Google Ditches H.264 Support in Chrome

Google has decided to renege on its promise to support both H.264 and open source codecs in its Chrome browser, dropping support for the former and vowing to completely back the latter. This change will take place in the next couple of months, the search giant said in Chromium blog post.

"We expect even more rapid innovation in the web media platform in the coming year and are focusing our investments in those technologies that are developed and licensed based on open web principles," Google said. "To that end, we are changing Chrome’s <video> HTML5 support to make it consistent with the codecs already supported by the open Chromium project. Specifically, we are supporting the WebM (VP8) and Theora video codecs, and will consider adding support for other high-quality open codecs in the future. Though H.264 plays an important role in video, as our goal is to enable open innovation, support for the codec will be removed and our resources directed towards completely open codec technologies."

The H.264 codec is the current standard in terms of widespread use, but it's also a patented codec that requires royalty payments to the MPEG-LA group. In the end, this announcement is the latest in a messy situation that has browser makers choosing sides. Both Firefox and Opera support the WebM standard, but Apple and Microsoft still back H.264.