HTML5 and Web Video: Questions for the Industry from the Community


A Web without video would be a dull Web and consumers, developers and businesses want video on the Web to just work. As an industry we know this and have, until recently, been on a path to make this a reality with HTML5 by integrating video into Web pages more natively using H.264. There is more detail and discussion below but I want to be unambiguous on some key points:

  1. IE9 will support H.264. Microsoft has released an add-on for Firefox on Windows to support H.264 and today we are releasing a plug-in for Google Chrome on Windows to provide support for H.264.
  2. We will provide support for IE9 users who install third-party WebM video support on Windows and they will be able to play WebM video in IE9.
  3. Many parties have raised legitimate questions about liability, risks, and support for WebM and the proponents of WebM should answer them.

For context, Google recently stated (and then clarified) that their Chrome Web browser would drop support for the H.264 video format in favor of exclusively supporting Google’s new WebM format. There are many thoughtful articles questioning their decision, for example Google’s dropping H.264 from Chrome a step backward for openness and The backlash over Google’s HTML5 video bet and By dropping H.264, is Google avoiding a trap or walking into one?.

Setting aside the speculation about the reasons and objectives, this announcement has created instability and uncertainty around video on the Web. To get back on track, technical enthusiasts, developers, businesses, and consumers need consistent and sustainable answers to many questions about WebM. These groups also deserve to be part of an open discussion.

Below, we set out the main questions we’ve heard as part of the public conversation with many individuals and groups across the community and industry over the last few weeks and months. Broadly, the questions cover three areas:

  1. Who bears the liability and risk for consumers, businesses, and developers until the legal system resolves the intellectual property issues;
  2. When and how does Google make room for the Open Web Standards community to engage genuinely;
  3. What is the plan for restoring consistency across devices, Web services, and the PC.

We’ve been clear from the first public demonstration of IE9 that the community deserves a reliable platform for delivering video as part of the modern Web. The goal of this post is to raise the visibility of some of the legitimate questions that the community needs answered from WebM proponents in order for a new technology to become part of the Web standards we all rely on. The climate around intellectual property issues in general and video formats in particular is often highly charged. Anyone suspicious of Microsoft introducing “uncertainty, fear, or doubt” might examine the historical evidence of intellectual property issues around standards and media formats, some of which is covered below. That evidence should leave little doubt that what is needed is a more open dialog about these issues. Our public work on Internet Explorer has made clear our focus on providing the best implementation and validation of established Web standards, helping to move the Web platform forward, and providing the safest and most trustworthy browser for consumers who use Windows.

While this blog is focused on Internet Explorer, we think it is a good forum for a broader conversation about the browsers and technology that the community expects to all work well together. As part of the ongoing transparency in developing IE9, we’re using this forum to put forward questions for the broad community.

Microsoft’s Point of View and Plan for IE9

As context for the questions below, here’s a re-cap of Microsoft’s point of view and plan for IE9.

  • IE9 will play HTML5 video in the H.264 format. Why H.264? It is a high-quality and widely-used video format that serves the Web very well today. We describe many of those reasons in blog posts here, here, and here.
  • Any browser running on Windows can play H.264 video via the built-in Windows APIs that support the format. Our point of view here is that Windows customers should be able to play mainstream video on the Web. We’ve provided Windows 7 customers who choose to run Mozilla Firefox an add-on to enable playing H.264 video on Web pages with the HTML5 video tag. Today we’re making available a similar plug-in for Google Chrome.
  • IE9 users who install third-party WebM video support on Windows will be able to play WebM video in IE. We chose this path (supporting one additional video format that the user has installed on her machine) because we recognize that other video formats exist and we wanted to give customers a convenient way to view video in those other formats without specifying a particular one. With this approach, we provide a more stable platform overall given the many documented risks with arbitrarily downloaded video codecs including their use as vectors for malware and phishing.

Our point of view is totally clear. Our support for H.264 results from our views about a robust Web and video ecosystem that provides a rich level of functionality, is the product of an open standards process like the W3C’s HTML5 specification, and has been free from legal attacks. Microsoft is agnostic and impartial about the actual underlying video format for HTML5 video as long as this freedom continues.

Our commitment to play WebM videos in IE9 for users who have installed WebM demonstrates our approach. We have worked closely with Google to help them deliver a WebM implementation on Windows and Google engineers are on the Microsoft campus this week; we appreciate their positive feedback to date around this work.

Industry Questions

We want to make sure that what becomes a standard can stay a standard and that the standard serves the industry and customers well. An open dialog about the issues that come from new and unproven technology is an important part of how the Web works.

Let’s start with who bears the liability and risk for intellectual property?

Looking at video format support as a vote on who is for or against an open and free Internet is tempting but also naïve. Regardless of the debate on the interplay between patents and video formats for the Web, there is absolute certainty that some parties believe they hold valid and unique inventions (patents) and they will assert those rights if they think they are being infringed. Historically, providing new audio-video-image formats that are entirely free from infringement has been a lengthy and challenging process. Even when we have set out to do this ourselves, we have ultimately ended up being challenged. The targets of lawsuits around the JPEG image format, for example, included a shoe seller, an NFL franchise, and a company best known for its cheese. The real-world risks here apply broadly to many, many companies and agents. Wishing these risks away doesn’t work.

Offers of “free” or “royalty-free” source code and strong assertions that the technology is “not patent encumbered” don’t help when a patent holder files a complaint that your video, your site, or your product infringes on her intellectual property. The only true arbiter of infringement, once it’s asserted, is a court of law. Asserting openness is not a legal defense. Whether one supports open technology or not, there are practical liability issues today that need to be examined. These issues motivate different potential approaches to risk protection. One path is indemnification. For example, will Google indemnify Mozilla, a PC OEM, a school, a Web site, a chip manufacturer, a device company, or an individual for using WebM? Will they indemnify Apple? Microsoft? Will they indemnify any or all of these parties worldwide? If Google were truly confident that the technology does not infringe and is not encumbered by patents whatsoever, wouldn’t this indemnification be easy? It’s one way to move away from conversations about unknown and unbounded risk to a rational conversation about costs and liability. Whether one agrees or disagrees with the notion of software patents, the risk remains and the standard business practice of one party indemnifying another is well-understood. Or, does Google instead plan to protect WebM participants from risk by creating a patent pool containing the third-party intellectual property in WebM and making a license available? That is another way in which risks like this have been addressed in the past. What would the terms of that license be? Or, does Google plan to work with an existing patent pool to help provide Web developers get certainty quickly, as is already the case with H.264? These are difficult questions for sure, but they deserve answers if the Web community is to move from a well-established and successful video format for which the intellectual property landscape is more certain. We think the community is looking for meaningful answers to this risk question.

The risk question is a legitimate business concern. There are hundreds if not thousands of patents worldwide that read on video formats and codec technologies. Our experience with trying to release WMV for free and open use, and the subsequent claims against Microsoft, support this history as do the cases against JPEG, GIF, and other formats. By way of comparison, Microsoft provides and has even expanded the indemnification provided to end-users of Windows. Looking at the notes from a recent “WebM Summit” (here, slide 12), Google says that there are “No known royalty requirements.” That’s quite different from no royalty requirements, and the former might be a more accurate description of the IP situation.

These questions have many potential follow-ups. For example, Google’s blog posts have indicated a strong desire to use open formats for the video tag; will this pattern apply to plugins in general? Will this apply to future HTML5 developments?

Ultimately, Microsoft remains agnostic in terms of HTML5 video as long as there is clarity on the intellectual property issues. To make it clear that we are fully willing to participate in a resolution of these issues, Microsoft is willing to commit that we will never assert any patents on VP8 if Google will make a commitment to indemnify us and all other developers and customers who use VP8 in the future. We would only ask that we be able to use those patent rights if we are sued first by somebody else. If Google would prefer a patent pool approach, then we would also agree to join a patent pool for VP8 on reasonable licensing terms so long as Google joins the pool and is able to include all other major providers of playback software and devices. The entire industry benefits from a significant investment in an ecosystem around a format well insulated from legal issues. As JPEG taught the industry, profitable companies merely wishing IP issues away does not make those issues go away.

Another important question is when and how does Google make room for the Open Web Standards community to engage genuinely?

The WebM specification is not yet an open Web standard by any common definition. Many others (for example, Opera’s blog) have pointed out that this video technology “is not an open standard” but is “actually a good candidate for being turned into a proper open Web standard.”

Google wrote that they “believe the Web will suffer if there isn’t a truly open… community developed alternative.” That’s different from their WebM submission to the Internet Engineering Task Force (here), which says the WebM specification is not binding, only Google’s code is: “If there are any conflicts between this document and the reference source code, the reference source code should be considered correct. The bitstream is defined by the reference source code and not this document.” Reverse engineering a standard from sample source code is a poor practice.

The Internet Engineering Task Force’s Web site warns people about referring to submissions like the WebM one as a standard: “some people refer to [these] as ‘standards’ even though the RFCs are not standards, usually to fool the gullible public about something that the person is selling or supporting.”

What are Google’s plans for turning WebM into a genuinely open standard, one that is based on consensus like the rest of W3C’s HTML5 effort? Would Google fully support such an effort? Even the WebM project’s domain is controlled by Google. Google chose to release WebM under the Creative Commons license which would theoretically allow a standards body to use the specification as a basis for a truly open standard. Would Google agree to adopt the specification and changes that would emerge from an open process in a timely and robust manner? What’s the plan and why isn’t Google taking the lead?

Until these questions have direct answers, how can the community’s feedback on WebM have an impact? Separating the current implementations from the specification and test suites so that independent implementations are free to emerge from the community and compete and improve is a crucial step that the W3C has taken with HTML5. When will Google enable that to happen for WebM? The community benefits from a robust specification and validation process. The alternative is relying on code re-use and guesses to flesh out an ambiguous and non-binding specification.

In “HTML5, Site-Ready and Experimental,” we described the negative consequences of an unfinished technology (WebSockets) appearing prematurely in a browser. What steps is Google taking to prevent the same failures (e.g., sites that stop working as browsers change, and consumers put at security risk because of premature implementations) from happening here?

Will Google demonstrate their genuine commitment to the open standards process and their openness to community feedback, or will they give some in the community more reason to be cynical?

Lastly, what is the plan for restoring consistency across devices, Web services, and the PC?

Concerns for openness were key reasons given for removing H.264 support from Chrome. Android currently supports H.264 and there are no announced plans to drop it. Will Google drop H.264 support from Android? Is Google committed that YouTube (and other Google video services) will continue to work with devices that lack support for WebM? The lack of consistency across devices, Web services, and the PC is a challenge for the community.

What are the expectations of the hardware community relative to this decision? One of the most recent positive developments around HTML5 has been the ability to take advantage of hardware acceleration, which will not be available in a timely manner if there is a fragmentation in video codec and format support, as hardware development and replacement cycles are significantly longer than software cycles.

Answers Will Help the Community Move Forward

Many people in the community want to hear answers before there’s any more action or commitment. Developers want confidence that what they write will work for consumers. Consumers and businesses want confidence that video on the Web will continue work – and that they will not face legal risk for using it. Google’s decision to drop support for H.264 from its browser seems to undermine these goals.

