File Under: Browsers, Web Standards

Google Gives IE 9 the Gift of WebM

Now that Microsoft’s Internet Explorer 9 is out in the wild, Google has released its WebM video plugin which will allow IE 9 to play WebM video. The new IE 9 supports the HTML5 video tag out of the box, but it can only play back H.264 video, not the Google-backed WebM video codec.

If you’ve upgraded to IE 9 and would like to make sure that WebM video will work when you encounter it, head over to the Google WebM for IE 9 download page.

For all the promise of HTML5 video, there is, as of now, no single video codec that works in every web browser. That’s a pain for publishers who need to encode every video in two codecs and a pain for users, who need to install extensions, like Google’s new WebM for IE 9 or Microsoft’s H.264 plugins for Firefox and Chrome (Windows only).

Until recently Google’s Chrome web browser was the only browser that supported both formats (and the OGG format), but then Google announced it would drop support for H.264 in Chrome in order to drive adoption of WebM video. Converting YouTube videos to use WebM would be a huge boon for WebM, but so far Google has not done that.

It would also greatly help the WebM cause if Adobe Flash could play WebM video. Since there is no “it just works” codec for HTML5 video, most websites still fall back to Flash video. Because Flash can play H.264 video it makes more sense for publishers to encode video in H.264 and serve it natively to Safari and IE 9 users, while falling back to a Flash container for browsers that don’t natively support H.264.

If the WebM project is going to make it through these transitional times, it needs to get Adobe to support WebM in Flash, which would remove one of H.264′s primary advantages — that it works in Flash as well. In the mean time, at least there is the IE 9 plugin, which means Apple’s Safari is now the only browser on the web that can’t play WebM video.

See Also: