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Microsoft Affirms Commitment to H.264 in IE9

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Microsoft set off an HMTL5 firestorm today with a blog post affirming its commitment to H.264 video.

In a long post this morning, Dean Hachamovitch, Microsoft's corporate vice president for Internet Explorer, explained that the upcoming Internet Explorer 9 will only offer native support for H.264 video. WebM use will require a third-party plug-in.

Since Google Chrome won't support H.264, Microsoft has released a plug-in for Windows users that adds functionality.

"Many parties have raised legitimate questions about liability, risks, and support for WebM and the proponents of WebM should answer them," Hachamovitch said, explaining Microsoft's decision to turn away from the open source WebM.

The post is Microsoft attempting to repair the fractured HTML5 video landscape by throwing its weight behind H.264. Want to use Chrome? No problem, Microsoft will add H.264 support to that, as well. Curiously, this aligns Microsoft with Apple against Google.

The post stirred up instant controversy from people who thought it was in Microsoft's financial interests to back H.264. The codec's license is owned by MPEG-LA; since Microsoft is a member, it gains royalties from paying users.

Hachamovitch answered the charge a half-hour after his post went up, saying, "Microsoft pays into MPEG-LA about twice as much as it receives back for rights to H.264."

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