The questions in this blog post are a start to the conversation we need across the community and industry. It’s a sincere effort to reflect what we’ve heard in many conversations over the past weeks and months about the concerns of developers and businesses. We are sure there are more questions and encourage those commenting on this post to use the forum to air their questions and concerns. If this post has omitted important details or misunderstood the state of efforts of any party, then by all means please correct us. This is a complex topic as evidenced by the broad range of coverage and analysis and so there are many points of view.

Web video is still, in many ways, in its infancy. Working through these questions is part of moving the Web forward. The Web is a product of consensus and open dialog. This post is meant to be part of the dialog.

—Dean Hachamovitch, Corporate Vice President, Internet Explorer

Dean’s comment of 6:33 AM:

“Microsoft pays into MPEG-LA about twice as much as it receives back for rights to H.264.” (See Follow Up on HTML5 Video in IE9.)

—Ed.

Comments (171)

  1. Anonymous says:

    I want my indemnification!

  2. Anonymous says:

    Funny I haven't read the word 'indemnification' anywhere from Google. Any tried to google 'indemnify and webm'?

  3. Anonymous says:

    [quote]Our point of view is totally clear. Our support for H.264 results from our views about a robust Web and video ecosystem that provides a rich level of functionality, is the product of an open standards process like the W3C’s HTML5 specification, and has been free from legal attacks. Microsoft is agnostic and impartial about the actual underlying video format for HTML5 video as long as this freedom continues.[/quote]

    What a bunch of … History shows that each oportunity MS has to lock-in the market to its revenue streams, it does so. H.264 is patent encumbered and using that format requires paying the MPEG-LA, being Apple and Microsoft two of the top licensors, exorbitant fees, hence the format is not open to adoption because it has a high cost. You support H.264 and did the plugins for both Chrome and Mozilla because you want H.264 to succeed so you can monopolize the web to your own expensive patent encumbered format.

  4. Anonymous says:

    I think the fact that h.264 is available from Microsoft on Windows 7 only highlights the problem of licensing. The plug-ins are a good offering, but obviously system level codecs are missing from older versions of Windows, where Microsoft presumably would incur more licensing costs if it were to give out a system codec for older xp/vista/etc as a free download.

    Doesn't that show itself to be the primary problem here? Or perhaps I'm in the wrong, and licensing terms don't apply to decoders. Hard to keep track with what the MPEGLA say.

  5. Anonymous says:

    "Microsoft pays into MPEG-LA about twice as much as it receives back for rights to H.264." (blogs.msdn.com/…/follow-up-on-html5-video-in-ie9.aspx)

  6. Anonymous says:

    Another problem of WebM from what I am hearing that there isn't hardware rendering support for graphic cards yet since it is a brand new format.  Will the plug in for IE9 be able to be hardware accelerated?

  7. Anonymous says:

    I hate to repeat this here but once a post on the IE blog is not the latest post it gets ignored.

    Can someone from Microsoft please make a statement about shutting down the IE6/IE7/IE8/IE9 images at http://www.spoon.net/

    ======================================================================================================

    This was **THE** most useful resource for testing multiple versions of IE and the shutdown really ticked developers off!

    As a long time web developer of Enterprise Web Applications I've tried all the options out there to try and simplify testing IE and the lack of realistic options is a royal PITA.

    1.) Multiple IEs – IE8 breaks the functionality of IE6's textboxes – thus its a NO-GO

    2.) IETester – works great until you need to test popup interaction and then it fails – thus a NO-GO

    3.) Virtual PC with timebombed images of IE6, IE7, IE8 – works ok, but the 12Gigs of HD space needed is frustrating when each full image of Windows dies 4 times a year, running a full Windows image is slow and you have to beg for updates because the releases are not co-ordinated and announced well at all – thus its a NO-GO

    4.) IE Super Preview – Last I checked this did not allow full testing of IE user interaction, JavaScript DOM changes, popups etc. – thus its a NO-GO

    5.) Multiple PC's to run multiple versions of windows and IE.  With all the hardware, software, and physical space needed – its a NO-GO

    6.) Spoon.net IEs – They work, they work just like local native apps once running, and there's no hacking of my real local IE install. – the **ONLY** problem with these IE's is that Microsoft shut them down

    Please understand that we (developers) just want something that works.  Testing in multiple versions of IE is a pain to begin with and with IE9 on the horizon it is only getting worse.

    I'm not sure where the issue stands with Spoon, but I would really like a solution worked out fast.

    Steve

  8. Anonymous says:

    This is the key part "Microsoft is willing to commit that we will never assert any patents on VP8 if Google will make a commitment to indemnify us and all other developers and customers who use VP8 in the future. We would only ask that we be able to use those patent rights if we are sued first by somebody else. If Google would prefer a patent pool approach, then we would also agree to join a patent pool for VP8 on reasonable licensing terms so long as Google joins the pool and is able to include all other major providers of playback software and devices. "

    I don't know if this something that other players than Microsoft are open to. If Google is serious, they should stop with their "open, open, open, except for Flash" story and deal with the WebM patent issue in a way that makes other parties comfortable. They should also give control to a standards body rather than running it as their own pet project.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Please remove Steve's comments from the blog. He is an annoying troll that destroys every discussion with his noise.

  10. Anonymous says:

    This is the best blog post on this issue so far. Cheers for writing it.

    Saying something is "open" does not make it so. Saying something is "patent free" does not make it so either. If Google is confident that WebM is free of IP restrictions, then they should provide indemnification to everyone using WebM.

    In the plainest terms possible Google, put your money where your mouth is.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Once again Microsoft thank you for your completely EPIC FAIL!

    The only way that HTML5 Video will succeed is if ALL vendors natively support at least 1 (one) common format.  Pushing Microsoft's agenda by forcing H.264 and trying to buy support by providing non-native solutions for other browsers is a PATHETIC solution and an obvious attempt at forcing your hand on everyone else.

    That all said, we have once again realized that Patents suck the life out of Software almost as much as DRM.

    I can't count the number of times I've dropped the "F-Bomb" in my disgust of this situation and more importantly Microsoft's stance for IE9 – Way to totally !@#$-up the Open Web.  You have absolutely no idea how hard it was for me to censor myself in this comment.

    Let me sum it up here.

    I have always complained about IE and its lack of developer tools, adherence to standards etc. but IE9 was looking like Microsoft ****FINALLY*** got it.

    After reading this blog post – I NOW LOATH MICROSOFT / IE more than I ever have in my ****ENTIRE**** 12 years of Web Development!

    After reading this blog post – I NOW LOATH MICROSOFT / IE more than I ever have in my ****ENTIRE**** 12 years of Web Development!

    After reading this blog post – I NOW LOATH MICROSOFT / IE more than I ever have in my ****ENTIRE**** 12 years of Web Development!

    After reading this blog post – I NOW LOATH MICROSOFT / IE more than I ever have in my ****ENTIRE**** 12 years of Web Development!

    After reading this blog post – I NOW LOATH MICROSOFT / IE more than I ever have in my ****ENTIRE**** 12 years of Web Development!

    After reading this blog post – I NOW LOATH MICROSOFT / IE more than I ever have in my ****ENTIRE**** 12 years of Web Development!

    Absolutely DISGUSTED!

  12. Anonymous says:

    1) Formats should never be patented.

    2) until 1 is resolved, the EU and the US should nationalized the MPEG-LA so we can all go forward peacefully. DOWN WITH PATENTS LIKE THIS.

  13. Anonymous says:

    The post above is impressive. This is Microsoft being who Microsoft should be.

  14. Anonymous says:

    1) There are already patents around graphics and video. They won't just disappear because you want them to. Instead a patent pool is a reasonable solution. Another solution is having a webformat owner (e.g. Google with WebM) indemnify other parties.

    2) Yes, communism is the answer to the problem.

    Btw, Google was founded on patents. Look up PageRank on Wikipedia. So don't get fooled by the "open" chant.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Let me update my post above:

    0) Software should never be patented

    1) Until 0 is resolverd, …..

  16. Anonymous says:

    @Nathan – I don't understand your argument? H.264 was looking like the one format until Google decided to only do WebM. this is an improvement for video creators like me on the web. Now I can just stich with H.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Once again, MS, you’ve missed the point. Google is removing native support because they feel that, like many above have mentioned, the legal ramifications that come with using the H.264 codec are an unknown. Building a platform on such services will only cause chaos in the future. Whilst I applaud you conviction to assist users in the playback of content using it, to take the stance that what they are doing is negative is simply irresponsible. Go through the documentation, do the research as to why they made this decision and then stew on it. I know when I first heard the news, I was set aback and pondered why, I now understand that if they want to build a browser that is open to users, compliant friendly, and provides ALL their users with the standards and practices *upgrades behind the scene* then they need to push forward with decisions like this to ensure that development at such an early stage of the HTML5 video tag is guided in a more open manner that will not impede smaller content providers in the future.

  18. Anonymous says:

    Convenient that you linked to the articles that cast the move in a purely negative light. You should be required by law to put a disclosure notice on your post: "WARNING: This company is part of the MPEG-LA patent pool and has a vested interest in undermining competitors"

  19. Anonymous says:

    0) Meni, I agree with you, but a solution needs to be based in the real world. If all patent systems reject software patents (which doesn't look like it's happening) then great. Otherwise, we still need a solution for web video.

    1) So, we need something that works in the real world.

  20. Anonymous says:

    @Billy I don't think that is news for anyone who reads this blog. Everyone knows that Microsoft is part of MPEG-LA. The interesting fact is that they pay twice as much as they get in royalties. That will always be the case because they ship the most operating systems.

  21. Anonymous says:

    Could you please correct your post and replace all instances of "Windows" with "Windows 7"?

    You aren't providing IE9, nor a Firefox plugin nor Chrome plugin for all the millions of users that are using Windows XP, so please, correct all your previous sentences because they aren't true.

    Those users can install Firefox, Opera and Chrome with WebM support, but they won't get H.264 support from you.

    Thanks.

  22. Anonymous says:

    Also, everybody should keep in mind that Microsoft and Apple interfered with the HTML5 standards process to ensure that we couldn't build in a truly free codec as part of the required spec. Both Apple and Microsoft are part of the MPEG-LA patent pool, and also, being browser vendors as well, are involved in the W3C and WHATWG and other web standards.

    We would have solved the problem of web video had Microsoft and Apple not interfered in the process in the first place! One standard, completely free format as part of the spec would mean everybody who ships a compliant browser (including IE9 and Safari) supports that format. Of course, this would directly compete with the further dominance of H.264, so they refused to let that happen (Opera and Mozilla wanted it) and now they're spinning the issue, using H.264's extremely tenuous "wide support" as a talking point. Microsoft is outright rewriting history…..but what do you expect from a criminal organization that committed fraud upon the court when it was tried by the DOJ for anti-trust?

    As one Opera developer puts it in the linked article, Microsoft is nothing but part of a criminal cartel: "an industry cartel which would ruthlessly stamp out any attempts at getting alternatives up and running"

  23. Anonymous says:

    @Billy

    "Also, everybody should keep in mind that Microsoft and Apple interfered with the HTML5 standards process to ensure that we couldn't build in a truly free codec as part of the required spec. "

    Evidence?

