Microsoft makes Chrome play H.264 video

Users of the Chrome browser will be able to play H.264 video – thanks to Microsoft.

Google ditched HTML5 support for H.264 video last month, citing the codec’s licensing requirements. Instead, Google said the HTML video tag should favour the freely available WebM.

Today, Microsoft revealed the Windows Media Player HTML5 Extension for Chrome, which will let users of the Google browser play H.264 video.

“At Microsoft we respect that Windows customers want the best experience of the web including the ability to enjoy the widest range of content available on the internet in H.264 format,” said Claudio Caldato, interoperability program manager, in a Microsoft blog post.

He noted that Internet Explorer 9 will support H.264 as well as Google-sponsored WebM video – as long as users have installed the codec – and that Microsoft had already created a Firefox extension. “We also recently provided an add-on for Windows 7 customers who choose Firefox to play H.264 video so as to enable interoperability across IE, Firefox and Chrome using HTML5 video on Windows.”

The move hasn’t convinced everyone. One comment on the post read: “H.264 isn’t an open standard and isn’t supported by Firefox or Opera, so in what way is this in support of interoperability? Commercial interests absolutely, but interoperability certainly not.”

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