Editorial

Why YouTube will continue to use Flash instead of HTML5

The worlds biggest video website has been trying to implement a Flash-free player for some time now, even opening an experimental HTML5 player, but expressed their concerns with the new player earlier this week.

All the major browsers are working on making the switch to HTML5 later this year, including Microsoft with Internet Explorer 9. Google's Android phone and Windows Phone 7 mobile browsers and operating systems will support Flash. Even Apple's Safari 5 will be HTML5 compliant, but their mobile browser, found on the iPhone, iPod, and iPad products, will not support Flash.

However, YouTube has noted some concerns with the HTML5 video tag as a replacement for the traditional Flash Player. First, not all browsers have agreed on a codec standard, and with users uploading 24 hours worth of video every minute to YouTube, it's important that they support the minimal amount of available codecs.

Currently Google, Opera, and Mozilla are supporting WebM VP8, which would highly benefit the HTML5 video codec. VP8 is an open-sourced video streaming media project by Google which operates under a BSD-style royalty-free license. Microsoft and Apple will be sticking with the H.264 standard, but Microsoft said Internet Explorer 9 will also allow users to install WebM if they wish.

Until all the browsers can agree on a video encoding format, YouTube said it will still stick with H.264, which it has been using since 2007.

HTML5 also has problems performing robust video streaming, and when streaming live videos, it's important to have full control over buffering and video quality controls. DRM-protection is also important to YouTube, so they can offer services like YouTube Rentals, which requires making sure videos are not copied and redistributed around the web without the owners consent.

If anyone has actually tried using the HTML5 player, there is a significant difference between the Flash version of the site and the HTML5 player. One noticeable difference between the two players is the delay when selecting a certain part of a video. The HTML5 video seems to have a 1-2 second delay, wile the Flash player is almost instant.

On the comparison below is the HTML5 player (left) and the Flash version of the player (right), running on Chrome 6.0.447.0 running Flash 10.1.53.64, on a Windows 7 x64 Ultimate edition installation. There is a significant difference in terms of loading time and video quality, both of which Flash has the advantage.

Another important feature for YouTube is embedding videos on external websites. Although HTML5 allows for sandboxing and message-passing functions for things like captions, annotations and advertising, Flash is still the tool most sites use for embedded content.

Lastly, HTML5 does not support webcam and microphone access. Thousands of videos are uploaded daily using YouTube's built-in video recording software that uses the users webcam and microphone to record, something that would be impossible to do without Flash.

As HTML5 is still in development and definitely still requires a lot more work, it may be some time yet before users and major websites ditch Flash for HTML5.

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If I'm not mistaken html 5 does not have a "standard" video codex, but could be in fact several different video formats.

daniel_rh said,
Flash doesn't work that bad as to replace it by HTML5 as soon as possible, I think people is over reacting.

This only applies to Windows though.

Yea but flash has been much more developed and has better video decoding performance and it is just more standard in the web today, its still needs time in the oven for developers like you. But I go with the decision of Youtube.

I can't believe how ignorant some people can be. If Silverlight was developed ages ago, instead of Flash, you would trash Flash now. However, when a new (and less crappy) standard comes into play, you jump and dismiss it like a crazy pack of wolves. Grow up people. I know about the power of habit, but come on. Don't be just a bunch of haters.

KavazovAngel said,
Hate what? HTML5? Nooo, as a student in web development, I love it.

I hate Flash and its security holes, though.


I was talking about those Silverlight haters.

Windows7even said,
Why didn't you just call the article" flash is cool...html 5 is drool". Coulda said a few good things about HTML 5 couldn't u?

What, are you worried the article might hurt HTML5's feelings or something?

Face it, as far as video goes today Flash is the mature format. HTML5 needs work and time to mature.

They're saying that the quality is lower. This shouldn't be the case. What has happened is that they've taken a h264 video stored on the YouTube servers and transcoded that into another format dynamically. Now, if WebM took off, it would be natively stored in WebM as the user would have uploaded it as this in the first place. The ideal solution would be to have both h264 and WebM in the browser, but then people wouldn't move over to WebM. Or, somehow make h264 completely open source or make the Firefox project stop complaining.

