or Connect
AppleInsider › Forums › Software › Mac Software › Ogg Theora, H.264 and the HTML 5 Browser Squabble
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Ogg Theora, H.264 and the HTML 5 Browser Squabble

post #1 of 138
Thread Starter 
Pundits are roasting Apple over a scuffle raised by Mozilla and Opera to define the free Ogg Theora video codec as the official way to present video on the web in the new HTML 5 specification. The problem: HTML isn't supposed to define content codecs, and even if it were, Ogg Theora, commercially abandoned nearly a decade ago, doesn't have what it takes to deliver video on the increasingly mobile web.

While the tech media has largely portrayed the disagreement as either a huge roadblock for HTML 5 or a war between free software advocates and big corporations, the reality is that specifications like HTML 5 are not intended to enforce political views but rather to foster interoperability. At issue is the video format specified in the new HTML 5, a situation that is new because the HTML specification has never defined a simple system for embedding video in the same way that web developers can place ordinary graphics within their pages.

While web browsers use the "img" tag to recognize and display graphical elements in any number of formats, from GIF to JPEG to PNG, there has never been an equivalent way to simply place video or audio files within HTML. Instead, web developers have have to post their video as an embedded file, which various browsers may or may not know how to display properly.

This conspicuously missing link in seamless audio and video playback on the web has a history that parallels QuickTime and the development of the ISO MPEG video standards themselves, the same industry standards that Mozilla, Opera and some open source advocates are railing against. It also, of course, involves Microsoft.

The QuickTime Plugin
Displaying video that works properly across all browsers has been a tricky feat, as competing multimedia playback plugins usually only support specific container files (used to store the media data) and codecs (used to compress the audio and video data). Web developers originally used MJPEG (Motion JPEG), a simple video format that plays video using a series of JPEG stills and uses a basic raw WAV file for audio. That is the only format that works across browsers, but isn't very efficient in terms of quality versus download size.

Apple's QuickTime predated the web as a system for playing back video in a variety of different codecs, including MJPEG, and could support new codec components from third parties. When the web began to take off in the mid 90s, Apple provided a QuickTime plugin for Netscape and other browsers that enabled them to play audio and video directly within the browser. This initially made QuickTime the way to deliver video on the web, particularly in a world where Macs made up a disproportionate ratio of both web users and web developers.

After realizing the significance of the open web and its potential to marginalize its Windows monopoly, Microsoft targeted Netscape for death and took aim at QuickTime as well. Microsoft licensed the NCSA's SpyGlass browser code that Netscape was built upon and produced Internet Explorer, which it then bundled with Windows for free to destroy any market for Netscape's browser.

Microsoft's War on QuickTime
Copying and killing QuickTime proved to be harder. Microsoft had already failed to match QuickTime's performance with its own Video for Windows product in the early 90s, and then found itself in hot legal water after it intentionally stole Apple's QuickTime code in an effort to make VfW a viable competitor on Windows in the San Francisco Canyon scandal. After years of failing to unseat QuickTime as the standard for video playback on Mac and Windows systems, Microsoft stepped up its efforts to take over web video in the late 90s by simply making Internet Explorer ignore the QuickTime plugin users had installed.

In the Microsoft Monopoly trial that centered around the company's abuse of Netscape, Apple executives testified that while Netscape worked fine with the QuickTime plugin, successive versions of Internet Explorer increasingly failed to properly send video to QuickTime, creating the impression for consumers that QuickTime didn't work correctly. In the trial, Apple presented a chart of 22 media file types, all of which were passed to QuickTime by Netscape 4 on Windows 95. In Internet Explorer 3 however, only 15 were passed to the QuickTime plugin; in IE 4.0 only 11 were passed, and under Windows 98, only 4. Microsoft's lawyers only claimed that nobody could prove the company was breaking compatibility with QuickTime on purpose and maliciously.

At the same time however, Microsoft representatives were threatening to destroy Apple's business within video authoring unless the company agreed to scuttle QuickTime playback on Windows and grant Microsoft competition-free access and control over video playback on Windows. Unlike other companies that played along with Microsoft's threats, Apple turned down Microsoft's famous demand to "knife the baby" and took on the company head to head in video playback.

Vigorous competition against Microsoft resulted in the release of QuickTime 3 against a variety of technology announcements by Microsoft that largely failed to materialize. Microsoft's promised, cross-platform Active Movie never arrived, and the intent to deliver a new Windows Media container file also never gained real traction. Instead, in 1998 the ISO adopted QuickTime's container as the basis for the forthcoming MPEG 4 suite of multimedia standards, a high profile rejection of Microsoft's plans.

Microsoft pushes Flash against Adobe
While fighting Apple on the QuickTime front in video, Microsoft was also embroiled in a fight against efforts by Adobe and Sun to promote PGML, based on Adobe's PostScript, as an interoperable, open standard for presenting vector graphics on the web. Microsoft teamed up with Macromedia to submit its own competing VML standard. The W3C standards body eventually worked out a compromise that drew from both, creating a new standard called SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics).

Rather than supporting the new SVG standard, Microsoft continued to push VML in Internet Explorer, resulting in market confusion and no real adoption of SVG. On top of that, in order to help scuttle any adoption of Adobe's free SGV web plugin, Microsoft began bundling Macromedia's proprietary Flash player with Internet Explorer 5 in 1999, giving the Flash vector graphics plugin the same broad audience over the Windows monopoly that it had leveraged in reverse to kill QuickTime by breaking compatibility with certain movie formats.

