back to article Google betas Flash-free YouTube sans open codec

Google has publicly released an experimental YouTube player that uses the HTML5 video tag, as it continues the (very) slow process of moving the world's most popular video-sharing site away from Adobe Flash. As you may or may not expect, the player does not embrace the open and license free Ogg Theora codec. Announced …


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  1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    Don't be - what again?

    So instead of needing a proprietry Flash plugin we now need a proprietry plugin on a proprietry browser


    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge


      Both the standards here are open spec, so if it were not for patent issues there would be no problem with providing alternative implementations. HTML5 is similarly placed. Compared to flash, which the Gnash folks have had to reverse engineer, there's nothing remotely proprietary here.

      Implementations of both standards will turn up on all browsers once the browser vendors realise they're market share is heading down the toilet if they don't. Even IE will support them. I mean, what's the point of a browser that can't view GooTube?

    2. Bilgepipe


      What the hell is a "proprietary" browser? And what is a non-proprietary browser?

  2. Eugene Goodrich
    Paris Hilton

    "new and improved versions" won't be...

    [[[... does not yet support videos with ads, captions, or annotations, but Google says: "We will be expanding the capabilities of the player in the future, so get ready for new and improved versions in the months to come."]]]

    Sounds to me more like they mean "take this opportunity to enjoy a few months of videos unmarred by ads, captions, and annotations telling you about the other version of the video by the same poster with different also-unlicensed soundtracks". Because as these overlays became possible, I never once found them improving the quality of the video. (OK, except perhaps to tell you what song you are [Ed: might be] listening to on the video so you can go put it on your iPod.)

    Paris, because she has fewer ads, captions, and annotations than YouTube.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Down

      From this moment on...

      ...anyone who uses the Paris icon with a naff joke will get a mod down from me, no matter what the content of the remainder of the post.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        Duck season! Rabbit season! Duck season! Rabbit season!

        *tears off last sheet of paper from tree*

        El-Reg comment poster season!

  3. Phillip Webster

    Does seem to be a grab for market share from Google.

    MS aren't even in the game.

    The stupid US patent laws get in Firefox and Opera's way. I have a suspicion without those idiocies Mozilla and Opera would both support H.264.

    Apple need a kick in the head for that OGG patent comment, although it doesn't surprise me much.

    Seems remarkably well timed by Google. Days after announcing the IE vulnerability and at the same time as FF 3.6 launching. How many people will ponder just switching to Chrome instead of upgrading Firefox do you think?

    I guess it makes the browser game all the more interesting does show the problems of a heterogeneous web though. Although I would the security advantages in such an environment outweigh the usability disadvantages. And lets be honest, your average web goomba isn't going to notice even after it goes live anyway except as a possible UI change.

    Despite all that, I welcome the removal of Flash. It's a horrible nuisance who's only aim seems to be to clog up laptops with dust by forcing them to run their fans at full speed unnecessarily.

    1. Anonymous Coward


      "The stupid US patent laws get in Firefox and Opera's way. I have a suspicion without those idiocies Mozilla and Opera would both support H.264."

      I think you are missing the point of capatilism (and so do most dickheads on this site).

      1. If you invest time and money in developing a product, you should be entitled to get paid for that work. Don't confuse a crap patent scribbled on a bit of paper with a fully fledged, fully working product.

      2. If you don't like this concept, feel free to go to your boss and say, I don't belive I should be rewarded for my work, so I would like to work for free. No? Thought not.

      1. M Gale
        Thumb Up

        A title is required, apparently.

        Mathematical algorithms have never been patentable (in most of the world), as they are discoveries rather than inventions. Of course if you wish to have your new software firm sued into the ground before it even takes off, feel free to start it in the US!

      2. Phillip Webster


        Oh I'm all for patents as a whole. They just shouldn't apply to software in the wide, vague ways they do right now.

        If, for example, you created a wind-powered generator, to patent it you'd have to go into a lot of detail on every component, explaining the blades, etc, etc. Someone else could then not use that exact design, but there's nothing stopping them using a different blade method (say vertically spinning compared to horizontally spinning).

        In software the patents are always hugely vague due to either money-grubbing or lack of technical expertise at the US patent office.

        Take the multi-touch example for Apple's iPhone. Apple have managed to patent the pinch-to-zoom interface. There's no description of how it's done in software, just that it is. This means that no matter what any competitor does, there's no way to replicate the base idea without licensing the patent. This stifles innovation.

        It's possible that if the code were properly outlined software patents would be possible, but this is already covered by copyright when copied directly (or near enough).

        So, quite in contrary to your "missing the point of capitilism [sic]", designing code is copyrighted (either by yourself or the company you work for) and you'll therefore get recognition/paid/whatever for that, however software patents don't extend this protection in a useful manner and actually damage the market by promoting monopolies.