Dessimat0r said,
They're saying that the quality is lower. This shouldn't be the case. What has happened is that they've taken a h264 video stored on the YouTube servers and transcoded that into another format dynamically. Now, if WebM took off, it would be natively stored in WebM as the user would have uploaded it as this in the first place. The ideal solution would be to have both h264 and WebM in the browser, but then people wouldn't move over to WebM. Or, somehow make h264 completely open source or make the Firefox project stop complaining.

There is an open source codec for H.264 it's called X.264 the exact same codec the MPC HC uses to play H.264 content

Athlonite said,

There is an open source codec for H.264 it's called X.264 the exact same codec the MPC HC uses to play H.264 content

That is wrong. Just simply wrong.

I am going to flame WebM in this post. Read if you desire.

For example, lets take an old desktop that can't play either 720p h264 or 720p WebM.
With WebM, the user's best option is to upgrade to a newer system, which cots ~$350 for an OK system. This will allow the user to play WebM. With h264, the user need to buy a low-end budget GPU, which costs what? ~$50? ~$60?

What I am getting at is that modern systems are becoming more and more GPU reliant. Direct2D for example ****in' rapes Chrome in performance. CUDA is a good example which helps a lot with more professional jobs, folding@home, etc. User interfaces for modern operating systems are GPU reliant. And obviously, hardware acceleration for video allows flawless video playback with simultaneous multitasking.

h264 is a hardware accelerated format and is supported by all GPUs in modern desktops and laptops - yes, even Intel GPUs.
WebM, on the other hand, is in the same bit as Xvid and realvideo. It is an active step backward from adopting the power of the graphics processor. Sure, if it catches on, eventually GPUs will support it. But hey, what the point? High Profile h264 offers that performance advantage RIGHT NOW.

Google, give me h264 HTML5 and h264 Flash. KTHX

Udedenkz said,
h264 is a hardware accelerated format and is supported by all GPUs in modern desktops and laptops - yes, even Intel GPUs.
WebM, on the other hand, is in the same bit as Xvid and realvideo. It is an active step backward from adopting the power of the graphics processor. [u]Sure, if it catches on, eventually GPUs will support it.[/u]

They will.

bb10 said,

They will.

You are missing the point.
They already do support video hardware decoding.
It works perfectly and supports high quality h264 video decoding.
There is no point in scrapping that which works flawlessly as is.
It is simply useless effort to support WebM.

WebM doesn't even come close to being an equal for medium / high quality encoding.
It is just simply counter intuitive to support it, as it is not future proof. Web will soon have high bitrate streamed videos for which WebM is not really suited for... let alone 3D.

yyou're completely missing the point of webm: an open standard, h264 it's not open and probably never will.

undu said,
yyou're completely missing the point of webm: an open standard, h264 it's not open and probably never will.

Don't care.
I just seriously just don't care.

h264 is de facto winner in performance, is widely supported nowadays, is de facto winner in quality. That and it is the Blu-Ray choice.
Using any other format simply doesn't make sense just simply because of those facts.

Udedenkz said,
Don't care.
I'm guessing you aren't a web developer. Using H.264 on a website isn't a great idea because it's controlled by the MPEG LA, who could choose to license it and force you to pay.

HTML5 is still in it's infancy so it will take time to mature and with ie9 it's all well and good but what about XP users? they will be left out as ie9 won't support XP but good thing there are alternatives that will still work on XP. linux does not have IE so not a worry there.

soldier1st said,
HTML5 is still in it's infancy so it will take time to mature and with ie9 it's all well and good but what about XP users? they will be left out as ie9 won't support XP but good thing there are alternatives that will still work on XP. linux does not have IE so not a worry there.

yup got 3 linux comps running chrome and play html5 fine already and my slow older comp running xp for "test hacking purposes" will be JUST fine w/o bs IE9

soldier1st said,
HTML5 is still in it's infancy so it will take time to mature and with ie9 it's all well and good but what about XP users? they will be left out as ie9 won't support XP but good thing there are alternatives that will still work on XP. linux does not have IE so not a worry there.

XP user can use other browsers though like Opera FireFox Chrome and if they really want to Safari

soldier1st said,
HTML5 is still in it's infancy so it will take time to mature and with ie9 it's all well and good but what about XP users? they will be left out as ie9 won't support XP but good thing there are alternatives that will still work on XP. linux does not have IE so not a worry there.