Microsoft's anti-compeitive suppression of QuickTime subsequently resulted in a new application for Flash: video presentation. Because the plugin was widely installed, it could be used to package up proprietary video for opaque playback in the browser. Rather than linking to a standard video file for browser playback using a video plugin, web developers began to package their videos up as a closed Flash movie file for playback by the Flash player plugin Microsoft was widely distributing with Internet Explorer.

Anyone who didn't use Internet Explorer could download the Macromedia Flash plugin, just like downloading the QuickTime plugin. The difference was that because web video was now locked up in the Flash format, it couldn't be played back using alternative players in the way that QuickTime-compatible movies can be played back by alternative media software. Additionally, Macromedia's Flash player really only worked well on Windows, effectively tying Flash content to Internet Explorer.

Apple takes back media with the iPod
Having failed to take over web video itself, Microsoft had at least managed to attach web video to a format that worked best on Internet Explorer. The company then turned its attention to taking over standard video formats used in publishing music and video. Microsoft hoped to replace DVD's ISO MPEG-2 standard with a high definition, heavily DRMed Windows Media format on the same disc, called iHD. Microsoft also pushed into the music business to replace MPEG MP3 with Windows Media Audio, enticing the studios with promises of pirate-proof DRM there as well.

However, Microsoft failed to deliver its promised Windows Media DRM technologies on time, resulting in an opening for Apple's iPod and the iTunes music store. Apple adopted the ISO's standard MPEG AAC (advanced audio codec), which enabled sophisticated data compression and supported studio-demanded DRM. The success of the iPod trampled Microsoft's WMA as a commercial audio distribution format, and iTunes for Windows even managed to make AAC the new standard on both Macs and Windows, quite the coup for company that had been written off as a 2% also ran in the desktop wars.

Apple then did the same thing in video, promoting the state of the art MPEG H.264 standard for video compression in iTunes video with hardware video decoding support on the iPod for efficient playback. Having failed to gain any real traction in pushing WMV playback into DVDs as a quasi-standard, Microsoft managed to rubber stamp its own WMV codec through its SMTPE pet standards body in the US, resulting in it being renamed VC-1. It then got VC-1 licensing mandated as part of both the Blu-Ray and HD-DVD specifications, although only the ill fated HD-DVD ever really used it. Meanwhile, iTunes continued to popularize H.264 in the same way Apple had helped launch AAC among consumers.

Apple takes on WMV and Flash
Not content with simply encouraging the use of interoperable, open standards, Apple also took up the task of removing dependancies upon non-standard codecs designed to tie content to Windows exclusively. Microsoft had refused to support the latest version of WMA and WMV on the Mac, and Macromedia had done little to make its Flash plugin work well on Macs, Linux, or in other browsers besides Internet Explorer.

To ensure that commercial content could continue to play back everywhere, including its own Mac and iPod hardware, Apple refused to support Microsoft's proprietary WMA and WMV playback on the iPod, channeling iPod demand into creating a music market that only rewarded interoperable formats from raw WAV audio to published standards such as MP3 and AAC. It did the same with iPod video, supporting only MPEG-4/H.264 formats at the expense of WMV, Real Video, and other proprietary formats.

With the iPhone, Apple did something parallel to Flash: it similarly refused to support video playback of Flash movies, officially citing that this was only because Flash, now owned by Adobe, didn't work well enough to include it. While that was true, the real reason for killing Flash on the iPhone was to push web developers back toward publishing standard video formats rather that wrapping their video content up in a proprietary Flash binary.

Somewhat ironically, Microsoft itself has now taken aim at Adobe's Flash by introducing its own copy originally called Sparkle, along with the Silverlight runtime. With Internet Explorer now facing increased competition and plummeting market share, Microsoft's ability to assassinate competitors' plugins as it did with QuickTime and its power to coronate others, as it did with the Flash plugin, have weakened.

HTML 5 and the Ogg Theora option
Meanwhile, the browsers taking away Microsoft's control of the market, including Opera, Mozilla's Firefox, Apple's Safari, and Google's Chrome, are working together to solve the problem of having no standardized way to present video. HTML 5 defines simple ways to embed video files so that the client browser can display them. Microsoft's strategy seems to be to wait and see how those efforts develop, and perhaps attempt to derail them before they obsolete any real need for Flash or Microsoft's own anti-interoperable, web-standards hostile, belated clone of Flash in Silverlight.

Apple already convinced Google to serve up its YouTube videos as H.264 in addition to Flash binaries, initially to support playback on the iPhone. Google has also demonstrated a version of its YouTube website delivering video using HTML 5's native support for publishing H.264 video without Flash.

The remaining problem is that two browser companies that depend upon free distribution of their software are opposed to licensing the H.264 codec. Instead, they wanted the W3C to designate Ogg Theora as the official video codec of HTML 5. Ogg Theora is based upon VP3 video technology originally proprietary to On2, and subsequently abandoned after it became obsolete. Flash video is based on On2's VP6, and Skype's proprietary video conferencing uses VP7. In the face of interoperable standards published by the ISO, On2's proprietary codecs are increasingly in the same boat as Microsoft's WMV/VC-1, without Microsoft's remaining clout.

The open source community has embraced the obsolete VP3, abandoned by On2 back in 2001, as a viable alternative to today's H.264. For software developers, using Ogg Theora allows them to avoid paying royalties in order to share in the patent pool contributed by MPEG's member companies. This has also resulted in adoption of Ogg Theora by video game developers and organizations like Wikipedia.

Ogg Theora vs. H.264
However, hardware makers like Apple and Nokia are opposed to HTML 5 being tied to Ogg Theora for a number of more practical reasons. First, the cost of licensing H.264 isn't significant to these companies in the way it is to smaller software developers, and particularly the browser vendors who hope to distribute their software for free. While Apple also distributes Safari for free, most of its users are buying Macs or iPhones to run it. In contrast, Mozilla's entire Firefox business model revolves around Google paying it around $50 million a year to direct search queries its way. Larger companies like Google similarly have no cost-related preference for using Ogg Theora.

