Firefox and HTML5: Mozilla gives in and plays H.264 videos
December 22nd, 2012 - 05:31 am ET by J. G.
HTML5 videos that use the proprietary H.264 encoding format may finally be natively played with Firefox under Windows.
Mozilla was the leading campaigner against playing H.264 videos natively. This codec was judged inappropriate due to its proprietary nature and the subsequent royalty payments due to it being a patented technology.
With Flash Player for Android ending (Flash Player plays H.264), Mozilla has had to find a place for H.264 in Firefox for Android 4.x so that users can play videos encoded in this format.
To do this, Firefox calls on the mobile operating system to access hardware video decoders through Android’s Stagefright software library. Under Windows, Firefox will call on the Microsoft Media Foundation framework.
The H.264 standard has therefore become a standard, much to Mozilla’s disappointment, notably for the playing of HTML5 videos. Until now, Firefox only played the open Theora and WebM formats natively.
This support of H.264 in Firefox for Windows won’t be available straight away. It will likely become available in Firefox 20 which is planned for release in April 2013 which is currently an experimental version (Nightly).
Microsoft Media Foundation also decodes the AAC, MP4 and M4A audio codec’s natively, as well as MP3 in HTML5 audio and video containers.
It should be points out that Microsoft Media Foundation requires Windows Vista or later version of OS. Windows XP is therefore not compatible, which means that there will be no version fragmentation – something that Mozilla wants to avoid.