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Google pulls H.264 HTML5 support from Chrome

updated 05:20 pm EST, Tue January 11, 2011

Google yanks H264 in Chrome to force HTML5

Google today said it was dropping support for H.264 video in Chrome's HTML5 component. It acknowledged that the more popular format had an "important role" but hoped it could force adoption of its open but internally-developed WebM format as well as Ogg Theora. The company claimed that opening up the VP8 codec underneath led to major speed improvements as well as widespread adoption.

The changes would take place over the next two months and were being detailed in advance in hopes sites would voluntarily switch over their HTML5 video to WebM. It's unknown if extensions or plugins could bring the codec back.

Abandoning H.264 is a potentially risky move for Google. The majority of HTML5-enabled video on the web uses H.264 and in many cases was put online to help support the iPad and other devices that don't have built-in Flash. Whether or not WebM will survive as a format is equally unknown. In spite of Google's insistences, the MPEG-LA standards group, Apple and Microsoft have warned that WebM may violate patents and could face legal trouble without royalty payments.

Commenters on the company's blog entry have also accused Google of hypocrisy due to its connection to Adobe. Its willingness to not only endorse the use of Adobe's proprietary Flash standard but to integrate it directly into Chrome appears to directly contradict claims of only supporting open video formats. Flash players embedded into websites are open, but developers usually have a limited number of tools and can't contribute to the Flash spec.

The move similarly eliminates Chrome from the list of eligible browsers for certain tools, such as large-scale video encoders. Most professional video editing tools don't support WebM, and Google is unlikely to get any help for Final Cut Studio outside of an official plugin.

By Electronista Staff


  1. QualleyIV

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Aug 2001


    So much for not being evil...

    That's a pretty MS-esque move if I do say so myself.

  1. Fajfar Gregor

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Jan 2011


    comment title

    Noo Noo Noo good :(

  1. slapppy

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Mar 2008


    Yet Flash

    Flash will be supported. What's up with that Google? hmmmm?

  1. chefpastry

    Mac Enthusiast

    Joined: Nov 2005



    The fix is to don't use the POS known as Chrome.

  1. aussiearn

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Jan 2011


    Just deleted Chrome

    No more Chrome for me...

  1. droz

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Jul 2009


    Goodbye Chrome

    Right as I was starting to come around to Chrome they pull this s***.

    F Google. Back to Firefox it is.

  1. MyRightEye

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Apr 2008


    Hmmm... That's a problem...

    New Finder Window > Applications > Select Google Chrome > Command-Delete > Problem solved.

  1. WiseWeasel

    Junior Member

    Joined: Apr 1999



    As a web developer, Google has just shafted me big time, and they get a big middle finger in return. So now Chrome is another Flash fall-back browser, with a sh1tty user experience for my users on Chrome. Congratu-freaking-lations, Google! You've just propped up Flash for another few years. Google can go to h3ll.

  1. facebook_Tony

    Via Facebook

    Joined: Jan 2011


    No big surprise

    Apple and MPEG-LA quick to lash out, a bit of the pot calling the kettle black. h.264 isn't open source either and they have already proposed royalty/licensing fees proposed to begin in sometime around 2014. Ogg theora is the only video codec (currently) that is truly open source but sadly is subpar in terms of size and quality of compression compared to h.264.

  1. chas_m



    Chrome had privacy issues before

    and now it has just stepped up and declared itself the next IE.

    See ya. In fact -- not just based on this one action, but on the overall direction of Google of late -- I'm going to follow a few friends' leads and try to discontinue all use of Google to the extent possible. That means moving my blogs to Wordpress from Blogspot, setting my default search engine somewhere else (ironically, Bing in all likelihood) and eventually (this will be more complicated) migrating my gmail account away.

    I encourage others to do the same. Google apparently needs some feedback from their users about their current direction.

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