  24. Anonymous says:

    "The interesting fact is that they pay twice as much as they get in royalties. That will always be the case because they ship the most operating systems."

    That's a nice talking point, but it's deliberately misleading, or maybe your math and logic are just absolutely terrible. The wider H.264 spreads, the more Microsoft makes in royalties. If I could posts a nice little graph here of royalties vs expenses to make this point explicit, I would.

    Maybe you should spend less time sucking straight from the IE PR teat. The fact that you frequently come here to take these posts as fact is nothing to be proud of.

  25. Anonymous says:

    @Anto "Evidence"

    Google it. Or Bing it if you're an MS diehard 😉

    Plenty of discussions about it out there. Anyone interested in web development who actually follows the standards process saw these things transpire.

  26. Anonymous says:

    ^^ ditto

  27. Anonymous says:

    @Billy – Nice logic. Microsoft wants video to cost money because 1) they don't mind losing money today until some point in the future and 2) they expect not to play a role in other devices like phones and consumer electronics as those categories grow. Yes, I am sure that is the master plan. Thanks for explaining it.

    Btw, insulting people usually begins where logic ends.

  28. Anonymous says:

    ^^ ditto

  29. Anonymous says:

    Billy, Nathan, your moms are here to pick you up. Time for your piano recital.

  30. Anonymous says:

    Google is magical:

    lists.whatwg.org/…/020620.html

    (Or, again, you can search the same thing on Bing, since Bing steals results anyway)

  31. Anonymous says:

    ‘Chrome Web browser would drop support for the H.264 video format in favor of exclusively supporting Google’s new WebM format’

    Incorrect, it supports Ogg Theora *and* WebM. Furthermore, they have said in the future they could extend it to additional open codecs & containers.

  32. Anonymous says:

    The quality and processing power of Theora (discussed in that link) is a legitimate criticism to make it unacceptable as a standard. However, now that we have WebM (VP8 was swooped up by Google and went open later), those concerns are invalidated. All that's left is the "I'm part of an anti-competitive cartel that wants to club the competition in the kneecaps" reason.

  33. Anonymous says:

    @asfjklwef I think you missed the key point. If Google provides indemnification and protection against lawsuits against WebM, Microsoft and other players will fully get behind it. If Google really believes there are no patent issues with WebM, it shouldn't be an issue 🙂

  34. Anonymous says:

    What, no Firefox/Chrome plugin for Mac users?

  35. Anonymous says:

    For Mac users, I think anyone can build the plugin at no cost since it's already included with OSX. No need to wait for Appel

  36. Anonymous says:

    @jeffy,

    Really? And ignore the inferiority of WebM? Where are all the tree huggers? Doesn't anyone care that the decoding WebM content vs comparably encoded h.264 increases your carbon footprint, lowers your device battery life and just generally makes you look less cool?

  37. Anonymous says:

    @asfjklwef I read the link but what exactly am I supposed to see in the 20 page email rant. Btw, just so you know it is written by Ian who works for Google which is not disclosed, so it's not like it is from an impartial sourrce. If you have a link to an impartial analyst or observer that would be great. 🙂

  38. Anonymous says:

    The point that hits home in all of this is that video formats should not be something we should have to pay licensing for.  Everyone loses in the long run – and in this case, the whole Internet loses.

    I don't care what format everyone decides on in the end as long as it is ONE format, WITHOUT licensing fees.

    Attempting to standardize on anything else is absolutely, without a doubt, undeniably, without question, totally, completely, unmistakeably utterly retarded!

    The only thing worse than not deciding on the single, license-free format would be abusing your OS install base to force other software vendors and in the Internet community to use the license-ridden, expensive video format that YOU fell SUCKER for.

    Classic Microsoft attempt to spread FUD. Unlike you, we aren't buying it – we're not that foolish!

  39. Anonymous says:

    @unbelievable Unfortunately, there is not one company that controls the patents. It's 50 different ones. So, as much as I want it to happen, don't expect all 50 to drop their patnet

  40. Anonymous says:

    Sure seems like there's a reading comprehension problem among many commentors, but of course these folks hate Microsoft and won't be bothered to try and actually read anything that doesn't fit into their world view.

    If Google takes action, Microsoft will back WebM here. The ball is in Google's court, and any speculation about possible profits Microsoft will make off of H.264 are nothing more than FUD being spread by zealots.

  41. Anonymous says:

    Just include WebM out-of-the-box. H.264 has no real advantage over it (apart from bitrate requirements perhaps).

    Microsoft gains nothing by just supporting H.264.

  42. Anonymous says:

    In a WebM only world, Microsoft will pay just as much to MPEG-LA as they do now (to enable distribution of h264 in Windows 7) but they'll see reduced money coming back from MPEG-LA, likewise if everyones uses h264, they'll see more money from MPEG-LA offsetting their expenditure.

    Hence, they have an active interest in seeing WebM fail, and h264 succeed.

  43. Anonymous says:

    @Simon

    You forget that graphics cards have support for hardware acceleration for H.264.  The IEteam will support WebM once the problems are address that they brought forth.

  44. Anonymous says:

    What is the status of indemnification and protection for h.264 users? As far as I could see, it is the case that even if you pay for a h.264 license they don't promise that you will not violate third party patents and they will not protect you against claims from companies which are not a member of the mpeg license group*. So all they really say is

    "Hey, we think that this is all the license you need. We looked into it and we don't think we are violating any patens without license, but we can't promise and we will not promise support or help if you if it turns out that h.264  violate third party patents. (Which is exactly the same thing Google say about their standard).

    Or did i miss a memo where the h.264 license group promise to pay for all needed third party patents if needed?

  45. Anonymous says:

    Ya'll need to add the Chrome H.264 plugin to the Chrome Extensions Gallery so that Chrome users will be able to find and install. As it is right now, the plugin is buried on some site that until now I hadn't heard of, and I'm guessing the even more average user will not know about either.

  46. Amtiskaw says:

    And what about software, devices and platforms that cannot license H.264, due to being free software, or unable to afford licensing costs?

    In all the endless verbiage that you, Dean Hachamovitch, have produced about web video, you have not, as far as I am aware, answered this question. So I'll ask you to answer it now. As I understand it, the use of H.264 WILL exclude platforms such as Firefox on Linux. The use of WebM MAY do so, depending on the situation with respect to submarine patents, but H.264 DEFINITELY WILL.

    Is my understanding mistake?Are you unconcerned by this? Until you address this point, I see no reason to believe anything you say.

  47. Anonymous says:

    Amtiskaw, you're mom is here to pick you up for tuba lessons.

  48. Anonymous says:

    "You support H.264 and did the plugins for both Chrome and Mozilla because you want H.264 to succeed so you can monopolize the web to your own expensive patent encumbered format."

    You've nailed it perfectly!

  49. Anonymous says:

    @Luis : agreed!! Screw H.264.

  50. Amtiskaw says:

    @Ah, kids part 2

    I think you mean 'your', not 'you're'. At least us kids understand basic grammar.

  51. Anonymous says:

    @ Amtiskaw — "we kids"

  52. Anonymous says:

    Microsoft is talking about openness? OMG, IE9 is not OPEN. This is hypocrisy!!!

  53. Anonymous says:

    "H264 playback is free only for **non-commercial** use (whatever it is) of video that is web-distributed and **freely accessible**."

    carlodaffara.conecta.it/on-webm-again-freedom-quality-patents

  54. Anonymous says:

    Grammar police are always annoying, but this is pretty funny. Can you see the irony in "At least us kids understand basic grammar."?

  55. Amtiskaw says:

    @Grammar..

    Hey, I said we understand it, I never said we applied it.

  56. Anonymous says:

    Amtiskaw, please ignore the troll here. Your post was spot-on.

  57. Anonymous says:

    I ask you, MS, the same question you ask of Google: "who bears the liability and risk for intellectual property?" — on the codec you (MS) support — H.264.

    Here's an answer:

    "if you go looking at the uber-powerful MPEG-LA that gives you a license for the essential H264 patents, you will find the following text:

    Q: Are all AVC essential patents included?

    A: No assurance is or can be made that the License includes every essential patent.

    "

    You can read the full article at:

    carlodaffara.conecta.it/on-webm-again-freedom-quality-patents

    (Same article I quoted before.)

  58. Anonymous says:

    Way to go Microsoft! WebM is a joke and should never have even been released. H264 is so superior quality wise.

  59. Anonymous says:

    H.264 can have exactly the same potential concerns, and no one vouched to indemnify it's users.

  60. Anonymous says:

    Will you be making an npruntime plugin + Opera extension combo to add support for h.264 to Opera?

    Or, will you be making something like sourcecode.opera.com/gstreamer that supports h.264 on Win32?

    Will IE9 be able to play Theora videos too if the codec is installed on the system? Or, will you only allow this to work for VP8?

  61. Anonymous says:

    thats weird i thought ms removed that codec from windows 7 during beta?

  62. Anonymous says:

    Congratulations to the IE Team for such a post. A post that asks legitimate question about WebM without completely opposing it or declaring it inferior. Not only did the post pose those questions, but also gave a reason why they are important. Although I would like to see WebM support in IE, I consider this post completely fair for what a company like Microsoft would like to know before getting completely involved in WebM.

  63. Anonymous says:

    Google assume they have no patent infringements.  Microsoft, by the tone of this article, are assuming that they do. Let's see how these different scenarios play out.

    Scenario 1. There are patents.

    If there are patents, then the MPEG-LA are already attempting to assemble a pool. If they're successful, then Google can presumably join that pool, with their patents. Without Google, there is no value in a patent pool, because to decode WebM you would certainly need whatever patents Google have.

    However, Google have been openly using VP8/WebM videos on Youtube for months now, and have not yet been sued. Since the source code is available, and anyone with an interest can analyse it for infringements, why has no action been taken against them so far?

    Scenario 2. There are no patents (other than those which Google already own).

    In this case:

    The patent pool idea sounds more plausible, but why would Google 'pool' their patents with anyone, when they know of no other patents on their format? What benefit is a pact with Microsoft not to be sued over VP8, when Google don't believe Microsoft have any standing to sue them?

    What happens if Google does indemnify users of vp8 or webm? We've seen in many cases how drawn out court cases over IP rights, patents and copyrights can completely destroy a company's value. That happens, whether or not the patents are valid, or the copyright claims are founded. Microsoft have had nuisance lawsuits levelled against them in the past, so can understand how that works. By indemnifying users, Google has a much larger, more fragile attack surface, which could be used to drain away their money.

  64. Anonymous says:

    Wow – a bunch of schoolboys hating Microsoft because that's easier than trying to understand the arguments. Aint't Web 2.0 great?

  65. Anonymous says:

    I don't very often agree with Microsoft's perceptions but this blog post has made several good points and the author is to be commended. I think Microsoft is taking the correct approach with IE 9. Apple is sitting on the fence, hopefully they'll take the same tack. I'm of the opinion that Google is playing politics with this webM stuff and it will come back to haunt them if/when MPEG-LA decide to sue over WebM and win.

