While no HTML5 video standard has been officially been agreed upon, the unofficial winner has been H.264. It’s supported by the most popular mobile devices and nearly all web browsers. Two of the holdouts when it comes to web browsers are Internet Explorer and Firefox. Internet Explorer doesn’t yet support HTML5 at all…but when it does…it will support H.264 for video. That leaves Firefox as the major holdout. Until now.
Firefox has chosen to not support H.264 because it’s a licensed format and they believe in supporting a completely open-source format, Ogg. But now of all people, Microsoft (in a round-about way) has lent a helping hand in creating a plugin for Firefox that allows Windows 7 users to watch HTML5 video in the H.264 format on Firefox.
It does this through a bit of trickery with Windows Media Player. The release notes state “The extension is based on a Firefox add-on that parses HTML5 pages and replaces video tags with a call to the Windows Media Player plug-in so that the content can be played in the browser. The add-on replaces video tags only if the video formats specified in the tag are among those supported by Windows Media Player. Tags that contain other video formats are not touched.”
If you’d like to use this surprising new plugin, it’s available for download here.