  4. Neoc

    Codec packs

    Someone explain to me why this is a problem? I use a few video players (primarily Media Player Classic, but sometimes others) and they all seem to be happy to talk to external codecs. Can't unpack MOVs? Install the Quicktime codec. FLAC not recognised? Install the codec. Once a codec is installed, *all* of my video/audio players are able to play the new format/stream.

    So why can't the browsers handle HTML5 video requests the same way?

    1. DanHarper

      Because a standard should be, well.. a standard

      A web site cannot depend on you installing codecs in a proprietary format on every platform a browser can run on. The whole point in abandoning flash is you don' need to install other plugins...

    2. Greg J Preece

      It's not that simple

      Because on a large network installing those packs isn't as easy, and probably isn't possible by the end user. And because having a standard means less fecking around, and better interoperability - if you want to put YouTube on a mobile device, for example, it's much faster, easier, etc to support just one open-source codec.

      1. Steven Raith

        It is that simple

        Any large network aught to have a software rollout ability, just pack the codecs into a pre-login installer script, and shock horror, you have media playback capabilities across all formats, on all machines - if your admin can't do that, they shouldn't be doing the job.

        That doesn't change the open issue however - which is just barmy. I should imagine that should Firefox hold fast on the H264 issue, that the size of the userbase will cause online content creators to think about using Ogg on their sites to save complication.

        As for Apples comments, I won't even dignify that with a response....

        Steven R

        1. Rob Moir

          shock horror indeed

          "Any large network aught to have a software rollout ability, just pack the codecs into a pre-login installer script, and shock horror, you have media playback capabilities across all formats, on all machines - if your admin can't do that, they shouldn't be doing the job."

          Of course we can do that. What you should be asking yourself is whether or not that's a good use of a sysadmin's time and their employer's money to be doing that for every single two-bit website with their own unique two-bit codec choices.

  5. Crazy Operations Guy

    Double tandards..

    So I like how everyone bashes Microsoft for not following an incomplete standard and then complain when Microsoft doesn't follow a standard...

    1. Tim Parker

      Re : Double tandards (sic)

      "So I like how everyone bashes Microsoft for not following an incomplete standard and then complain when Microsoft doesn't follow a standard..."

      What ?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Double tandards

      Is this a riddle? The missing s is probably deliberate, and the comment itself seems to be a crossword clue. Oh my God! The Illuminati and the Lizard Men have buried a golden troll in the interwebs!

  6. Duncan Hothersall
    Thumb Down

    "the open source–obsessed outfit"

    What a pejorative little nugget. You couldn't just say "open source" because pretty much everyone uses open source these days making it no longer a source of sneers. So you added "obsessed" to make it clear just what you think of these pinko commie bastards...

  7. Dave Murray

    Dear Google

    Adding adverts to video (or anything else) does not improve it. Quite the opposite in fact.

  8. Anonymous Coward

    Perhaps a better excuse for using H.264

    would be "we already have all this shitRRR in the format for the iPhone app and didn't want to transcode it, as that, like, takes a load of power and is bad for the environment and shit".

    Handwashing and greenwashing all in one go, job's a good 'un.

    Hey, GoogleTube PR, got any vacancies?

  9. The BigYin

    If it's not OGG...

    ...I don't want to know.

    Actually, I couldn't give two craps if it's OGG or not. I just want one, open codec unencumbered by patents. Because let's face it, an "open" codec you can't implement because you'll breach some crappy US patent is not open at all.

    Do no evil indeed...pfft.

  10. Ad Fundum

    @Dave Murray

    I quite agree.

    "More relevant, targetted" advertisements don't make something more of a pleasure to use either. Adverts, whether relevant or not, just get in the way.

    And before I get shot down for expecting everything for free, I'm perfectly aware that I should expect everything for free. I'm speaking on aesthetic and user experience levels.

  11. DZ-Jay

    Re: "the open source-obsessed outfit"

    @Duncan Hothersall:

    Wow, talk about a complex. I don't think that phrase has negative connotations, necessarily. It could just as well mean that Google really, really, really likes Open Source Software and is trying to push for it at every opportunity. In fact, that's how I understood it, and it follows the overall ironic spirit of the story by implying that, in spite of that obsession, Google chose a proprietary format for their video codec.

    Are you one of those people with a chip on their shoulder that tries to look for the "hidden meaning" on every single remark, even when meant in a completely innocent way? Or are you yourself that prejudiced, and used to imparting such "hidden meaning" in your own comments, that you tend to imagine the entire world does as well?

    I feel sorry for you.


    1. Duncan Hothersall

      Perhaps if you read the article you might make more sense of my comment

      The "open source-obsessed outfit" gobbet was aimed at Mozilla, not Google. Therefore there was nothing ironic or sympathetic in it, nor even relevant to the "spirit" of the story. It was a pathetic side-swipe at a company which wasn't part of the story.

      I don't think I'm overly sensitive to "hidden meanings". But I appear to be significantly more sensitive than you to understanding the English language and realising which entity was the subject of which phrase.

      Or, to put it another way, learn to fucking read.

  12. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

    And subtitles?

