Mozilla will add support for H.264 in Firefox and mobile

The Mozilla foundation is on the verge of making an important shift as for the policy of video codecs use in Firefox and other products: Mitchell Baker, chairperson of the non-profit organization, announced that soon the Red Panda browser and other web-based tech cooked by the foundation will support the H.264/MPEG-4 standard for video compression.

It’s a fundamental change that Mozilla “tried to avoid for a number of years”, Baker states, “as H.264 is encumbered by patents”. The foundation had high expectations for the adoption of WebM, the HTML5 video standard acquired, developed and chosen by Google as the format of choice for Chrome and the other browsers caring for a free and open web.

And yet the supposed “revolution” promised by Mountain View didn’t come, while mobile products capable of playing H.264-encoded contents grew and are still growing in popularity among old and new Internet users – even on Google Android, where Chrome relies on Flash fallback in that regard.

As all the new “hot” things in technology seem to happen in the mobile space these days, Mozilla feels the need to support a patent-encumbered, closed (and yet royalty-free) standard to not became irrelevant together with Firefox, the Boot to Gecko proto-OS and all its products in the upcoming future.

“It’s time to focus on shipping products people can love now, and to work on developing a new tactic for bringing unencumbered technology to the world of audio and video codecs”, Baker states. Better give users what they want instead of blindly pursuing Mozilla’s core values, the foundation head suggests.

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17 Comments

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PoohGQ said,
Could it just be that they're afraid of the coming Windows 8 revolution..

Come the revolution, they'll be the first up against the wall... right?
(That's Stardock, McAfee, Norton, Adobe Flash, Adobe Reader, Daemon Tools, Alcohol 120... Browsers without a Metro version... Linux, Android, OS X, iPad... dey terk er jerbs!)

Wait a minute. They never said they were supporting it in Firefox for Desktop. It's just Firefox for Android that's affected by this. And they're not adding their own H.264 decoder to Gecko; they're using the built-in library in Android. The codec isn't royalty-free as such. They even said they would have supported it if it were that simple.

Meph said,
And they're not adding their own H.264 decoder to Gecko; they're using the built-in library in Android.

Yeah, 'casue that wouldn't have been possible for years on desktop now…

Meph said,
Wait a minute. They never said they were supporting it in Firefox for Desktop. It's just Firefox for Android that's affected by this. And they're not adding their own H.264 decoder to Gecko; they're using the built-in library in Android. The codec isn't royalty-free as such. They even said they would have supported it if it were that simple.

It would be foolish to not support it on the desktop too. If they are using the android decoder, they should use the native decoders for desktop operating systems too. Windows 7 and OSX include h.264 decoders out of the box, and linux has it if the appropriate gstreamer plugin is installed.

I'm getting a kick out of the backtracking on this,. I suppose in the end this means the market has once again spoken.

Good move. After h.264 became royalty free, it made webm redundant, considering how much superior it is in quality and efficiency.

Right now I'm enjoying h.264 youtube videos with their experimental HTML5 player in IE9. No need for flash there anymore.

eddman said,
....

I would prefer IE10 Metro, but the embed code most sites use still use the flash player.
Is there some embed code sites can adopt which will use H.264 player when supported?

Can Neowin adopt this, if such a thing exists?


eddman said,
Good move. After h.264 became royalty free,

Why do uneducated people get comments in first? The whole point of H.264 is for HOLLYWOOD to make money off of people DECODING videos. H.264-->MPEG-LA-->Warner Home Video --> MPAA. They NEVER have nor ever will relinquish the ability to claim royalties and licensing fees, they're just waiting until it's so saturated in everything that people don't have a choice. Geez people, might as well hold a party on a spaceship while it's getting sucked in to a black hole while you're at it!

JAB Creations said,

Why do uneducated people get comments in first? The whole point of H.264 is for HOLLYWOOD to make money off of people DECODING videos. H.264-->MPEG-LA-->Warner Home Video --> MPAA. They NEVER have nor ever will relinquish the ability to claim royalties and licensing fees, they're just waiting until it's so saturated in everything that people don't have a choice. Geez people, might as well hold a party on a spaceship while it's getting sucked in to a black hole while you're at it!

Quick, fetch the tinfoil hat!

JAB Creations said,

Why do uneducated people get comments in first? The whole point of H.264 is for HOLLYWOOD to make money off of people DECODING videos. H.264-->MPEG-LA-->Warner Home Video --> MPAA. They NEVER have nor ever will relinquish the ability to claim royalties and licensing fees, they're just waiting until it's so saturated in everything that people don't have a choice. Geez people, might as well hold a party on a spaceship while it's getting sucked in to a black hole while you're at it!

So you think YOU are educated then. What you wrote is called "Conspiracy Theory", but nice try insulting me mister "educated".

eddman said,
Good move. After h.264 became royalty free, it made webm redundant, considering how much superior it is in quality and efficiency.

Right now I'm enjoying h.264 youtube videos with their experimental HTML5 player in IE9. No need for flash there anymore.

Err, no, MPEG-LA simply said that until ~2016 they won't be asking for royalties from websites using the codec, after that business as usual. As for the decoder, its royalties have been absorbed into the cost of other stuff in most cases, like the OS, the device or the software you buy that includes the h.264 codec.

Edited by dimz, Mar 22 2012, 1:28pm :

dimz said,
Err, no, MPEG-LA simply said that until ~2016 they won't be asking for royalties from websites using the codec, after that business as usual. As for the decoder, its royalties have been absorbed into the cost of other stuff in most cases, like the OS, the device or the software you buy that includes the h.264 codec.

Right now it's 2012, h.264 is royalty free and is far better than webm in almost every aspect. It'd remain the best choice until then. When 2016 comes and they decide to collect royalties, we can talk about a replacement, not that webm is going to suddenly disappear or anything.

Also don't worry. Google will find a way to collect money from webm when it becomes the standard; IF it becomes a standard.

Edited by eddman, Mar 22 2012, 2:57pm :

eddman said,
When 2016 comes and they decide to collect royalties, we can talk about a replacement, not that webm is going to suddenly disappear or anything.

Just to point out, that's an extremely short-sighted way to view that kind of situation. There is such a thing as momentum and people still use IE6. Things don't change on a dime. (Note: I am not saying it's a bad decision to use h.264, just that the logic of *that comment* is bad).