Microsoft Sends Ogg Down for the Count; What’s Mozilla to Do?

In a recent blog post, Microsoft stated “We think H.264 is an excellent format. In its HTML5 support, IE9 will support playback of H.264 video only.”  Though Mozilla currently enjoys (by far) the largest HTML5-compatible installed base of any browser, they don’t currently support H.264; just Ogg Theora, which is supported by Google Chrome and Opera, but not Safari or IE9.

Differentiation is good, but this puts Mozilla in the unenviable position of promoting the native video playback capabilities of HTML5 while only being capable of playing the world’s predominant codec — that is, H.264 — via a plug-in like Flash or Silverlight. I mean, most HTML5 proponents stridently claim that the primary reason we need HTML5 is because Flash is so unstable, insecure and power hungry, right? But the only way to play YouTube on Firefox is via Flash? 

That’s like arguing for prohibition with a flask of Johnny Walker Black in your hip pocket. Well, maybe not, I am feeling metaphorically challenged tonight. Still, as a FireFox user, I’m eager to see what Mozilla’s going to do; they are in one fair pickle.

About Jan Ozer

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I help companies train new technical hires in streaming media-related positions; I also help companies optimize their codec selections and encoding stacks, and evaluate new encoders and codecs.

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