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Microsoft Tips the Scale In Favor of HTML 5 325

aabelro writes "Dean Hachamovitch, General Manager for Internet Explorer at Microsoft, has announced that IE9 will use only the H.264 standard to play HTML 5 video. Microsoft seems to have become very committed to HTML 5, while Flash loses even more ground. The announcement came the same day Steve Jobs detailed why Apple does not accept Flash on iPhone and iPad."
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Microsoft Tips the Scale In Favor of HTML 5

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  • wow (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 30, 2010 @08:58AM (#32043078)

    for once microsoft do something that makes sense. Though it would be nice to have support for an open video standard...

  • It's a Trap! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by amiga3D ( 567632 ) on Friday April 30, 2010 @09:00AM (#32043104)
    I can't help myself. I had to do it.
  • Re:Goodbye Flash (Score:5, Insightful)

    by arogier ( 1250960 ) * on Friday April 30, 2010 @09:02AM (#32043118) Homepage Journal
    This says nothing about abandoning flash, just only allowing H.264 video with a video tag.
  • Re:Only H.264? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by tomhudson ( 43916 ) <> on Friday April 30, 2010 @09:02AM (#32043120) Journal

    of course not - h.264 is a good way to strike back at open source. After all, it's got oodles of patents.

    Figure it out:

    1. Microsoft likes closed standards
    2. Apple likes closed standards
    3. Both only want to support h.264

    html will become the new proprietary web. No thanks.

  • Remember (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Dunbal ( 464142 ) * on Friday April 30, 2010 @09:03AM (#32043130)

    Step 1 is embrace. Look for extend real soon.

  • Re:It's a Trap! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by 6031769 ( 829845 ) on Friday April 30, 2010 @09:04AM (#32043136) Homepage Journal

    Past performance would suggest so. However, it's enlightening to note that yet again Microsoft (and Apple for that matter) really hate other people's proprietary monopolies. I'm only really worried about how they're going to ruin HTML5 as a result of this (whether deliberately or accidentally).

  • Re:wow (Score:5, Insightful)

    by delinear ( 991444 ) on Friday April 30, 2010 @09:08AM (#32043178)

    for once microsoft do something that makes sense. Though it would be nice to have support for an open video standard...

    Or, to look at it another way, Microsoft stay true to form and support proprietary standards which put open source competition at a disadvantage...

  • Re:It's a Trap! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by camperdave ( 969942 ) on Friday April 30, 2010 @09:11AM (#32043194) Journal
    It's a Trap!

    Yes! It's step one in Microsoft's basic business plan:
    1. Embrace
    2. Extend
    3. Extinguish
    4. Profit!

    So, the key is to anticipate how Microsoft might extend the protocol, and "head them off at the pass" by releasing Open Source variations as soon as possible.

    Although, I suppose it's possible that Microsoft has learned the danger of becoming the defacto standard with shoddy products through its attempts to kill off XP and IE6... but I doubt it.

  • Wait, also (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bbqsrc ( 1441981 ) on Friday April 30, 2010 @09:12AM (#32043208) Homepage
    Why the fuck is this categorised as Apple? It can't have less to do with Apple. Seriously.
  • Re:Goodbye Flash (Score:3, Insightful)

    by TerranFury ( 726743 ) on Friday April 30, 2010 @09:15AM (#32043226)

    For this purpose -- vector animation -- Flash honestly is the best thing out there and I'm not sure I want to see it go (though open standard are always good). I think people are more up in arms about Flash video in particular, which is too widespread given that it's both proprietary and a resource hog.

    You definitely raise an interesting point though, and I wonder if an OSS project to do what you describe exists. Googling turns up this [] note on the inkscape roadmap which indicates that this is in their long term plans. Apparently another project, MadSwatter [] also exists, but I know nothing about it.

    Given the amount of time it has taken for the Gimp to become a strong competitor to Photoshop, I do however suspect that Flash's reign in the vector-animation arena is hardly over.

  • Don't worry! (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 30, 2010 @09:17AM (#32043248)

    They'll half-ass it as they usually do, leaving us with an improperly implemented standard. If they do it just right, it could work in Adobe's favor, as the broken standard implementation will fragment everyone else.