    I suppose that if "ads, captions, or annotations" don't work, then universal accessibility features won't, either. That had better be addressed before this becomes a "real" product - or before it oozes into that familiar Google status of "beta" that everyone uses as though it was declared finished, and never mind the rough edges - or they may get sued, in the U.S. anyway.

  13. Slappy
    Thumb Up

    No Chrome = No Youtube?


    then i wont hear my kids playing the same vids (songs) over and over again :D

  14. Paul Ireland

    Ad blocker anyone?

    I wonder if Google have really thought this one through. They currently have a Flash mechanism on youtube which presents interactive ads on top of video all done in Flash, and therefore very difficult to block or switch off. Once they move to a HTML video tag, with CSS/Javascript used to present the interactive ad layers on top, I'm guessing this would be much easier for others to provide ad blockers for (e.g. browser plugins).

    1. BristolBachelor Gold badge

      Adds in HTML 5 Vids

      Or does it mean that they are working out how to averlay adverts on top of the video stream at their end in real time, to make it impossible to remove them.

      All done in real time, so they change the advert depending on which sites they have seen you visiting through google analytics, and depending on which advertiser bids the most in real time to annoy you. (The last bit is just an idea to increase the amount that the advertisers have to pay!)

      Of course, that just means that someone has to write a program to visit the same video a number of times, and then subtract the advert by doing a massive diff on the separate videos :)

      Beer, because it's Friday and I'll have a caña with my lunch today.

      (No Paris Icon, so you you can't vote me down, you killjoy Anonymous cow-hearder from Friday 22nd January 2010 09:54 GMT)

  15. Tim Brown 1

    Dreaming of a world without Flash, dream on.

    The more mature the internet gets, the harder it is to replace established technologies. Much as I dislike Flash it isn't going away anytime soon (read at least 10 years and probably a great deal longer).

    1. BristolBachelor Gold badge

      Dreaming of a world without Flash

      Doesn't stop me dreaming.

      Also means that I will be able to view the funny videos my co-hawkers send me without having to go to another PC with Flash on it :)

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Isn't this the reason ...

    ... that there has always been a variety of 'standards' or hacks for media in HTML, because no-one can agree.

  17. Popup

    How about x264?

    This might be a silly question, but what's really the problem with h.264?

    They claimed patents, but I thought that the x264 implementation is fully patent-free.

    It's true that there are patents involved in MPEG-4, but there are free reference encoders as well as GPL'ed implementations.

    Or have I missed something?

    1. Tom 35


      Just because it's open source will not stop some troll in Texas with a crap patent from trying to squeeze money from the first outfit with cash that uses it.

  18. mark l 2 Silver badge

    flash is going to be around for a while

    I agree with Tim Brown 1 comment about flash being around for a long time yet. Google may have the available web developers to convert their flash sites to use html5 but there are a LOT of smaller sites that don't have the time or need to convert there exisiting working flash site to html5 so it will be a long while before you can browse every site without needing flash installed to get the correct viewing experience.

  19. frymaster

    if firefox can't view the videos (on windows), it's only got itself to blame...

    just about every single consumer windows pc has a h.264 directshow codec installed. all firefox has to do is to hook into the operating system's own features for playing media. the firefox devs seem to have a "not invented here" view for using any kind of OS enhancements - which might be a very important design decision given the cross-platform nature - EXCEPT for anything relating to aero and other pointless bling. which means it's not because of design critera and it's just because they like making things difficult

    - if firefox used directshow to play media, the video tag would work for most people

    - if firefox used the user's x509 certificate store instead of its own, corporations might be able to use it for their dodgy intranet ssl sites

    - if firefox used the user's registry for storing config information instead of an sqlite database, corporations might be able to use group policy to control firefox settings (specifically proxies, but I can think of other things that apply)

    1. Steve X

      The title is required, but I can't think of one

      Firefox used to be a fast, slimline, safe browser. These days they seem to be trying to outbloat Microsoft.

      open source has its advantages, but being designed by commitee isn't one of them.

  20. Anonymous Coward

    Adobe must be very happy..

    .. owning the real defacto standard.

  21. RanTalbott

    No, it isn't. You miss several points.

    Your view is only true of "any large network" that's a (usually Windoze) monoculture. It assumes that the only obstacle to installing new codecs is lack of admin privileges on a desktop PC.

    On the "large network" under discussion (the entire Intertubez), there's a huge variety of end user platforms, including systems like mobile phones and other embedded systems that don't have endless storage to carry around a bazillion different codecs and/or lack a mechanism for collecting money to pay royalties on proprietary plug-ins.

    If you want to encourage innovation, and protect the planet from the threat of malware being able to shut down the entire industrialized world with a zero-day exploit, you need to ensure that our essential infrastructure is based on standards that anyone with time and talent can implement and deploy. That will promote diversity and diversity and rapid evolution among the systems attached to the network, while ensuring that the network, itself, remains stable and robust, evolving more slowly and in ways that don't break existing uses.

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