Microsoft adds H.264 support to Google Chrome

Microsoft adds H.264 support to Google Chrome

Summary: Last month, Google announced that it was removing support for H.264 video playback in its Chrome browser. But modern versions of OS X and Windows already include fully licensed copies of the H.264 codecs. So why not use them? Microsoft ha now done exactly that. How will Google respond?


No, you’re not reading that headline wrong.

Last month, Google announced that it was removing support for H.264 video playback via the HTML5 <video> tag in its Chrome browser.

The odd part about that decision is that it ignores the capabilities of its installed base. Anyone who installs Chrome on a modern version of Mac OS X or Windows already has access to fully licensed copies of the H.264 codecs, provided along with the operating system. So why not use them?

Apparently, someone at Microsoft just asked that exact question, and came up with the obvious answer. Today, Microsoft announced that it is releasing a plug-in for Google Chrome that enables H.264 support on Windows 7 using those native codecs:

Today, as part of the interoperability bridges work we do on this team, we are making available the Windows Media Player HTML5 Extension for Chrome, which is an extension for Google Chrome to enable Windows 7 customers who use Chrome to continue to play H.264 video.

We believe that Windows customers should be able to play mainstream HTML5 video and, as we’ve described in previous posts, Internet Explorer 9 will support playback of H.264 video as well as VP8 video when the user has installed a VP8 codec.

This isn’t an unexpected development: In December, Microsoft released a similar plug-in for Firefox. (The Chrome download is available here.)

The question now is whether Google will actively seek to break this plug-in in upcoming releases of Chrome. Given Google’s breakneck pace of development for Chrome and its rapidly escalating war with Microsoft, I wouldn’t be surprised to see future releases “accidentally” cause this plug-in to fail.

Topics: Microsoft, Browser, Google, Operating Systems, Software, Windows

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  • RE: Microsoft adds H.264 support to Google Chrome

    That is going to upset some Google employees, LOL! I wouldn't expect Google to break the plug-in compatibility though. If they did they would be shooting themselves in the foot and going against the very thing they stand for, free software and development for all. Plus they would get a lot of user backlash if they did as well.
    Loverock Davidson
    • RE: Microsoft adds H.264 support to Google Chrome

      @Loverock Davidson Very exciting indeed! Also, don't miss the Honeycomb official announcement here, today 10 a.m. PST:
      • Rofl, master move by Google

        Let MS step its foot in the wrong door.<br><br>Ouch!

        The don't have to worry about litigation, let MS and Apple deal with it!

        MS took the bait, will Apple do the same?
      • RE: Microsoft adds H.264 support to Google Chrome

        @Uralbas : What the h?ll are you talking about? What litigation? Read the article. Both Macs and Windows systems already include licensed H.264 support.
        Gis Bun
      • RE: Microsoft adds H.264 support to Google Chrome

        @Gis Bun Morons.... even Apple is already being sued by MPEG-LA group by proxy for H.264! lol.... as a matter of fact the CEO of MPEG-LA is also the CEO of this Patent Troll now suing it's own members. Talk about how asinine the whole software patents crap is! ahaha... Google is just a whole lot smarter than to be a part of a Group pledging protection, but only from it's own members. Leaving open this idiotic group suing their own members with 3rd party patent trolls! Sounds like the Mafia or Organized Crime Protection to me!!! Expect Opera and Firefox to also stop supporting H.264 (MPEG-LA Syndicated Mob Protection)!
        Scenario: Mob breaks down a business's doors. Beats up the boss, pins him to the wall and demands he pay them for protecting his business, from them (the Mob)! lol... what a racket... eh? ;)

        btw.... Android showed CNN iNews running for the first time on a tablet PC! Android Honeycomb is the first mobile OS to support both Intel and ARM hardware chips! Android OS is about to shizt all over CrApple!!!
    • RE: Microsoft adds H.264 support to Google Chrome

      @Loverock Davidson : on the contraire.... my good ol' Loverock... this is precisely what Google expected. What they did when pulling the plug on H.264 for Chrome was to stop paying royalties on something any other party could. I see Apple doing the same, as they both are trying to push that technology forward.
      • RE: Microsoft adds H.264 support to Google Chrome

        @cosuna clever. i didn't think of that, that is sneaky and rather smart of them. i would really like to think that it was something more noble like wanting to support open formats, but that makes more sense. although as a linux user, that's bad news for me; let's hope this doesn't turn into another libdvdcss2 kind of scenario
    • RE: Microsoft adds H.264 support to Google Chrome

      @Loverock Davidson i must say, i generally see you as an asshat microsoft troll (what with you generally bashing FOSS at every opportunity and such), but this was actually a well-thought-out, not-ridiculous post. my apologies if you take this wrong, i guess i am just saying that it seems your reputation isn't quite sealed (at least with me). (btw i have nothing against people liking microsoft)
      anyways, cheers
    • RE: Microsoft adds H.264 support to Google Chrome

      @Loverock Davidson
      I would, but not for the same reason that Ed's implying. Firefox does have a tendency to leave third-party plugins to themselves, so if something changed in the way plug-in are handled (like with the OoP work) then it up to the plug-in owner to keep on part with it's development (say like Adobe and Flash).

      Google has the same rapid development model Mozilla has. So for fundamental changes to the plug-in system, I almost expect for Microsoft's plugin to be tossed under a bus unless Mircosoft does something about it. They don't control third-party plugin nor have the code to such, so why bother to keep it up-to-date on Chromium code if it's someone elses problem.
  • Hope not

    "Not supporting" for various reasons is one thing. Sabotaging is an entirely different matter. I do not want Google to act like Apple. They now do not need to worry about licensing issues at all, which may have been their goal in any event.
    • &quot;IF&quot; so they should have said so...

      Pagan jim
      James Quinn
    • Google already acts like Apple


      Only the naive don't see that.
      • RE: Microsoft adds H.264 support to Google Chrome

        Google is worse than Apple. They mine your information (Chrome, Android, Google TV, etc.) and sell it to anyone. Google has more information on most Americans than the US government. Apple mines data for their own R & D and marketing. I don't touch anything from Google. Google eyed was a derogatory term; but now it means being data watched by Google.
  • Revenge for Chrome Frame

    Chrome Frame made IE compatible with HTML5. And now Microsoft is making Chrome compatible with the most popular codec for HTML5 video. :)
    • RE: Microsoft adds H.264 support to Google Chrome

      @rbethell Indeed! And Chrome Frame is still the only way to get decent HTML5 on IE! Each one taught the other a good lesson!
      • RE: Microsoft adds H.264 support to Google Chrome

        @BioNerd that's so cute. it just gives me the warm fuzzies :p
    • &quot;Most popular codec for HTML5 video&quot;

      @rbethell - just curious, where did you discover this fact? I didn't think there was much HTML5 video out there yet (other than the experiment ... which makes all the video available as both h.264 and webm ... at least as of this morning :-)).

      Maybe it's premature to declare what the most popular codec for HTML5 video is?
  • RE: Microsoft adds H.264 support to Google Chrome

    Sounds familiar ... IE plug-in to support HTML5 from Chrome Frame... ;)
    Quote from the Chromium Blog
    "We're building Google Chrome Frame to help web developers deliver faster, richer applications like Google Wave. "

    See Microsoft and Google and work with each other for the good of many ;)
    (btw what is Google wave.. jk)
    • RE: Microsoft adds H.264 support to Google Chrome


      Except that H.264 video is only gaining, while Google Wave is dead.
      • Google Wave has nothing to do with this discussion. WebM is the container /

        codec, and it is much better than H.264.