WebM support in IE9 without browser plugins

The WebM project announced today that WebM support will be available in IE9 without having to use a browser plugin. While it won't be supported by default, IE9 will support the codec as long as it's available as a Windows system codec.

And just to clarify: This means that this is not just another browser plugin like Flash, but rather allows IE9 to support WebM through the HTML5 <video> element.

The inevitable question here is how this is any better than using a browser plugin, and the answer is this avoids all the limitations of browser plugins. It opens up a whole new world of possibilities, since HTML5 video can be accessed and manipulated by the browser. A browser plugin, on the other hand, is basically a "black box" to the browser. It doesn't offer even a fraction of the flexibility you get with native HTML5 video (video support in the browser itself).

As I explained in a previous blog post on the subject, this will deal another blow to the closed H.264 codec on the desktop.

So for now, I think we can ignore the hilariously hypocritical quip about "ideology" in the Microsoft blog post, and congratulate them on doing the right thing instead!

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17 thoughts on “WebM support in IE9 without browser plugins

  1. also not to forget that this guarantees you that, if the vid plays in your browser, it plays in windows media player as well (which is cool because you can download the vid and dont have to care about the codec any more) – kinda like Opera on linux distris that use gstreamer as media backend.

  2. >'A browser plugin, on the other hand, is basically a "black box" to the browser.'It is not a black box to the web developer, Flash has this thing called "External Interface", which let's you call ActionScript code from JavaScript and vice versa, so there are no more limits to what you can do.

  3. This is possible because IE9 supports all system media foundation codecs. It's too bad Opera can't use system codecs (except on linux). Heck it would be nice if it would allow the user to add other gstreamer codecs on windows and mac.

  4. Dillon: maybe someone can write a gstreamer-plugin that acts as a wrapper around the widows media foundation or however that framework is called (as the windows implementation of gstreamer from opera is open source)

  5. Originally posted by DasRakel:

    It is not a black box to the web developer, Flash has this thing called "External Interface", which let's you call ActionScript code from JavaScript and vice versa, so there are no more limits to what you can do.

    Flash is indeed a black box compared to native video. It's a hole in the page. That you can do some limited things with it doesn't mean that it isn't still just a hole in the page.

  6. Originally posted by serious:

    Dillon: maybe someone can write a gstreamer-plugin that acts as a wrapper around the widows media foundation or however that framework is called (as the windows implementation of gstreamer from opera is open source)

    Yeah, but first Opera would have to support other gstreamer plugins. AFAIK you can only install other gstreamer plugins for Opera on Linux.

  7. Originally posted by Slamdex:

    Flash is indeed a black box compared to native video. It's a hole in the page. That you can do some limited things with it doesn't mean that it isn't still just a hole in the page.

    True, plugins are a black box by design, but when you develop specifically for it, You CAN do EVERYTHING that you can do without Flash (+ all specific strengths of Flash). You cannot call that a black box anymore.Being able to call functions (with parameters) is all a programmer could ever need. NOT 'some limited things.'I program front-ends and I've done it plenty of times, I know what I'm talking about.If anyone develops a Flash video player (since that is the topic now) once and opens up the same things the <video> element has, the reasons for choosing video are again about opening the web, and not be bound to Adobe.

  8. Originally posted by Slamdex:

    this with Flash

    I don't dare say I can personally make that right away in either platform, but Flash can do that, yes. (example: third Google result for Flash video 3D)For pixel manipulation you'd use bitmapData instead of canvas, etc., but the logic is all pretty much the same.Anyway, there being (or not being) things html+JavaScript can do, that Flash cannot, has nothing to do with it being an black box. There are reasons to not use Flash, but I don't think this black box reason is really valid.

  9. Thanks for illustrating my point. To do something like that with Flash you would need to create an even bigger black box. Native video, on the other hand, is a first class citizen, and can be manipulated using regular open web standards.So no, you can't do something like that with Flash. If you want to do something similar, you have to turn the whole page into a Flash application, and that's a horrible idea.

  10. Not automatically horrible. It makes DRM a little easier, and reduces exposure of protected files somewhat. But the argument for Flash becomes increasingly flimsy as browsers incorporate more special features.

  11. Right, that flash is diminishing is no problem.Chris, if that's not "something like that" because it's flash, you're asking for round squares. It IS and I just showed you, and doesn't have to be the entire site, it can be as little or as much as you want.You're stuck with an idea that is plain false.Again, I think your definition of black box is just too narrow; whatever color box plugins really are: ridding flash is only transplanting some functionality to another box. Not like this is better because there's only one box left. No, there are still plenty of browsers, for the same reason that having plenty of browsers is good, having Flash is good. It's no worse a box than a browser is.

  12. Please show me how you can do something like that with Flash without Flash taking up the whole area you are doing it in.No, native video is not like replacing Flash with another box. With native video, the browser itself can apply JavaScript, CSS, SVG, etc. to the video.

  13. This is a DRM disadvantage, in that publishers would like to have the browser conform to some content protection method. In the case of Youtube, they overlay the video with a transparent frame that intercepts mouse events.One place where flash was great, was fancy backgrounds on websites. With improved SVG and CSS support we finally have an alternative, but flash did the job well for many years.

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