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Microsoft Sides With Apple on HTML5 Video Future

By - Source: Tom's Hardware UK | B 16 comments

Internet Explorer 9 to support HTML5 video ONLY in H.264

While Apple has been vocal about its push towards using HTML5 for video playback and leaving Flash out in the cold, Microsoft has quietly been keeping a similar stance.

Microsoft GM for Internet Explorer, Dean Hachamovitch, posted a note on the MSDN detailing what the plans are for browser video formats in IE9. Interestingly, Microsoft agrees with Apple, as it feels that the "The future of the web is HTML5."

Internet Explorer 9 will support HTML5 video playback encoded in H.264 only, matching up with the current support offered by Safari and Chrome. Those with the right hardware will also get GPU-acceleration, as previously demonstrated by Nvidia in a video here.

Even more interesting is that Microsoft seems to be motivated by certain weaknesses of Flash in its effort transition to HTML5 video. Hachamovitch notes, "Flash does have some issues, particularly around reliability, security, and performance."

Check out the full post below:

HTML5 Video

There’s been a lot of posting about video and video formats on the web recently. This is a good opportunity to talk about Microsoft’s point of view.

The future of the web is HTML5. Microsoft is deeply engaged in the HTML5 process with the W3C. HTML5 will be very important in advancing rich, interactive web applications and site design. The HTML5 specification describes video support without specifying a particular video format. We think H.264 is an excellent format. In its HTML5 support, IE9 will support playback of H.264 video only.

H.264 is an industrystandard, with broad and strong hardware support. Because of this standardization, you can easily take what you record on a typical consumer video camera, put it on the web, and have it play in a web browser on any operating system or device with H.264 support (e.g. a PC with Windows 7). Recently, we publicly showed IE9 playing H.264-encoded video from YouTube.  You can read about the benefits of hardware acceleration here, or see an example of the benefits at the 26:35 mark here. For all these reasons, we’re focusing our HTML5 video support on H.264.

Other codecs often come up in these discussions. The distinction between the availability of source code and the ownership of the intellectual property in that available source code is critical. Today, intellectual property rights for H.264 are broadly available through a well-defined program managed by MPEG LA.   The rights to other codecs are often less clear, as has been described in the press.  Of course, developers can rely on the H.264 codec and hardware acceleration support of the underlying operating system, like Windows 7, without paying any additional royalty.

Today, video on the web is predominantly Flash-based. While video may be available in other formats, the ease of accessing video using just a browser on a particular website without using Flash is a challenge for typical consumers. Flash does have some issues, particularly around reliability, security, and performance. We work closely with engineers at Adobe, sharing information about the issues we know of in ongoing technical discussions. Despite these issues, Flash remains an important part of delivering a good consumer experience on today’s web.

Dean Hachamovitch
General Manager, Internet Explorer

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  • 1 Hide
    LePhuronn , 2 May 2010 00:02
    The future of the web is HTML5 is it Microsoft? Is that why you developed Silverlight to muscle in on the RIA space that Flash has dominated successfully for years?

    I quite agree that web video could and should run through HTML5, but Flash is a LOT more than video and stupid games.

    As an aside, with all of Apple's bluster for HTML5 over Flash on their platform, is they really are pushing video over HTML5 what will happen to QuickTime on the web? It's just as much of a plug-in as Flash and will be entirely redundant with HTML5's video capabilities.

    Then again if you have half a brain you'd be delivering all your video over Flash Video anyway.
  • 0 Hide
    excalibur1814 , 2 May 2010 00:17
    Interesting read:
    http://microsoft2apple.com/2010/04/30/steve-jobs-you-are-a-lying-cunt/

  • 0 Hide
    Cromulent , 2 May 2010 13:05
    LePhuronnwhat will happen to QuickTime on the web? It's just as much of a plug-in as Flash and will be entirely redundant with HTML5's video capabilities.Then again if you have half a brain you'd be delivering all your video over Flash Video anyway.