  66. Anonymous says:

    I'll be right up front and admit that I have never been a fan of Microsoft or its products, but with this announcement, you have won me over. Google has been quietly resorting to bully tactics in the last few years while maintaining a laughable facade of innocence and altruism. With their recent announcement of dropping H.264 in favor of WebM, the facade has been ripped away, and I appreciate that you have taken a massive step in countering them. I hope you realize how many of us appreciate that.

  67. Anonymous says:

    <a href="http://www.unippls.com">100% Free Student Dating in the UK<a/>

  68. Anonymous says:

    I like your new agenda Microsoft, thanks for not being evil.

  69. Anonymous says:

    I am not a fan of Microsoft — but this post is spot-on, well articulated, and unusually clear and honest. The points raised a valid. Not one of the comments here attacking the post have addressed the questions raised; instead, the posters have resorted to ad-hominem attacks and unsubstantiated claims. This post actually gave me hope that Microsoft can still do something right, and might return to relevance in a positive, important way for the industry and community. Thank you.

  70. Anonymous says:

    I'm curious how google moving away from a proprietary video codec (regardless of the fact that it's currently given away for free) is _bad_ for the open web.

  71. Anonymous says:

    @mors Quote:

    "H.264 is patent encumbered and using that format requires paying the MPEG-LA, being Apple and Microsoft two of the top licensors [sic]…"

    Um, this is completely wrong.  Apple has only one patent in the H.264 AVC pool and Microsoft have already said that they pay more out in royalties than they earn from royalites.  Check your facts next time.

  72. Anonymous says:

    @Luis, @Martin, @ Shmerl

    You questioned indeminfication as above:

    Now, I am assuming you can read, but I will point you to the fact that Microsoft has indeminified all Windows users of the codec. Please see the fourth paragraph above under the section, Industry Questions (also see the link provided. There are several official MS documents where this has also been stated).  Microsoft is just asking Google to do the same for the codec they support

  73. Anonymous says:

    +1 James… Agreed. Some common sense from Microsoft for a change.

    Besides, the reality is this: HTC and others pay royalties to Microsoft for each Android handset shipped, which isn't Microsoft being mean, they're just doing business – Android infringes on Microsoft patents.

    H.264 is a top quality flexible codec, and is used not just by Microsoft and Apple, it's the standard powering almost all consumer video devices from Canon, Nikkon and others. H.264 is what is used inside flash videos, flash is just the container that removes hardware acceleration and ads commercials.

  74. Anonymous says:

    Repeat after me:

    We love open, open, open, Flash!

    We love open, open, open, Flash!

    We love open, open, open, Flash!

    We love open, open, open, Flash!

  75. Anonymous says:

    dmsuperman – The issue is, as this article and others have painfully pointed out, that Google has not asserted, guaranteed or taken any steps to state that VP8/WebM is a free codec as they will not indemnify, as the author points out, users of the codec against suit.   Basically, Google expects chip manufacturers, mainly ATI/AMD and nVidia, to just put hardware acceleration in now and hope they don't get sued with no assurance or help from Google for their soruce code format, vs. implement H.264 that is very clear in statements of fee and patent encumberance and has a known cost, risk and a very clear specification (complex and deep as heck, but it's a spec, not a source code instance).  

    It would be great to have an open format that isn't patent-encumbered.   I just really don't think WebM/VP8 is it, and Google isn't taking any solid action to make it seem otherwise.   H.264 state (wikipedia citation):

    On August 26, 2010 MPEG LA announced that H.264 encoded internet video that is free to end users will never be charged for royalties.[11] All other royalties will remain in place such as the royalties for products that decode and encode H.264 video.[12] The license terms are updated in 5-year blocks.[13]

    So basically, the browser isn't at risk.   The creation software is.   This is very similar to what happened with mpeg-3 audio.   The players became ubiquitous, and the compressors got the bulk of the license revenue.  While free and unencumbered are nice, hardware manufacturers and device manufacturers and distributors are putting real money on the table for all those hardware builds.   What's right or desirable also needs to address what is economically sensible, including the risk.  

    I wonder if Google can take the VP8 codec to court to assert before a patent hearing that it does or does not infringe on the grounds that the holders of any patent (let's say MPEG-LA) have not asserted an infringement, but their inacation is causing harm?   Also, is there a time limit by which a patent holder needs to bring action when there exists generally "well known" implementation that might reasonably be expected of infringement?   Can MPEG-LA wait indefinitely to bring action (or at least until 2028 when the patents are believe to expire according to Wikipedia)?

  76. Anonymous says:

    Great post. Too bad there are so many trolls.

  77. Anonymous says:

    Hi,

    I have a Windows XP machine, which I purchased brand new about 2 months ago. Will IE9 play back h264 on my machine too ? (or Windows means Windows 7 in the article)

    Cheers

  78. Anonymous says:

    How does the IE team have time to make H264 plugins for other browsers, but can't make an official WebM/Theora plugin for IE9.  Microsoft is supposed to improve their own browser before improving others'.  MathML might also be nice.

  79. Anonymous says:

    Too bad Microsoft doesn't have any link to report bugs for IE. So I'll report it here.  I see IE9 will not any longer send the ridiculous .NET CLR versions and other garbage in the user-agent string.  Thank God! But what about IE8? IE7?  Can we expect an update to be released that will FIX this bug.  Yes, it is a bug, and it causes other software to fail when IE's user-agent gets too bloated.  I know I can manually delete all the extra strings from the registry under "Post Platform" for my users.  But won't automatic updates just put it all back?  Fix it, please!!!!  Its nice that you are removing this spam from IE9, but seriously you need to kill off the spam from IE6-IE8 too.

  80. Anonymous says:

    @AMWJ

    They aren't making a WebM plugin for IE9 for exactly the same reasons as they aren't supporting it natively in IE9. Why do you think that there would be any difference?

  81. Anonymous says:

    Oh, and as far as the Video tag for HTML5–kill the idea.  I don't want video to be able to display when flash is disabled.  That's why I disable flash.

  82. Anonymous says:

    "Reverse engineering a standard from sample source code is a poor practice."

    This is very funny from a Microsoft employee :).

    (most of the article is just blabla around announcing to catch up with other browsers, and marketing for MPEGLA)

  83. Anonymous says:

    "Our support for H.264 results from our views about a robust Web and video ecosystem that provides a rich level of functionality, is the product of an open standards process like the W3C’s HTML5 specification, and has been free from legal attacks."

    H.264 is not the product of a standards process like the W3C's HTML5 specification. It is not royalty-free. H.264 has not been free from legal attacks. Microsoft itself launched a legal attack against Motorola over H.264:

    arstechnica.com/…/microsoft-sues-motorola-over-excessive-wifi-h264-pricing.ars

    It is plainly disingenuous to claim otherwise.

    "The WebM specification is not yet an open Web standard by any common definition."

    Let's be intellectually honest about this, shall we? H.264 is also not yet an open Web standard by any common definition and never will be. H.264 is in fact the antithesis of a Web standard. It is not royalty-free. Until such time as it is royalty-free for all use cases then it is not an acceptable choice for the Web.

    I want Microsoft to be a cooperative member of the web community. I want Microsoft to support WebM video and Vorbis audio natively, out of box in IE9. I'd even settle for Microsoft merely supporting these formats in its own web pages. Take the first step by adding Vorbis audio support. Vorbis audio was, after all, good enough for Halo so I would suggest that it's good enough for IE9.

  84. Anonymous says:

    "Let's be intellectually honest about this, shall we? H.264 is also not yet an open Web standard by any common definition and never will be."

    Exactly.  FLV played via the Flash plugin is the open standard.  Sure in the inside it might be H.264 but H.264 is being propped up by Flash not standing on its own.  And it shouldn't stand on its own because we all know users we not be given options in the browser UI to disable the video tag!  But you can disabled Flash, in Firefox anyway.   Microsoft still hasn't caught up on allowing you to disable Flash as with other addins.

  85. Anonymous says:

    Eugh, you absolute cretins!

  86. Anonymous says:

    @mors

    I think you should check your facts.  Apple has exactly one patent in the MPEG-LA patent pool — that's right one, Microsoft has far more.  I doubt the licensing revenue for MPEG-LA is even a blip on Apple's or Microsoft's bottom line.  Given that the cap for MPEG-LA licensing of H.264 is 6.5M annually, and Microsoft pays MPEG-LA twice what it gets back, that would mean they get about 3.5M annually every year from MPEG-LA — after any costs MPEG-LA may have for attorney fees and such to maintain the pool and administrative costs.

    MPEG-LA is only a money maker for the hundred or so small-time companies who have patents in there who rely on that extra couple 100k annual revenue they might make.

    Google is more concerned about having a pissing match with Apple and trying to proliferate the use of Adobe Flash to try to differentiate Android from iOS.  It is pathetic.  And even more pathetic that all these half-wit kids cry "oh, Google is the hero of openness".  Please, Google is the hero of their share holders.

  87. Anonymous says:

    Dean, I want my indemnification for h.264. Can you point me to that indemnification in the MPEG-LA licensing documentation please? Thanks.

    (for those of you not following along closely, the reply will be "I cannot because MPEG-LA doesn't indemnify anyone for anything)

  88. Anonymous says:

    @wekempf Yes, unfortunately with this "hate MS" attitude, nobody will read the post, and just use this opportunity to accuse MS.

    There ARE patents in the world. Remember what happened with GIF? I'm sure companies are waiting to get webm as the standard, then they'll assert licensing fees on everybody, and unlike h264 there will not be a single place to pay.

    More cases:

    MP3 – all of a sudden Alcatel asserted patents, and asked for license fees

    Android – Everybody is asking HTC, Motorola, etc pay for patent fees, since Google does not support the platform legally

    JPEG – Was open and free (I believe still is), but did not stop people from suing

    WMV – Was supposed to be free (this is also in the post), but due to patent conflict, MS had to make it proprietary

    … and so on.

  89. Anonymous says:

    i really don’t understand why people creeping about everything what MS does. you are the same guys who were complaining about MS no supporting H.264. And now you guys are complaining about why MS support H.264 just because now Google does not support it. Till few days ago Google was supporting it why you guys didn’t complain about it. Whatever Google does that does not mean its standard. Just appreciate the fact that MS is now standardizing the platform. i am IE9 user and  its awesome.

    Keep it up IE Team

  90. jabcreations says:

    H.264 –> MPEG LA –> DVD6C –> Warner Home Video –> MPAA –> suing grandmothers

    VP8 –> Google –> Creepy data collection methods

    I'm sticking with OGG.

    Apple doesn't support OGG, Apple does not care about the web.

    Microsoft doesn't support Microsoft , Apple does not care about the web.

    Kind of funny since both Apple and Microsoft have large enough war chests to easily implement support for OGG.

    It all comes down to money with these companies and that's why they are going to enforce their greed on the web in place of fostering innovation.

    Who is going to indemnify web designers for the high cost of Flash?

  91. Anonymous says:

    @jun: "Oh, and as far as the Video tag for HTML5–kill the idea.  I don't want video to be able to display when flash is disabled.  That's why I disable flash."

    You can create a style sheet to override any autoplay settings in video tags universally. Most browsers support the user of a style sheet in that way. You can even write the style sheet to not display anything presented with a video tag. It's how it works. No disabling of plug-ins required.

  92. Anonymous says:

    Thank you Microsoft!