The vast majority of those XP installs are in business/enterprise/government/IT/education/etc, many of which don't upgrade IE on a regular basis in the first place. Most consumers are likely running at least Vista by now.

If youtube would switch to html5 and take either of those codecs and leave the other one out the browsers that where left out would quickly support that codec anyway

If I can still use that HTML5 player, it's fine with me. Miles better, it consumes nothing on my Mac. Flash was literally the OPPOSITE of this.

as a user of all 3, I have to say that html5 just isnt supported enough to beat flash. I as a web designer built a "test site" of my current site but with html5 instead of flash...the problem? most users are still IE users and so they see NOTHING but a blank white space where the video could be. I like silverlight on netflix seems cool but im not sure about how easy it is to code sites for, flash? well it takes about 3 min to manually write the code for it even as partly php vars etc...to all saying html5 is better...well..it might be BETTER by this time next year but with IE having the most users and IE not supporting html5 yet you have to be pretty dumb to think html5 is better at this point...also...why the hell are most of u neowin users so stuck up and acting like 2 yr olds with the IM RIGHT UR WRONG NO MATTER WHAT I SAY attitudes? its sad really

Yes HTML5 is super sexy right now and is adding some interesting new features however it will not now or ever kill plugins.

Since HTML is an open standard created by committees it is subjected to politics and competing outside influences. This causes the standard to remain stagnant for years. Plugins like flash and silverlight compete in the open market for adoption rates, this competition is what brings new functionality to the consumers much quicker.

HTML5 is basically implementing features that Flash has had for probably 10 years.

Don't get me wrong. HTML5 is needed and much welcomed. However I'm not naive enough to claim that this new standard will forever kill plugins... or even damage them in anyway.

mikefarinha said,
Yes HTML5 is super sexy right now and is adding some interesting new features however it will not now or ever kill plugins.

Since HTML is an open standard created by committees it is subjected to politics and competing outside influences. This causes the standard to remain stagnant for years. Plugins like flash and silverlight compete in the open market for adoption rates, this competition is what brings new functionality to the consumers much quicker.

HTML5 is basically implementing features that Flash has had for probably 10 years.

Don't get me wrong. HTML5 is needed and much welcomed. However I'm not naive enough to claim that this new standard will forever kill plugins... or even damage them in anyway.

This.

mikefarinha said,
Yes HTML5 is super sexy right now and is adding some interesting new features however it will not now or ever kill plugins.

Since HTML is an open standard created by committees it is subjected to politics and competing outside influences. This causes the standard to remain stagnant for years. Plugins like flash and silverlight compete in the open market for adoption rates, this competition is what brings new functionality to the consumers much quicker.

HTML5 is basically implementing features that Flash has had for probably 10 years.

Don't get me wrong. HTML5 is needed and much welcomed. However I'm not naive enough to claim that this new standard will forever kill plugins... or even damage them in anyway.

Now that Silverlight is out as something TO compete with Flash we are seeing some progress. I do agree with your free market ideals, they also apply to open standard implementation within web browsers. Everyone is in a current competition to who renders the latest standards the best. Before Silverlight and HTML5, Adobe had no incentive to make their product better. Flash remained stagnant for years after Adobe acquired it from Macromedia.

So yeah, Flash had those features 10 years ago... and (due to the lack of competition until just recently) has remained with the same feature set from 10 years ago...

Shadrack said,

Now that Silverlight is out as something TO compete with Flash we are seeing some progress. I do agree with your free market ideals, they also apply to open standard implementation within web browsers. Everyone is in a current competition to who renders the latest standards the best. Before Silverlight and HTML5, Adobe had no incentive to make their product better. Flash remained stagnant for years after Adobe acquired it from Macromedia.

So yeah, Flash had those features 10 years ago... and (due to the lack of competition until just recently) has remained with the same feature set from 10 years ago...

Yup, I agree. But I'd argue that the Market's lack of interest in Flash and Flash-type-plugins caused the lack of competition (not a good or bad thing, just the way I see it)... probably because it wasn't until recently that users had highspeed bandwidth to make full use of the plugin.