  • by lfp98 ( 740073 ) on Friday April 30, 2010 @09:21AM (#32043276)
    The major advantage of Flash is that you can choose NOT to install it. With HTML5 decoding built into the browsers, are we all doomed to watch whirlygigs everywhere, all day long?
  • Re:Goodbye Flash (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 30, 2010 @09:23AM (#32043300)

    Video mediated via Flash is Flash's number one use case. The only reason most people install Flash is to watch video in their browser. With the need for Flash for this use case being consistently eroded, the only reasonable conclusion is that Flash is at the beginning of its decline. It'll still be around for the next five years, but it will quite quickly become a niche approach to video on the web.

  • by bemymonkey ( 1244086 ) on Friday April 30, 2010 @09:29AM (#32043362)

    Javascript is built into the browser, yet we have no problems turning that off, do we? :)

  • Re:Only H.264? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dzfoo ( 772245 ) on Friday April 30, 2010 @09:30AM (#32043378)

    Dude, you do know that JPEG, GIF, and MP3 are all patent-owned standards too, right? Funny that they are all supported by browsers and are rather de facto standards in the "proprietary web".


  • Re:wow (Score:3, Insightful)

    by AHuxley ( 892839 ) on Friday April 30, 2010 @09:31AM (#32043384) Journal
    Apple and MS both recall the Adobe font lock in.
    They escaped lock in mess that and want out of flash too.
    Apple wants free html5 to lock you in at other levels.
    MS wants to replace flash developers needs with in expensive back end lock in.
    IE is just the media player and html5 the push, if you want to create, MS has a sliding scale of costly closed solutions for you.
    Want to sell online, I am sure MS can bait you with quick low cost start up flash like code and then milk you dry.
    The web page is the new desktop and with clouds MS hopes gather drops to form a revenue stream.
  • by c0d3g33k ( 102699 ) on Friday April 30, 2010 @09:36AM (#32043434)
    This move is as self-serving as ever, so be careful what you wish for as the Flash hate clouds your mind.

    1. Microsoft doesn't control Adobe and I'm sure that bothers them. It sure as hell bothers Steve Jobs. So why not take them out while they are vulnerable?
    2. Microsoft is part of the H.264 patent pool, so they will make money when the licensing bombs go off. Killing off a competitor (flash) so users and content providers have few alternatives and must pay up puts them right where Microsoft wants them.
    3. Once flash is gone (or has greatly diminished influence/relevance), Microsoft is free to tweak things in a way that suits them better. Embrace, extend, extinguish.
    4. HTML5 video has no established standard DRM solution which content owners crave. Flash does, so it's hard to get content owners on board with Microsoft's agenda at present. I suspect that Microsoft has something in the works to offer them, which will conveniently be exclusive to Microsoft controlled platforms, or licensable to those who play nice (Apple). Sorry Android (and Linux).

    This makes me very nervous.

  • Huh? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mister_playboy ( 1474163 ) on Friday April 30, 2010 @09:38AM (#32043454)

    Given the amount of time it has taken for the Gimp to become a strong competitor to Photoshop...

    Are you from the future? I'm a GIMP myself, but come on...

  • Re:Only H.264? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by westlake ( 615356 ) on Friday April 30, 2010 @09:38AM (#32043456)

    Microsoft won't allow third-party codecs and/or plugins to do the job for them?

    There are 811 licensees of AVC/H.264 video. []

    The global giants in brand-name consumer hardware production and distribution are all there.

    Canonical is there.

    If Shuttleworth decides Ubuntu needs H.264 to remain competitive on the desktop, the barrier to installing the codec by default is purely ideological.

  • by Stooshie ( 993666 ) on Friday April 30, 2010 @09:38AM (#32043460) Journal
    what about autoplay="true". try overriding that in HTML5
  • by EzInKy ( 115248 ) on Friday April 30, 2010 @09:41AM (#32043492)

    In Firefox preferences you can disable loading images, why wouldn't there be an option to do the same with video?

  • Re:wow (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cowscows ( 103644 ) on Friday April 30, 2010 @09:49AM (#32043562) Journal

    Performance aside, why would anyone want there to be a dominate web platform that's controlled by a single company, unless you happen to work for that single company?