    H.264 is a technically superior product. You can find this out by doing a little research. The engineer in me was horrified that H.264 was dropped from Chrome. I'm very relieved and thankful that you're providing these plugins.

    As a web developer I never thought I'd be saying that 😛

    Lovely work on IE9 btw. I really mean that. I'm seriously hoping for CSS transitions and the history API though. The history API is just damned cool.

  93. Anonymous says:

    @DT: I thought that the reason they did not support WebM/Theora is because there are questions as to how open they are, as this article explained.  Microsoft could still create a plugin in HTML5Labs, like they did with WebSockets and IndexedDB, that  could be taken down if they are judged as illegal.  It would have the same status as any other third party plugin.

    Still, there are other features, like MathML, that the team could be supporting in their own browser, instead of adding things to others'

  94. Anonymous says:

    What scares me is that YOU the END USERS are for WebM.

    You are not going to hear about any fees you have to pay to use h264  and you are not going to hear about any issues with h264.

    For you h264 is THE de-facto winner in quality, performance, support, and compression.

    You are also going to be the ones to suffer if the plague that WebM is will take over.

    You will have to upgrade your hardware (which played h264 just fine) to achieve support with VP8.

    I ask you, are you INSANE? Microsoft and Apple will give you h264 with your PC/Smart Phone/Pad

    You are just all victims of VP8 Cult of Personality. 🙁

  95. Anonymous says:

    @Matthew Potter

    At first glance, Google's push of WebM seams completely Altruistic, however there are a few issues as discussed in this article.

    In summary:

    1) WebM was developed in a closed environment by a commercial interest (On2), unlike H.264 which was developed in an open forum by experts.

    2) WebM is controlled by Google, H.264 is a ISO standard, like the kilogram.

    3) WebM source is under a BSD licence,which could be revoked by Google. x264 (the best performing implementation of h.264) is GPL, a licence which can only be revoked if all the authors agree to it. Anyone can write their own h.264 codec.

    4) WebM was only recently made open, Patent Trolls haven't made claims on it's pedigree yet. H.264 has already defended itself from the worse Patent Trolls and the MPEG-LA has defended it successfully.

  96. Anonymous says:

    @Dallas

    "On August 26, 2010 MPEG LA announced that H.264 encoded internet video that is free to end users will never be charged for royalties.[11] All other royalties will remain in place such as the royalties for products that decode and encode H.264 video.[12] […]

    So basically, the browser isn't at risk."

    aeh…the browser is a decoder, and you just wrote yourself that royalties will remain in place for products that decode…

  97. Anonymous says:

    > 1) patents … won't just disappear because you want them to.

    Actually, if Microsoft and the other software industry players all joined together and told the US congressmen that they don't want *software* patents anymore, there'd be a good chance they'd die a fast death.

    Fact is that Microsoft *wants* software patents, to some degree. And now cries its eyes out here that it can't implement WebM because of patents.

    @ Microsoft

    Nice title: "Questions for the Industry from the Community". So, Microsoft is now the "Community" and Google "the industry"? (Or did you mean the VP8 open-source project with "the industry"?)

    @Dan Woods

    False claims.

    2) "standards" are not standards, if they are encumbered and can't be used freely.

    3) GPL is not revokable. In fact, to my knowledge, none of the open-source licences are revokable, including BSD.

  98. Anonymous says:

    @BenB

    "Fact is that Microsoft *wants* software patents, to some degree". Any statement that starts with "fact is" or "honestly" is usually followed by a falsehood. So, what exactly is the evidence that Microsoft wants patents more than Google, Apple, IBM, JNJ or any other major US company?

    Also, I think you confuse standard vs. propriety, free vs. licensed and open source vs. closed source. These are 3 different & independent dimensions.

  99. Anonymous says:

    I'll be the first to admit a long-developed, long-held bias against Microsoft's position on technologies.  (still bruised from the "embrace and extend to proprietary" and "standards ignorant, WE define standards" days…)

    However I've got to say this one is great, very astute and strongly argued, and something that makes a TON of sense, and that I can get behind.  It seems nowadays the tech giant with the "agenda", that's based upon biased logic, is Google.  Nice job!

    Here's a question for you, and MPEG-LA though. Couldn't this all be rendered moot if MPEG-LA would just eliminate the licensing requirement (costs), retain patent rights, and provide the indemnification?  Then H.264, the better and more widely adopted/integrated technology would instantly "win".  I have a hard time believing the MPEG-LA patent pool holders are making much income/profit/benefit from the licensing fees – yet they are risking their standard to be replaced by other tech solutions in the process by holding to the costs for licensing it.  Contribute H.264 to the world as a free technology – why can't that be the BEST solution?

  100. Anonymous says:

    "What is the plan for restoring consistency across devices, Web services, and the PC."

    I run Windows XP. What is the plan for bringing IE9 to XP? That would bring consistency across Windows, would it not? It seems like the best way forward for me is to use Firefox 4 on Windows XP. I don't get it, Dean. Why does Mozilla have better support for Windows than Microsoft does?

  101. Anonymous says:

    Very thoughtful and well thought out article. Excellent response to the current Google trying to divide & mess up the world think. H.264 is so widespread and used across so many consumer devices today that not supporting it is like asking people not to use 120v AC in America.

  102. Anonymous says:

    @unbeliveable – can't wait to see what free open video format you get coded and deployed with power optimizations and hardware acceleration so mobile devices can last more than an hour or two of real world use.

    Maybe you can start with OGG as your base? That could save you a year or two of effort. Or get you sued, guess you'll choose wisely as you get started. Best of luck getting that done while you work your for-pay gig 30 or 40 hours a week so  you can pay licencing to Monansto for the food you eat and pay bonuses to the bank execs that own your house and a royalty or two for those fuel additives/synthetic oils/computer controlled combustion and ridiculously tight mechanical engineering that keep your car running so smoothly with a fraction of the maintenance needed 30 years ago (o;

    Until then, I'm happy to pay the brilliant minds that made h.264 rock. It has radically improved my life by letting me pull my movies into one smallish RIP that I can watch on any reasonably modern device sold at affordable prices and with quite superior computational/battery performance that ever before seen. I rip movies to h.264 optimized for my phone and that same 800mb file expands to fill my 23" media center screen with a picture quality that kicks the previosly rockin' 4-head VHS & Betamax's ass — and isn't much worse for casual viewing than the 4GB DVD it came from.

    Be sure to LMK when your kick-ass free format is polished. I'll drop a few bucks in your 'PayPal' tip-jar – until then I'll happily keep paying the folks who have already done ~amazing~ mind-boggling work at what ends up being quite reasonable prices.

    <twilight> can't believe a sane argument has escaped the black hole of logic that is Microsoft, it's a rare rare day I feel proud of either the IE team or MS in general, wow!! </zone>

    It would truly be wonderful to have all the goodness of h.264 for free – but WebM will take serious cash in the form of hardware/software development, standards oversight and community education  to get there even ~IF~ it can clear patent hurdles. Since Google has opened this version of pandora's box and has the stones to claim WebM can do it – it is not asking too much of the 'everything we don't own, we should be allowed to distribute and sell advertising for'  Googleplexers to insure the adopters of  this 'gift' of WebM they've so graciously hoisted into the web video discussion so it can be & do all they truly wonderful things h.264 does, but for free. Sadly – thier fiduciary responsibility to shareholders probably doesn't align with the hopes they have for WebM  as well as the cute "don't be evil" solgan does. If it did, indemnification of those who will have  to dump serious amounts of cash into that format to help it be all-that-and-a-free-beer-at-the-ballgame would be a done-deal.

  103. Anonymous says:

    @BenB

    Standards are standards. They allow interoperability between different implementations. The reason I can safely by 1kg of sugar and know I'm getting 1kg of sugar is because a body of physicists expert in measuring mass got together and standardized units of measurements. The reason I know a webpage viewed in IE will express the same content when viewed in Lynx or Konqueror is because they follow the standard of HTML. Legacy MS Word documents are a closed standard since only MS's implementation is acceptable. XML-based Word Documents are an open standard because anyone can read the spec, and write their own implementation. WebM may have a documented specification, but if Google treat their implementation as the Canonical Version, a third party implementation could never be implemented.

    GPL can be revoked if all the contributors claiming copyright on code agree to a different licence. It is difficult, but not impossible.

    BSD-style licenced software can be co-opted and made closed-source, as long as the original material is kept 'free'. This is the reason why so many Companies use BSD licensing rather than GPL. They open the source, but if they excise code from third parties, (and add token code), they can relicence it with a more restrictive licence. While the licence isn't technically revoked, it is practically revoked, especially if new features are added. WebM has lots of room for improvement and with any of these patches to the implementation, Google could close the source back up. Old versions would still be open source, but the new usable versions with the new features would be closed.

  104. Anonymous says:

    H.264 has patients that are owned in part by Microsoft, Apple and MPEG LA en.wikipedia.org/…/MPEG-4_AVC In 5 years this may and in my opinion will change to charge a fee, for the codec. This is the most likely reason these 3 orgs are supporting it.

    Ogg is now considered not of suitable quality and not up to the same standard as H.264

    WebM is a new open standard which is comparable in quality, is hardware accelerated (or will be on all platforms), will always be free and work the way the Net was supposed to be.

    In Tim Berners-Lee words "Freedom of connection with any application to any party is the fundamental social basis of the internet. And now, is the basis of the society built on the internet." on Net neutrality

  105. Anonymous says:

    Dean Woods:

      "2) WebM is controlled by Google, H.264 is a ISO standard, like the kilogram."

    I have not heard that to make scales you need to take care of legal business.

  106. Anonymous says:

    I have a hunch that some proponents of H.264 here, would rather use XAML instead of HTML as the web's language. After all it's a standard, and better then HTML, right? Why not CS/MIL instead of JavaScript? Heck why not push GIF? (yes, I know the patents expired, it was just an example)

    MS and APPLE, if you want really to promote video on the net, which i think you do, put your money on the table, as Google did, and pay whatever it takes to free those STUPID (no offense to all those German engineers) patents.

  107. Anonymous says:

    WebM will cost us consumers a whole lot of money.

    * It is a much less efficient spec. That means it will increace traffic cost for video. Video is more that 80% of all internet traffic. Even a 10% less efficient codec will up the total cost of internettraffic in total by 8% which is likely to cost billions which eventually the consumer will have to pay. Especially the mobile user that has often traffic limits will fund the bill..

    * It has no hardware accelleration support. My PC is 40%-60% CPU when decoding a HD WebM video compared to less than 10% for a similar sized HD h.264 video which is decoded by a very low end gfx solution and the resulting total power usages of the PC is average about 5W more. Only Youtube serves about 2 billion video's a day and about 700 billion a year. At about 3 minutes average for a video this would contitute about 35 billion hours of video being played and at 5W a total of 175 billion Wh of yearly extra power being consumed by the usage of WebM. That is a massive cost of energy waste by using WebM just for Youtube alone. All payed for by consumers.

  108. Anonymous says:

    Please do not spread lies. H.264 is not "free from legal attacks". Those who use it have to fear lawsuits if they do not (directly or indirectly) pay money to MPEG LA.