Now that we have bandwidth to utilize we're seeing several newcommers. Silverlight. Flex, AIR...
This is a good thing. I expect the web to look very different from now in 2-5 years. HTML 5 will play a role in all of this but I don't think it will be as big as fanboi's are willing to admit.

But, I could be wrong. Time will tell.

Its a shame that Google is regressing back behind Flash. Too bad they couldn't get all their features worked out the way they wanted at this point.... but i can't help but wonder if some of this is related to the recent inclusion of Adobe Flash into Android.

This is a real blow to HTML5 adoption. I understand that it is still supported, but this means that Google won't be pulling the plug on Flash anytime soon. Google could skyrocket HTML5 adoption if they pulled the plug on Flash for YouTube. There would be a mass migration to HTML5 compatible web browsers because to many people YouTube and Facebook IS the Internet.

Shadrack said,
Google could skyrocket HTML5 adoption if they pulled the plug on Flash for YouTube. There would be a mass migration to HTML5 compatible web browsers because to many people YouTube and Facebook IS the Internet.

They can't do it because HTML 5 doesn't support the features they need.
It's not because they don't want to push HTML 5, it's because HTML 5 is not ready for them.

You shouldn't push something that's not ready, even if it has the slightest hope of being better. Why? Because if users encounter an HTML 5 site with a crippled experience, they're going to vehemently demand the return of Flash.

makes sense, google own youtube, if they change youtube to HTML5 then the iphone can access it...android (also owned by google) then loses out in the phone market.

Both suck (regarding speed).

The best thing to do would be to use DivX Web Player ( http://www.divx.com/en/software/divx-plus/web-player ) (or something similar that they code themselves) like Stage6 used to use, but we all know that this is not going to happen since: a) all the videos would need to be reencoded and b) not everyone can install a custom plugin on the computer they're using (work computer, etc).

Stick with flash.. it works well, its customizable and moreless everyone who uses the internet has it installed... no need to change it. why try to fix something that isnt broke?

nitroxhotshot said,
Stick with flash.. it works well, its customizable and moreless everyone who uses the internet has it installed... no need to change it. why try to fix something that isnt broke?

I think you've missed the point of the video element.

nitroxhotshot said,
Stick with flash.. it works well
No it doesn't. 10.1 shows a conscious effort to pick up the slack and actually make the thing a bit more efficient. Adobe got lazy.

Drop the whole Silverlight thing, seriously. Its owned by MS and Apple wants to use an open standard which HTML 5 is.

necrosis said,
Drop the whole Silverlight thing, seriously. Its owned by MS and Apple wants to use an open standard which HTML 5 is.

And why should we do what Apple wants?

necrosis said,
Drop the whole Silverlight thing, seriously. Its owned by MS and Apple wants to use an open standard which HTML 5 is.

That would be true if they supported WebM instead of H264...
Or FLAC instead of ALAC
Or MPC instead of AAC
etc...

necrosis said,
Drop the whole Silverlight thing, seriously. Its owned by MS and Apple wants to use an open standard which HTML 5 is.

Apple is the 4th largest browser, and that's still small peanuts, considering Mac comes pre-installed with it.
IE leads the pack, with Firefox in second and Chrome now beating Safari, with Opera in the far back.
Why would any one do what Apple or Opera wants?

.Rik said,

And why should we do what Apple wants?

This story isn't about us. It's about YouTube, hence it's about Google. And Google doesn't care about Silverlight, since they opted for Flash integration in Google Chrome instead.

Andrew Lyle said,

Apple is the 4th largest browser, and that's still small peanuts, considering Mac comes pre-installed with it.
IE leads the pack, with Firefox in second and Chrome now beating Safari, with Opera in the far back.
Why would any one do what Apple or Opera wants?

Huh. Safari + Opera combined is a couple of millions of users visiting YouTube, which is the topic here. Obviously, Google cares for what works for as many as possible. Anything else would just be stupid.

necrosis said,
Drop the whole Silverlight thing, seriously. Its owned by MS and Apple wants to use an open standard which HTML 5 is.

HTML5 is open. What Apple wants to do with it isn't. Don't believe them when they use the word "open".

