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Mozilla Browser to Support H.264 Video Codec

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Did H.264 just win the web? While already the leader in HTML5 video, the codec gained an important new ally yesterday when Mozilla's team decided it's time to build in support for H.264 to the Firefox browser.

As reported by CNET News, Mozilla felt let down by Google, which has promised to drop support for H.264 from its Chrome browser but hasn't yet delivered. That left Mozilla "pure," meaning that it only supported the royalty-freer WebM codec, while increasingly failing users who aren't able to view H.264 video.

While H.264 was already the codec of choice for most content owners offering HTML5 video support, this move drives a major nail in the WebM coffin, making WebM only slightly more relevant than Ogg Theora.

The argument against H.264 is that it's bound by royalty payments, which are made to MPEG LA by companies that ship products that include H.264 or that stream H.264 video for money. While many wanted to see HTML5 video use only open standards, royalty payment issues weren't enough to dissuade people from H.264, which enjoys wide industry support and offers slightly better video quality.

"The pressure to promote WebM was needed from a bigger player than Mozilla, and it was needed a year ago...It might not have worked then, even with Google on-side. Now, with just Mozilla going it alone, all we do is kill our mobile initiatives in order to appear pure...That does not serve our mission or users," CNET quoted Mozilla chief technology officer Brendan Eich saying in a mailing list discussion.

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