Jason Garrett-Glaser got access to the VP8 spec, software, and source a few days before the big announcement. This is a serious analysis from someone who knows a thing or two about video encoding.
In its HTML5 support, IE9 will support playback of H.264 video as well as VP8 video when the user has installed a VP8 codec on Windows.
In the post the Author, Dean Hachamovitch, reiterates the company line regarding HTML5: “we’re all in,” but this is not a surprising development at all. H.264 is the de-facto standard for mobile web video. Microsoft doesn’t control H.264, and Apple is the pubic face of the codec. It is in Microsoft’s best interests if H.264 has some (serious) competition. It just so happens that it’s in all of our best interests, too.
As some anticipated, Google has open-sourced the VP8 codec they acquired in their purchase of On2 Technologies on 17 February this year. They’ve taken the VP8 video codec and combined it with Ogg audio, and a new container format to create the WebM project: “a broadly-backed community effort to develop a world-class media format for the open web.”
If you’ve been following the HTML5
video debate, this is very interesting news, indeed.
This is certainly the death knell for Theora, and depending on just how good VP8 is it may be a serious competitor to H.264. There are two big hurdles for WebM’s adoption:
Getting browsers to support the format, so it makes sense for content producers to use it and
Hardware decoders for mobile devices. Software decoding just isn’t going to cut it. Part of H.264’s strength is that it runs great on iPhone and iPod Touch and iPad. The reason: All of those devices have built-in hardware decoding for the codec. I highly doubt Apple will ever include hardware decoding for a directly competing tech like VP8.
Vorbis audio is still kind of a stinker compared to AAC, but WebM doesn’t need James Cameron to be on board with this for the project to be successful. They just need to start making some dents.
A demo or two, and some more information on a codec we’ll be hearing a lot about for awhile. They’ve got some big claims on decode speed, and say that they’ve paid special attention to the ARM processor- the same processor used in the iPhone. While that’s nice, I wouldn’t hold my breath for software decoding of VP8 on iPhone.
It looks like the On2 pages haven’t been updated in quite some time, though, so this information could be outdated. I imagine Google will have it’s own tech page shortly.
Simultaneously taking Ogg out back and putting one it’s ear and making the streaming video wars much more interesting. Gruber’s questions are my own: Will Apple or Microsoft support VP8? And will Google support it at YouTube?