The HTML5 standard introduces the video-tag, that finally allows adding videos in markup without the use of additional plugins. Pretty much like the img-tag embeds images. Google recently published a YouTube-demo using HTML5, which can be viewed in bleeding edge browsers that already understand HTML5, like Safari 4 Beta on a Mac. It pretty much looks like YouTube as we all know it, but with tiny fast motion preview videos instead of images and without Flash. Sounds like your browser is your TV now and everything works out of the box? Far from it!
The major part in compatibility and standards has not been solved yet: Audio and video codec support. Google’s demo medium uses H.264 for video and AAC for audio compression, which is the combination your new Adobe Flash Player plugin, your new mobile phone, your new gaming console, your new korean DVD player and probably your new freezer are able to play back. Your browser knows how to display PNG, JPEG and GIF images because it comes with their decoding algorithms. Mozilla’s and Opera’s proposal was to include the free open source OGG Theora (Video) and OGG Vorbis (Audio) decoders into any browser. A clean pragmatic approach that doesn’t cost a dime. But Apple and Nokia didn’t like the idea. So the w3c page now reads ‘user agents may support any video and audio codecs and container formats’ and a red disclaimer adds that going with OGG is still a good idea to not fail completely.
But it will fail completely. We will see more H.264 video and MPEG4 audio, because quality and size are great and we don’t have to encode and store a medium more than once to play it back in most browsers and Flash Player 9+. Mozilla, Opera, Safari and Chrome browsers will also support OGG. Microsoft’s Internet Explorer won’t. Microsoft has all those funny media formats and browsers, and they even have Silverlight. They will play WMV and WMA, and nothing else. And we developers will just continue to do what we like most: Building browser switches, adding capabilities by using browser plugins and testing all versions of IE that have ever been released since August 27, 2001, the birthday of IE6. Show me that I’m wrong Microsoft.