Second, since companies like Apple, Google and Nokia are already invested in H.264, the prospect of having to support an old obsolete codec is not at all desirable. Google has noted that there's no way the company could serve up YouTube's billions of streams using the much less efficient Ogg Theora codec, saying it would consume the world's Internet bandwidth due to its less sophisticated compression. Ogg Theora also lacks the hardware acceleration available for H.264, making it completely unattractive for use in mobile devices from netbooks to smartphones.

Opera and Mozilla don't make mobile hardware, so they don't care about this. Mozilla doesn't even have a viable mobile browser. Opera's mobile business largely centers on Opera Mini, which isn't really a web browser but actually an applet that displays pre-rendered web pages served by Opera's web proxy servers to less powerful phones that can't run a real browser. All of the advanced new mobile devices use a WebKit-based browser, from Safari on the iPhone and iPod touch to the Palm Pre, BlackBerry Storm, and Google Android devices.

Apple has also voiced concerns that Ogg Theora may be encumbered by unknown patents. That risk isn't significant to Mozilla and Opera, both of whom could simply abandon the format for something else in the same way that the web temporarily abandoned commercial support for GIF after Unisys tried to sue everyone for using it. However, for a company like Apple that has built a business that requires selling media content and supporting hardware acceleration in mobile devices, it's not possible to randomly drop a codec technology when a submarine patent threat appears. Apple also has a bankroll to attract patent trolls that Mozilla and Opera both lack.

A problem that lacks any need for a solution
The real problem with the squabble over the future of HTML 5 is that the standard doesn't need to specify an official codec. There's no official codec for graphics; web developers can use JPEG, GIF, PNG, or any other format. If users can't see the image, they might need to load a helper plugin. There is no problem related to lacking an official graphics format.

The same is true with video. In fact, despite all the outrage being trumpeted by Mozilla, there's no reason the browser needs to license support for a video codec anyway. If users are smart enough to download Firefox, they can also download QuickTime and watch H.264 video on Apple's licensing dime, or they can download one of the free H.264 capable codecs available for FOSS platforms, including the GPLed x264, the engine used by VLC, FFmpeg, and HandBrake.

Further, there's no real reason web developers need to only serve one codec. It's easy in HTML 5 to offer up video as H.264, Ogg Theora, and even as a Flash binary so that anyone can watch it. As far as saving organizations like Wikipedia from having to license MPEG, there's no real problem for users to download a package of open source codec components for QuickTime or their media system playback of choice that enable Ogg Theora playback on non-mobile systems.

This whole imagined war over the official video codec of HTML 5 simply a non-issue. What is an issue is HTML 5 adoption. In addition to promoting interoperable video, HTML 5 also enables rich application support including client side databases for fat client sophistication and offline support. HTML 5 is designed to replace the need for a proprietary plugin like Flash or Silverlight just to present web content with sophisticated client-side interoperability.

The only question now is who will deliver the best HTML 5 support, and how quickly the foot-draggers seeking to hold onto the past decade's proprietary technologies will be left behind.
post #2 of 138
Thorough, thoughtful and compelling piece -- kudos, Mr. McLean!
post #3 of 138
OK, then what's Apple's excuse for not backing Ogg Vorbis in HTML5? None of the same arguments apply. Vorbis is not obsolete and its a superior codec to MP3. The reason is Apple is at best opportunistic with open standards. They don't even support Open Document in iWork.
post #4 of 138
while you cover the practical issues quite fairly. the fact remains that apple should but never will include support for ogg (and flac) regardless whether it favours it or not.

the solution of installing plugins leaves exactly where we are today and what the "<video>" tag is trying to solve.

sitting down at a computer and finding there is no flash installed, no java, not h.264 or ogg plugin. how many plugins are we expected to install? and what of silverlight? it's just the same business.

quicktime is near useless unless you've added an array of codecs. while it is useful inside os x, a great more so than windows media, in safari it rarely helps me to view the video i seek.

the point is, unless there is consensus and some lead is taken, by either h.264 or ogg or anything new, we will continue to exist with this smattering of codecs to which you're never quite sure what the result will be.

ideally the MPEG group or whoever is responsible for licensing h.264 needs to look at how they can best get their product out there. surely it would not be hard for them to be convinced that hundreds of millions of browsers with their codec would not lead to good results in licensing for commercial products?
post #5 of 138
Quote:
Originally Posted by stonefree View Post

OK, then what's Apple's excuse for not backing Ogg Vorbis in HTML5? None of the same arguments apply. Vorbis is not obsolete and its a superior codec to MP3. The reason is Apple is at best opportunistic with open standards. They don't even support Open Document in iWork.

I believe the second sentence of the original post answers your question.
From out there on the moon, international politics look so petty. You want to grab a politician by the scruff of the neck and drag him a quarter of a million miles out and say, "Look at that!" -...
Reply
From out there on the moon, international politics look so petty. You want to grab a politician by the scruff of the neck and drag him a quarter of a million miles out and say, "Look at that!" -...
Reply
post #6 of 138
Some comments:

H.264 is equally ulnerable to submarine patents. If someone has a patent on something in H.264, companies that use it can be sued.

Google claims that H.264 is far-and-away more efficient than Ogg Theora, and that they can't possibly give users the same quality on YouTube without spending much more on bandwidth. However, direct comparisons between YouTube and Theora show no great difference.

Mozilla has also funded a lot of improvements (still ongoing) on the reference Theora encoder.

