Native Audio and Video dropped from HTML 5 Specification

A sad day for all web developers (and internet users in general)  who were looking forward for the audio/video support in the upcoming HTML 5 specification. World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) recently announced that despite its efforts it could not include the audio and video codex in the final specificaion as there was no suitable codex that all browser vendors are willing to implement and ship.This feature was much awaited feature in HTML 5 by which browsers were to be made more powerful especially for features for online live video/audio streaming etc.

The original draft specification for HTML 5 included

  • Apple refuses to implement Ogg Theora in Quicktime by default (as used by Safari), citing lack of hardware support and an uncertain patent landscape.
  • Google has implemented H.264 and Ogg Theora in Chrome, but cannot provide the H.264 codec license to third-party distributors of Chromium, and have indicated a belief that Ogg Theora's quality-per-bit is not yet suitable for the volume handled by YouTube.
  • Opera refuses to implement H.264, citing the obscene cost of the relevant patent licenses.
  • Mozilla refuses to implement H.264, as they would not be able to obtain a license that covers their downstream distributors.
  • Microsoft has not commented on their intent to support

But good thing is that he has kept the option open for future and he gives the following two possibilites

  1.  Ogg Theora encoders continue to improve. Off-the-shelf hardware Ogg Theora decoder chips become available. Google ships support for the codec for long enough without getting sued that Apple's concern regarding submarine patents is reduced. => Theora becomes the de facto codec for the Web.
  2. The remaining H.264 baseline patents owned by companies who are not willing to license them royalty-free expire, leading to H.264 support being available without license fees. => H.264 becomes the de facto codec for the Web.

So till then developers have to live with the alternate features like , and plugin APIs, or Web fonts and font formats.Even Companies like Google were betting high on this feature for its upcoming product Google Wave and it will be interesting to see how this would effect the development efforts there.

Author: pradeep