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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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  • Unsurprising (Score:5, Interesting)

    by whisking ( 1181729 ) on Friday April 30, 2010 @09:04AM (#32043146)
    It is quite unsurprising they will support only h.264. They are a licensor in the h.264 patent pool (just like Apple) so it does not cost them anything and they actually get money when somebody licenses it, so it makes sense to endorse its use. If something else (theora, vp8,...) will actually win the html5 video format war, they can always add the support later. Obviously I am joking about this part :)
  • by bbqsrc ( 1441981 ) on Friday April 30, 2010 @09:06AM (#32043166) Homepage
    Google only allows H.264 video to be played in its browser. It also supports Flash. I understand that supporting <video> is killing Flash, but seriously, they're not mandating the use of HTML5 only like Apple. "Comparing apples and oranges" as they say.
  • Re:wow (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Raffaello ( 230287 ) on Friday April 30, 2010 @09:32AM (#32043394)

    Makes sense for their bottom line you mean. Hasn't it occurred to anyone that you now have both dominant OS vendors supporting HTML5? Do they both want their proprietary platforms replaced by HTML5 and the net? Are they really that stupid?

    Or maybe, just maybe, they know something that naive Web platform advocates don't:

    HTML5 will always lag behind native applications in performance and features, and MS and Apple will be sure this is the case in their implementations, so the web platform will be no real threat to Windows, Mac OS X, iPhone/iPad OS, Windows Mobile, etc.

    IOW, both Apple and Microsoft are big supporters of HTML5 over Flash because they know that you'll never get native app performance and features using HTML5, so HTML5 is no threat to their platforms. OTOH, Adobe has no such vested interest in Microsoft's or Apple's OS platforms, so it is distinctly possible that you might end up with native performance and features with Flash.

    Just take a look at these tests [youtube.com] comparing HTML5 animation with Flash animation on mobile platforms (Android and iPhone). Flash destroys HTML5 (25 fps v 5-10 fps). Both Apple and Microsoft are afraid of Flash because it represents a much higher performance, more fully featured web platform than HTML5. Like Java before it, Flash is a web platform with enough performance and features that web apps using it threaten traditional OS platforms. This is what Microsoft and Apple are afraid of, and they're certainly not supporting HTML5 because of their philosophical belief in "open standards."

  • Re:Goodbye Flash (Score:5, Interesting)

    by binarylarry ( 1338699 ) on Friday April 30, 2010 @09:39AM (#32043480)

    Increasing Silverlight's market share is what this is about.

    Basically, Microsoft is going to embrace HTML5 and use it to hurt Flash, it'll then start to phase HTML5 support out once Flash's market share starts to take a large enough hit and talk about how HTML5 doesn't have enough support or doesn't "have all the features our users demand," then it will start to pimp Silverlight, integrated it with the next Xbox and so forth and remove "upgrade" all the devs to their Expression platform for developing Silverlight apps.

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

    by IBBoard ( 1128019 ) on Friday April 30, 2010 @09:40AM (#32043484) Homepage

    Unless this in itself can be extended using plugins, this means a great majority of people who browse the web will be limited to viewing those h.264 datastreams.

    I wonder how many of those viewers and publishers will be correctly licensed? There have been blog posts from mainstream sites pointing out that some licenses (even for very expensive video editing software) don't actually cover people for everything they think it covers them for in h.264 production and distribution.

    IIRC there was even some real stupidity where one end violated their license if the other end had been done without an official license (license violations when viewing with a licensed viewer videos that were made without a license?)

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

    by squiggleslash ( 241428 ) on Friday April 30, 2010 @09:50AM (#32043570) Homepage Journal

    What makes flash so attractive is the environment it uses to create animations.

    What makes Flash attractive to webmasters is that it's ubiquitous, and that it implements DRM. While HTML5 may supplant one of these (ie all web browsers will become able to render regular embedded video), the DRM angle will remain an issue for the time being, and despite the bravado of those refusing to support it, it seems improbable that all major sites (especially in cases like Hulu.com and Amazon.com) will allow non-Flash video for the foreseeable future, except in extremely limited cases where the destination platform is so locked down (ie iPad) that the ability of a user to save the streamed video is almost impossible.

  • Re:Goodbye Flash (Score:5, Interesting)

    by javilon ( 99157 ) on Friday April 30, 2010 @09:54AM (#32043612) Homepage

    It is clear that the move is not against Flash, the Flash plugin will always be there.

    It is a preemptive move against Google's VP8 in particular and open source in general. Basically they are creating a problem for Firefox (which has stated that they won't support H.264) and trying to stop Google's VP8 before it can be successful.

  • P* on Apple (Score:2, Interesting)

    by bynick ( 1038382 ) on Friday April 30, 2010 @10:14AM (#32043854)
    Don't you mean, "Why Apple does not allow you to install Flash on your device."? It's not like Apple has to pay to put Flash on the device.. they're prohibiting you from installing it from any provider. It's your device... you should be allowed to do whatever you want to with it. P* on Apple.
  • Re:wow (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mario_grgic ( 515333 ) on Friday April 30, 2010 @10:17AM (#32043888)

    Except performance problem can be worked around as easily as installing a better browser. Firefox for example. Google who has vested interest in anything web has their own browser as well based on same technology as Apple's Safari. So, this argument doesn't stand to scrutiny too well.

