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Release Management : Article

Chrome Drops H.264

Google will support WebM, its own open source, royalty-free codec, as well as the Xiph.org Foundation’s Theora widgetry

Google is dropping support for H.264 from its Chrome browser in favor of WebM, its own open source, royalty-free codec, as well as the Xiph.org Foundation's Theora widgetry because they're open source and the currently free but patent-bearing H.264, arguably the web's video standard, ain't.

Google blogged that "We expect even more rapid innovation in the web media platform in the coming year and are focusing our investments in those technologies that are developed and licensed based on open web principles. To that end, we are changing Chrome's HTML5 support to make it consistent with the codecs already supported by the open Chromium project. Specifically, we are supporting the WebM (VP8) and Theora video codecs, and will consider adding support for other high-quality open codecs in the future. Though H.264 plays an important role in video, as our goal is to enable open innovation, support for the codec will be removed and our resources directed towards completely open codec technologies."

By that logic, a ruffled TechCrunch argues, Google should be dropping the issue-ridden Flash plug-in next because it's definitely proprietary. However, that ain't gonna happen because Adobe supports WebM.

All Things Digital thinks Google's move will make the transition to HTML 5 messier than it already is along with doubling the work and costs of video producers.

And it's unclear whether Google's bought-in WebM widgetry has any patent issues.

Microsoft and the Flash-loathing Apple support H.264. Firefox and Opera support WebM and Theora.

More Stories By Maureen O'Gara

Maureen O'Gara the most read technology reporter for the past 20 years, is the Cloud Computing and Virtualization News Desk editor of SYS-CON Media. She is the publisher of famous "Billygrams" and the editor-in-chief of "Client/Server News" for more than a decade. One of the most respected technology reporters in the business, Maureen can be reached by email at maureen(at)sys-con.com or paperboy(at)g2news.com, and by phone at 516 759-7025. Twitter: @MaureenOGara

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