Making one of the boldest moves Google has announced that it will end support for H.264 from its Chrome browser in the coming months.
Opera, one of the leading forces behind adoption of open standards for the Web, has welcomed Google's move.
Thomas Ford, Senior Communications Manager, Opera, told Muktware, "Actually, Opera has never supported H.264. We have always chosen to support open formats like Ogg Theora and WebM. In fact, Opera was the first company to propose the <video> tag, and when we did, we did it with Ogg. Simply put, we welcome Google's decision to rely on open codecs for HTML5 video."
Google has made it clear that it will focus its investments in technologies that are developed and licensed based on open web principles. In order to do so the company is "changing Chrome’s HTML5 <video> support to make it consistent with the codecs already supported by the open Chromium project."
Mike Jazayeri, Product Manager at Google, wrote on the Chromium blog, "Specifically, we are supporting the WebM (VP8) and Theora video codecs, and will consider adding support for other high-quality open codecs in the future. Though H.264 plays an important role in video, as our goal is to enable open innovation, support for the codec will be removed and our resources directed towards completely open codec technologies. These changes will occur in the next couple months but we are announcing them now to give content publishers and developers using HTML <video> an opportunity to make any necessary changes to their sites."
Google acquired VP8 technology through the acquisition of On2 Technologies in 2010. The Free Software foundation wrote an open letter to Google expecting the company to free/open source the technology. In the letter, FSF wrote, "Google now has the opportunity to make free video formats the standard, freeing the web from both Flash and the proprietary H.264 codec."
Google made a bold move and released it under a BSD-style royalty-free license. Google had paid $106.5 million to acquire On2 Technologies. When Google made that announcement most leading browsers and technology companies expressed their support for WebM.
There were few exceptions though. Despite its support for open standard, Apple have yet not announced its support for WebM.