Finally, there is nothing implicit in Theora that make it hard to accelerate with hardware - it's just that it hasn't been done yet due to a lack of users. Mozilla's inclusion of Theora in Firefox 3.5 is one of the things that should help to change that.

Also, it's important to note that Mozilla is all about the Open Web, and the Open Web should never be knowingly held beholden to patented formats.

(Disclaimer: I am both a Mozilla employee and a Firefox developer.)
post #7 of 138
It's a really tough decision. H.264 may be technically superior, but it has such nasty licensing arrangement. I'd like not to have to pay someone to look at my own videos...

The licensing fees that are upcoming for H.264 in 2010/2011 are shocking. They treat web video as a broadcast medium. Nasty.

It's the H.264 licensing body that needs to make decoding royalty free. However, everyone adopting H.264 at this rapid pace just allows them to charge what they want.
post #8 of 138
1. HTML5's <video> tag is so freaking simple and already supported by both Firefox 3.5 and Safari 4. The only downside so far is that full-screen playback has not been implemented yet. That said, I am planning to use the JW Player or Google Player to stream H.264 .mov files for a future version of my school's website.

2. This article is very similar to http://www.osnews.com/story/21767/Br..._HTML_5_Codecs, which precedes this one by 3 or 4 days. Are these the pundits you are referring to? Was this article cited (and I missed it)? I know this isn't the Wall Street Journal or anything, but perhaps a direct citation to this previous article is necessary. Did you read this article Prince? Please correct me and accept my apologies if I am wrong.
post #9 of 138
Quote:
Originally Posted by retroneo View Post

It's a really tough decision. H.264 may be technically superior, but it has such nasty licensing arrangement. I'd like not to have to pay someone to look at my own videos...

The licensing fees that are upcoming for H.264 in 2010/2011 are shocking. They treat web video as a broadcast medium. Nasty.

It's the H.264 licensing body that needs to make decoding royalty free. However, everyone adopting H.264 at this rapid pace just allows them to charge what they want.

I say stick with the open source thing, no matter hwat the cost of H.264, the fact is it is closed, the whole point of HTML is that it and all subsets thereof are open.


As to paying someone to play your own videos, you already do, the encoder licenses are included in the video camera or capture device price and decoders and transcoders are paid for as part of the cost of the OS, a specific app, like Final Cut, or in the case of iTunes, underwritten by the income from the movie and music stores.
You can't quantify how much I don't care -- Bob Kevoian of the Bob and Tom Show.
Reply
You can't quantify how much I don't care -- Bob Kevoian of the Bob and Tom Show.
Reply
post #10 of 138
All my fanboy-ism aside, OGG should NOT be considered.

It doesn't offer any of the complex features or profiles of h.264. As someone who's worked with extremely technical video issues (such as streaming a desktop browser to your phone) I can tell you that OGG has poor documentation compared to h.264. Not only that it's extremely week in areas that really matter for mobile. Every single cell carrier in the united states and europe ALREADY use h.264 for nearly everything. h.264 is used to carrier phone calls, video, and has extremely specialized compression options that allow me to use this codec to carrier just about any data I want, and carrier it small.

OGG would be fine for playing a video in a window on your browser. But why bother, when I already have an h.264 player in every OS I own, and it built into my browser already? Why go against everything that already exist. If OGG had something to offer over h.264 then I would say yes.

It has zero to offer. The idea that OGG is open-source, and therefore free is a BS argument. It's less open-source than h.264 in terms of documentation, and help you will find on the net.

To build h.264 decoding you are supposed to pay royalties, WHICH apple, MS, and everyone already paid, Opera and other companies can stop writing shitty products and access the 100% free libs provided by the OS.
post #11 of 138
Despite owning Macs and technically being an Apple supporter, I can't help but feel the article takes an extremely Apple cheerleading slant to reporting the story that has been covered by many other tech websites.

In any case, personally, I think it is unnecessary to reinvent the wheel by trying to popularize Theora. H.264 is widely used, has existing hardware acceleration support in both mobile devices, computers, and living-room electronics, and is now fairly well known to the public.

In my mind the ideal solution is for Apple, Google, and Microsoft to try to negotiate reduced licensing fees for H.264 for use in internet browsers and/or pay for H.264 licensing fees for open-source browsers. Perhaps 1 fixed bulk H.264 licensing fee paid for by Apple, Google, and Microsoft that will cover all present and future open-source browsers that will implement H.264 HTML5 support. Why would they agree to sponsor the open source community? For Google and Apple, if they really want to stop the use of Flash for internet video and get H.264 to be the standard then they should be willing to pay for it if the cost isn't too unreasonable. In Microsoft's case, even though they haven't commented on the issue, I wouldn't be surprised if they would prefer H.264 over Theora too. For Microsoft, being seen to sponsor the open source community and promote internet standards would generate positive press against all those anti-trust and monopoly allegations that crop up, especially with the EU. And it's not like Apple, Google or Microsoft don't have the profits to invest somewhere.

The difference between defining a video standard for HTML5 and leaving an HTML image standard undefined is that for video, the entire objective is not to simply to present video on the internet but to defeat Flash's use as the video presentation "standard". In this case, HTML5 video is going up against an entrenched "standard". If you leave it as a free-for-all, all that will end up happening is that web developers will quickly realize there is a current definitive standard across the majority of consumers and that is Flash so nothing will change. Re-encoding video and offering multiple video formats to viewers may not be as much of a problem as a few years ago, but it still isn't convenient or ideal and again goes back to why bother?

