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Make Sure Chrome Will Keep Playing h.264 Video

Last year, it looked like the HTML5 video codec war was over. All major browsers other than Firefox had announced or added support for h.264/MPEG video playback. This was a great win for users, and many websites began switching from Flash powered videos to h.264 videos with the HTML5 <video> tag. Whether you’re using Safari on a Mac, Chrome on a Windows computer or Chrome netbook, or an Apple iPhone or iPad, h.264 videos would playback the same without requiring frustrating, CPU intensive plugins like Adobe Flash Player.

That’s all changed now, as Google announced that they will be dropping support for h.264 encoded videos in favor of their own WebM format. The problem is, WebM formatted videos would only playback right now in Firefox 4 beta and Chrome. Google has announced that they will make WebM plugins for Safari and Internet Explorer, but the facts remain that many sites already are either using h.264 videos in HTML5 or are simply using Flash Player to decode the videos.

So, what can you do if you want to playback h.264 encoded videos in your browser, but still want to use Chrome? If you’re using Windows 7, Microsoft’s already got a solution for you. Media Player in Windows 7 already includes a licensed h.264 playback codec, so they made a Chrome extension that will let you playback h.264 videos in webpages using the codec already on your computer.

To make sure you’ll always be able to playback h.264 videos in Chrome, just head to the Microsoft Interoperability Bridges site to download the free Windows Media Player HTML5 Extension for Chrome. Install the extension as usual. Now, once Google actually drops h.264 support from Chrome, you’ll never notice the difference!


Then, when Google releases the WebM extension for IE and Safari, you could install it in those browsers to make sure you’ll be able to see any video on any site. Flash is being used less and less, though unfortunately, that doesn’t mean you’ll quit having to install extensions and plugins to view everything online. Maybe someday…

Thoughts? @reply me on Twitter.