    Flash has basically been, for the past 5+ years at least, the Windows of interactive/animated/etc. web content. It's a platform that was in the right place at the right time, and was just barely good enough to become a major standard. All this despite the fact that everyone is constantly complaining about how much it sucks, and nobody likes it. And there's not much anybody can do to truly fix it, except for Adobe, and it's taken them years to get it to work decently on any mobile device.

    Seriously, does anybody besides Adobe want Flash to become the dominate platform for anything other than little browser games? Sure, Apple and MS are fighting against it for self-interested reasons, but those reasons seem to align rather nicely with what is good for the internet as a whole, which is to have as much be open standards as is possible.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 30, 2010 @09:54AM (#32043606)

    var arVideos = document.getElementsByTagName('video');
    for (var i = arVideos.length - 1; i >= 0; i--) {
            var elmVideo = arVideos[i];
            elmVideo.autoplay = false;

  • by ukyoCE ( 106879 ) on Friday April 30, 2010 @09:56AM (#32043624) Journal

    about:config ...we can only hope.

  • by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) * on Friday April 30, 2010 @10:04AM (#32043698) Journal

    MS wants to replace flash developers needs with in expensive back end lock in.

    Please explain. I'm curious about this. I've heard other people mention it, but I'm not sure to what they are referring.

    Thank you.

  • Re:Only H.264? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by nine-times ( 778537 ) <> on Friday April 30, 2010 @10:07AM (#32043744) Homepage

    Yes, there's a difference between a "closed standard" and a "patent encumbered standard". H264 is an open standard brought to you by MPEG, the same group that gave you MPEG video and MP3 audio.

    All of this stuff has patents on it. The question is, how are those patents being enforced?

  • by MasaMuneCyrus ( 779918 ) on Friday April 30, 2010 @10:17AM (#32043884)

    I keep seeing this argument that the use of HTML 5 and the use of Flash is mutually exclusive. I understand that HTML 5 has video and some basic animation capabilities, but how, exactly, does this spell the end of Flash? Flash is a tremendously useful development platform, and it has many more capabilities than just online video.

  • Re:wow (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ink ( 4325 ) on Friday April 30, 2010 @10:43AM (#32044160) Homepage

    All this despite the fact that everyone is constantly complaining about how much it sucks, and nobody likes it.

    That's not entirely true. Graphic designers generally LOVE Flash because of the Flash builder, Illustrator, Photoshop and the rest of Adobe's creative suite. There aren't any tools that I know of that put that kind of artistic power in hands of non-techies. CS5 does target HTML5, but it does so by using the canvas tag and a lot of JavaScript -- not by outputting "native" HTML5.

    This is also what puzzled me about Jobs' claims yesterday that the iAds were all done only in HTML5. I know many advertising content creators; not many could pound out raw HTML5 that would be as impressive as the demos for iPhone OS4's ads.

    In order to kill Flash, someone will need to come out with a vector-timeline-tweening GUI builder that doesn't require the developer to touch JavaScript. Perhaps Adobe will do this with Dreamweaver, or maybe Apple will release an "XCode for artists" at some point. Until then, however, don't expect Flash to disappear.

  • Re:wow (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Friday April 30, 2010 @10:51AM (#32044238) Journal
    I suspect a different motivation: Silverlight.

    Using Flash as a video player is, by a fair margin, the most trivially replaced function that isn't addressed by pre-HTML5 web standards(stupid shit like Flash based menus and random site chrome is, of course, even easier to replace; because it could have been done in standard HTML+javascript ages ago; but that is largely a lost cause). However, that (quite simple) function is also a huge driver of Flash installation. Basically, if you want to watch video on the web, you need to install Flash. Once you have flash, you bolster Adobe's install base stats, serve as a target for much more sophisticated Flash-based applications, and bolster Adobe's efforts(through AIR) and similar to have a quasi-unified webapp/desktop-app runtime based on Flash and their various content creation tools.

    Microsoft has its own, competing quasi-unifed webapp/desktop-app runtime, based on .net, winforms, and the like. Unlike AIR, it much more closely ties the user to Microsoft, and Microsoft platforms and technologies. Therefore, they want to destroy AIR and Flash.

    By indicating support for HTML5, which will support the relatively trivial video use cases(youtube style stuff, without Serious DRM mandated by paranoid content providers), they substantially reduce the motivation of users to download Flash and corporate IT departments to install and support it. Since Silverlight comes by default in newer MS OSes, they get increased marketshare vs. Flash/AIR.