  109. Anonymous says:

    "MS and APPLE, if you want really to promote video on the net, which i think you do, put your money on the table, as Google did, and pay whatever it takes to free those STUPID (no offense to all those German engineers) patents."

    Just wanted to my post: Until MSFT and Apple do that, I have the right to claim, even if not true, that they have an interest to keep the miserable status-quo we're in. It gives them an edge over other open/free OSs and browsers. (Linux, BSD, Firefox, Opera)

  110. Anonymous says:

    We have seen in the last few years that patent claims on average take about 2 to 3 years to get filed after some new technolgiy is introduced. This happend with the iPhone and is curenyl happening with Android (and its Dalvik java VM).

    So WebM patent claims by patentholders on video compression technology are not to be expected before 2012 and likely even the second half of 2012.

    2 years is long but it it takes a lot of time to firstly determine infringment (probably you need to hire an independant technology specialist researcher to investigate) then try to negociate with the infringing party (which can take a long time) and if that failes hire a legal team and prepare a trail on the patentinfringment (a sloid preparation if you want to take on a party like google).

  111. Anonymous says:

    H264 might be violating patents not covered by the MPEG LA patent pool, because nobody knows of those up to now. You say H264 violates no patents, all patents it uses are part of the MPEG LA patent pool… yeah, that is exactly the same Google says about VP8, it violates no patent. Now you ask Google, can they guarantee that it violates no patents and who is liable if it ever does? Okay, same question to you: Can you guarantee that H264 violates no existing patent in the world and who is liable if it ever does? By this bull…. argumentation, we must drop all video standards and go back to animated GIFs, since you cannot even guarantee that VC-1 (WMV) does not violate any "subway patents" that still haven't been found as of today.

  112. Anonymous says:

    @meni

    Have you ever heard of certified scales? A standards body has to guarantee that the set of scales you manufacture are correctly calibrated. You would have to pay a fee for their calibration service and your users would have to get the scales calibrated regularly if they want to be used for commercial purposes.

    Unix-like systems need to be Posix compliant. Commercial Linux distributions pay to be certified.

    In the physical world, manufacturers pay millions of dollars in patent fees to create tangible products. In the artistic world, licensing fee are paid for music samples that are still in copyright. Why can software developers be renumerated for their copyrighted algorithms?

  113. Anonymous says:

    In the past months, the blog was always about supporting the same code for all browsers and platform. How about supporting the same codec? How about using the one that doesn't cost a thing and is open sourced? Oh, sorry, I forgot, this is Microsoft.

  114. Anonymous says:

    @Mecki

    The sheer volume of the MPEG-LA patent pool, and the legal fees paid by licence fees guarantees that anyone who tries to take on H.264 for patent violation will be countersued into bankruptcy. Even if an Evil Patent Troll sues some one posting family videos in H.264 (who has a valid licence from MPEG-LA), MPEG-LA will defend the licence-holder with their full legal might.

    Google have not stated that they will protect someone posting family videos in WebM. The FSF doesn't have the funds to protect someone posting video in Theora.

    Until Software Patents are dead, H.264 is the only safe choice. After software patents are killed (killing software royalties in the process and rendering the MPEG-LA obsolete), H.264 is the only sane choice.

  115. Anonymous says:

    @mecki

    Actually Microsoft is already guaranteeing you that by suppling the h.264 code to everyone. That makes them liable to any patentclaims of patents outside the mpeg-la patent pool.

    Also relvant is that most parties important to video compression contributed to the ISO//IEC MPEG4 standard and if any of those partiescome up with a patent now they cannot enforce it on h.264. Qualcomm who tried to sue on h.264 with a patent was rejected in court for no having made their patent known during the h.264 standardization proces.

    As VP8 was not created trough a combined formal standardization proces this does not apply to VP8, the video codec in WebM, so anybody can freely use their patent against VP8.

  116. Anonymous says:

    There is one aspect of WebM I expect a major user backlash on (and that Microsoft perhaps should have let Google walk into):

    WebM is much less efficient and much less supported in current hardware than H264 (this is something everybody can verify for themselves).

    This will mean that a lot of systems out there (Laptops, Pads, Phones, Media Players) will start to struggle with playing video that was playing well before. And/or use more battery while at it. Also eating up more bandwith, especially critical for mobile. That will get popular fast.

  117. Anonymous says:

    [quote]How about supporting the same codec?[/quote]

    That one codec is already there.

    In reality everybody is already using h264 codec trough native support  (W7), flash, silverlight, quicktime, itunes, zune, and the many other codecpacks installed on PC's en trough hardware decoding.

    Also Microsoft provides the h264. codec for free to anyone.

    The h.264 codec is even provided by Microsoft to linux users that install the Moonlight plugin.

  118. Anonymous says:

    Wait, let me get this straight. The royalty fees for supporting H.264 are in the millions, and Microsoft is more than willing to pay that fee for the Firefox and Chrome browsers? Wow. That's pretty generous! Of course, not all is sugar and spice though, is it? In your mind's eye, as soon as H.264 becomes the overwhelming standard on the web, then you'll drop support for the plugins, and Mozilla and Google will be left to fend for themselves to pay the fees, won't they? Sneaky. Thankfully, the open web has too much motivation to let that happen. But, I guess if you have money to burn, why not? Good luck. You'll need it.

  119. Anonymous says:

    Most important quote in the comments for this post:

    ===============================================================================================================================

    "H.264 is also not yet an open Web standard by any common definition and never will be. H.264 is in fact the antithesis of a Web standard. It is not royalty-free. Until such time as it is royalty-free for all use cases then it is not an acceptable choice for the Web."

    "H.264 is also not yet an open Web standard by any common definition and never will be. H.264 is in fact the antithesis of a Web standard. It is not royalty-free. Until such time as it is royalty-free for all use cases then it is not an acceptable choice for the Web."

    "H.264 is also not yet an open Web standard by any common definition and never will be. H.264 is in fact the antithesis of a Web standard. It is not royalty-free. Until such time as it is royalty-free for all use cases then it is not an acceptable choice for the Web."

    "H.264 is also not yet an open Web standard by any common definition and never will be. H.264 is in fact the antithesis of a Web standard. It is not royalty-free. Until such time as it is royalty-free for all use cases then it is not an acceptable choice for the Web."

    ===============================================================================================================================

    Until Microsoft comprehends this statement and resolves to fully support an open, royalty-free video format – IE9 is doomed to be the new IE6-plague of the Internet.

    Microsoft needs to add bullet #4 to their list at the top of the post.

    #4 – Microsoft Internet Explorer 9 will fully support native HTML5 video using the {name of free, open, royalty-free video format} that all other major browser vendors will also support.

    ======================================

    **********Nothing else matters – period!**********

    ======================================

    The question and the debate should only be about "which" format (existing, or built from scratch) we are talking about.  It ABSOLUTELY CAN NOT be H.264 due to licensing restrictions, WebM is POSSIBLE – pending alterations to ensure there are no legal restrictions that will come back to haunt browser developers down the road, or VideoFormat_X_ which will overcome the issues with existing formats.

    I'm not surprised at all now, that Chris Wilson left Microsoft's IE development group.  I too would not have put up with this cr@p – this is not how the Open Web gets built!

    Specifically @Dean Hachamovitch – unless ***YOU SPECIFICALLY**** RECTIFY this abomination that IE is attempting to force upon the rest of the Internet – I will have to concede that I have lost all respect for you as a leader in this field.

    Unbelievably Disappointed in Microsoft,

    Gordon

  120. Anonymous says:

    @gordon

    Actually the VP8 codec used in WebM is not an open standard at all

    VP is actually a proprietary format that is fully controlled and owned by Google who have released a technology patent promise on the format so that other can implement it without Google sueing them for infringement. It also provided a free specification of the (bitstream) format.

    That is exactly what Microsoft has done for the binary office formats like .doc and .xls

    So the VP8 codec in WebM is exactly  as close to an open standard as the binary office formats.

    Google has not submitted the VP8 codec or bitstream format to a standard organization

    Google has not donated the VP8 codec or bitstream format to the public domain.

    The WebM Project is not an independant foundation but is fully owned an controlled by Google.

  121. Anonymous says:

    Agree completely with hAI.  

    Google is maintaining complete control.  They can hardly use the word "open".

  122. Anonymous says:

    The ideal situation is for a website to be able to have video which is playable in ALL browsers without any plugin.  Flash has for years caused most of the crashes on Macs and PCs and killing it is essential.  The only way open source browsers can play video without plugins is with a format that nobody has to be paid for.  So, even if it is worse quality, in order to achieve the more important goal of killing flash the only possible solution is a format without any fee.

    By the way, Google is speaking out of both sides of its mouth on this issue.  They own Youtube, and although Youtube will play most videos without Flash, because of DRM and the need to make sure ads are played before videos they require Flash for many videos.  They chose increased profits over doing what was right and saving users from crashes.

  123. Anonymous says:

    Gordon, your mom's here to take you to the debate club sectionals. You don't want to be late!

  124. Anonymous says:

    @hAl – I agree that WebM isn't perfect and I'm not suggesting it is.  I don't care what the "Final Format" is, who invented it, who contributed to it, etc.  However I do know that whatever format is decided upon, it **MUST** be a format that everyone can use and work with regardless if they are end users, developers, or software vendors.

    Therefore there are 2 possible options:

    1.) Fix an existing format to ensure compatibility across all OS/Browsers, without license restrictions, and open

    2.) Create a brand spanking new format (presumably within a group including all web browser vendors (Google, Mozilla, Apple, RIM, Nokia, Motorolla, & Microsoft…))  – and publish it as the format that all web browsers support, developers can use, rip/encode to/from etc.

    Without this, HTML5 video is ABSOLUTELY DOOMED TO FAIL and currently only Microsoft is trying to force a license encumbered format on everyone else because they got suckered into paying for it in the first place – and they hope to recoup that loss at a later date.

  125. Anonymous says:

    A few of the commenters here need to realise the the VP8 codec in WebM is a proprietary codec wholly owned by Google. Throwing around words like 'open' and 'standard' does not make it so and it is currently neither of those by any reasonable definition.

    Personally I've little interested in which of the two succeeds, though like many I think it would be good for the web if a single format arises as globally usable. However I'm not naive enough to think that should automatically be WebM simply because Google are spewing a little FUD into the argument. The ball is clearly in their court and it's time they stood up and showed just how committed to an 'open' web they really are. And I certainly hope that if and when they do, Microsoft follows suit by upholding the commitment they've made in this post.

  126. Pies says:

    "Microsoft pays into MPEG-LA about twice as much as it receives back for rights to H.264."

    So you're saying that Microsoft is only paying half of whatever low rate it got for the H.264 licence?

  127. Anonymous says:

    You've said that additional codec, so where is it? I just care videos.

