Google have become idealogues with complete disregard of consumer adoption of H264. Its like XPS vs PDF. PDF is the defacto. In any case, Google is showing its cracks.
The thing is H.264 really doesn't have that much penatration on the web. Firefox and Opera don't support it, and all "stable" versions of IE don't support it either. I think that means H.264 has something like 6% of the browser market, while WebM has 35-36% at least. It's WebM that's the PDF and H.264 that's the XPS.
That might change if IE9 is a great success, but I doubt it will have the same adoption IE8 had simply because IE9 doesn't support Windows XP and IE9 isn't bundled with any OS. Safari isn't growing very fast. So it looks like WebM pretty much won.
Flash is also adding support for WebM, by the way. So there will always be Flash fallback on web browsers which don't support it.
The thing is there already exists so many devices that support h.264. Zune HD, and most notably the iPhone / iPod Touch have h.264 hardware accleration. Most modern video cards also support this acceleration.
Moving to a more inefficient standard will suck. I am a fan of something that is high quality and works.
@Bass: I don't have a problem if they want to support another codec, but dropping support for H264 looks to be idealogical when there is no cost.
Really they can. I know they probably won't, but they can, and probably should.
Not when it's shipped they won't, just because it's the way they operate. Microsoft adds new features only in major versions / service packs, and IE doesn't even receive service packs. It's all for a good reason though - they increase stability of their platform by not improving it as that would cause complex graphs of quirk propagation throughout various minor versions of browser thus making web developers' jobs easier by making them care for only one version of IE (they already have enough trouble dealing with browsers from other vendors).
If we want IE9 to support WebM we should really try to press MS hard now as IE is probably in the last stages of development and we have only a short amount of time where a change could be made.
On the other hand, WebM sucks technically, although I see the freedom argument it's far from a guarantee that it doesn't become another java-oracle dabacle where a platform once hailed as a free alternative to a closed one overnight becomes non-free. If we keep H.264 in IE9 then at least sites can decide which video file they would send to a browser - they would have to encode it twice and use twice as much space on servers - but I really don't care for them, however I care for my battery life.
Afaik H.264 is supported in flash, although I don't know in what proportion that encoding is used.
As Paolo implied, all of YouTube's videos are in h.264.
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