New VLC Version Supports WebM, H.264 Hardware Decoding

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The developers of the open-source cross-platform video player VLC have released a version that supports the new WebM video format, which Google open-sourced at its developers conference last week. VLC 1.1.0 Release Candidate 1 also comes with support for hardware-based decoding of H.264-encoded video on some platforms. The new version of the software can be downloaded here (hat tip to The H).

The release of a standalone player for WebM video represents a significant step for the adoption of the new video format. Up until now, users had to download special nightly builds of Firefox, Chrome or Opera to play WebM videos on their systems, and not everyone is committed to running what can essentially be considered an unstable browser version on their machine. VLC’s website also warns visitors that the new release candidate is “aimed at power-users,” but the release will undoubtedly also get some traction with people simply curious about WebM.

The developers of Miro recently released a new version of their Miro Video Converter that can be used to covert various video formats into WebM, so there’s little stopping end users from playing with the new format.

However, the new VLC version also shows that WebM still has a ways to go before it can overtake H.264. VLC’s Windows and Linux versions now support hardware decoding of H.264 video. WebM doesn’t have any hardware decoding support yet, but chip manufacturers like MIPS have announced that they’re going to add this option to their chip sets soon.

Related content on GigaOM Pro: Google TV: Overview and Strategic Analysis (subscription required)

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