  128. Anonymous says:

    Do IE9 <video> element uses DirectShow filters? That's why WMP can support so many video formats. Why don't IE9 use this? It's also drived by DirectX, and it should work in D2D textures.

    social.msdn.microsoft.com/…/fca0821f-8b5c-4722-bb59-844aef98f887 // interop between DShow and D3D11

    social.msdn.microsoft.com/…/0359423b-5609-463c-a1fd-c365dc537ad9 // the issue itself

  129. kejserdreng says:

    Ie 9 has not made the plugin Quicktime working. When quicktime plugin is install apple.com is so slow it become useless.

    discussions.info.apple.com/thread.jspa

    Please Microsoft ie9 team, the Quicktime plugin is working perfect on all other browsers (Firefox, Opera, Safari, Chrome)

    There is no excuse for microsoft to blame Apple. Microsoft needs to make this highly wide spread Quicktime plugin working in Ie9

    Many people rely on itunes, iphone from apple, so if Microsoft dont do something to solve the problem, people inkluding me will desplace ie9 and use Firefox instead

    Many thanks

  130. Anonymous says:

    @Andre Richards "You can create a style sheet to override any autoplay settings in video tags universally. Most browsers support the user of a style sheet in that way."

    Will IE9 support this???  Somehow I doubt it, and that's my point.  I don't want the web to be able to start downloading a video like that without an addin because it will be a hastle to stop ESPECIALLY ON IE.

  131. kejserdreng says:

    Microsoft should support WebM and implement it  direct in IE9 i think, because it is completly open and therefore the format both Microsoft and other in the long run will have smallest problems with. All will in the long run support up on it both the small company who does not has so much money as well as  the big companies. There will also in the long run  be several which will come with contribution to the development because the motivation is greater when it is completly open whithout any limets.

  132. Anonymous says:

    One of the most well written articles on this topic and Microsoft has conveyed its stand most properly. Google now needs to prove with its actions and practice what it preaches. Google has been playing favorite on everything for a quite while now and needs to realize that its monopoly doesnt mean that the masses can be fed on a bunch of lies. Microsoft on its part has got it all right for a change. And unlike Google who just tries to steamroll its competitors, Microsoft have made a commitment for the good.

  133. Anonymous says:

    The world isn't america, we don't want to get a worse web experience because of local patent wars in your country. Please at least fix it for all countries where such patents don't apply.

    http://www.epo.org/…/ar52.html

    (1) European patents shall be granted for any inventions, in all fields of technology, provided that they are new, involve an inventive step and are susceptible of industrial application.

    (2) The following in particular shall not be regarded as inventions within the meaning of paragraph 1:

    (a) discoveries, scientific theories and MATHEMATICAL METHODS;

    (c) schemes, rules and methods for performing mental acts, playing games or doing business, and PROGRAMS FOR COMPUTERS;

  134. Anonymous says:

    The questions here seem valid. However it looks a little like Microsoft wants Google to kiss their ass to support WebM out of the box. Google bought something and now they are giving it away… for FREE. They haven't found any patent infringements. They may pop up for sure. They can pop up anywhere, they are like cancers in a gamma radiation sunbed for companies the size of Google and Microsoft. Microsoft just got their knickers sued off for office. Everyone is suing everyone and it's a nasty free for all. Saying that patents are a reason not to do anything is a bad reason.

    It would be cool if Google put WebM in an open patent pool. The hardware turnaround time nowadays is much faster than ever before. A smooth transition should be perfectly possible, and companies choosing only to support WebM on their hardware could benefit from the opennes. On the WebM blog there is lots of talk about hardware, so I think this is misinformation in that regard.

    Google does have a tendency to hold on to their work. I think Microsoft should really sit down and think about what Google's view of what the future of the web is. It is essentially a web without Microsoft. Google has two very big guns at their disposal here, namely Firefox and Youtube. Firefox may not be the leading browser but it has a decent chunk of users and as far as Youtube goes, it basically defines web video as we know it today. Google is actually being very nice here and could be much more forceful, just like Microsoft has been with its competitors in the past.

    I understand that many here like to play devil's advocate for Microsoft, but all of you must remember is that Microsoft retarded the growth of the web to peddle their online business, which has been only marginally successful. Their sole purpose was to dominate the  entire stack of the desktop PC from driver to webpage. This new sharing attitude is only adopted because it makes business sense, which does not make it all insincere, but you have to ask yourself whether Microsoft is in the position to make any decisions regarding the future of the web. We can't put past transgressions aside because now suddenly they are being nice because the competition has started taking over the platform.

    Whenever you support their position just…

    Remember BeOS…

    Remember IE6…

    Remember the Linux FUD campaign…

    Remember ODF…

    I also agree with the poster above who mentions that America is not the world police, and your rules don't necessarily apply to the rest of the world.

  135. Anonymous says:

    Funny but my very first blog post about VP8 when Google bought it was stating a lot of the points above. blog.gingertech.net/…/googles-challenges-of-freeing-vp8 It sure takes time to make a codec open.

  136. Anonymous says:

    > Bob: I will point you to the fact that Microsoft has indeminified all Windows users of the codec

    @Bob, this means nothing, because users of the codec aren't limited to Windows users by all means. Codec is used in hardware (cameras, players, etc.), software and etc. across multiple architectures and operating systems. Is Microsoft being part of MPEG-LA going to indemnify all those users in case some patent troubles arise? So all in all H.264 is in no better position than WebM in this regard.

  137. Anonymous says:

    @Asa: exactly the point. MPEG-LA doesn't indemnify for unknown patents related to H.264. So to claim that for WebM pretending that H.264 is superior in this regard is hypocritical.

    See http://www.mpegla.com/…/FAQ.aspx

    Q: Are all AVC essential patents included?

    A: No assurance is or can be made that the License includes every essential patent. The purpose of the License is to offer a convenient licensing alternative to everyone on the same terms and to include as much essential intellectual property as possible for their convenience. Participation in the License is voluntary on the part of essential patent holders, however.

  138. Anonymous says:

    "Whenever you support their position just…

    Remember BeOS…

    Remember IE6…

    Remember the Linux FUD campaign…

    Remember ODF…"

    And MS Java.

  139. Anonymous says:

    @Shmerl: Microsoft indemnify all Windows users for H.264 and there are a *lot* of Windows users, so it is a sign of significant confidence from them that any such claim will be overruled. Google won't even indemnify Android or Chrome users. If they're so convinced about the legal situation, why not? The inability to show any real faith in that claim speaks volumes.

  140. Anonymous says:

    "We chose this path (supporting one additional video format that the user has installed on her machine"

    So Microsoft admits that only women use IE, then?  Or do they just not know how to spell "their"?

  141. Anonymous says:

    @AndyC: There are not less, if not more hardware users (like users of video and photo cameras) who are in the same potential danger from "unknown patents". Being convinced, or not being convinced about these patents means nothing from legal perspective, and doesn't change the actual risk level. The talk above was not about convictions. There were claims for indemnification, which supposedly should help using the codec without any risk for the user. But there is no such thing for the user of H.264 whatever Microsoft feels or fears. There is no guaranteed indemnification, period. So Google doesn't fear by actually using the WebM codec as well as Microsoft doesn't fear using H.264. Indemnification is non existent globally for both. Let it settle into everyone's mind.

  142. Anonymous says:

    @Pies1:  So you're saying that Microsoft is only paying half of whatever low rate it got for the H.264 licence?

    No. Apparently many people don't understand how MPEG-LA works. Microsoft is one of the patent holders in the H.264 patent pool. This means that for every dollar MPEG-LA gets from H.264 licensing royalties, Microsoft only gets, for example, 8 cents. Note that there are many patents in H.264 and many patent holders, so Microsoft is definitely not getting the biggest piece of the pie: http://www.mpegla.com/…/PatentList.aspx

    In order to include a H.264 decoder in Windows, Microsoft must pay licensing fees to MPEG-LA just like everyone else. They don't get a discount. The amount they pay is determined by the estimated number of copies (decoder units) of Windows 7 sold, though there a cap does exist on how much one can pay MPEG-LA.

    So, to summarize… Microsoft pays MPEG-LA for the right to include H.264 in Windows, but also gets a check back from MPEG-LA for their share of the patent royalties income. Since Microsoft sells A LOT of Windows copies, but only owns a minority of patents in the patent pool, Microsoft ends up paying more to license H.264 in Windows than it gets back from MPEG-LA for *all* H.264 decoders licensed globally! We're talking BluRay players, PSPs, iPods, Androids, etc. The check that Microsoft receives from MPEG-LA for all those devices is still less than what Microsoft pays to license H.264 in Windows!

    Anybody who thinks that Microsoft is supporting H.264 over WebM because it stands to make money from H.264 obviously does not understand the scale of the codec licensing business. At the very best Microsoft cannot hope to make more than 3-4 million dollars from H.264. On the other hand, Microsoft makes over $60 BILLION in revenue anually. Jeopardizing the future of IE and Windows just to earn a few bucks from H.264 would be the dumbest business move in the history of dumb business moves. Their IE strategy has nothing to do with H.264 income.

  143. Anonymous says:

    @VirtualBlackFox

    Well said!

    Just because the US Patent system is a bloated behemoth, the world has to suffer through WebM and Google's little power play.

    @kejserdrend1

    That's what IE and Safari are doing (MS slightly better than Apple currently)

    By using OS native infrastructure to support the video tag (QuickTime for Safari, WMP for IE9), Only one set of royalties need to be paid. The most efficient decoder is used for the system.

    By Chrome, Firefox and Opera bundling decoders with their browser, they not only restrict what media formats they can support, they also make their browsers more monolithic (and some could argue, bloated).

    If they used native Frameworks like QuickTime, Windows Media Player, stagefright and VLC/MPlayer, they wouldn't have to worry about codec licensing.

  144. Anonymous says:

    The reality of Google's position is that Google does NOT want to pay anything to MPEG-LA – that is why they want to go exclusively with Ogg Theora (with lousy quality) or WebM (which, not so incidentally, they own outright).  Further, they are competitors with Microsoft (and, incidentally with the Mozilla Foundation and Opera Software BV) – *all* of whom are stakeholders in MPEG-LA (in addition to Apple, Adobe, and most of the consumer electronics, photography, and motion-picture-technology industries).  MPEG-LA's stated public position is that they will not, ever, charge users for H.264.  Not on Windows, Linux, or anything else.  Microsoft pays to MPEG-LA because they use the codec for content-creation and *outside the browser* (Adobe, also an MPEG-LA stakeholder, as is Apple, pays royalties to MPEG-LA for the same reason) – among the applications that use the codec (and are not IE) are Windows Movie Maker (included with Windows Live Essentials, and a free add-on for Vista and later).  Content-creation software that uses H.264 *is* charged royalty fees by MPEG-LA (as is DVD creation software that creates movie DVDs, such as Nero and Roxio Creator) – which, as long as a patent/royalty system exists, is perfectly legal.  (Remember, I referred to Windows Movie Maker, which uses H.264, and Microsoft makes available free – however, MPEG-LA still gets paid.  AMD has the Catalyst File Conversion Utility (now part of Catalyst Center 2) and used to convert video file formats – among the target formats are several based on H.264.  This is also available free – and again, MPEG-LA gets a check (from AMD in this case).  Are there folks that have both software packages?  Of course – I happen to be one of them.  However, because the patent fees have already been paid (by Microsoft and AMD), I am free from litigation as long as I use the software within the letter of my rights.  Does Google *itself* sell or distribute content-creation software?  If the answer is no, then the entire issue of patents and H.264 is a red herring over the real issue – Google wants no part of software it does not control.  (Sounds like something it has accused Apple *and* Microsoft of; I wonder why.)