    Since HTML5 makes possible advanced web applications, but still lags in easy tools vs. Flash or Silverlight(which won't stop Google and their ilk; but will stop Joe Flash Monkey, or Bob corporate intranet developer), HTML5 can be safely supported without destroying Silverlight.

    That is my theory. Yeah, h.246 as the html5 video codec of choice puts mozilla in a tough spot; but it isn't as though there won't be some workaround(patent violating 3rd party builds, plugin that exposes system codecs, whatever.) in short order. It isn't good; but it isn't a huge threat. I'd say that this is about kicking Adobe while Apple is already holding them down...
  • Re:Goodbye Flash (Score:3, Insightful)

    by NatasRevol ( 731260 ) on Friday April 30, 2010 @10:56AM (#32044286) Journal

    Guess what? Flash doesn't run on Android right now either (beta only, released *maybe* this year). Or BlackberryOS. That makes up about 90% of the smartphone market.

    Either way, it's byebye Flash.

  • by markdavis ( 642305 ) on Friday April 30, 2010 @11:01AM (#32044342)

    I am sure there will be controls in about:config or whatnot to turn off the video tag (at least, I certain HOPE there will be). The bigger problem comes when the site designers start denying OTHER content when you refuse to allow video/animation/sound/etc. This already happens with Flash.... no Flash? No content! Either the site is written being dependent on Flash and they have no non-Flash site, or they autodetect you don't have Flash and pop-up an oh-so-helpful screen telling you were you must download it before you can continue. Infuriating.

    By the way- thin clients and video/audio/animation do not mix well at all, which is why there will always be a need to [forcibly] turn it off. Unfortunately, cutesy animation is now being done with AJAX'y stuff and (as far as I have seen) there is NO effective way to stop that stuff without adverse effects (tons of manual intervention, broken sites, etc). For example, no longer can you click on a picture and see a larger version instantly- now sites are "improved", so they have to grey the screen, make a transparent overlay, bring up a "window", show a cute animated busy icon (flower petals), then FADE IN the image. Give me a break!

  • Re:wow (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 30, 2010 @11:16AM (#32044602)

    I don't think "you can look at the source but you need to pay us to use it" is any kind of open-source license since it restricts end-use even though it doesn't hinder distribution. OSI licenses typically include "you grant a worldwide royalty-free non-exclusive license" clause for that reason.

    If you meant an open standard with open documentation, and open working group, you shouldn't do us a disservice and confuse the two. They can openly write as many patents, licence fees and international trade restrictions as they want, they do that to avoid members backstabbing each other through selective communication, and to stand together to strengthen the patent position.

  • Re:Only H.264? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mzs ( 595629 ) on Friday April 30, 2010 @11:20AM (#32044662)

    Do you understand that unisys charged for creating compressed gifs not viewing them? See how even when they started charging for open source compressors Navigator and IE could get away without paying? This is very different in the h.264 case. Right now there are all sorts of exceptions that allow people to create, serve, and view royalty free. It could potentially survive if only royalties needed to be paid for creating. It could also survive if source code were not permitted to be distributed, though what a blow that would be to open source. Right now the distribution of source code for simply decoding h.264 is already in a gray area. Do you now see how the situation is different and potentially much worse?

  • Re:wow (Score:1, Insightful)

    by mrsteveman1 ( 1010381 ) on Friday April 30, 2010 @11:23AM (#32044704)

    It's better than Flash, which was neither of those things.

  • Re:Goodbye Flash (Score:3, Insightful)

    by metamatic ( 202216 ) on Friday April 30, 2010 @12:10PM (#32045480) Homepage Journal

    They are also creating a problem for Opera, Linux distributions, and other minor browser vendors that can't afford the hefty license fees or the risk of being sued.

    Browser vendors should just call the OS-supplied multimedia frameworks.

    On OS X you don't need h.264 patent licenses, just call QuickTime. I'm assuming Windows provides h.264 decoder frameworks as well, if not then use QuickTime on Windows. For Linux, there's gstreamer etc.

    There is no reason for the browser itself to have h.264 codecs in. That's as bad for performance as using Flash to play it back instead of native media frameworks; exactly the crap we're trying to avoid with HTML5.