Andrew Lyle said,

Apple is the 4th largest browser, and that's still small peanuts, considering Mac comes pre-installed with it.
IE leads the pack, with Firefox in second and Chrome now beating Safari, with Opera in the far back.
Why would any one do what Apple or Opera wants?

Oh dear another person who equates US marketshare with world market share. Browser shares vary drastically across countries.

LoveThePenguin said,

Oh dear another person who equates US marketshare with world market share. Browser shares vary drastically across countries.

IE is still the largest in Europe, and China isnt involved with the 'global' internet market, they got all their own stuff.

so your point is?

Northgrove said,

This story isn't about us. It's about YouTube, hence it's about Google. And Google doesn't care about Silverlight, since they opted for Flash integration in Google Chrome instead.

That's pretty obvious. Their video sharing service used flash since for ever, what did you expect for their browser? An alternative? Lol.

necrosis said,
Drop the whole Silverlight thing, seriously. Its owned by MS and Apple wants to use an open standard which HTML 5 is.

Apple has a strange concept of open. At least Microsoft doesn't call "open" standards whose licenses cost million $$

LoveThePenguin said,

Oh dear another person who equates US marketshare with world market share. Browser shares vary drastically across countries.

Okay, lets use global share then. Global share would be a much better metric in your eyes, right?

Oh, Opera and Safari usage is still nonexistant! Wow! Things sure have changed!

the title is misleading, they aren't using flash instead of HTML5, they are doing both. The only news from youtube within the past 2 days is them saying that html5 doesn't allow youtube full functionality that flash does, they aren't ending HTML5 support!

torrentthief said,
the title is misleading, they aren't using flash instead of HTML5, they are doing both. The only news from youtube within the past 2 days is them saying that html5 doesn't allow youtube full functionality that flash does, they aren't ending HTML5 support!

They aren't going to replace Flash with HTML5, because it doesn't support what they need.

techbeck said,

Easier said that done...and try getting Apple to agree.


I don't think Apple would be against switching from Flash -> Silverlight. Problem would be getting every user in the world that knows "flash" to know that "silverlight" is a replacement for it.

Microsoft DOES support Silverlight video to iOS devices. The silverlight streaming server detects what kind of video the device supports, then transcodes and streams the video. The video is later cached so that transcoding doesn't need to take place again.

I would say that Silverlight beats all, especially with its smooth transitioning of video quality when network congestion rears its ugly head.

techbeck said,

Silverlight is not universal and supported by all browsers. Flash is.


Silverlight is opensource and a platform installer. Actually I tested Firefox, Chrome and Opera and no plugin was necessary.

techbeck said,

unofficially supported is not the same as supported...and yes I know I am being picky but everyone who has ever dealt with a product that was unofficially supported knows the difference.


silver light works in opera. what else do you need? an official word from Opera.

still1 said,

silver light works in opera. what else do you need? an official word from Opera.

*sigh* not my point and evidently I am not getting it a crossed. So I will drop it.

techbeck said,

*sigh* not my point and evidently I am not getting it a crossed. So I will drop it.


silverlight works but the only reason i dont want it is because it proprietary like flash.
I hope everyone wants to go with open standard.. Chill out.

still1 said,

silverlight works but the only reason i dont want it is because it proprietary like flash.
I hope everyone wants to go with open standard.. Chill out.

Chill out? I am chill, why I dropped it instead of going in to a big discussion/argument.

Shadrack said,
I would say that Silverlight beats all, especially with its smooth transitioning of video quality when network congestion rears its ugly head.

Do you really think that this is something only Silverlight can do? Flash also support this. Only thing that smooth streaming function on IIS does is to check user's bandwidth and send the right video back to the user.
This can be accomplished even with Flash and some web sites use that (e.g. Hulu).

still1 said,

silver light works in opera. what else do you need? an official word from Opera.

Who cares really about Opera, all 10 of it's users can manually install Silverlight

TechFreak:) said,

Do you really think that this is something only Silverlight can do? Flash also support this. Only thing that smooth streaming function on IIS does is to check user's bandwidth and send the right video back to the user.
This can be accomplished even with Flash and some web sites use that (e.g. Hulu).

But it is something that is supported out-of-the-box. Hulu had to implement its own code. And no, this isn't something that ONLY silverlight can do...lol. Adobe could implement to if they weren't so god damn lazy.

