Microsoft Updates IE9 HTML5 Video with WebM Support

Microsoft's Internet Explorer provides support for the industry-standard H.264 HTML5 video format, as well as for the WebM project format.

Microsoft's Internet Explorer 9 browser now supports HTML5 video in both the industry-standard H.264 format and the newer WebM format.

In a March 16 blog post, Dean Hachamovitch, Microsoft's corporate vice president for Internet Explorer, discussed the HTML5 video format support and encourages users to try out the new WebM capability at the IE Test Drive site.

"With the WebM Project's release of WebM Components for IE9 (Preview), Windows customers running IE9 can play WebM videos in Web pages," Hachamovitch said. "IE9 is the only browser today committed to supporting both formats directly."

Indeed, Hachamovitch said in the new Video Format Support demo at the IE Test Drive site, users can try out Web pages with both video formats on them in different browsers. "You can see how Website authors can adjust the experience on their pages based on the browser and operating system the visitor is using," Hachamovitch said. "You can also see the opportunity that HTML5 video offers publishers to make video an integral part of the Web experience, especially when it is fully hardware-accelerated."

Moreover, despite not providing WebM support bundled into IE9, Microsoft continues to appeal for an open Web by enabling support via third-party add-ons. Hachamovitch said, "The people who build and use the Web deserve practical and consistent video support rather than ideology. Working through these questions is part of moving the Web forward. The Open Web is a product of consensus and open dialog."

According to a description of the WebM support for IE9 on the WebM site: "Microsoft does not ship IE9 with WebM codecs built in, so the codecs must be installed in Windows separately. We worked closely with Microsoft to seamlessly integrate WebM with IE9, providing a great HTML5 user experience and seamless integration of our components with IE9."

WebM is an open media file format designed for the Web. WebM files consist of video streams compressed with the VP8 video codec and audio streams compressed with the Vorbis audio codec. The WebM file structure is based on the Matroska media container. VP8 is a video-compression technology that was developed by On2 Technologies. Google acquired On2 in February 2010.

Meanwhile, covering why Microsoft does not bundle support for WebM into IE9, Hachamovitch said:

As an industry, we still face many legitimate, unanswered questions about liability, risks and support for WebM, such as:

  • Who bears the liability and risk for consumers, businesses and developers until the legal system resolves the intellectual-property issues?
  • When and how does Google genuinely make room for the Open Web Standards community to engage?
  • What is the plan for restoring consistency across devices, Web services and the PC?