Firefox support for H.264 has arrived. Sort of.

All the way back in March, we reported that Mozilla planned to add support for the H.264/MPEG-4 video compression standards to Firefox. Well now it’s happened, kind of.

Mozilla only wanted to support open source video codecs, as H.264 is surrounded by patents, and with Google on their side, could have supported Google’s own WebM video codec. But Google didn’t drop support for H.264 in Chrome and Mozilla’s hand has been forced and they have built H.264 support into Firefox.

Mozilla is being consistent with their policies; Firefox won’t have the support built in on any platform, instead relying on the host computers available codecs. This means no licensing costs for Mozilla!

H.264 is already available on the Firefox mobile browser. H.264 encoding and decoding functionality is built into the chips powering all smartphones, so Mozilla just had to tap those resources to provide the support. Firefox for Android 17 Beta should be able to run H.264 content natively and Firefox OS also supports H.264. Again this is likely due to smartphone hardware.

For Windows XP users, Flash will be used to feed the data and render the frames. Data will come to the user as an HTML5 video stream, with Flash only performing decoding tasks. It will look and feel like HTML5 video for the user.

Source: Softpedia | Image courtesy of GSMArena

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12 Comments

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I dont understand how it is even newsworthy that it will rely on codecs already installed in peoples computer. Well fine, I can accept it being newsworthy, I just dont think its even remotely a big deal. For most windows7+ users, this will be great.

Julius Caro said,
I dont understand how it is even newsworthy that it will rely on codecs already installed in peoples computer. Well fine, I can accept it being newsworthy, I just dont think its even remotely a big deal. For most windows7+ users, this will be great.

It's newsworthy because not long ago Mozilla refused to do even that because they simply didn't want anything proprietary and were living in their own world where everyone uses free software. They had to wake up at some point.

"Mozilla only wanted to support open source video codecs, as H.264 is surrounded by patents, and with Google on their side, could have supported Google's own WebM video codec. But Google didn't drop support for H.264 in Chrome and Mozilla's hand has been forced and they have built H.264 support into Firefox."

I know it's nit-picking but this is really badly written; the English used makes it hard to read. I wish people would get someone else to proof-read their work before they post it.

normally i dont mind bad english, as soon as it is understandable. this one is a mess to understand.

MurrayB said,
"Mozilla only wanted to support open source video codecs, as H.264 is surrounded by patents, and with Google on their side, could have supported Google's own WebM video codec. But Google didn't drop support for H.264 in Chrome and Mozilla's hand has been forced and they have built H.264 support into Firefox."

I know it's nit-picking but this is really badly written; the English used makes it hard to read. I wish people would get someone else to proof-read their work before they post it.

"For Windows XP users"??

Edit: Founds this bit in the original article: "there is work being done on using Gstreamer on Linux and the Windows Media Foundation for Vista and above. There's nothing for Mac OS X yet." More relevant than Windows XP...

h.264 has arrived at all. This title should be "Firefox support for H.264 is to arrive within months. Brendan Eich hasn't decided everything yet, using flash is the current choice but support likely won't come for a while yet. Check brendan's blog, this title is misleading. Only their mobile browser has h.264 support for the time being.