It may seem mean and vindictive, but the common goal of Apple, Google, and Microsoft seems to be to over-throw Flash's stranglehold as the internet plug-in standard. If they are really serious about achieving it, they'll have to settle on a definitive internet video standard for HTML5, and if they want what appears to be the technically superior codec in H.264, then they should be prepared to help bankroll it. Afterall Apple and Google are already bankrolling WebKit, Javascript, and HTML5's usage as an alternative to Flash for Rich Internet Application usage and Microsoft is doing the same with Silverlight. Funding an attack on Flash's video application is just an extension of existing plans.
post #12 of 138
So what this really is is a shakedown by companies looking to reduce the royalty rates they need to pay to implement a technology. By bringing about this PR tempest in a teapot they look to use the court of public opinion to drive a better bargain. Nice.
Make it idiotproof and they'll just make a
better idiot.
Reply
Make it idiotproof and they'll just make a
better idiot.
Reply
post #13 of 138
Quote:
Originally Posted by mcloki View Post

So what this really is is a shakedown by companies looking to reduce the royalty rates they need to pay to implement a technology. By bringing about this PR tempest in a teapot they look to use the court of public opinion to drive a better bargain. Nice.

Another way to view this is whether being able to pay said H.264 royalties should be a forced requirement to achieve compliance with an open HTML standard.
post #14 of 138
Until somebody promises to indemnify open source browsers from lawsuits from any H.264 patent holders, no open source browser will implement <video> with H.264. This means that users of open source browsers, including the vast majority of Linux users (100% of them until Google Chrome is released for Linux) will be unable to view any site that uses H.264 for <video>.

This is not acceptable. The web is supposed to be open and accessible to all. I know that the only ways to view video on the web are through proprietary plugins (Flash, Silverlight, JavaFX), but Flash is available for Linux. Safari probably never will be, and Chrome isn't yet.
post #15 of 138
"Microsoft managed to rubber stamp its own WMV codec through its SMTPE pet standards body in the US, resulting in it being renamed VC-1."

It's SMPTE (Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers), not SMTPE, and I think it's asinine to refer to them as Microsoft's 'pet standards body'. They have published over 400 standards (since 1916!) which (along with the ISO/IEC & European EBU) basically define a large proportion of professional broadcast video system implementation.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SMPTE

Apart from the VC-1 standardization I can't think of a single SMPTE standard that has anything to do with Microsoft. I'm not defending the standardization of VC-1 but that hardly makes them a "pet standards body".
post #16 of 138
Quote:
Originally Posted by HoserHead View Post

Some comments:

H.264 is equally ulnerable to submarine patents. If someone has a patent on something in H.264, companies that use it can be sued.

Google claims that H.264 is far-and-away more efficient than Ogg Theora, and that they can't possibly give users the same quality on YouTube without spending much more on bandwidth. However, direct comparisons between YouTube and Theora show no great difference.

Mozilla has also funded a lot of improvements (still ongoing) on the reference Theora encoder.

Finally, there is nothing implicit in Theora that make it hard to accelerate with hardware - it's just that it hasn't been done yet due to a lack of users. Mozilla's inclusion of Theora in Firefox 3.5 is one of the things that should help to change that.

Also, it's important to note that Mozilla is all about the Open Web, and the Open Web should never be knowingly held beholden to patented formats.

It is true that h.264 is vulnerable but far less than Theora. The MPEG have a ton of patents on this and since Theora is open source it is far more vulnerable.

You may make the statement that h.264 and Theora doesn't have a great deal of difference in efficiency but DiBona at Google believes differently. Google has no horse in this to be biased. They are supporting both formats in Chrome. What DiBona said was out of his own genuine concerns. Google is for open source just as much as Mozilla is and maybe Apple to a certain extent.

Mozilla may help the progression of Theora hardware acceleration, but H.264 hardware acceleration is already here and will take time to see the hardware for Theora. Meanwhile mobile devices that currently support h.264 will be hurt by the lack of support for Theora. The benefits to mobile devices (not just Apple products) are already here. As of right now I believe there is one manufacturer that is supporting Theora. If this debate was to be made, it should have been done years ago before everybody moved to support h.264.

As "Prince" has said it is best that Mozilla stay out and let users download QuickTime which most users already have. Let's be honest here also. Mozilla is for the Open Web but it is also for not paying for the h.264 license.
post #17 of 138
THis was a kick-ass article!!! That was so awesome. Thanks AppleInsider!
post #18 of 138
No offense but the article is biased - at best. Apple's push is completely driven by the iTunes eco-system, it's business driven, Apple is a business, don't start telling us they became philanthropic overnight! The debate is not Ogg vs h264 or anything else. The debate is about embracing an open standard so that content can be displayed seamlessly, on any device. Ogg may not be the best answer, but Apple's position is definitely one of the worst and one of the most biased, whether you like it or not!
post #19 of 138
Quote:
Originally Posted by str1f3 View Post

As "Prince" has said it is best that Mozilla stay out and let users download QuickTime which most users already have.

Such a move would automatically put Firefox at the mercy of Apple since they can determine what level of support and integration Firefox users receive of a function as basic as playing video. It would also leave Linux users unsupported which while maybe not a large user base are still strong Firefox supporters. Even without relying on Apple, it would still leave Firefox relying on third-parties. As well, I believe Firefox is especially popular in European governments and I can certainly see pressure for certain security levels to have plug-ins disabled, which would put Firefox at a disadvantage compared to other browsers without these limitations. Plus, Firefox's userbase at greater than 20% browser share is not insignificant. The entire objective of video in HTML5 is to avoid the use of plug-ins to play video. To push 20%+ of internet users back to video plug-ins defeats the entire purpose of HTML5 video. For all these reasons, I can see why Mozilla would be reluctant to embrace the be quiet and use plug-ins point of view.
post #20 of 138
Quote:
Originally Posted by warpdag View Post

No offense but the article is biased - at best. Apple's push is completely driven by the iTunes eco-system, it's business driven, Apple is a business, don't start telling us they became philanthropic overnight! The debate is not Ogg vs h264 or anything else. The debate is to embrace an open standard so that content can be displayed seamlessly, on any device. Ogg may not be the answer, but Apple's position is definitely not the answer either!