  145. Anonymous says:

    @Christopher Estep "Google wants no part of the software it does not control"

    Makes you wonder why they love Adobe Flash so much. Dropping H.264 in Chrome and embracing Flash on mobile inconveniences developers, customers, Apple, Microsoft and other OS developers, but is of Strategic advantage to Android and Adobe.

  146. Anonymous says:

    @Christopher Estep: Does Google *itself* sell or distribute content-creation software?

    In effect, yes. They presumably are paying the MPEG-LA for every Youtube node that produces H.264 content from uploaded formats. So they've a lot to gain financially from moving the web to a format they control instead.

  147. Anonymous says:

    Won't somebody think of the users? (none of whom care a jot about WebM, they just want their videos to play)

  148. Anonymous says:

    Dear Microsoft, please get off your high horse and pretend for 1 minute you are a software developer (outside of Microsoft).  You plan to make a web site/application that uses HTML5 video.  Video is big (byte-wise) so you are only going to have 1 copy of every video you are serving up to end users.

    Question: What format should that video be in to ensure it is viewable by all browsers?

    Answer: Dev Null.

    Unfortunately Microsoft doesn't get the big picture here.  All vendors need to come together and pick at least 1 common format, free from licensing garbage that they can all use. (Preferably multiple common formats (as each may have benefits over another in terms of quality, compression, size, optimization, etc.))

    Until all vendors (Microsoft, Google, Apple, Opera, Mozilla) get together and hammer out which format they will focus on first, so that there is ONE! common format… any attempt to release IE9 HMTL5 video without ratifying a final format – is a complete and utter waste of developers time.

    H.264 absolutely won't work due to licensing – so lets not even bother discussing it any more and move on to finding the format that will work, even if all vendors above have to pool resources to write their own.

    Posting that you will only be supporting H.264 natively in IE9 is childish, immature and once again attempting to play Browser Wars when your current PR motto is Open Web.

    As my parents always said: "If you are not part of the solution – you are part of the problem!"

    At the moment, Microsoft/IE9 is the biggest part of the HTML5 video problem.

  149. Anonymous says:

    Dear Google, please get off your high horse and pretend for 1 minute you are a software developer (outside of Google). You plan to make a web site/application that uses HTML5 video. Video is big (byte-wise) so you are only going to have 1 copy of every video you are serving up to end users.

    Question: What format should that video be in to ensure it is viewable by all browsers?

    Answer: Dev Null.

    Unfortunately Google doesn't get the big picture here. All vendors need to come together and pick at least 1 common format, free from licensing garbage that they can all use. (Preferably multiple common formats (as each may have benefits over another in terms of quality, compression, size, optimization, etc.))

    Until all vendors (Microsoft, Google, Apple, Opera, Mozilla) get together and hammer out which format they will focus on first, so that there is ONE! common format… any attempt to release CHROME HMTL5 video without ratifying a final format – is a complete and utter waste of developers time.

    WebM absolutely won't work due to unkown patents – so lets not even bother discussing it any more and move on to finding the format that will work, even if all vendors above have to pool resources to write their own.

    Posting that you will only be supporting WebM in CHROME and NOTHING ELSE is childish, immature and once again attempting to play Wars when your current PR motto is "Do no evil".

    As my parents always said: "If you are not part of the solution – you are part of the problem!"

    At the moment, Google/CHROME is the biggest part of the HTML5 video problem.

  150. Anonymous says:

    What about supporting both formats natively? Google will be forced to introduce h.264 again, all competitors can't for people to pay because they have to option to switch to WebM.

    I dont care what apple/safari does, and i don't care what opera does. Bring us both formats!

  151. Anonymous says:

    In the future, most online video will be viewed on TVs – right now, that is done usually with Xbox 360 and PS3, but that is moving more towards devices like Roku boxes.  Now, that is mostly done with H.264, which adds a lot to the cost of making a box like a Roku box.  In the long run, the best is for the TV to connect directly to the internet and play video without any box – some very expensive TVs do that now.  However, if browsers can standardize on a cost-free format, then TVs can add internet capability at hardly any cost, making it a feature that all TVs will have.  As a consumer, would you rather have a TV that does internet video for free, or have to pay $60-80 for a Roku box?

    To allow low cost video on TVs, the web or at least all major services need to support a free format, and it is easiest if sites only need to support one format.  The only other option is for H.264 licensing costs to be reduced to free for TVs.

  152. Anonymous says:

    One format to rule them all – unfortunately it can't be H.264 and it looks like WebM won't work unless there is a major change in the license/legal front.

    Please get together and solve this quickly! IE9 is shipping April 12th – and we sure as H, E, double hockey sticks don't want to see IE9's default video format as H.264 – the closed internet we had during the IE/Netscape wars has to end.  If it isn't an open format, is isn't a Web format.

  153. Anonymous says:

    Why does anyone care about WebM? There is no hardware support. Good luck streaming a 1080p video smoothly. At the end of the day we want a quality product.

  154. Anonymous says:

    > WebM absolutely won't work due to unkown patents

    Then /dev/null it is. H.264 won't work for the same reason.

    > At the moment, Google/CHROME is the biggest part of the HTML5 video problem.

    Nonsense. The biggest problem is mobile Safari.

  155. Anonymous says:

    @BarryL

    Do you know how much it costs to put a H.264-compatible decoder chip in your Roku box? Less than a Dollar.

    Do you know how much a WebM chip would cost? About the same, but it will probably be the same chip anyway.

    Do you know how much it would cost Roku, Boxee, etc in licensing H.264 for their devices? Less than a cent per device.

    Do you know how much more a customer would pay in Bandwidth fees to download a WebM version of a Feature-length 720P movie than a H.264 version? (keeping in mind that WebM isn't as efficient as H.264, Yet) Cents per movie.

    Unless someone else is paying for bandwidth, you've completely blown any savings you may have made by buying a box without H.264.

    @Shmerl

    Nearly all of H.264's Patents are known. Any unknown patents will be blown away by MPEG-LA's well funded and well armed Legal Team.

    Android and Windows Phone 7 devices still don't support WebM yet either. Symbian devices do, but only in an external 3rd Party player, not using the <video> tag.

    Android devices won't support WebM until Gingerbread. Gingerbread will only be available on tablets, not phones. It's unlikely that your 2010 or 2011 Android phone will ever support WebM since Android phone manufacturers don't want you to upgrade the software on your phone.

  156. Anonymous says:

    I love how easy people gets brainwashed by Microsoft.

    I'm a Microsoft hater, thanks to Microsoft its a pain in the ass to develop a cross browser solution.

    Thanks to Mozilla, Google, Opera and even Apple is that Microsoft people were forced to develop a real web browser, if they wanted they would have developed it many years ago but they didnt because they had the biggest market share.

    Do you want to suffer the same pain again in the next 5-10 years? supporting IE9 and H.264 is the same as answering yes.

  157. Anonymous says:

    nice to here someone mention java. a format that lost most of its appeal to flash

  158. Anonymous says:

    @David S: "Why does anyone care about WebM? There is no hardware support. Good luck streaming a 1080p video smoothly."

    Isn't there? That's odd. Then why does Texas Instruments want to sell you hardware that supports 1080p WebM video: http://www.youtube.com/watch

  159. Anonymous says:

    @Dan Woods: "Android devices won't support WebM until Gingerbread. Gingerbread will only be available on tablets, not phones."

    I think you're confusing Honeycomb with Gingerbread. Gingerbread has been available on phones for a while now. Google's Nexus S phone runs Gingerbread, as you'd expect.

  160. Anonymous says:

    tout à fait cela tout est exact!

    http://www.muondo.org

  161. Anonymous says:

    If Microsoft wants to build bridges with the developer community, the way to do so would be to use your significant influence on US policy to end software patents. Entirely. Rather than continue talking about how it's just the way things are and we have to make the best of it, you (Microsoft) would take a leadership role in making the software world a better place for all of us, Microsoft included. If Microsoft just perpetuates the software patent status quo, you come across as continuing to be self-serving monopoly re-enforcers working to keep the playing field dramatically slanted in your favour.  

    Here's a tip: you can start by reversing your pro-patent position in New Zealand, where we (the indigenous software industry) managed to get the government to exclude software from patentability…. despite Microsoft working hard (but, luckily, in vain) to derail the legislation through back-room anti-democratic dealings. That did nothing to help your very unfortunate image, Microsoft.

  162. Anonymous says:

    Just as predicted…

    blog.gingertech.net/…/googles-challenges-of-freeing-vp8

    BTW, H.264 too started with an implementation and not a complete specification.

  163. Anonymous says:

    Well done MS! Finally somebody is trying to explain the situation corretcly to those who are blinded by Google's talk about "open standards". Some people are simply so ignorant, that they refuse to accept the facts that H.264 is THE codec used everywhere in the industry, both in software, hardware and broadcasting. As a content provider, I can only applaud MS's commitment to H.264 after the fully idiotic move by Google to remove native H.264 support from their browser.  

    Adding support for open formats: YES, removing support for the most established format:NO! It is as simple as this! ….. Thank you Microsoft!

  164. Anonymous says:

    Stop drinking the Google Kool-Aid people! This excuse of "royalty-free standards" is at best hypocritical. If they were consistent with the policy they would drop Flash support in a heartbeat, or at least drop mp3 support from the audio tag which is as royalty-oriented and widely accepted as H.264. Anyone with below average intelligence knows the reason for Google's move is to send a blow to its direct competitor: Apple with its iOS devices that already have hardware acceleration for H.264 (like tons of hardware already in the market). Please shut up already parroting Google's excuse. No one believes it and you sound like an idiot.

  165. Anonymous says:

    Google on its WebM specification: “If there are any conflicts between this document and the reference source code, the reference source code should be considered correct. The bitstream is defined by the reference source code and not this document.”

    Source Code = Documentation. As a hacker manifesto, can it get any more succinct than that?

  166. Anonymous says:

    We do not want H.264 for HTML5 Video.  Please do not try and force it on the rest of us.  Browser vendors please unite and choose 1 common format for video that is free from monopolistic and draconian licensing.

  167. Anonymous says:

    "…removing support for the most established format:NO!…"

    But H.264 is NOT currently supported or established for the web except through Flash. And Flash can be turned off whereas a video tag cannot be.

  168. Anonymous says:

    Actually h.264 is the established method for video trough the web and not just trough flash plugins.

    Being used by for instance the iPad that does not have flash.

    Being used by Youtube for serving html5 video

    Being used in Silverlight for providing webvideo.

    Being used by most video app players that provide TV, film or other on demand video trough the web (like itunes and  zune).

  169. Anonymous says:

    Does anyone know which audio formats ie9 will support? I was recently programming a game in HTML5, and when testing it in ie9 platform preview 8, I discovered that ie9 doesn't support .WAV files. This is problematic because as far as I can tell, it costs $2500 in royalties to include MP3 music per HTML game. This is too much for a little html5 game. Does ie9 support some sort of proprietary Microsoft audio format that I can use instead? Maybe some WMV/ASF thing? With Safari, I can fall back to 8-bit 8khz .WAV files, but without some alternative to MP3, it will be too expensive to support audio in ie9 for HTML5 games.