  • Re:wow (Score:3, Insightful)

    by shutdown -p now ( 807394 ) on Friday April 30, 2010 @01:00PM (#32046230) Journal

    It makes sense, but there's one other elephant in the room.

    IE market share has been slowly but steadily declining. This comes both from it being deficient to other browsers from users' perspective (UI, and especially performance), but it also comes from it lagging behind on standards support.

    Consequently, it's not currently in a position where it can be used to push "de-facto standards" (like ActiveX). And, while it definitely can block adoption of new, standardized tech, such a block would only last for limited time - and would, in fact, accelerate the demise.

    So, at this point, IE has to start competing on its merits. Some bits of that is already seen in IE8 (process isolation was a nice innovation). And supporting HTML5, CSS3 etc at this point is crucial to be seen as competitive.

    As you rightly note, this doesn't replace Silverlight. For one thing, the latter has DRM, which many video providers want. For another, for rich UI development, it's still much easier to use then the mash-up of HTML5/CSS3/JS, especially given the tools provided

  • Re:Only H.264? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by tomhudson ( 43916 ) <> on Friday April 30, 2010 @01:08PM (#32046338) Journal
    unisys only went after the programs that produced gifs. mpeg-la wants/requires end-user equipment and software to be licensed.
  • Re:wow (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 30, 2010 @01:29PM (#32046650)

    This is 4-digit ID bullsh!t (debunked by AC, mind you). There are a lot of people who got deceived by amateurish "web design" agencies that sold them pricey Flash garbage. The result? Because these amateurish web agencies used proprietary crap, the website their customer paid $$$ for do not work on the iPhone nor on the iPad.

    And Apple is big. Apple is huge, recently just passed MS in market cap. That's how big and relevant Apple is.

    So those poor people who bought proprietary Flash crap now begin to realize they're losing customers/potential customers/sales with their proprietary Flash garbage websites.

    Flash shall disappear when customer will come to these amateur web agencies and tell them: "The website we ordered you does not work on my iPhone. I want a website that works on the iPhone / iPad or I'm taking my $$$ somewhere else" (read, a less amateurish web agency that understands how to use HTML5 to do a better website).

    This is *already* happening: not only we begin to see HTML5 website that works perfectly fine on the iPod/iPad, but we also begin to see more and more powerful "web apps".

    This is where we're going: away from the amateurish Flash-developer to more traditional software developers, and the web just became the new desktop. There's no room for Adobe Flash's "creative" noobs there.

    Google knows it. MS knows it. Apple knows it.

    I honestly think Adobe knows it too and they're peeing in their pants: because they're facing three juggernauts who're out to destroy Flash. Go Google. Go MS. Go Apple. Destroy Flash please.

  • Re:wow (Score:4, Insightful)

    by somersault ( 912633 ) on Friday April 30, 2010 @01:55PM (#32046994) Homepage Journal

    I kinda see this as an advantage - Google could simply serve up Youtube videos in OGG Theora format only, and if you try to visit it in IE9 it could say "we're sorry, your browser doesn't seem to properly support web standards, try one of these instead.."

  • Re:wow (Score:4, Insightful)

    by amn108 ( 1231606 ) on Friday April 30, 2010 @02:52PM (#32047708)

    Little use having "open" SWF, when there is one ubiquitous player called Adobe Flash Player which defines the format, as in "an SWF is valid if it plays in Flash Player" as opposed to "an SWF is valid if it conforms to specification". Which is further supported by Adobe specifying that one can indeed develop SWF players, as long as these are "compatible" with whatever behavior the Flash Player exhibits towards these same SWF files.

    But since Flash Player itself is not open source, there is a great amount of frustration in getting to know exactly what behavior constitutes the right one for a playing SWF.

    Do you get it?

  • Re:wow (Score:3, Insightful)

    by LordVader717 ( 888547 ) on Saturday May 01, 2010 @09:50AM (#32055750)

    Open-source doesn't mean what you think it means.
    Specifically, it doesn't really apply to a video compression standard. If nobody could read the H.264 documentation, well then it wouldn't even be a standard.
    H.264 is a standard.
    It would be "open" if others were allowed to use and expand upon it without having to pay fees.

If I have seen farther than others, it is because I was standing on the shoulders of giants. -- Isaac Newton