Shadrack said,
Adobe could implement to if they weren't so god damn lazy.

Yes, if everyone used a server from Adobe maybe.
It is NOT Silverlight that's doing the throttled video streaming, it's the IIS server made by Microsoft.

z0phi3l said,

Who cares really about Opera, all 10 of it's users can manually install Silverlight

10 ? I heard they had a lower usage month this month....its now only 7 users.

Baked said,

10 ? I heard they had a lower usage month this month....its now only 7 users.

They have 20% of the market in some countries, so your belittling is sadly misplaced.

LoveThePenguin said,

Replace one closed, crash prone, insecure system for another, hmm, let me see...

silverlight is actually allot better, faster, less resource using and smoother then flash.
microsoft itself shows it, their websites are allot better to use if you have silverlight installed/enabled. Then without. Plus it has (on windows systems) much better 3d support.

techbeck said,

Silverlight is not universal and supported by all browsers. Flash is.


by universal you mean it does not support some obscure browser nobody uses/ever heard of?
cause i know for a fact that all major browsers out there can do silverlight.

chago12 said,

by universal you mean it does not support some obscure browser nobody uses/ever heard of?
cause i know for a fact that all major browsers out there can do silverlight.
On Windows. And maybe Mac. But definitely not Linux.

Which is a major issue for Google since Chrome OS is Linux-based.

chago12 said,

by universal you mean it does not support some obscure browser nobody uses/ever heard of?
cause i know for a fact that all major browsers out there can do silverlight.

you know what I really love...people like you who come in several hours after I have already been proven wrong many times before to just take another shot. I get it, I was wrong...I didnt dispute it...move on.

still1 said,

silverlight works but the only reason i dont want it is because it proprietary like flash.
I hope everyone wants to go with open standard.. Chill out.

LoveThePenguin said,

Replace one closed, crash prone, insecure system for another, hmm, let me see...

The format is non-proprietary zip format. The source is available. What more do you need?

Open standard is not the same as open source.
Also, MS change the "standard" almost every year if not two times a year.

Sorry but you CAN'T trust on Microsoft, not at least when they use the word "open".


Glad some are still supporting Flash until a new standard takes over. I am all for a new standard as long as it has been proven, works well, and is actually 100% finished.

techbeck said,
Glad some are still supporting Flash until a new standard takes over. I am all for a new standard as long as it has been proven, works well, and is actually 100% finished.

Flash is 100% finished?

techbeck said,
Glad some are still supporting Flash until a new standard takes over. I am all for a new standard as long as it has been proven, works well, and is actually 100% finished.

HTML5 video often works better on non-Windows platforms.

Northgrove said,

HTML5 video often works better on non-Windows platforms.

Which is less than 10% of the market lol

pourpower said,

Flash is 100% finished?


Nothing in Life is ever 100% Finished... only for the moment it's first presented or launched!

That said; Since FLASH 10.1 launched, I've seen More FLASH on sites, NOT less. The latest stuff is so much Better and Faster too. NEW control panel and r/click menu w/ Speed Test & other options on any Flash content. Turn off/on hardware acceleration, Global Security that's remotely authenticated & opens a full assortment of options on Adobe's site.

You can test Flash acceleration yourself, w/ it on & off to compare in Task Manager. Works on single core & multi-core CPU's cycles/use are dramatically reduced, while Sites, Videos and Games run smooth n fast. I'm sold & although I still Flash block some sites, I'm unblocking others more n more. Especially in Fast Chrome & Firefox browsers.

BTW... Been using a new personal web page builder site, that uses AJAX, FlASh & HTML5 design tools. It's absolutely the best of both Worlds. Ridiculously simple to use w/ drag n drop tools, it reminds me of GoowyMail (had drag n drop widgets, flash, ajax, etc). Goowy was so successful AOL bought them out and killed the competition! Hopefully that doesn't happen to this site:
http://www.wix.com/

Awesome Example Site:
http://www.wix.com/FilmNonGrata/Torgeir-Ensrud

monarky said,

Nothing in Life is ever 100% Finished... only for the moment it's first presented or launched!

Microsoft BOB is 100% finished...