  • by Paul Jakma ( 2677 ) on Friday April 30, 2010 @10:21AM (#32043922) Homepage Journal

    If the underlying system has a general media decoding system, and if the browser uses that, then the browser will support any kind of media supported by that underlying system.

    Oh, my understanding is the Mozilla chose not to use any such system. They directly implement Ogg/Theora support (via libtheora) - and so they support nothing else. Chromium uses FFMpeg, which has a wide range of support for video formats.

    The Mozilla move to me does not make sense. I gather they're doing it because they want to promote an unencumbered codec over H.264. However, it seems to me this just completely hobbles the prospects of HTML5 video being adopted over flash. By tying together the embedding and codec questions, it seems to me they damage the prospects of *either* dimension going free. If you can "free" the embedding technology and wrest the web away from Flash, then you have *much* greater scope for next trying to do something about the codec situation.

    Hitching problems together often makes them much harder to solve. Divide and conquer - splitting problems in more manageable, independent chunks - often is a better strategy.

    Still need to see what Google does with VP8..

  • Re:wow (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Raffaello ( 230287 ) on Friday April 30, 2010 @10:33AM (#32044022)

    Because the real power behind a web platform is Google, not Adobe. If necessary, Google will provide an open source implementation of the Flash spec, and everyone will write to that, not to any Adobe-only version.

    Apple is betting on its hardware/software integration platforms. It is paid for by consumer dollars - i.e., your money, and wants hardware and software vendor lock in.

    Microsoft is betting on its software paltforms. It is paid for by your money. It wants software vendor lock in.

    Adobe is betting on a web platform. it is paid for by advertising dollars. It wants software content creation vendor lock in (not even software platform vendor lock in - just tools to create the content).

    Google is betting on a web platform. It is paid for by advertising dollars. It wants advertising vendor lock in - not software platform lock in, not even content creation lock in, just advertising channel lock in.

    I think the last two, who have many common interests, are a much better deal for both consumers and developers. Consumers get lower priced hardware because with a web platform, hardware is commoditized. Consumers get lower priced software because with a web platform, software is commoditized.

    Developers get to choose whatever tools they want as long as they target the web platform.

    The only down side is that computing becomes like commercial TV in the last century - largely advertising supported. Personally I think this is better than hardware/software vendor lock in.

  • Re:wow (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Raffaello ( 230287 ) on Friday April 30, 2010 @10:53AM (#32044256)

    1. This places an additional burden on open source browsers to keep pace with the underlying platform WRT performance. History shows they will likely lag significantly.

    2. This doesn't address features at all. Both Apple and MS will make sure that the HTML5 spec is always significantly less featureful than the native application platforms.

    The result will be that the highest quality applications will need to be written to native platforms, not an OS neutral web platform. This means hardware and/or software vendor lock in, which is just what Apple and MS want.

    This is Java all over again. MS embraced and extended it. They paid a billion in damages for doing so, but it was money well spent to cripple a potentially game changing, OS neutral platform.

    Apple claimed to be the best Java platform bar none. You could even write native cocoa apps in java. Then, when Apple had leveraged their "open standards" act to attract enough developer mind share, they began systematically treating Java as a second class citizen. Launch a java app and get a frightening warning:

      "! The application SuchAndSuch is requesting access to your computer"

    You don't get this kind of warning running a native app of course.

    And now you can't write cocoa apps using java anymore either. What a surprise.

    MS Does embrace and extend. Apple does embrace and marginalize. Same end result.

    Apple and MS are not your friend - they want your money. Google is not your friend either, but at least they don't want your money - they want advertisers' money. The lesser of two evils.

  • Re:wow (Score:3, Interesting)

    by V!NCENT ( 1105021 ) on Friday April 30, 2010 @01:32PM (#32046684)

    PS: make it GPLv3 with the "all you patents are belong to the world" clause and Micorost can either not become compatible with OGG, or surrender their patents. Both would be awesome! =D

  • Re:Youtube (Score:3, Interesting)

    by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF ( 813746 ) on Friday April 30, 2010 @02:05PM (#32047126)

    safari only supports h.264 in the html5 video tag as well. yet, youtube works just fine in it.

    As someone else noted, Safari on OS X supports anything installed in Quicktime as I think Firefox should. I already had a Theora codec installed so when Apple updated Safari to do HTML5, Theora "just worked".

    I understand the mindset at Mozilla. They are focused on being the same on every different computer a user has, regardless of that computer's capabilities. This is an understandable goal, but also what drives me away from Firefox. They don't take advantage of cool and very useful features of an OS, because other OS's don't have those abilities, or they implement their own version which is compatible between Firefox on Linux and Firefox on OS X... but not between all the other applications on a single OS. This is just that policy being extended to video and running into legal roadblocks because even though all the OS's can play H.264, mozilla can't integrate it into Firefox the same way on every platform, so they reject it entirely.

Space is to place as eternity is to time. -- Joseph Joubert