You're acting like Mozilla and Opera are doing it for the sake of the Internet. They are a business like any other. It's to their benefit that it supports Theora because they don't want to pay licensing fees. Just like it serves Apple and Google's best interest for bandwidth concerns and iTunes.

I would like open standards like anybody else but the truth is that the one hindrance of the Internet right now is bandwidth and h.264 is better at handling this than Theora. These patents don't last forever. If they wanted to do this then it should have been done a long time ago instead of everyone relying on Flash.
post #21 of 138
The longest article I can remember on AppleInsider. Very knowledgeable, very historical, and very detailed.

The whole thing boils down to control; who will be in-charge. In this case, I think Apple has a leg up in this "squabble". Microsoft has ruined everything for everyone. Netscape was the best thing ever for internet. If you never used Netscape, you missed the internet revolution in its purest form.
I miss Netscape.

The greed of Microscope destroyed Netscape and almost ruined QuickTime. Like Windows, Internet Explorer is fading, and will continue to fade day by day, until the misery IS removed from brave souls who fought and killed it.

Damn Microsoft! I will rather give up internet than use Internet Explorer. That shit is a disaster. H.264 will win this battle. It will be long, it will be bitter and it will take prisoners. Innovation cannot be put back in the backyard. The door has been opened for the brave to march by. Only fear makes one stand by "WINDOWS".
post #22 of 138
Quote:
Originally Posted by str1f3 View Post

You're acting like Mozilla and Opera are doing it for the sake of the Internet. They are a business like any other. It's to their benefit that it supports Theora because they don't want to pay licensing fees. Just like it serves Apple and Google's best interest for bandwidth concerns and iTunes.

Mozilla is not a "business like any other." Mozilla is a public benefit, non-profit organization whose only purpose is to advance the open web. If users can't use their data however they want because of licensing problems, then it's not really an Open web, now is it?
post #23 of 138
I support Apple on most everything and believe that they are honestly afraid of lawsuits, but I think they are going to end up shooting themselves in the foot for not supporting ogg formats in addition to mp4. Why can't they support both - Google is in Chrome. I understand that mp4 works well for large corporations and for certain applications. But Apple sells computers with one of the big sellers being able to easily author multimedia. When in 2011, when they start charging for MP4 video, even non-commercial or personal use will require $2,500 in fees. I cannot afford to pay $2,500 to post a few videos online and many will feel the same way. Guess what, Adobe has licensed MP4 for free for non-commercial use if you put it in Flash. So Apple is not getting rid of Flash, unless they support Ogg Theora as well as making it very hard for individuals to post videos that can be seen on a an iPhone without having to pay thousands of dollars.
post #24 of 138
Quote:
Originally Posted by ltcommander.data View Post

Such a move would automatically put Firefox at the mercy of Apple since they can determine what level of support and integration Firefox users receive of a function as basic as playing video. It would also leave Linux users unsupported which while maybe not a large user base are still strong Firefox supporters. Even without relying on Apple, it would still leave Firefox relying on third-parties. As well, I believe Firefox is especially popular in European governments and I can certainly see pressure for certain security levels to have plug-ins disabled, which would put Firefox at a disadvantage compared to other browsers without these limitations. Plus, Firefox's userbase at greater than 20% browser share is not insignificant. The entire objective of video in HTML5 is to avoid the use of plug-ins to play video. To push 20%+ of internet users back to video plug-ins defeats the entire purpose of HTML5 video. For all these reasons, I can see why Mozilla would be reluctant to embrace the be quiet and use plug-ins point of view.

I can't see why Apple would do this. They have not done this to Mozilla before and it serves in their best interests to keep the web as open as possible in their battle with Microsoft.

As for the Linux users, I'm sure they will find a workaround for this as they always do in these types of situations. While there may be some circumstances where Firefox will be hurt, it would also seriously hurt the mobile industry which already has been using h.264 acceleration for some time. Apple for at least the past year has been planning for h.264 acceleration in their laptops and with Snow Leopard which has just come to fruition in the Macbooks with the 9400 and 9600.

Maybe Gruber has the best answer in having one file that is h.264 and one that is Theora. As of right now I see no easy answer. I can easily predict though that h.264 will win out. There are just too many companies invested in this already. Hopefully open source will be ahead in the next-gen codec wars or bandwidth will be less of a concern.
post #25 of 138
Quote:
Originally Posted by str1f3 View Post

You may make the statement that h.264 and Theora doesn't have a great deal of difference in efficiency but DiBona at Google believes differently.

Actually, the test I linked above was a response to what Chris DiBona claimed. Chris fell victim to the same misconceptions of Theora many others share.

Quote:
Originally Posted by str1f3 View Post

As "Prince" has said it is best that Mozilla stay out and let users download QuickTime which most users already have.

Mozilla does not, and will not, support system codecs.

Quote:
Let's be honest here also. Mozilla is for the Open Web but it is also for not paying for the h.264 license.

If H.264 was freely implementable, I'm sure we'd love to use it, because that's what the open web means!
post #26 of 138
Quote:
Originally Posted by str1f3 View Post

Hopefully open source will be ahead in the next-gen codec wars or bandwidth will be less of a concern.

