updated 10:55 am EST, Wed February 2, 2011
Microsoft offers H.264 for Chrome in Google debate
Microsoft today obviated much of Google's attempted stand on web video policy by posting an H.264 extension for Chrome. The add-on uses Windows Media Player to load the video format when Google's browser sees an HTML5-based video but doesn't have a WebM version. It had already made a similar extension for Firefox, which never had H.264 to start.
Apple and other firms haven't volunteered so far to implement a matching plugin for Mac OS X.
The company went on to question the sincerity and wisdom of Google's decision to drop H.264. Although Microsoft insisted it wouldn't practice the FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) synonymous with itself in the past, it challenged Google on its insistence that WebM was patent-free and safe to use. Simply saying a technology doesn't involve patent royalties doesn't make it true, Microsoft said. The Windows developer warned that Google hasn't said if it will indemnify companies and individuals if they're sued for using WebM.
"The only true arbiter of infringement, once it's asserted, is a court of law," Internet Explorer Corporate VP Dean Hachamovitch said. "Asserting openness is not a legal defense."
The executive added that the claims of a web standard were somewhat disingenuous as Google refers to itself as setting the standard and hasn't said how or if it will roll in features from anyone else. Mobile strategy was also at stake, since leaving H.264 in Android would be hypocritical but pulling it could lead to Google hurting YouTube on mobile devices, including the iPhone or others beyond its own.
Microsoft invited Google to join in an "open dialog" and to discuss its format but hasn't had a response so far. It wouldn't support WebM in Internet Explorer 9 itself but had no problems with a plugin being made available.
Google had said it was pulling H.264 from Chrome to drive WebM as an open standard but has so far had no explanation for how it would encourage universal adoption when neither Apple nor Microsoft, which have two thirds of browser share, will use the technology.