Microsoft counters Google with H.264 Chrome add-on


Microsoft has created an add-on for Google's Chrome browser, providing support for H.264 video playback.

With the extension, Windows users running Chrome will be able to enjoy support for H.264, a codec recently dropped by Google.

Google decided to ditch H.264 support for HTML5 in order to focus on its own WebM format, but the move led to questions over whether the search giant had committed an act against openness.

Future versions of Chrome will not come with H.264 support for HTML5.

Microsoft created a similar add-on for Mozilla's Firefox browser towards the end of last year, as it looked to push H.264 - still the most widely-used video-playback codec around.

The Redmond giant, which was one of the creators of H.264 alongside Apple and others, has now called for an open dialogue on the future of web video.

Microsoft said it was agnostic when it came to the video format support for HTML5, claiming the Google decision to drop H.264 would bring about instability.

"Setting aside the speculation about the reasons and objectives, this announcement has created instability and uncertainty around video on the web," said Dean Hachamovitch, corporate vice president for Internet Explorer, in a blog.

"To get back on track, technical enthusiasts, developers, businesses, and consumers need consistent and sustainable answers to many questions about WebM. These groups also deserve to be part of an open discussion."

Google did not wish to offer comment on Microsoft's moves at the time of publication.

"Consumers and businesses want confidence that video on the web will continue work and that they will not face legal risk for using it," Hachamovitch added.

"Google's decision to drop support for H.264 from its browser seems to undermine these goals."

The announcement and subsequent comments will only serve to increase the tension between Microsoft and Google.

Earlier this week, the search giant claimed Bing results were directly copied from Google, which Microsoft staunchly denied.

Tom Brewster

Tom Brewster is currently an associate editor at Forbes and an award-winning journalist who covers cyber security, surveillance, and privacy. Starting his career at ITPro as a staff writer and working up to a senior staff writer role, Tom has been covering the tech industry for more than ten years and is considered one of the leading journalists in his specialism.

He is a proud alum of the University of Sheffield where he secured an undergraduate degree in English Literature before undertaking a certification from General Assembly in web development.