML5 Video

The developers at the Mozzarella Foundation seem to be rethinking their decision regarding the HTML5 video codec, H.264, which they initially refused to include within Firefox. It has been quite a while that Firefox was unhappy with H.264, primarily because it featured a minefield of proprietary code under the bonnet that no open-sourcer could touch.

Today it seems that Mozilla decided to change its mind. Perhaps, Mozilla will support H.264 where the codec is supplied by the platform or implemented in hardware. In other words, neither Mozilla nor its users will have to pay to use the codec.

Unsurprisingly enough, such proprietary companies as Apple and Microsoft do support H.264, but Mozilla and Opera are against the use of patented codecs. Meanwhile, Google has been pushing VP8, a codec that it has introduced as an alternative to H.264 for online video. In its turn, VP8 itself has yet to face the wrath of the patent trolls and may not be as open as the search engine insists.

According to press reports, Mozilla’s move doesn’t mean that H.264 codec is a winner. Meanwhile, the Mozilla’s director of research announced that he wanted to move further and enable H.264 on Mozilla’s Boot2Gecko (B2G) mobile operating system. In this case, the video element in Mozilla’s HTML rendering engine will have to rely on codecs supplied by the underlying OS or video hardware, which gets around the company’s philosophical dislike of the codec.

This situation takes places partly because Microsoft has allowed Windows Vista and Windows 7 to use H.264 codec with 3rd-party software. However, Firefox still has to support Windows XP users who make up a big demographic for Mozilla, and such half-way house idea turned out a good move for everyone.

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