    Quicktime is just a collection of audio and video codecs and a player. It is nothing like Flash or Silverlight. It just enables computers to play videos in certain codecs that it supports and that might not be natively supported.
  • 0 Hide
    LePhuronn , 2 May 2010 21:04
    CromulentQuicktime is just a collection of audio and video codecs and a player. It is nothing like Flash or Silverlight. It just enables computers to play videos in certain codecs that it supports and that might not be natively supported.


    And to play QuickTime movies (and QTVR) on the web you need a browser plug-in.

    And that's my point - if Apple really push web video through HTML are they going to discontinue their browser plug-in? Is Apple Trailers going to move over to H.264 HTML 5? Somehow I doubt it.
  • -1 Hide
    Cromulent , 3 May 2010 06:09
    LePhuronnAnd to play QuickTime movies (and QTVR) on the web you need a browser plug-in.And that's my point - if Apple really push web video through HTML are they going to discontinue their browser plug-in? Is Apple Trailers going to move over to H.264 HTML 5? Somehow I doubt it.


    Probably not. Remember that Quicktime supports more codecs than just H.264. Codecs that people still use. Plus Quicktime is the basis of the Mac video and audio architecture. It is professional quality in that Apples high end video production software is built on top of it.

    Frankly though what has Quicktime got to do with this at all? It is not the fact that Flash is a browser plugin that Apple dislike it. It is because it is slow and crashes often. The whole Quicktime thing is a somewhat pointless tangent.
  • 0 Hide
    LePhuronn , 3 May 2010 06:21
    CromulentFrankly though what has Quicktime got to do with this at all?


    I presume you didn't actually read my comment then. Yes, it is a tangent, but a related one. I was simply asking the question what would Apple do with QuickTime on the web if they're successful in their desire to bury Flash video with the HTML 5 approach? If they're saying they'd want to see video on the web delivered through HTML 5, where does that leave QuickTime on the web?

    My point being is this: are Apple genuinely committed to delivering web video through HTML 5, and as a result drop the QuickTime plug-in, or is this just more thinly-veiled attacks at Flash?
  • -1 Hide
    Cromulent , 3 May 2010 15:53
    LePhuronnI presume you didn't actually read my comment then. Yes, it is a tangent, but a related one. I was simply asking the question what would Apple do with QuickTime on the web if they're successful in their desire to bury Flash video with the HTML 5 approach?


    This is just a fundamental misunderstanding of Quicktime and HTML 5 for that matter. There is no "Quicktime on the web" as you put it.

    HTML 5 is simply a way of embedding a video in a page. It does not deliver the video at all. That is entirely handled by the browser or a browser plugin. After all HTML 5 is just a mark up language.

    On the Mac side it is a little more complex as Quicktime is an integral part of the operating system and does more than just play back video.

    LePhuronnIf they're saying they'd want to see video on the web delivered through HTML 5, where does that leave QuickTime on the web?My point being is this: are Apple genuinely committed to delivering web video through HTML 5, and as a result drop the QuickTime plug-in, or is this just more thinly-veiled attacks at Flash?


    See my point above about HTML 5.
  • 0 Hide
    LePhuronn , 3 May 2010 19:31
    OK, as there seems to be a fundamental issue in communication here, let's go about this a different way...

    HTML 5 is a markup language that will contain rules to define a video content element, specifically the "video" tag (can't do markup in these comments). Therefore, the web browser in interpreting this tag will read retrieve and render video content as a NATIVE function, i.e. without the need for a 3rd party plug-in.

    Now regarding my point about QuickTime. I'm not talking about QuickTime at an OS level, I'm talking about the QuickTime browser plug-in that enables a web browser to stream video content encoded with QuickTime-deliverable codecs. For example, Apple Trailers deliver H.264 MPEG-4 video through a QuickTime wrapper and therefore requires the QuickTime browser plug-in to play.

    So, if Apple develop Safari to be HTML 5 compliant, and therefore build in the required code to handle the tag correctly, there is no need to use a browser plug-in to deliver video as it is now a native function of the browser. As a result, there is no need for the QuickTime browser plug-in to exist.

    Will Apple therefore discontinue the plug-in? That is simply all I am asking, because if you discontinue to plug-in there's very little reason for the mainstream user to install QuickTime on Windows.

