Google to drop support for H.264 in Chrome

By Emil ยท 38 replies
Jan 11, 2011
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  1. Google just made a bold move in the HTML5 video tag battle: even though H.264 is widely used and WebM is not, the search giant has announced it will drop support for the former in Chrome. The company has not done so yet, but it has promised it will in the next couple of months. Google wants to give content publishers and developers using the HTML5 video tag an opportunity to make any necessary changes to their websites.

    Read the whole story
  2. princeton

    princeton TS Addict Posts: 1,676

    Chrome drops h.264, I drop chrome. Which really sucks because I was just moving off of firefox to chrome in the first place.
  3. Vrmithrax

    Vrmithrax TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,352   +293

    Can't really blame them. Even beyond the fact that Google developed WebM, the licensing thing with h.264 has been a sore spot in the battle royale for video codec dominance in HTML5. Nobody should be surprised that this division and dropping of h.264 is happening now, the "royalties will be charged starting in 2011" writing has been on the wall for a year now (although they just recently announced it will be royalty-free until 2016, if used in freely distributed content). Even if MS and Apple waived the fees again temporarily, there is always that looming worry that they'll start charging whenever they decide the time is right. It's always good to keep in mind that MS and Apple are constantly looking for revenue streams, and getting everyone dependent on h.264 fits the bill. As opposed to WebM, which is royalty-free.
  4. Since this presumably means the HTML5 version of YouTube will shift exclusively to WebM also, then H.264 becomes pretty much redundant on the web. I can probably count the number of times I went a site other than YouTube for streaming video in the past few months on one hand - and they were no doubt all using Flash anyway. This is one area Google can probably unilaterally decide which codec wins out.
  5. KG363

    KG363 TS Guru Posts: 515   +9

  6. Vrmithrax

    Vrmithrax TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,352   +293

    Well, Netflix and other streaming services might create a rift in that Google dominance. I know Netflix wrote its streaming service around the Silverlight framework, which is a Microsoft product, and supports h.264 natively. If it becomes a war, and Netflix no longer streams on Firefox or Chrome, you can bet that will be a huge kick in the nads for WebM. It would certainly change the browser I use for my HTPC. Not sure if it would come to that, though...

    Anyone know if Netflix actually encodes h.264? I've seen references to VC-1 in articles about Netflix streaming, but not h.264 specifically (that I can recall)...
  7. Emil

    Emil TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 154

    I think you'll find this interesting:
  8. Per Hansson

    Per Hansson TS Server Guru Posts: 1,957   +214

    Open standards are nice, however here I can't agree with Google
    We need hardware assisted decode support for HD content, otherwise a big percentage of systems can't even play back this material

    Try playing back a 1080p HD movie on any Intel Atom or AMD Bobcat platform without hardware assisted decode, it just isn't going to happen

    And on the systems that do have enough CPU power to do it you will see a marked power consumption increase, not good for laptops, or a million PC's rendering Youtube content if you want to take it that far...
  9. superphoenix

    superphoenix TS Rookie

    Oh well, if WebM wins, it will be supported by many hardware very soon.
  10. Good for Google. Good for us. I do not want a browser with H.264 support. H.264 is limited, it is patented.
  11. Tanstar

    Tanstar TS Evangelist Posts: 613   +175

    Same here. I'd made the switch in full, but it's already a pain having to use IE Tab and sometimes loading up IE completely to view some pages. If Chrome is going to make that more likely and their browser is intensionally leaving out common, current technology then I'll just drop them. I don't like Chrome telling me what I can use anymore than I like Apple telling me what I can use.
  12. Worry not:

    In addition, many devices have general purpose DSPs which can be used for accelerated decoding of WebM (or any other video codec). Such as this use of the C64x+ DSP for accelerating Theora:
  13. mario

    mario Ex-TS Developer Posts: 399   +17

    This is a crappy decision by Google, most of the videos available online are already encoded in h.264 and most of the smartphones and notebooks already come with hardware decoding chips.

    This move also sucks for developers since they'll have to start encoding their content in a myriad of formats to support their users. WebM looks nice but there's no hardware decoding and no content available in that format, Theora has been around for a long time and has never been in the game although they have tried a lot.

    Ultimately this affects the users they'll be forced to watch h.264 content using Flash or other plugins. I don't see current video providers jumping on the WebM bandwagon, if Google had announced this with some major players (content and hardware-wise) I might have a different opinion but they didn't.
  14. Everyone seems to be forgetting ARM/Android, if ARM gets hardware WebM decode it's all moot.
  15. oops ... not if, but when
  16. Well Google on Yout Tube just needs to put a message on pages served to broswers that don't do webM.
    "If you want to expereince the best quality of You Tube please use a browser that supports webM"
  17. Wonderful... I bet Adobe is shouting, 'Go Google, Go!' as I can't see how having so called "web standards" being fragmented in implementation does anything than help their Flash cause.

    Also, makes one wonder how this fits into Google's Green Company thing. After all, implementing technologies that will cause a significant segment of the browsing public to consume more power must negate, in some measure, their trying to be green with their data centers. I wouldn't be surprised if the more militant of the global warming crowd could see their way to call this move 'environmentally irresponsible'.... except of course that you don't shoot your own where politics matters more than fact.
  18. AnonymousSurfer

    AnonymousSurfer TS Guru Posts: 452   +40

    Agreed. I don't know why they would do such a thing but oh well it's google...
  19. Sorry, <BEEP> you Google.
  20. lawfer

    lawfer TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,270   +91

    Firefox stays winning in my book.
  21. Per Hansson

    Per Hansson TS Server Guru Posts: 1,957   +214

    Well, as I said above all existing hardware wont be able to offload WebM completely, so to take advantage of it will require a new graphics card

    This leaves millions of already installed systems without hardware support...

    "On Jan 7 2011, Rockchip released the world's first chip to host a full hardware implementation of 1080p VP8 decoding. The video acceleration in the RK29xx chip is handled by the WebM Project's G-Series 1 hardware decoder IP."
  22. Facts are great. Hardware support for webm:


    Although of course hardware accelerated video is considerably newer than video on computers and the web and we all managed then...
  23. Same old song and dance. Each vendor comes up with their own standard, market it as being open, better, faster, etc. (regardless if it's really true), then the wars begin. Over time one or more things win or combine and finally the consumer wins. It would be nice if they could all put the consumer first however I don't see that happening.
  24. What Google really should do is switch Youtube to WebM.
    That'd make the hardware vendors jump.
  25. ah, but Google *is* putting the consumer first - with H.264, you have to buy an OS or system that licences the codec. You have no choice there.With WebM, you can have it bundled with any OS 'cos its free. that means more devices will support it, and those devices will be a bit cheaper.

    Whilst there will be some growing pains, once they're dealt with, things will be a lot better for us all.

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