Bandwidth is not a concern now - that is a misconception.
post #27 of 138
Quote:
Originally Posted by HoserHead View Post

Mozilla is not a "business like any other." Mozilla is a public benefit, non-profit organization whose only purpose is to advance the open web. If users can't use their data however they want because of licensing problems, then it's not really an Open web, now is it?

I consider any non-profit organization a business even the Catholic church. Call me a pessimist, but virtually everyone in the world has an angle.

Like I said, I'm all for openness but they are many other factors that there are to consider. Companies cannot, at the drop of a dime, pull a 180 and ditch a format that they've been using for years. This is not a one year process. This will take years.

My main concern is not the mpeg vs Theora debate. I want to kill off Flash and Silverlight before they gain any larger foothold on the Net. They are far more dangerous in my eyes.
post #28 of 138
sigh..

nice explanation BUT I DON'T CARE !

I want a Free to implement, to use , to create and to read and efficient format to publish video on the web

for ALL KIND OF DEVICES !

Cars, computers, mobile, phone, tiny watches and whatever coming !

I want it for Mozilla or apple or Nestlé !

And I'm fucking tired with patents trolls, the mpeg L.A extravagant prices and so on.


You are not for progress and free market, just to defend Apple at all cost. but Apple fears nothing here ! All is FINE for Apple.

Apple is a whole member of mpeg and is committing great technologies in mpeg4 and h264 for years.


So I fear nothing for me beloved precious jesus iphone or mac ! But I really want all navigators to read one format, one easy video format, because I'm tired of stupid flickr, ugly youtube, despicable dailymotion and slow to launch quicktime plugin and tiresome flash plugin.

And yeah, it would be legal to re-implement h264 AND distribute it in sourcecode AND binary form IN and OUT Mozilla Firefox or whatever commercial/Free/libre/proprietary/non-proprietary whatever software !

why ? because, that stupid "it's my property bouhouhouohuou" mpeg fiasco is now against innovation in the web space.

I do not ask the end of mpeg, I ask they give right to mozilla and others to reimplement freely their own implementation of h264 with no legal risks of patent wars and the right to distribute firefox to billions of people with it. just legalize binary distribution of ffmpeg/x264


jpeg2000 was a fiasco but at least, he had png and JPEG to put cute cats on the web !

I don't care all the rationalisation to protect crying fanboy apple, Leave Apple Alone ! ALL is fine for apple and no, neither ogg neither mozilla (or wikipedia) will hurt the Greatness that is Apple and Wonderful Quicktime (bless its name and code).

Money were well earned and will be earn for many years again. and h264 is not the end of video. (believe me.)

ho and yeah, theora is improved, to be "just enough" sufficient to use on the web. no internet tube will explode in a big crazy cataclysm.

"saying it would consume the world's Internet bandwidth due to its less sophisticated compression"
hilarious... ho the humanity... because we all know all the world read youtube with the h264 version OOOooof couuuurse... (or maybe the plain "old bad ugly" flv ? for many years with internet just fine in my garden.)


-
"there's no real problem for users to download a package of open source codec components for QuickTime or their media system playback of choice that enable Ogg Theora playback on non-mobile systems"

just "non-mobile systems" is NO SYSTEMS AT ALL !

it's ALL system or NONE.


-
"The only question now is who will deliver the best HTML 5 support, and how quickly the foot-draggers seeking to hold onto the past decade's proprietary technologies will be left behind.
"

I don't about your superior technology, ho you big Alien from Space !

I just care about EASINESS, Simplicity and STANDARD ! you know ! the fight you did to make possible to use a MACINTOSH !


Now I want the same fight to use firefox, fennec, opera, webkit or whatever to read standard video on Linux, Mac and crazy tiny watches !


if it's h264, then, ask FREE to use own made implementation and not patent threat from mpeg L.A

if it's thera, then ask decent support of it to microsoft , apple and google.

I don't care anything ELSE, apple will be just fine. don't worry, you big whiny baby.
post #29 of 138
Quote:
Originally Posted by HoserHead View Post

H.264 is equally ulnerable to submarine patents. If someone has a patent on something in H.264, companies that use it can be sued.

I think this issue is over played. MPEG has been making codecs for 20 years, H.264 specifically has been active for 6 years. Submarine patents haven't been a serious problem for the MPEG group in all that time. As widely as H.264 has been adopted and used, if there were any serious patent problems they would have been revealed by this point.

Quote:
Google claims that H.264 is far-and-away more efficient than Ogg Theora, and that they can't possibly give users the same quality on YouTube without spending much more on bandwidth. However, direct comparisons between YouTube and Theora show no great difference.

I wouldn't trust Xiph as the source of this comparison.

Quote:
Finally, there is nothing implicit in Theora that make it hard to accelerate with hardware - it's just that it hasn't been done yet due to a lack of users. Mozilla's inclusion of Theora in Firefox 3.5 is one of the things that should help to change that.

It may not be technically difficult but there isn't much reason for any SOC manufactures to include it either. As Mozilla makes no hand held media devices, there is next to zero chance Firefox will help OGG Theora hardware acceleration.

Quote:
Also, it's important to note that Mozilla is all about the Open Web, and the Open Web should never be knowingly held beholden to patented formats.

MPEG-4 isn't a proprietary group. It consists of 350 companies, universities, and research groups. The license isn't corporate profit, it pays for research and development.
post #30 of 138
by the way, what is a "pundit" ? a big bad guy we have to hate because he dare to spit on apple garden ?

sigh, surely me and my iphone and 3 macs will be a pundit because I just want one nice standard video codec

ho silly me...
post #31 of 138
>MPEG-4 isn't a proprietary group. It consists of 350 companies, universities, and research groups. The license
>isn't corporate profit, it pays for research and development.

but it is a ugly patent covered stuff. and license price are very very expensive and refuse distribution of binary opensource reimplementation in software

the license is HUGE corporate profit of course, and it's nice, I mean, corporate profit paid me (and I give gifts thanks to that), it also allow university to participate in development

but it's not the FINAL GOAL of the WORLD.

we need open standard nice and free and efficient to finally solve the whole video mess on the Web.

