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Summary:

YouTube announced the launch of an HTML5 video test on its blog last evening, but had some trouble delivering on its promise. The test only went live hours after the blog post, leaving many users wondering what all the fuzz was about. Adding to the confusion […]

YouTube announced the launch of an HTML5 video test on its blog last evening, but had some trouble delivering on its promise. The test only went live hours after the blog post, leaving many users wondering what all the fuzz was about.

Adding to the confusion is the fact that the current test is limited to subset of YouTube’s videos as well as new versions of Safari and Chrome. Firefox users won’t be able to play any videos with the new, Flash-free HTML5 video player because their browser doesn’t support Google’s video format of choice, H.264. The decision to go with a proprietary rather than an open video codec immediately enraged the very open source user base that has been advocating for YouTube to drop Adobe Flash.

Chrome and Safari as well as IE users that have installed Google’s ChromeFrame can go to YouTube’s TestTube page and opt into the HTML5 test, after which they’ll be able to watch many videos on the site completely without Flash. Videos with ads are still playing as Flash streams by default, and some other videos also don’t seem to be available as part of the test yet. I browsed the PBS Newshour archive and found the results to be inconsistent. Some clips played in Flash while others were available in HTML5.

Playback in HTML5 generally worked smoothly, but a few features are still amiss: Annotations and subtitles aren’t available, and videos can’t be played back in full-screen mode. Also missing is an option to switch between various video resolutions. However, a quick glance at the page source code revealed that this is apparently in the works, with the player’s JavaScript code in the case of one Newshour clip referencing the three video formats “medium” “hd720″ and “hd1080.” The same video was available in four different resolutions (360p, 480p, 720p and 1080p) when watched with Flash.

Also interesting: The HTML5 player itself is referenced as “new yt.player.VideoPlayer.” One could speculate that this could be a sign for YouTube’s determination to roll out wider support for HTML5 and in fact one day treat HTML5 as the new standard to play videos. YouTube’s announcement wasn’t quite as committed, but certainly optimistic about the format’s future, closing with the words: “We are very excited about HTML5 as an open standard and want to be part of moving HTML5 forward on the web.”

  1. I like it. Performance of videos using html5 is much better on my macbook air than with flash (50 % less cpu utilization)

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  2. h.264 is hardly proprietary. h.264 is the only choice for widescale adoption by various hardware vendors. Most phones over the last 5 years support h.264, all pc platforms support h.264, many other devices support h.264.

    It is the only scaleable open standard that makes sense. Well done YouTube for taking this big step.

    RIP Flash – 1996-2010

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  3. [...] would become our salvation from resource intensiveness of Adobe Flash, NewTeeVee reminds us that HTML5 has a ways to go before becoming mainstream ready. They go on to report that not all browsers are yet ready to [...]

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  4. [...] says users should have faster loading times and smoother playback of its videos. But just like the YouTube implementation, Vimeo’s HTML5 player has some [...]

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  5. flash player slow down the speed of net and also it would take time to load a video. so it is really great news of this

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  6. The flash videos seem to be better looking and clearer than the HTML5 variants.

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  7. h.264 is hardly proprietary.

    What a nonsense. Google and Apple pay huge yearly fees for usage of H.264 to MPEG-LA. Whatever hardware vendors prefer – this is not an open format, and it’s not suitable for the Web as a standard one. You’ll even have to pay license fees for publishing stuff in H.264, not even saying about playing it!

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  8. [...] move comes after YouTube and Vimeo rolled out implementations of HTML5 video last month, both of which took advantage of [...]

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  9. [...] idea doesn’t sound as crazy as it was just a few months ago. Google recently started to experiment with HTML5 on YouTube. The FSF now wants to encourage Google to take the next step and commit to open codecs [...]

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  10. [...] of Apple in regard to iPhones and the coming iPad, coupled with the gathering momentum behind the html5 <video> tag, as demonstrated by recent experiments by YouTube’s and Vimeo, make very clear that [...]

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