    My entire point is this: video content delivered through Flash Player took the world by storm because Flash Player already had 95+% market penetration around version 7. Nobody needed Windows Media Video or QuickTime wrappers any more, and the introduction of Flash Media Server kicked all that into overdrive - progressive download, streaming and live broadcast all through a plug-in you're 98% likely to have already.

    Microsoft servers took a hit - Windows Media Services are still there but I don't know of anybody who uses them. Apple released the source code for QuickTime Streaming Server as open-source Darwin Streaming Server (and when do Apple EVER give something away if they think money can be made from it?). Flash Media Server is a suite of products, growing while the others have declined.

    So, QuickTime video on the web has seen a massive drop in market share because of Apple's hated enemy in Flash. How much of "web video must be HTML 5" is a genuine belief from Apple that it's the way forward, or just another potshot at the Flash platform?

    In either event, the need for Windows users to install QuickTime is lessened and that's a potential loss in market penetration for Apple.

    Also, I really doubt if Silverlight video took off Microsoft would be taking the HTML 5 stance either.
  • 0 Hide
    Cromulent , 3 May 2010 22:23
    LePhuronnHTML 5 is a markup language that will contain rules to define a video content element, specifically the "video" tag (can't do markup in these comments). Therefore, the web browser in interpreting this tag will read retrieve and render video content as a NATIVE function, i.e. without the need for a 3rd party plug-in.


    I've read the draft HTML 5 standard for the tag and there is no requirement for video playback to be handled natively within the browser. Browser developers (or user agent developers technically) are thus free to use a plugin if they want to in order to handle video playback of tags.

    Whether any browser developers will go this route or not only time will tell.

    LePhuronnNow regarding my point about QuickTime. I'm not talking about QuickTime at an OS level, I'm talking about the QuickTime browser plug-in that enables a web browser to stream video content encoded with QuickTime-deliverable codecs. For example, Apple Trailers deliver H.264 MPEG-4 video through a QuickTime wrapper and therefore requires the QuickTime browser plug-in to play.So, if Apple develop Safari to be HTML 5 compliant, and therefore build in the required code to handle the tag correctly, there is no need to use a browser plug-in to deliver video as it is now a native function of the browser. As a result, there is no need for the QuickTime browser plug-in to exist.Will Apple therefore discontinue the plug-in?


    No idea. I highly doubt it though. The Quicktime browser plugin handles more codecs than H.264 and there is still a significant amount of video on the web in those formats.

    I imagine people would be slightly annoyed if they lost the ability to play those videos back.

    LePhuronnThat is simply all I am asking, because if you discontinue to plug-in there's very little reason for the mainstream user to install QuickTime on Windows.


    Well, except that iTunes requires it and just about everyone has iTunes installed.
  • 0 Hide
    LePhuronn , 4 May 2010 00:00
    Cromulentno requirement for video playback to be handled natively within the browser. Browser developers (or user agent developers technically) are thus free to use a plugin if they want to in order to handle video playback


    Hmmm interesting - I may need to properly delve into the draft spec then because a lot of the HTML 5 discussions I've had my eye on all suggest it's supposed to be a native thing, otherwise what's the point - if that's the case I would wet myself laughing if Safari's plug-in was just as unstable as Flash!

    Personally I've never seen the point in HTML 5 anyway - reflecting the evolution of the web through more streamlined and semantically-correct markup is fine, but honestly if all the video tag does (for example) is ultimately tell a UA to load a plug-in then we're not advancing anything, and it's no different to just using an embed tag as we do now (which is still in HTML 5 anyway).
  • 0 Hide
    jamie_macdonald , 6 May 2010 17:27
    What i don't get about all this Flash, Apple thing is that I have never had Flash Crash anything, not on my phone (Symbian based last 3 phones i had) nor on my PC (3.11 for workgorups, 95, 98, win xp, vista, 7) So i am at a loss as to it's "instabilites" least on Ms and Symbian systems.

    So is it just apple that have trouble runnign it or something? Or don't have the skill or hardware to cope?