You should Love the Web, not the license body.

You should love the Web, not the codec

You should love the Web, not simply Apple.
post #32 of 138
OK, now we officially hate MS even more!
Now that's out of the way - what a useless (political) squabble! The whole thing could be resolved if the H264 licensing fee was removed. That is where the battle should be fought. For a standard to be truly open and available it needs to be free to all.
post #33 of 138
All I can say is holy crap this article should *not* have been published on Apple Insider.

I like Dan/Prince's article and actually agree with pretty much every assertion made here but ...

I'm not stupid enough to think this is not a highly inflammatory, emotional, and slanted article that is really, really out of place here. I thought the Ars article this morning (the "pro" Ogg article), was biased, but this one makes that one read like a scientific paper.

I personally happen to agree with Dan's slant 100% but Apple Insider usually tries to be balanced doesn't it? This is like walking into a bar on the bad side of town and calling the biggest biker you see a sissy boy or something.

Yikes!
In Windows, a window can be a document, it can be an application, or it can be a window that contains other documents or applications. Theres just no consistency. Its just a big grab bag of monkey...
Reply
In Windows, a window can be a document, it can be an application, or it can be a window that contains other documents or applications. Theres just no consistency. Its just a big grab bag of monkey...
Reply
post #34 of 138
Quote:
Originally Posted by retroneo View Post

It's a really tough decision. H.264 may be technically superior, but it has such nasty licensing arrangement. I'd like not to have to pay someone to look at my own videos...

You pay to watch video every day.

Quote:
The licensing fees that are upcoming for H.264 in 2010/2011 are shocking. They treat web video as a broadcast medium. Nasty.

From what I understand the current license is up in 2010, but they have not fully decided the rules of the next license.

Quote:
It's the H.264 licensing body that needs to make decoding royalty free. However, everyone adopting H.264 at this rapid pace just allows them to charge what they want.

The research and development that went into H.264 wasn't free.
post #35 of 138
Quote:
Originally Posted by TenoBell View Post

I wouldn't trust Xiph as the source of this comparison.

By all means, run it yourself. Greg listed his methodology!

Quote:
It may not be technically difficult but there isn't much reason for any SOC manufactures to include it either. As Mozilla makes no hand held media devices, there is next to zero chance Firefox will help OGG Theora hardware acceleration.

You might be surprised.

Quote:
MPEG-4 isn't a proprietary group. It consists of 350 companies, universities, and research groups. The license isn't corporate profit, it pays for research and development.

Doesn't matter what the money goes to - it matters that you have to pay to implement it. That just won't fly on the open web.
post #36 of 138
Just like Bluray won over night, so will OGG!
post #37 of 138
Quote:
Originally Posted by str1f3 View Post

I consider any non-profit organization a business even the Catholic church. Call me a pessimist, but virtually everyone in the world has an angle.

Our audited financials are available online. We try to be as open about what we do as possible. Our angle is simple: build the open web, and make sure we can continue to build it for years to come.
post #38 of 138
Quote:
Originally Posted by paxman View Post

OK, now we officially hate MS even more!
Now that's out of the way - what a useless (political) squabble! The whole thing could be resolved if the H264 licensing fee was removed. That is where the battle should be fought. For a standard to be truly open and available it needs to be free to all.

Technically, if this issue is to be decided, Microsoft will need to weigh in. Like it or not, Internet Explorer still has greater than 60% browser share. If HTML5 video ever has a hope of gaining enough momentum to displace Flash as the internet video conduit, Internet Explorer needs to be onboard. Even if they haven't implemented it yet, Microsoft could comment on whether they favour Theora, H.264 or some other alternative so that everyone else can move forward. Although I wouldn't be surprised if Microsoft just decided to implement some type of WMV/VC-1 variation which would just mess everything up.
post #39 of 138
Quote:
Originally Posted by HoserHead View Post

Our audited financials are available online. We try to be as open about what we do as possible. Our angle is simple: build the open web, and make sure we can continue to build it for years to come.

I think this is a great debate to have and one of the best pieces appleinsider has ever written.
Don't get me wrong. I root for Mozilla as much as the next person. I am just not the trusting type.

As far as this debate is concerned I'm okay whichever way it goes as long as it's quick. The web is too divided as is. The last thing I want to see is Microsoft or Adobe control the web. They have already mucked it up.

Ultimately I hope that MPEG reduces its licensing fees just because of this debate.
post #40 of 138
Quote:
Originally Posted by ltcommander.data View Post

Technically, if this issue is to be decided, Microsoft will need to weigh in. Like it or not, Internet Explorer still has greater than 60% browser share. If HTML5 video ever has a hope of gaining enough momentum to displace Flash as the internet video conduit, Internet Explorer needs to be onboard. Even if they haven't implemented it yet, Microsoft could comment on whether they favour Theora, H.264 or some other alternative so that everyone else can move forward. Although I wouldn't be surprised if Microsoft just decided to implement some type of WMV/VC-1 variation which would just mess everything up.

I would think Microsoft would push Silverlight first which is why they haven't really supported HTML5 in IE8. I'm guessing that their second choice when all else fails would be h.264 since they already have a license for it and use it on the XBOX and Zune.
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Mac Software
AppleInsider › Forums › Software › Mac Software › Ogg Theora, H.264 and the HTML 5 Browser Squabble