    Pardon my ill knowledge but iv'e never had that much of a problem with current standards.
  • 0 Hide
    LePhuronn , 6 May 2010 17:49
    jamie_macdonaldSo is it just apple that have trouble runnign it or something?


    Yes that's exactly the problem. Flash Player is notoriously buggy on OSX so Lord Jobs throws a bit of a wobbly that it looks like his ecosystem is unstable. Now that's fine and I kinda agree with him on this one. Adobe however won't invest the manpower to actually address Mac Flash Player's problems properly because Apple's overall share isn't really big enough to make the investment.

    Unfortunately it's all turned into bickering children from there - Adobe won't fix it so Jobs doesn't want it, so Jobs pokes at Adobe saying Flash is crud and not worthy of his attention, so Adobe invest time and money in poking Apple back with "oooh look how well it runs over here on Android" or whatever.

    Basically it's all bollocks and compounded by the fact that most users either don't know or don't understand what Flash is really about these days outside of web video, annoying ad banners and stupid games. Those of us who do know what Flash is about will probably agree that there's probably little use for it on Apple's limit-scope devices anyway. Jobs is one of them I'm sure (although Adobe Acrobat Connect would rock on an iPad).
  • 0 Hide
    Cromulent , 6 May 2010 17:53
    LePhuronnYes that's exactly the problem. Flash Player is notoriously buggy on OSX so Lord Jobs throws a bit of a wobbly that it looks like his ecosystem is unstable. Now that's fine and I kinda agree with him on this one. Adobe however won't invest the manpower to actually address Mac Flash Player's problems properly because Apple's overall share isn't really big enough to make the investment.


    It's all very well saying that, but if Microsoft come along and say exactly the same thing as Apple it kind of debunks that idea. It doesn't matter if you personal don't have any problems, Microsoft collects the crash reports it is sent and if it sees that Flash is overall a problem then it will say so. As it did in the article that this discussion started over.

    So it is obviously not just an Apple thing at all.
  • 0 Hide
    LePhuronn , 6 May 2010 18:00
    CromulentIt's all very well saying that, but if Microsoft come along and say exactly the same thing as Apple it kind of debunks that idea. It doesn't matter if you personal don't have any problems, Microsoft collects the crash reports it is sent and if it sees that Flash is overall a problem then it will say so. As it did in the article that this discussion started over.So it is obviously not just an Apple thing at all.


    Yes, but Microsoft is commenting on its experiences with Flash inside Internet Explorer, which is hardly the most stable wrapper for anything as it is. Microsoft however clearly state that they work closely with Adobe engineers to resolve these issues because they feel that "despite these issues, Flash remains an important part of delivering a good consumer experience on today’s web"

    That's totally the opposite attitude Apple has. Apple say "Flash is junk, we no want it". Microsoft are saying "Flash is important but there's better and less buggy ways of delivering video content, so we're supporting them instead".
  • 0 Hide
    Cromulent , 6 May 2010 18:10
    LePhuronnYes, but Microsoft is commenting on its experiences with Flash inside Internet Explorer, which is hardly the most stable wrapper for anything as it is. Microsoft however clearly state that they work closely with Adobe engineers to resolve these issues because they feel that "despite these issues, Flash remains an important part of delivering a good consumer experience on today’s web"That's totally the opposite attitude Apple has. Apple say "Flash is junk, we no want it". Microsoft are saying "Flash is important but there's better and less buggy ways of delivering video content, so we're supporting them instead".


    I think Microsoft are just being more diplomatic than Apple. Basically what they have said is that they don't view Flash as being the future.
  • 0 Hide
    LePhuronn , 6 May 2010 18:22
    CromulentI think Microsoft are just being more diplomatic than Apple. Basically what they have said is that they don't view Flash as being the future.


    For pure video delivery yes, and I'd agree with them. But with their closing line of "despite these issues, Flash remains an important part of delivering a good consumer experience on today’s web" I don't think you can say that Microsoft see now value or future in Flash at all. And for my money, as long as Microsoft push Silverlight they see the value in interactive media and RIA going forward, of which Flash is the dominant player.